some good news about the scalping battle

We know about scalping.  We know it’s bad.  We know that it’s just too much trouble and too much cost to go see a nationally touring act.  I won’t talk about why, I did that here.  Ok, will sum up super quick.  90% of concert tickets NEVER go onsale.  AND… they are long gone BEFORE the public onsale happens.  That last 10% is gotten not by fans but by computer programs that resourceful scalpers use.  They can ping Ticketbastard 100 a minute, whereas your slow dialing ass can do it once.

Let’s instead look at if it can be fought, and is anyone doing anything about it.

First… can it be fought?  Yes, but only by sucky and complicated means that are NOT consumer friendly.  To stop scalping, you can

  • Require the ID or credit card of the credit card that bought the ticket. This is essentially making an entire concert will call.  This means where you used to have 5 ticket takers… JUST taking tickets… you could move 20,000 people into an arena.  Now imagine if EVERY one of those tickets has to be verified with an ID.  Imagine standing in line behind 10 drunk women fumbling through their purses looking for their ID as you hear the opening band start up.  In many venues, this IS being done.  In fact, with an AXS show… it is the upside down world.  Instead of going to a show and they take your ticket… you show up with NO ticket… and they print your ticket at the door.
  • Print people’s names on the ticket. No one is doing this, and (seriously) I came up with this idea myself.  I could be done SO goddamn easily.  This way, TM could justify their ‘convenience’ charge.

Either one of these solutions suffers because it means you can’t give away or sell tickets.  Or buy them as a gift for a friend.  Which one do I prefer, knowing everything I know?  Neither.  Shoot the scalpers in the fucking head.  Same with TM, for sanctioning and embracing, and encouraging scalpers with their own scalper site ‘Ticketsnow.com’

What is the alternative?  Sadly, it is simple.  Stop going to concerts.  Stop patronizing scalpers.  Like the drug trade, this is kinda all our fault.  As long as some asshole is willing to pay $4,000 to see Adele… we ALL have to pay that.  Note, if I could afford that… I would pay it.  Adele is bitchin, and likely won’t tour again for a LONG time.  That is not faint praise, the last 4 concerts I went to… 3 of them were Iron Maiden.

Why aren’t the artists and managers and all that fighting for us?   Why would they?  As long as tickets are being sold, they are good.  It is likely better for their bottom line when ALL tickets sell out… even if a venue is only half full during the show.   Some artists are fighting back, though.  Here are their badass and commendable ideas and fights.  What is cool and interesting is every one of these bands took a different tact.  Spoiler alert… none have been effective –

 

So… let’s look at the good news and good dudes/dudettes who are fighting the good fight

Pearl Jam – back in the early 90s, they wanted to keep ticket prices at $10.  Not just the face value… but the total cost at the end of the day after fees and such.  Ticketmaster laughed, and they have a monopoly on the venues due to contracts.  So, PJ filed a DOJ anti trust suit, and then testified in front of fucking Congress.   The balls on those kids.  Even today, 20 years later, no band has taken such extreme measures.  Sadly, the effort fell flat.  There was supposed to be a whole slew of A-listers to show up and support them.  Their record companies and various suits warned the artists not to piss of TM… with the monopoly and all.  So… where folks like Garth Brooks pledged to show up… NO OTHER BANDS showed up.  So, you just had 5 long hair upstarts bitching at ‘the man’.  It was dismissed, sadly.

SO… Pearl Jam said ‘fine, we’ll just sell our own tickets to our own fans… and bypass TM’.   Yeah, that SUPER didn’t work.  TM ended up writing their own legislation that fan clubs can’t have more than 10% of a venues tickets… AND said all fan clubs have to charge at least $15.

Even better?  TM got sued for not even allocating that 10%.  Also, more on that here.


NSync – did I spell that right?  Well, who cares?  You know them as a soulless boy band, and launching pad for Justin Timberlake.  Well, they care, too.  They did a tour during their heyday, and found out that NONE of their floor seats ever went on sale to the public.  It’s not just a dick move.  Knowing what we know now, not even a big deal.  BUT… they also realized they would be playing for, and facing, NOT fans.  It would be suits, and the families of suits, and radio station suits, and super rich people.  They blew a gasket and busted the whole thing wide open and told everyone.  Again, 20 years ago, this was a BALLSY move.  A band like Pearl Jam knew they could keep playing.  NSync, though, was a corporate creation.  For them to stand up to the industry that incubated them was just very cool and strong.


