My concert days might be over…

It’s true, I’m considering not attending concerts anymore. I still love the music and the thrill of seeing good bands live, it’s just that the state of the concert industry is leaving a sour taste in my mouth.

I started going to shows in 1986 at age 13. My first concert was Aerosmith, with Ted Nugent opening, at the Providence Civic Center. My friend’s older brother cut school to call Ticketmaster so six of us could see the big Aerosmith reunion. (For those who forgot, Aerosmith reunited in 1985 and released DONE WITH MIRRORS.) The tickets were bought in ’85 but the concert wasn’t until March 1986, they cost $15 ($13.50 + $1.50 Ticketmaster charge). The night of the show I had $50: $15 for the ticket, $15 for a t-shirt, $10 for a program, $5 for Burger King and the last fiver was chipped in for gas and the beer we drank afterward. We thought we were kings that night!

Those days are gone. Not the good times, they are still there. The problem is the PRICES, FEES, and the QUALITY!

Throughout my teenage years, I went to all the big shows: KISS, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Van Halen, and countless others. As I grew older, I started venturing to the theaters, clubs and bars. It was very rare to be disappointed by a band live and wish you hadn’t paid the money.

I saw the KISS Reunion Tour in 1996 at the Fleet Center in Boston, MA for $50. We had four seats a couple rows above the floor, one section over from the V.I.P. area. Members of Aerosmith, Extreme, Cheap Trick and Boston were all in the V.I.P. area… was a cool experience. At that time, $50 for a ticket was big money. Add all the souveneirs I bought and beer I drank and I spent close to $250 but it was something special! This was a once in a lifetime experience… the time. I could justify the price because I got the best show I ever saw, I justified those prices three more times that tour!

In the following years, I’ve paid as high as $100 for a single ticket to a show. It’s crazy to some people but Music is my hobby and live shows have always been a part of it. I’ve seen almost every band I’ve ever liked live in concert. Each show was an enjoyable experience and a good memory.

So where am I going with this?

Next Saturday (June 30) is the almost annual Poison tour stop (with Ratt & Vains Of Jenna) in Mansfield, MA at the Tweeter Center. I’ve seen Poison every summer since the reunited back in 1999, I even travelled with a buddy to Pittsburgh to see the show weeks before it came to my area. The problem is that I’ve been disappointed with the show every year since 1999. Not with the openers, but with Poison. There set is usually the same with very few surprises every year and it has seemed like they have gone through the motions while co-headliners like Cinderella brought the house down and openers like Quiet Riot had a hungry attitude. Poison purists may not like to hear this but they have been blown away by opening bands the last few summers.

Every year, I bitch that the show didn’t justify the ticket price. This year the prices are: $45, $35, & $25. Not bad, very affordable, but a look at the setlists so far for Poison are less than stellar and the major reason for going is to hear Ratt and check out Vains Of Jenna. Now you may be asking: “Why are you complaining about a ticket for $25?” The reason is that $25 ticket turns into a $45 ticket when the Ticketmaster convenience fee and facility fee is added. Now I don’t mind the three bucks for the facility fee, I average ten visits to the Tweeter Center a year, if the fee helps with the upkeep and customer service, I’ll pay it. A $17 Ticketmaster fee is just crazy! So I’m not going because Poison has disappointed and the fees make the tickets too pricey.

It doesn’t stop with Poison. I got the LiveNation email regarding the second leg of the Heaven & Hell North American Tour. It had the presale information and password so I logged on this past Thursday to score a single seat. Highest price was $65. Now that’s a justifiable price considering 1) I saw an excellent show when they played Mohegan Sun Casino and 2) Alice Cooper and Queensryche are the openers. So I pull up a ticket, very good seat, and I proceed to checkout: $65 ticket, $3 facility fee, and a $19 Ticketmaster convenience fee = $87. I cancelled the order. I want to really see this show but I can’t justify the Ticketmaster fee being almost a third of the ticket price! I just saw the Heaven & Hell show last month so it’s still fresh in my mind, I go to see Alice every year around Halloween at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and I’ve seen Queensryche at least six times. I’m trying to find reasons to warrant not buying the ticket. I’m finally frustrated with a system that is obviously overcharging and inflating ticket prices.

But there are more questions:

I’ve seen all these bands before, am I going to miss anything? It’s a great bill, can the price be justified by the talent? Will that extra twenty dollars make or break my financial well being? Will I cave in and buy a ticket?

These are all questions I can’t answer…..yet.