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…..it 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…..at 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.

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17 comments on “My concert days might be over…

  1. I can understand you. You saw all those bands in their best days. What more do you want??? lol. Anyway, maybe you can go only to newere bands and forget about those bigger bands. Maybe you can try to do that. I do it too. For exemple i have been to DESTRUCTION a couple of weeks ago and i had a better time then watching OZZY for exemple. Also in two weeks we will go and see METALIUM, GAMMA RAY, TAROT and some more bands like that and for shore we will have a better time then watching MOTLEY CRUE for exemple. GO TO THE MORE UNKNOWN BANDS and for shore you will like it more STEVE.
    Hail to you!!!!

  2. My wife and I had a very similar discussion at the beginning of the season when we were trying to figure out what one show we would see this year (we ‘re going to Genesis since neither of us ever saw them).

    But back in the 80s we went to a show almost every weekend, even sometimes for bands we didn’t particularly like just because of the experience, and the fact that the tix could be had for $15-$20. I still have tix from the early 80’s from seeing Kiss or Scorpions at Madison Square Garden for a $12 face value!

    Now, we’re older and obviously other priorities kick in, but we’ll still choose 1 show a year to hit because: WHO THE FUCK CAN AFFORD MORE?

    Bon Jovi has ten nights opening up a new arena here in NJ. Even with the Amex pre-sale (don’t get me going on all that shit either), the best tickets we could score were shit seats for $65 and up.

    So that’s that… maybe if we’re feeling adventurous we’ll venture out to see Kenny Chesney and I still have a Traveling Virus show I’m hitting with friends. A far cry from seeing 20+ shows a year.

  3. Steve,
    I have felt the same way about Poison. I must admit though, this was the best Poison show that I have ever seen. They were on fire in Cincinnati, and took a few tricks out of the Motley Crue bag as far as their show goes.

    Black Sabbath is a no brainer.

    I had to pass on the Def Leppard show here locally for the same reasons though. The cost was too high, and the seats I would have got for the price were not worth the money.

    I prefer the one off shows, like the Vince Neil show that I saw for $20.00 last night. I got more enjoyment out of that.

    However, If Sabbath comes back to my area, I will pay well over 60 for that show. I know that one will be worth it.

  4. I can see that concerts are different in the USA. You have to pay for seats. If you want a good seat you have to pay more etc…no???? In europe its different. Everybody pays the same price (20 euros for DESTRUCTION), 45 euros for SCORPIONS last month) ETC…and their are no seats. Just standing were you can and want. I think thats better, no???

  5. Rene – You are very lucky. The amount and diversity of shows you see in Europe are really great, I’d love to come over and experience it. Unfortunately, you have to be in a real big city to enjoy that kind of diversity. Rhode Island is a small state and we just don’t have the venues. I head to Massachusetts and Connecticut, sometimes New Hampshire, to catch shows. Unfortunately, the travel time + the cost has me narrow it down. There are certain bands I won’t miss: KISS, Priest, Maiden, UFO, Saxon. Then there are bands I know I will never have a chance to see unless I travel and that’s where I have to make the decision. I’ll also admit that concert life was a lot easier when Rhode Island had a really good concert bar a few years ago. Unfortunately, that was The Station Nightclub…..the one with the terrible fire and tragedy involving Great White.

  6. Kurt – You are 100% spot on! The average fan is getting priced out of concerts. I used to go to at least 20-25 shows a year but the circuit here has dwindled to only the major outdoor venues. Add fat ticket prices and travel and I have to be real careful as to which shows to see. Every summer I used to see at least a dozen shows at the outdoor Tweeter Center but now it’s way too expensive. This year, I’ll miss Rush, Poison, and Heaven & Hell.

  7. Rob – I’m passing on Poison but I am seeing Def Lep. Will I miss Heaven & Hell? I’ll probably get a ticket for my birthday (August 16). I’d like to hit smaller shows but the travel time and scheduling isn’t as easy as it used to be.

  8. Ohhh, did that happend near you Steve, the GREAT WHITE concert??? It was on the news all around the world. A realy tragedy and you could have been their. I am so happy that you didnt go to that concert. HAIL HAIL TO YOU!!!!!

  9. Your best bet with these shows is wait to buy tickets. For example, I waited and bought Def Lep tix recently, a 4 pack in the lawn for $69 plus fees came to $108 = $27/ticket. I know it’s lawn but still, I’m there. Also, another great deal is just buy cheap lawn seats to these old acts and they will sell you upgrade seats under the pavilion for $10-20 a piece at the door b/c they can’t sell out and want to fill the seats close to the stage. I did this at Kiss and Van Halen both in ’04 and to Motley/Aerosmith last Oct. So you still spend $50/ticket, but it’s a far cry from the 75 0r 80 bucks they charge originally.

  10. we have the same problem here in the UK, my wife and I wanted to take my daughter to her first festival but the tickets would have cost us in excess of £600, thats two weeks wages. Its either “sorry kids no food this week” or “sorry kids no festival this year”

  11. the ticketmaster charges are ridiculous, not to mention that it is close to impossible to ever get really awesome seats. The seats that come up usually suck ass. I’m always hoping that I’ll get decent seats because im either online or on the phone the second they go on sale. I’ll get the worst sections everytime i search for like 3 hours. Jeez, it’s not like it used to be. This only makes places like ebay sell the good seats for like 3,000 dollars! That’s what good Bon Jovi seats are going for on ebay right now! just look. it’s nuts

  12. the Poison shows were always good, but you hit the nail on the head with bands like Cinderella and Q.R showing them up. Also Dokken kicked major ass. Since their return Poison sucked ass. Their albums have no originality. They haven’t released one good song since Flesh and Blood in my opinion. The only thing remotely adventurous was the remake of Sexy Back from their Poison’d album

  13. Rene – The Great White concert at The Station was about 20 mins from my house. I had been there for so many shows over the years. My wife and I were supposed to go that night but we never got tix. That day, we decided not to go…..I went to work that night and she stayed home with our daughter, my wife was pregnant with our 2nd daughter at the time.

    I used to work 12am – 8am so when I was going to work, all these emergency vehicles passed by me, lots of them. Around 1:30 am, the calls started pouring into work and at my house. All my family and friends knew I was a regular at The Station and that Sarah and I had planned on going.

    Even though I didn’t know the people personally, you always saw the same people at the shows. It was a tragic loss. I visited the memorial many times in the months after and I made donations to the fund (the link is on the main page in the sidebar). I was lucky not to have gone but I know people who did and their lives have been changed forever.

  14. Walid – Yes, I was 13 and had my first beer. That began a ritual for concerts in my teenage years.

    Nathan – I’ve tried waiting and it has worked sometimes. There are shows you can’t wait on, in this area most shows in bigger arenas sell out. That’s because we don’t get as many shows as major cities.

    Johnny – I agree, you have to draw the line. Everyday needs or a concert? In this day and age you need to be wise with your money.

    Jay – I agree with both comments.
    1) Ticketmaster is out of hand with fees, prices, and availability.

    2) Poison gets worse every year, IMO.

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