Prince – Prince wanted to play small clubs again.  There were 2 problems with that:  they would make a tenth of the money he could make playing mega arenas.  In fact, let’s stop here and run the numbers.  He played the Ogden theater, a cool little club of 1200.  Let’s say tickets are $100.  His gross, then, is 120K.   Great take for one night’s work, right?  Normally, someone of his status would play the ____ center.  You know, the venue where your basketball and hockey team plays.  Ours is called the Pepsi Center, and it holds 20,000.   Let’s say those tickets are also $100 each.  If he plays this venue, just a few blocks away, he grosses 2 million.

but… Prince wants to play clubs.  How does he do this and make his nut.  What can he do?  He prices the tickets are fair market value.  Those Ogden show tickets were $250 each.  Am I outraged?   No!  I am turned on!  I LOVE what Prince did, and here is why – it was incredibly innovative!  See, Prince could have charged $100.  Thing is, NO fan would get those tickets.  They would get gobbled up by presales and scalpers.  THEN… those scalpers would have charged (and easily got) $250 a ticket.  If people are willing to pay $250 to see Prince in a club (instead of a soulless mega Arena)… shouldn’t that money go to Prince?  Yes it should.  PLUS > at that price point it squeezes out the scalpers.  The scalpers would have to buy each ticket for $250, and sell it for what?  $300?  Not worth their trouble.   Prince is great, because he is one of 2 people in ALL of rock and truly do (or… did) only what they believe in.  The other is Neil Young.

String Cheese Incident – also not amused by the monopoly and mark ups.  Using a loophole where tickets could be bought for face value at the venue… String Cheese went to the venue and bought up ALL the tickets.  Then… sold them to their fans at face value.  Once again, the balls on these guys.  They also fought a couple long and ugly court battles with TM over all their bullshit.  These dudes, like everyone on this list… are heroes!  More on that here, and here, and here.  Just in case it is lost on you what they did, let’s let the band explain themselves.

One Friday afternoon recently, about 50 fans and friends of the band String Cheese Incident took $20,000 in cash to the Greek Theater in Los Angeles to take a small stand against the system — in this case, Ticketmaster.

With money advanced by the band, each person had enough to buy eight tickets at $49.95 apiece for the group’s show in July. Once all tickets were in hand, almost 400 of them, they were carried back to String Cheese headquarters in Colorado and put on sale again through the group’s Web site — for $49.95.

“We’re scalping our own tickets at no service charge,” Mike Luba, one of the group’s managers, explained in an interview last week. “It’s ridiculous.”

Fucking heroes!  Don’t worry, TM sued them, too.  It’s a great story and an interesting read.  Bonus evil TM fun?  Once they finished their total monopoly by merging with Live Nation, TM closed that loophole about the box office.  It is now MORE expensive to drive to the venue and buy tickets there (vs over the phone).  I experienced this personally, and wrote about it here.

Kid Rock – tried something fun and innovative.  He did a shed tour (its’ the half seating and half lawn venue your city has) and he capped the ticket price at $20.   AFTER FEES.  Let me demonstrate how impressive that is.  About 10 years ago, Motley Crue did a shed tour, and tickets were only $5.   Before fees.  After fees?  $25 each.  You may see $25 being a great and fair price to see Motley Crue.  You would be Correct.  Until… you see that 75% of that goes to TM.  $20 of the $25 is all service fees.   So, when Kid Rock caps the very end cost at $25… everyone has to take less.  Kid Rock explained it as “I can afford it, I am rich.  If no one shows up, I can take the loss.”  What kind of loss, you wonder?  He awesomely explained that it costs $100K for him to show up.  Keep in mind, this is cost for salaries of bus drivers and cooks and roadies and hookers.  I know Kid Rock takes a ton of shit for being a Trump flunkie, and he should.  However, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a good dude.  This stunt proved it.

This method of cost control is a very close cousin of what Pearl Jam was trying.  What did Kid Rock do different that he was able to do it, where Pearl Jam could not?  He (Kid Rock) worked with TM, instead of against them.  Every artist has been working against TM for so long (and for good reason)… that no one had tried to work with them.  Oh, and the real short answer of how this business model works?  Kid Rock gets a cut of the beers sales (which he also capped at $5).  Even though his politics are wack, I still very much enjoy ‘Devil without a Cause’.  I feel the same way about Uncle Ted.  Total psycho dickweed, politically… but it’s tough to think of a cooler song than ‘Stranglehold’.  Again, I’ll let Mr Rock (nee Bobby Ritchie) explain himself

This is a model Rock says he has been working on for a long time. “It’s always going to come down to price, but I think [from the fan’s perspective] it’s more the service charges, the fees, getting in there and not knowing what beers will cost, what they’ll hit you for parking,” he says. “Every little thing they nickel and dime you, and it’s not just music, it’s sports, it’s going to the movies. Artists demand so much money, and you have to set ticket prices at [a certain level]. Everyone’s fighting the system, and it’s really been all of our faults. We’re all fortunate to make as much money as we do, and I can surely take a pay cut and help out in these hard times.”

