Thursday, September 27, 2012

Concert Sticker Shock

Like most of us, I grew up going to concerts.  I started on my thirteenth birthday and spent like mad to see all of my favorites.  I even pretended to be older so I could see bands in bars before I was twenty one.  I have seen just about every one of my favorites: Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa, Danny Gatton, ZZ Top,  Peter Frampton, the Allmans, Dickie Betts, Eric Johnson, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Larry Carlton, Frank Marino, Aerosmith, Al DiMeola, Jan Hammer, Allan Holdsworth, Dr John, Little Feat, Joe Satriani, Jimmy Bruno, Joe Cocker, Journey, Queen, Randy Hansen, Robin Trower, Santana,  Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, and countless others (my dim memory isn't speaking to me lately).

I will forever regret not having seen Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin.... I just wasn't old enough.  Also missed were the huge ZZ Top and Tubes tours in the seventies.... those were what rock and roll was all about.

As I get older, I find myself lacking time, money, and opportunity to see my favorites, although I certainly do when I can.   Recently my wife mentioned really wanting to see Aerosmith again.  We went together, almost twenty years ago and had a blast.  I don't think anyone can explain Steven Tyler, at Social Security age, running around like a loon on fire, but no one really has to: he's Steven F-ing Tyler.

I missed the sale date for the tickets and went to Ticketmaster to look.  After a few minutes I nearly passed out.  If I were of a mind to spend $187.50 per ticket, I could locate a few seats but not two together.  If I wanted to sit next to my wife, that privilege started out at $394.50 each.

But wait - there's more!

If I really decided to splurge, say, a Christmas present for my wife, I could get a pair of tickets in the first section for only $1404.50 each.


Apparently I'm not the only one with this reaction.  There's a section where Ticketmaster explains that these tickets are not resale - these are first sale.


And there are VIP packages, where you can get a meet-and-greet with several band members, along with a laminated pass AND a lanyard.

Hold me back.

This goes well beyond sticker shock, not to mention culture shock.  I mentioned going to my first concert at thirteen.  I saw four national acts and it cost me about twelve bucks.

I do not mean to suggest that there is no such thing as inflation, the passage of time, or a fair profit.  This is just insane.  Fourteen hundred bucks for a concert ticket?  I don't care if Steven Tyler offers me sexual favors: I don't make that kind of money.  And even if I did, I couldn't justify throwing it at the band.  I couldn't afford this if Jimi Himself came back from the grave to give me guitar lessons.

Haven't we gone a little nuts here?  Concert tickets have gone up exponentially; moreso than even the amount we're being gouged for gasoline, percentage-wise.

I hung my head in shame at my failure to come up with a blockbuster Xmas present for my wife but the great majority of my guitars haven't cost me fourteen hundred bucks each.  To her credit, my wife agreed wholeheartedly.

In fact, my wife got downright indignant.

"Fourteen hundred dollars per ticket?  Screw you, Tyler.  You don't know me but I know you.  I saw you on every tour through Philthydelphia.  I supported you when you were so wasted you could barely see where you were tripping onstage.  I am a die hard fan.  Is this the way you treat the fans who have been there since the beginning?  I salivate when I see you onstage.  I can even forgive that picture I saw of you on the beach, topless, with your man-boobs hanging out.  I managed to get past my mother seeing you on tv and saying you were cute!   Sorry, dude - can't do."


I also did a search for ZZ Top tickets.  They're appearing at a small, amazing venue in the area.  I could not locate a single ticket (starting at $79 and up).

I love ZZ Top.  I'm reasonably certain that Joe Perry (Aerosmith) loves the Reverend Billy Gibbons almost as much as I do.  I am a huge fan of the first four albums or so, plus choice bits after.  One of their mottos is `Taste, Tone & Tenacity' and I couldn't agree more.

Unfortunately my wife missed ZZ Top's on-sale date and the concert sold out.

Much like our economy, concert tickets are heading for disaster.

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