Full disclosure: I/We rarely go to many events because we don’t enjoy crowds anymore and getting tickets has become an extreme pain in the ass and there are few people I want to see that are worth a mortgage payment. So I don’t think about it much, but I do get numerous music emails and at times I’m curious to see what outrageous sum they are charging for tickets.
The recent return to the news of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation monopoly question, on top of the Taylor Swift ticket fiasco last year, got me to thinking about the actual experience of buying concert tickets. Even though it’s not really an experience any more. It hasn’t been since long before the Garth Brooks wristband debacle, whenever the hell that was, exactly.
And for the record: No, I did not walk two miles uphill barefoot in the snow to go to school. And we did have indoor plumbing.
This is just an experience that we had that a lot of people these days never had and I just want to share the experience.
I had the most experience with buying concert tickets my senior year in high school. I wrote a music column for the school paper and reviewed concerts. Since it was for school, my parents paid for every concert I could cram into my schedule.
But I had to buy tickets like everyone else. Depending on the popularity of the artist, tickets could be bought at local music stores – particularly Sound Warehouse – or the Sears box office at the Sears on Ross for larger concerts. There were others as well.
As to the larger concerts, Led Zeppelin, for example, the tickets would go on sale at – say – 8 a.m. on Saturday. We would be in line outside the building no later than 2 a.m. Often times, earlier. This is the experience I referred to.
You can share a lot with a group of people over the course of eight or more hours, particularly with chemical and alcoholic inducement. Not a massive amount, mind you – things might have been cheaper, but we still didn’t have any money. But enough inducement to “get us through the night.”
The point was, we shared. Stories, cigarettes of various kinds, beers, jars, blankets, munchies, whatever. (Some of which we’ll never share again after the pandemic.) And we’d hold your place if you needed to leave for some reason. That was when I perfected my art of sleeping standing up against a building. Sometimes it would be cold, sometimes it would rain. But it was Texas, not usually in winter months, so the weather was usually fair. Tickets ordinarily went on sale some time in March for the spring and summer shows.
There were many times when I saw some of the people at the concert whom I had met while we were in line. Those that went to as many concerts as I did for those two years I would see in line for, and at, numerous concerts. I would be walking through the crowd — on the floor at larger shows – or on the way to the bar – at smaller shows, when I would suddenly hear five people (give or take) yell my name. Even in school people would stop to show me their tickets and ask if they were good seats and where to park. It was what made my senior year – and the year after – not suck.
But the point was, it was a social occasion with a common goal: tickets to another type of social occasion. Up front and personal – in person. Did we all agree? Hell no. Each of us had our own favorite song, or album, or story. But it was a blast sharing them, and whatever else.
Not saying it was good or bad as far as you are concerned. Just that it was. And it was a hell of a lot of fun! And a lot of damn good music!
Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.
Peace be with you.