See, this is what is great about Kid Rock, and why I can’t hate him.  Plenty of folks talk about protecting the vaunted ‘blue collar worker and poor suffering family’… but Kid Rock actually did something.  Name someone else who has?   Trick question, the answer is no one.

Adele – wanted fans to see her show.  And only fans.  Here is the unique approach she did – no ‘holdback’ tickets.  This means she put every single ticket on sale for every show.  No tickets were held back for family, friends, promoters, fan clubs, record companies, radio stations.  How is this a big deal?  I mention in the article I referenced at the very top that 90% of tickets now to go ‘holdbacks’.  What that means, specifically, is this:  Billy Bob is going to play Red Rocks this summer.  It holds 10,000 seats.  Tickets go on sale Dec 15th, 2017.   When that onsale happens, and you log in to get tickets, 90% are already gone.  Only 1,000 tickets will actually go onsale.  When that happens, you won’t even see those 1,000 tickets.  Computer programs used by resourceful scalpers get those tickets.

Sadly, industry folks say Adele’s most excellent intentions had little effect.  Her tickets still showed up instantly on the ‘secondary’ legal scalper sites.  It’s ok, though, at least she tried something no one else has.  Fucking Hero! If you don’t like Adele, as a person, you don’t like puppies!  She drinks and curses and belches and laughs… all in concert.  She is good people!

Eric Church – several artists have canceled tickets they knew were scalped.  Most famously, the Boss.  Springsteen has canceled blocks of tickets, and encouraged use of paperless tickets (where you have to show your ID at the door).  Church, though, went nuts. He just canceled 25K tickets for his tour.  Here is why that is ‘balls’;   those 25K tickets were guaranteed money that he had in pocket.  Assuming tickets were $85 each, he walked away from 2.1 million dollars.  I gotta be honest, I have no idea who he is, and I don’t dig new county that isn’t Chris Stapleton.  But, whoever the hell this guy is… he is a hero.

That is all for now, I shall keep you posted on the good fight as it occurs.  If you know of other artists taking similar initiatives, please drop me a line.  My email is ‘I am correct at gmail dot com’ (all smooshed together, no spaces)

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Friday Fives – He’s a Juicy Fire!

A mondegreen is a mis-heard lyric. What is your favorite misheard lyric? 

A boy, I got a good one. I recently bought the remastered box set of U2’s ‘Unforgettable Fire’. It is such an amazing album, and is mixed so poorly, I had great hopes. In the HUGE hit song ‘Pride in the name of Love’, in the first verse there is a sentence that goes ‘one comes here to justify’. I never knew that lyric until I got the box set last week. In the original CD, they only print the lyrics to one song, which is the first song.

Now, I was always pretty sure what I was hearing was incorrect, but listen to the song. Right now. Here, I will embed if for you. Now, go to that first verse. The exact moment is 57 seconds. I always heard ‘one man come, he a juicy fire’. Go ahead, sing that with that line. He a juicy fire. That isn’t the heart of this story.  Not anymore. Don’t worry, this story gets WAY worse.

As with all things, I was discussing this with my pal Jamie. I asked him what he heard. This is no lie. He said “I always thought he was saying ‘one man come, he set Jews on fire…’. Wow. That is brilliant, and fucked up. Obviously, it’s not brilliant to set jews on fire. It’s brilliant that that is what Jamie thought all these years, and gleefully sang along. Kinda puts my ‘juicy fire’ into perspective, doesn’t it?

A spoonerism is a deliberate (or accidental ) error in speech or words. Do you have a favorite? 

I found this to be too kitschy to interest me. So, how about another mondegreen. In ‘Every Breath you Take’ from the Police. There is a line that says ‘how my poor heart aches’. Makes sense. That is not what I heard, and I listened to this song thousands of times. This album was incredibly influential for me. Really, it changed my life more than any other album. I was such a fan of this record that my brother took me to see the Police live. It was on this tour, Synchronicity. It was their farewell tour, and they were firing on all cylinders. It was incredible. I knew that night that rock and roll was all I ever wanted. It’s what I wanted to do, to think about, to talk about, to be my job, to be my nights and weekends… all from that Police show. I was 10, I think.

FOCUS, man! What I heard was ‘how my pool hall aches’. Go ahead, watch. Its at the 50 second mark. Tell me he is not saying ‘how my pool hall aches’.


A malapropism is an incorrect word in place of another.  Can you remember one used?

This one also does not interest me. It’s strange, I am a word guy. I am super passionate about words. I got a degree in literature, that is how much I love words. Yet, I am not inspired. I think it’s because I need to just get to bed.

