Last Wednesday night, a dozen people trudged to RFK Stadium and slumped beneath ticket windows, eager for them to open. Five days later, they did.

At 10 a.m. yesterday, $19 tickets for U2's Sept. 20 concert at RFK finally went on sale. There were 44,000 seats available. Three hours later, there were none.

"These tickets went faster than any concert around here all summer, and quicker than any I can remember, except for Springsteen in 1985," said Patti Pacak, spokeswoman for the RFK Stadium ticket office.

"The phones were ringing constantly, and the lines were real long, but we weren't surprised by the response. We knew it was going to be like this when we saw a small group of people start lining up out here last Wednesday night about 10 p.m."

More than 4,600 people -- 3,900 outside RFK -- endured overnight and weekend vigils at Ticket Center offices in metropolitan Washington, Pacak said.

Chuck Cope, general manager of Tysons Corner Center, said about 100 people waited for tickets outside Hecht's beginning at dawn yesterday, because no one is allowed on mall property overnight.

"There were no incidents, except there was a problem with this long list they made of who was in line when," he said. "Apparently they hadn't included everybody. They wanted me to sanction the list. But I told them 'We're just a shopping center -- we can't recognize lists.' "

Pacak said everyone in line was able to purchase tickets to see the Irish rock band, whose popularity has never been greater.

U2's album "The Joshua Tree," released this spring, has sold 8 million copies. It sat at the top of the charts for 11 weeks and has been among the top five albums for the past five months. Two singles from the album -- "With or Without You" and "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" -- have reached No. 1.

After a one-month concert stint in the United States this spring, U2 played to sold-out stadium crowds around Europe all summer. Its three-month, cross-country tour of the United States begins Sept. 10 in Long Island's Nassau Coliseum.

"With all the crowds outside, we thought for a little while it might beat Springsteen's '85 concert," Pacek said. "That one sold out in 90 minutes. This was close."