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Where the Tweets Have No Name: Social media and U2 in Chicago

Will Kruisbrink

In 2005 U2 came to Chicago for a series of four shows at the United Center. Fresh off a new album, the aging band of Irish rockers was hot again. Their hit single, “Vertigo,” came to recall Apple’s resurgence with the iPod, since the song soundtracked the company’s popular iPod commercial.

Greg Kot, the Chicago Tribune’s music critic, poorly reviewed the show’s opening night. In his estimation, the band lacked courage by playing mostly fan favorites. Irked by Kot's harsh take, Bono, the band's frontman, called Kot direct on his cell the day after the review ran.

The result was a lengthy interview between Greg and Bono as a sort of rebuttal to his negative review. You can find that article here.

63,000 social media users in one place. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / July 5, 2011)

This year’s show at Soldier Field resulted in the same reaction from Mr. Kot. This time, however, the surpassing dominance of social media in popular culture spawned an up-swell of vitriol from hoards of loyal U2 fans. For his negative review Mr. Kot was eviscerated via Twitter to the degree that the hash tag “Solider Field” trended on the microblogging site at 2:00 p.m. on July 6, 2011.

A populist uprising against a curmudgeonly critic seems appropriate for such a populist outlet as Twitter. My favorite @reply came from user Dainamara who said: “Greg Kot, you're just a bitter and spoiled man that doesn't even enjoy the fun of concert going anymore.” Greg retweeted the comment and replied: “I love all my readers.”

Always answering first to the artists they critique, it was once that a critic would have to wait a several days to receive angry letters from readers. Then they had to wade through waves of unhappy reader emails. Now, critics can expect to have to answer to their readers immediately and in great numbers.