So, how about this? The funniest mondegreen of all time comes from Dave Barry. There was a classic great soul song called ‘ain’t no woman like the one I got’ Makes sense. Touching, and sweet. What Dave Barry brings us is this – Ain’t no woman like the one eyed Gott’.

Lastly, no conversation about mondegreens can be complete without this. My favorite band, and someone trying to figure out just exactly what the hell Eddie is singing.  In fact, there is not even an official studio version of this.  The recording we all know was done on the fly at a radio station that Ed and Mike were visiting.  Mike brought an acoustic and they knocked out two songs that day.  Both were largely improvised on the spot.  The other song was Bee Girl.

To be fair, this song never had official lyrics, and I am about 90% confident that he changes the words night to night a bit to fit his mood.

An earworm  is a snippet of catchy tune that gets stuck in your head. Do you have a common one? 

Goodwill Halloween, goodwill Halloween, goodwill halloween

Btw, I… and I alone, have pioneered a way to fix them. It will sound dumb and obvious… but it works. Your mind needs closure when this is happening. To fix the earworm, you need to listen to the song in its entirety. I have had to actually reach over to my phone in the middle of the night and download a song online and listen to it with headphones while wifey is sleeping to get closure. It works.

The Tetris effect occurs when so much time and attention is devoted to an activity it affects other parts of your life.  Do you do this? 

Really? I disagree. For me, the tetris effect is all about organization. It could be packing the back of a moving van with everything you own. Every spot counts. It could be about time management… trying to fit in all the shit you need to fit into your day. My wife is the master of tetris in real life. Need stuff packed? You just sit back, keep your hands and feet away, and watch the art.

Friday Fives – more music because my editor is a lazy bastard

I can say that, right?  I mean… it’s with love.  Plus, it’s about music.  I can hold forth all day long about music… but you poor sucks already know that, don’t you?

Who is the worst band you’ve ever seen live and why?

Flaming Lips at Red Rocks.  They were opening for someone, I don’t remember.  I was initially very excited to see them.  Wayne Coyne is famous for his great live shows.  Red Rocks is also a magical place that has coaxed amazing performances out of mediocre bands… like Radiohead.  The Flaming Lips were horrible.  I finally realized they are built on kitsch and novelty.  They are not good songwriters, they are not good musicians, and Wayne Coyne is not a good singer.  10 or 15 minutes into their set I have to leave. I went up top to drink and look at the amazing view.

See, if you go up top, the sound is horrible… which is best for the Lips.  It means it is also the quietest up there.  Red Rocks doesn’t put speakers anywhere but the base of a stage.  Normally, this would be fine… were you not on the side of the mountain.  If you are not in the first 30 rows, the sound is terrible.  This is especially true when the wind whips around, which it tends to do on the side of a mountain.

but why were they so bad?  The music just wasn’t compelling on any level.  Not catchy, nor thoughtful.  You know those kids songs Charlie Sheen’s character wrote on 2 and a half men?  It was stuff like ‘who cut the cheese?’.  Yeah, that is Flaming Lips catalog.  Anyone who likes Flaming Lips is a hipster douchebag!  Trust me, it takes one to know one.

But… any concert at Red Rocks can’t be that bad, right?  It’s like how they say a bad day fishing is better than the best day at work?  Well, they weren’t at this show.  To close, Will Rogers never met this band.

Who is the best band you’ve seen live, and why?

Oh golly, I have see a LOT of bands, and a LOT of great bands.  It is almost impossible to pick 1.  So, I’ll pick two.  This answer goes out to Cody in Utah, a month late.  Sorry on that, bud.  James Taylor and Barenaked Ladies.

James Taylor I have been seeing since high school, possibly longer.  For one, and maybe this is a given, he sounds perfect… every time.  80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s… every decade I have seen him he was amazing and crystal clear.  Every show gets the obvious hits.  Here is what people don’t know who haven’t seen him; he is hilarious.  He is a seriously funny and engaging guy.  I have seen comedians live, many of the great ones:  Richard Lewis, Mitch Hedberg, Lewis Black, and Brian Regan.  I have laughed that hard at every single James Taylor show.

Barenaked Ladies have always killed it live.  First time I saw them, it was the ‘Rock Spectacle’ tour, which was a very early greatest hits tour… of sorts.  I wasn’t a big fan, but I Gordon.  The internet wasn’t everywhere yet, so I hadn’t seen clips or read reviews.  After that show, I was amazed.  As everyone knows now, they are amazing live.  Funny and sweet and musical and surprisingly improvisational.

Every show becomes a very unique experience.  It becomes about your city, and current events.  I have seen them 3 or 4 times, and every show was better than the last.  I should have to mention this was all back when Steven Page was with them.  I can tell you every person who has ever seen BNL at any era with Steven Page will tell you it was the best concert they have ever seen.  I agree.

