I was 16 years old when U2's The Joshua Tree was released. My friends and I spent the weekends at the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan, listening to With or Without You on repeat. Many years later, I'd find myself belting out that song with friends the summer after my divorce, tears streaming down my face.
In fact, I remember being quite unhappy with my parents when U2's tour stopped in Indianapolis my senior year in high school, and a friend asked me to drive three hours from our town to the concert. Absolutely not, my mother said. And I huffed and puffed and pouted about it.
I did get to see them, eventually, in 2003, and it's a bittersweet memory because of where I was in my life and the company I was keeping at the concert. My head wasn't all in.
When tickets went on sale for the Dallas show, I jumped at the chance. I was going, no matter what. It took some cajoling to convince my husband of the necessity of purchasing $100 tickets, but he knows my passion for U2 and he understood.
The show was to take place at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, which is southwest of Dallas proper. My friend Leigh Ann picked me up on Friday afternoon, and we headed north. Our first stop was our hotel, the Hampton Inn and Suites at Arlington South, changed clothes, and situated our things for later. The first thing we noticed about the hotel was the quirky-fun number plates on every room, with similarly adorable images on the key cards. The second thing we noticed was WOW, THE ROOM IS GIANT. (We both happened to bring our Dove bags from the Mom2Summit a few weeks before, so we were matchy-matchy.)
We were looking for a place to have dinner pre-U2, and our friends at the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau directed us to some fun places in town to visit before the show, and they were right on the money. We decided to check out Legal Draft Beer Co in the Urban Union area, which is right next door to Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery. I was disappointed we didn't get to go inside the bakery because we arrived 5 minutes after closing, but you can bet I'll make that a priority next time I'm in town.
Legal Draft Beer has a great vibe with a family-friendly approach; there are games inside and outside for all, and a patio suitable to bring the furry members of your family too. They offer tours on Saturdays and they're open Thursday-Sunday every week. And they have homemade root beer, which is always a great thing.
We needed to get some food in our bodies before heading to the stadium to dance and sing for a few hours, so the people at Legal Draft Beer Co directed us to Grease Monkey Burger Shop, an easy two blocks away. The place was jam-packed when we arrived at about 6 PM on a Friday night, and although the line was backed up, it moved very quickly.
As a confirmed automotive nut, I loved the décor of Grease Monkey, including the car hoods hanging over the counter and hand-painted with their menu. Leigh Ann and I couldn't decide between a salad and a burger, so we got one of each and split it. I'm so glad we did, because both were dynamite. The Black and Blue Burger had a nice char on the meat and the bun was soft and flavorful. The Cobb salad was chock-full of fresh ingredients and filled us up. We also loved the colorful soda display on ice at the register.
We were enjoying ourselves so much we would have stayed, but we wanted to catch at least part of the Lumineers' set before U2 took the stage, so we headed out. We had the foresight to purchase parking in advance, so we had a great spot, but in hindsight, Grease Monkey offered what appeared to be a free shuttle to the concert, so that is an excellent option for next time.
The entire area is getting ready for a new Texas Rangers stadium; Texas Live! is a mixed-use entertainment complex that will bring an upscale hotel, the world’s largest PBR (Professional Bull Riders) bar, convention space, beer garden, retail, and more to Arlington. My husband, son, and I are all big Rangers fans, so we're looking forward to that next summer.
The Lumineers were terrific, and we're glad we were able to see them as a bonus. U2 started their segment a little later than expected, but no one minded because the crowd was so excited to hear this concert. They kicked it off with Sunday Bloody Sunday, and I was instantly transported to my teenage years watching MTV, and by the time they started their second song, New Year's Day, the tears were rolling down my cheeks. Two hours flew by, and it was everything I had hoped for, including a stunning stage set.
After a quick 15-minute drive, we settled in at the Hampton, tired and happy. Our beds were cozy, and we both slept like rocks. We had a handy refrigerator for our water and kolaches from the Czech Stop in West, Texas, and lots of room for both of us.
In the morning, a bountiful breakfast buffet awaited us on the first floor just off the lobby, and the area was well appointed, with plenty of space and comfortable seating. I have never met a waffle station that I didn't like, and this one was no exception. I would definitely choose this hotel again for another concert in Arlington; it was just what we needed.
Bono, Adam, Larry, and The Edge... come back to Texas soon. I miss you already.
My room at the Hampton Inn was covered by the Arlington Convention and Visitors' Bureau; all opinions are my own. Need more tips on Arlington? Here's their very fun and informative site: https://www.arlington.org/