U2 Gridlocks Kansas City

E Online by Elizabeth Johns (1997-05-22)

Pop group U2 virtually shut down Kansas City, MO, Tuesday, with a downtown video shoot that caused major traffic jams.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday, the city’s Interstate 670 was closed, as was Interstate 35 and several ramps onto Interstate 70—major arteries all. The Irish group had obtained a permit to shoot the video May 17, but city officials didn’t announce the freeway shut-downs until late Monday afternoon, giving morning commuters little warning. A power outage that knocked out street lights and a multicar pileup (both unrelated to U2) added to the gridlock.

While commuters fumed, fans gawked from overpasses. “It’s not every day something like this happens,” one fan gushed to the Kansas City Star. Later, irate readers flooded the newspaper’s Website with flamemail. “Obviously, no one really cares about [our reaction], or we would have been asked BEFORE they decided to inconvenience a million or so Kansas Citians,” said one message.

The group will be shooting for at least two and a half days for a video based on “Do You Feel Loved” or “Last Night on Earth”—the group hasn’t confirmed which one. “They don’t really have a script,” said Courtney Christensen, an assistant to the city manager.

No matter. Mayor Emanuel Cleaver is savoring the publicity. “They apparently like our skyline, and their video shoot here will generate as much as a half-million dollars for the local economy,” he said. “It also enhances our growing film industry. I hope that people understand that, with growth, there is sometimes a little inconvenience.”

“I think this is wonderful exposure for Kansas City,” one fan agreed. “We can show our kids and grandkids the spot where U2 made their video.”

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