What band has your go to perfect album?

Again, SO many.  How about three?  Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti,  Guns & Roses Appetite for Destruction, and Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream.

What are the best comebacks you know?

The question implies a witty rejoinder, a la ‘the jerk store called’.  In the spirit of the questions leading up to this, I will assume it is a poorly worded question about career comebacks in music.

I have been seeing bands for 30 years now (it starts with the Police in 1983 and Rush in 1985… and keeps going).  One day, ask me about the golden girl I saw at the Rush, and how that kinda changed my life. Hint, it involves boobs and a 13 year old boy. A lot of the acts I have seen were regarded as ‘comebacks’, but never left.  I saw Pearl Jam in 1997, and the critics were calling it their ‘comeback’ tour.  They never went anywhere, never broke up, and never stopped making music.  Same has been said for seeing Page & Plant together, James Taylor, and Paul Simon.  To qualify, we have to count a band who fully broke up before I saw them.  I think these guys broke up a lot.  Heck, they just re-broke up again last fall.  This time, I think it’s for good.  Greg must be in his 70s.

The Allman Brothers.  I first saw them in the late 80s.  They had already been broken up and reunited several times by then.  Over the years, I saw them more than any other band, except maybe the Grateful Dead.  I have seen both bands around 20 times.

When I count the Dead above, I am talking about with Jerry Garcia.  Since his passing, I have seen another 20 shows of their very many offshoot bands.  Also saw Bobby and Jerry solo while Jerry was alive.  Still go see Bobby every year.  Going to see him this summer, too.

The Allmans are a unique class of band that got better with age.  They are also a band that thrives live.  I say the same about Iron Maiden.  They not only get better, they get more popular.  Iron Maiden is amazing, and one of two bands I NEVER miss when they come to town (the other is Pearl Jam).  Sorry, since we are talking about great live bands, I had to get in a plug for Iron Maiden.

The radio is on and you are driving down the road, a song comes on. At what moment did you realize “Damn.. I’m getting old”?

HA… I remember the exact moment.  Wifey and I were driving through Northern Arizona on our bi annual trek to see movies.  We were in a car that likely only had a cassette deck, and we were sick of our tapes.  Maybe it was CDs, who knows?  We were searching the radio for anything.  Of course, when you are in the middle of nowhere, you only get county and bible shit.  Why is that?

FINALLY we find a good station.  Prince was on, from his Purple Rain heyday.  We were so pleased with ourselves until the dj came on.  “you’re listening to Northern Arizona’s golden oldies.”.  we listened for another hour.  We knew, and loved, every song.  We were OLD, man.  I swear we were only in our early 30s, if even that.  We are early 40s, now.

* for the record, Wayne did this.  It was cool and all, but clearly a distraction from shitty music.  Prince never had to do this.  Also, he was afraid to get passed back/up.  Reasonable, since Red Rocks is built into the side of a mountain.  Still, though, that woulda been cool.

Friday Fives – musicology edition

What album do you enjoy every song on?

I wish I could tell you it was Blood on the Tracks, which I think is an absolute masterpiece.   BUT… there are some absolute dogs on there. I mean… Lilly and the Jack of Hearts? To call that filler would be hurtful to things that fill things. So, what albums do? I have to name a few, and they all came out very close together.

Pearl Jam – Ten

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

Guns and Roses – Appetite for Destruction

What’s your favorite lyric of all time?

First, let me tell you the one I simultaneously love and hate with great passion on both sides… this line from the Rolling Stones –

“she blew my nose, and then she blew my mind!”

Is there better writing than that?  Yes, but just barely. Is there worse writing than that?  No sir.

To answer your question, though, I have to go to this line:

I was living in London with the girl from the song before

That is Paul Simon, from the ‘Late Great Johnny Ace’. It is remarkable not just for being one of the best songs ever written, it is remarkable that you have never heard it… nor heard of it. That lyric is so great it hurts my heart to think of writing that good. I mean… is there a song before? Was there a girl in the song? No, it’s nonsense.  It’s your imagination.  That is what makes it so great. It’s as if you two were in the middle of a great conversation, and he lets that drop. I guess if we have to give that girl a face and a name, it would be Carrie Fisher. That is Princess Leia to you, to whom Paul was married.  Yeah, not just great songwriter… dude is banging the Princess of the friggin’ Federation.  You better check yourself!

You date Taylor Swift for a Year before breaking up. What is the name of her next album?

“I never fully appreciated, or understood him”

OK, this is it. The executioners are taking aim.  What is the last song you want to hear?

Mayonaise from the Smashing Pumpkins. Studio version. I think this is my favorite song in the whole world. It also embodies the Smashing Pumpkins, and Billy C, so perfectly. Pretty, thoughtful, spacy, and balls out rock your skull off… all in the same piece. Here is a secondary live, acoustic, on the fly version. You may watch this only after you have heard the studio version about 30 times and cried to it.

It’s a quiet little genre and only you enjoy it – what is it?

Just about everything Astrud Gilberto ever did. You know her as the ‘girl from Ipanema’ lady. She is that, and so much more. Her and her hubby, along with a couple others (like Stan Getz and Antonio Carlos Jobin) basically invented Bossa Nova… AND got it to the states. Now that you know that, you will start to notice that a muzac version of Girl from Ipanema plays in they background in all elevator scenes. I know it is one of the most iconic songs ever recorded.  Think about this, is there a better known melody in all of music?  There are a precious few – ‘My Favorite Things’, Fur Elise’, ‘New York New York’, ‘Star Spangled Banner’… these are all melodies that you know whether you like it or not. Same with ‘Girl from Ipanema’.  Why then do I regard this as a ‘secret quiet little music genre’? Because – popular culture has only used that song as an ironic hipster statement.  That song is regarded as the most boring and sanitized song ever. It is used to define something lame. No sir, it was groundbreaking at the time – 1964.

when I say ‘groundbreaking’, that isn’t hyperbole.  When you hear ‘Purple Haze’, you don’t think anything about it.  When people heard that first, in 1967, their faces exploded.  No one had made noise like that, and certainly no one had seen a black kid playing rock.

There is a great story that may or may not be true about Miles Davis meeting the first lady (Nancy Reagan). Supposedly, she said to him “and what do you do that got you a seat at the President’s table?” having no idea who the super creepy, probably super high, and extra black man in front of her at dinner was. His response – straight-faced, Davis replied:

“Well, I’ve changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except fuck the president?”

In that anecdote, was it necessary I pointed out how black he was?  Since we are talking about old rich white Republicans… yes it is.

Friday Fives – in concert edition

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, or over-think this.  Just whatever pops in to mind.

20141017_095812Best concert

Gosh, I have been to so many concerts. Hundreds. See those ticket stubs in there?  That is just the last ten years, after I had effectively stopped going to concerts.  Best Concert? In the spirit of not over-thinking it (per our instructions), it just may have been Pearl Jam last night in Denver. I have seen the band a lot. Over ten times, I would say. Last night’s show was unique and amazing. And long. Almost four hours. I wrote that up this morning, though, if you are interested.

Worst concert

I can’t think of any overtly bad shows. Ok, there were some that were a little disappointing. I saw Smashing Pumpkins three different times on the Siamese Dream tour. Each and every one of those shows was stopped early because Billy lost his shit at something stupid. However, the band was absolutely at the height of their powers then. So, even a shortened Pumpkins set was still more beautiful and powerful and intense than every other rock band playing a full set.  At that time, in that era, on that tour, Smashing Pumpkins*** were the greatest rock band in America.  This was a band at the height of their powers > like Guns and Roses ‘Appetite for Destruction’ era.  Zeppelin in ’77, the Destroyer bootleg era Chili Peppers*** on the ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magic’ tour.  Beastie Boys*** on ‘Ill Communication’.  Nirvana*** on Nevermind tour.  Pearl Jam*** on the Ten Tour.  Police*** on ‘Synchronicity’.  Prince in the ‘Purple Rain’ era.

Billy Corgan:  he will cut you

These are bands that were in top form, taking over the Earth.  It never lasts long, but if you can catch a band in this moment, you should.

There was another show I was disappointed at, but not the band’s fault at all. Back at Lolla 2 (1992) Pearl Jam had been added to the bill last minute. They were just coming up, and getting bigger every day. Because they were a late add, they had a shitty time slot. They went on at 2 pm. PLUS, it was a school/work day. So, about half the audience wouldn’t show up until about 7 pm, after work, time to catch the headliners. PLUS – it was Phoenix in the summer. So, it was 118 degrees out… as it is in summer in Phx.

At this point in time, I was already a rabid Pearl Jam fan. This was my third time seeing them, and they were still just out whoring for their very first album. I saw them three times in Phoenix in one year.  Can you imagine how many shows they must have played that year?  Editors note:  I counted them up.  They played 71 shows in one year. So, there was virtually no one there to see them. It was early and it was hot as hell. There was no shade at this venue, so most folks found a shaded beer garden and holed up there for a few hours. Sadly, those folks missed an amazing show. Pearl Jam ALWAYS puts on a killer and passionate show.

Most overrated live band

Poison. Actually, I don’t know how they are ‘rated’ live. But, I do enjoy their music. I don’t actually have any albums, but I know the music. Many, many years ago I had the cassette ‘Look what the cat dragged in’.  Look at this cover.  They were seriously hot, beautiful women. Their show was flat. It felt like they were just going through the motions. I fully get how that happens. After 4 or 500 hundred live shows, I imagine it gets tedious. The good bands, though, never let it show.

Oh, and Pink Floyd. That is correct, I have not only seen Pink Floyd, but they sucked. Even kookier – I can tell you that every other person there will tell you it was the greatest show in history. Why the discrepancy? Because most people are stooges. Couple that with the fact that I seriously am an expert in live concerts. I have actually seen more national touring acts than all of your friends put together.

At this point (early 90’s, Division Bell tour) the band was basically the David Gilmour show. That isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. The band played only expected songs. The setlist was boring and predictable. On top of that, the versions played were too good. There was no character or intimate moments. It literally sounded like the band put on a greatest hits CD and stood there. I understand that saying Pink Floyd is wildly over-rated sounds like a hipster douche. However, they are wildly overrated. I very much enjoy their music. However, about 60% of it lost its appeal after I stopped doing drugs. In an unrelated side note, here is my favorite Pink Floyd song, performed awesomely by David Gilmour. This is a beautiful and unique performance of a very deep cut… the kind of moments I live for… and the kind of moments that were not present that evening in Tempe.  I could tell you the name, but it’s so absurd you wouldn’t believe me.  Put some headphones on and dig it!

If you ever get me cornered, ask me to tell you about the drive home. In a blizzard. On drugs. In a strange car.   With a busted window. With 3 guys tripping balls. Oh, I guess I just told you the story. Well, never mind.

I love to play this song camping. It’s tough for the others. I tell them I am going to play some Floyd. Then, I play that song, an Fearless. People get quite disappointed. Sorry, but Wish you were Here gets boring after playing it for 30 years.

Most underrated live band

Again, I am going to mention a couple here. The first is Barenaked Ladies. I haven’t seen them since Steven Page left, so I can’t vouch for their shows now. However, this band is the most fun band live… consistently. I went in to the first show (tour supporting Rock Spectacle, and excellent live collection) just being a casual fan. Maybe even the tickets were free. I can’t remember laughing so hard or feeling so engaged as I did that night. Once that happened, I went to see them every chance I got. In Winterpark the show became rather famous among hardcore fans as the ‘pipe guy’ show.

It’s a great story, but one you need to hear in person. I have met hardcore BNL fans, who have never been to Colorado. I tell them “I was at the ‘pipe guy’ show and they gush every time. Ever been to a rock show at a ski resort? It is super cool. They set up a stage at the bottom of the hill/run. Then, the people just fill up the hill. Everyone has a great site line, because you are halfway up a mountain. On top of that, you are in the woods. It is just magical.

Oh, the other is James Taylor.  As you can guess, I have seen him a ton, too.  Over ten times.  Now, you imagine a James Taylor show is relaxed white people listening to very pretty songs.  It is.  But, it is SO much more.  First off, his voice is still crystal clear.  It sounds as good or better than it did in 1972, when Fire and Rain first came out.  Next, he is a super good guitar player.  Then, my favorite part; he is incredibly funny.  He is as engaging and fun as BNL.  There is no concert I laugh at more than a James Taylor show.  He gets is self image.  He is keenly aware that is a punchline of all that is white and boring in music.  He plays off that. Here is my favorite song of his, Copperline.

Best concert album

Simon and Garfunkel – Live in Central Park. There is no further discussion. There is top five list. Just that concert, far and away above the others.  I defy you to watch this and not cry.

 

*** I was at these shows

Friday Fives

1. What sitcom perfectly depicts your life?

Two Broke Girls.  Not sure if you are familiar with it.  however, once I describe it you will be FREAKED by the similarities.  Two hot girls who are in their late 20’s waitress in a divey greasy spoon restaurant outside of NYC.  Their upstairs neighbor is a feisty polish cougar, and their ambition is to get out of all this and open a cupcake shop.

The parallels almost terrify me.  I have considered legal action, but it is kinda fun watching my real life play out on the screen.  It is like watching my own auto-biography.

2. What TV moment really made you smile?

Chris Cornell covering Pearl Jam’s ‘footsteps‘ the other night on Jimmy Fallon.  It’s kind of a surreal full circle moment.  Chris and Eddie sang that song together on the Temple of the Dog album, but with different lyrics.  So, there are 2 songs which are musically identical.  One is Pearl Jam’s ‘footsteps’, and the other is Temple of the Dog’s ‘Times of Trouble’.  Eddie Vedder sings on both.  Make sense?

3. You are stuck in the world of your favorite movie/tv show, what do you do

duck dynasty?  I would go fishing.  They own all that land.  Think of fishing on your own land;  You could cheat SO hard.  You could have fishing competitions with buddies.  You can get all liquored up on the boat and drive back to the house, because you are on private property the whole time.  Dynamite fishing?  You bet your ass!  Literally shooting fish in a barrel?  Positively!

4. In the movie Die Hard, Hans dies while falling backward while Beethoven’s Ode to Joy plays loudly in the background.

How does your death scene montage play out?

something like this.

5. Baseball’s World Series is on, no one seems to care. What other former major event still keeps going, to your amazement?

I have zero interest in all sports except NFL football.  I don’t even watch college football.  For example, I don’t even know if Basketball is being played right now.

Another one tries to climb the fence

Nearly 20 years ago, Pearl Jam took on ticket prices.  They wanted to keep tickets to their shows at the $10 price point.  Not before fees, but for it to cost $10 total out the door*.  This was impossible because of service fees from ticket brokers.  Specifically, their battle was with Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster would not negotiate the fees, so the band sought an alternative.  They found out that there was none.  So, they took their fight against the Ticketmaster monopoly to Congress.  Many bands supported Pearl Jam’s battle, and vowed to be there to support them.  Then, no one showed.  Are you going to testify against John Gotti?  Not if you want to live.

Since then, no one has tried to ‘climb the fence’ to get ticket prices down.  They all talk about it, but no one makes that walk to the fence.

Allow me to explain the expression ‘climb the fence’.  There is a parable about a group of apes in captivity.  There was a fence, and the top was electrified so they could not escape.  They did not know about the electricity initially.  One day, an ape decided he wanted out.  So, he climbed the fence and was electrocuted to death when he reached the top.  After that day, anytime anyone came near that fence, the other apes would attack them… so protect them.

This went on for years, until all of the original apes had been replaced by a newer generation.  From learning from the elders, the new apes learned quickly to never go near the fence.  In time, everyone knew to never go near the fence, even though they had no idea why.  The electrocution had happened generations earlier.  Basically, you didn’t need to know why the fence was so bad, you just knew to never go near it.

Well, Pearl Jam climbed that fence and got electrocuted.  The Justice Department chucked their lawsuit out, and that was a tragedy.  Since then, no one has gone near the fence.

20 years later, Kid Rock is climbing that fence.  Even better, he has a chance of making it out. Kid Rock is on tour this summer, and only charging $20 for tickets.  All seats, $20 out the door.  On top of that, he is capping beer prices at all venues at $4.  How does he do it?  Well, first off, he is willing to lose money for the principle of it.  I’ll let Kid Rock explain it, because he does it so well.

 “Athletes and musicians make astronomical amounts of money,” he tells Rolling Stone. “People get paid $100 million to throw a baseball! Shouldn’t we all take less and pass some of that money onto others? Think about firefighters, teachers and policemen. We should celebrate people that are intellectually smart and trying to make this world a better place.”

We’re all so overpaid. It’s ridiculous. People stopped going to concerts because they can’t afford them.

This is great.  God bless Kid Rock for offering to climb the fence for all of us.  I bought two tickets to his Denver show.  I may not even make it because of work. Still, it is absolutely worth $40 for me to support this business model.  I want the show to sell out and do ridiculously well, so other musicians might be empowered to one day climb the fence themselves.  See, Ticketmaster fees are now between 100 to 150% of face value on tickets.  Motley Crue and Creed lawn seats were $5 each across the country.  Those seats after fees were $25.

You may say “$25 is a deal to go see Motley Crue”.  I say “that is a 200% service fee.  What the fuck is that about?  If I am going to pay $25 to see Motley, that should go to the band.

This, of course, is not why I write.  This is also not why I use the apes climbing the fence metaphor.  Nope.  The reason I write is how people have reacted to this.  Kid Rock is charging a tenth of what other national bands charge.  He is a hero of the proletariat, right?  No.  This is what people have been saying online:

 people don’t have a job and are struggling to eat, and keep a roof over thier head. and he’s talking about concert ticket prices. a real republican isn’t he? like concert ticket pricing is going to change people lives. what a jerk!**

What the fuck, right?  What is this guy’s problem?  I can only surmise he has been beaten back from that fence so many times that he no longer questions why, like all the other apes of his generation.  So, thank you Kid Rock for trying again to climb the fence.  I am down here rooting for you, I promise.  If you go all Icarus on us, though, can I have your hat?

 

* last time I saw Pearl Jam, and this was ten years ago, tickets were $100 for just ok seats.  Shows you how far away the business has gotten

** that is verbatim, I left his typos and crappy in because he is an asshole.  Stay in school, kids!