• September 2, 2011
    http://www.dead.net/features/blair/blair%E2%80%99s-golden-road-blog-more-ticket-tales
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - More Ticket Tales

    I didn’t know it at the time, but I was part of a historic ticketing injustice.

    A few years ago, tickets were going on sale for a Bruce Springsteen show at the Oracle Arena. Now, I’ve had very bad luck buying tickets for big reserved-seat shows the past several years. Aside from the fact that I can almost never afford the best seats, by the time I usually get through for my shot—in the old days on the phone, more recently online—there’s nothing good left.

    On this particular Sunday, however, it looked like my luck was going to change. Less than five seconds after the digital clock on my computer hit 10 a.m.—just about the first instant a home computer could get through for tickets on Ticketmaster.com—I was “in”! No queue, no “your approximate waiting time is” (often a sign of certain doom). I pressed “click here to buy tickets,” visions of Bruce’s sweat flying onto me as I danced in what I hoped would be the best seats in the house.

    But a curious thing happened. I was immediately redirected to a resale site called TicketsNow, where there were plenty of great seats available, but for double, triple and more over list price! This is literally half a minute into the official on-sale time! I was majorly bummed out, and clicking back didn’t take me to a place where I could actually buy tickets that weren’t pre-scalped. By the time I’d gone through the whole process again, and gotten through to the correct ticket-buying portal, and waited in a queue for a few minutes, the seats that came up for me were in the last five rows of the farthest upper section from the stage. Er, no thanks. I’m not seeing Bruce that way (or anyone for that matter … I have some dignity left!)

    This scenario was apparently repeated quite a few times during the on-sale days for several other top acts, but when news of this blatant scam reached Springsteen’s camp, they were appropriately outraged, and they succeeded in getting word out to the press. Ticketmaster immediately stopped linking folks automatically to TicketsNow. But beyond that nothing changed.

    I suppose the episode further exposed the greed of Ticketmaster (who were in the process of merging with Live Nation), and also confirmed what many of us have suspected for a long time—that good seats for concerts are not really available to regular people. There has always been corruption at every level of ticketing—blocks of seats that go to scalpers or resale agencies or to the friends of the promoter or the people who work for whatever ticket company is involved. We expect that to occur. But it has gotten much, much worse through the years.

    Although I certainly like the convenience of buying tickets online, I sometimes miss the days when we’d line up outside a ticket outlet, or, better yet, the box office of where the show was taking place, knowing that where you were in line actually was a predictor of where you might end up in the venue. In the very early days of my concert-going life, I didn’t know anything about on-sale dates and such, and that’s why I never got primo seats for any Dead show I saw at the Fillmore East. I was always in the far rear of the downstairs or the back of the balcony. Just never could quite figure that one out. (I did sit close for several other acts—Quicksilver, Ten Years After, Pink Floyd—that apparently weren’t as in-demand as the Dead.)

    Here’s a show I went to;
    not my stub, however.
    Can’t remember where
    I bought my ticket.

    The first sign that my affection for the Dead was starting to become borderline obsessive may have been the Saturday morning in December 1970 when I eschewed playing in a semi-final championship game for my intramural basketball team to instead freeze my buns off waiting for hours outside the Capitol Theater in Port Chester to buy tickets for the Dead’s February ’71 shows. (I’m not sure I admitted the truth to my teammates. We won anyway, but lost in the final.)

    By the following year, the main place to buy tickets for rock ’n’ roll shows was a department store called John Wanamaker at the Cross-County Shopping Center in Yonkers; definitely not in my neighborhood. It was a staid and proper clothing store, and the well-dressed types who worked there hated it when Dead tickets would go on sale, because suddenly the ticket outlet on the second floor would have a huge line of scruffy hippies lounging around and partying in the store! (I must pause a moment to salute my late mom, who, while I was vacationing in California after graduating from high school, drove all the way to Wanamaker’s, lined up and bought me tickets for the Dead concert at Gaelic Park in the Bronx later that summer of ’71. Thanks, Mom—they played “St. Stephen” and all sorts of other cool stuff!)

    When I moved to the Bay Area in the fall of ’73, I was delighted to learn that Bill Graham Presents always put aside a few hundred tickets for every Winterland show, so if you didn’t mind sitting outside for a few hours on show day, you could get into just about any concert. My experiences in New York had made me paranoid enough that I always tried to score tickets on the first day, but there were two or three shows that I did the Winterland Wait for; I don’t think I ever got shut out there.

    During the late ’70s and through most of the ’80s, my job working as a writer in the music biz usually meant I could get free press tickets for reserved-seat shows (yes, I know how fortunate I was). But I never lost my fan instincts—I wanted to be up close in clubs or general admission arena shows, so I thought nothing of waiting outside a venue for long stretches in the chilly night air. I think it was the few times I risked life and limb outside Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in ’72 and ’73 to get up close to the Dead that taught me that a good spot inside is always worth the wait. And I have nothing but fond memories of lining up outside Discount Records on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley waiting for tickets for this or that show to go on sale on Sunday morning (and later on at Tower Records and other outlets). There were always like-minded people to chat with, and it was hilarious when a few big shows would go on sale the same morning—you had Dead Heads and Neil Diamond hardcores and REO Speedwagon fans all mingling together in the line.

    As the number of computer ticket outlets increased over time, and eventually included areas way outside the region of the venue, the harder it got to get good seats at your friendly neighborhood record store. Then, when online ticket sales really exploded, suddenly you were competing with people from everywhere, and the whole ticket thing became a total crapshoot.

    So here we are now, decades down the line from my first shows in New York City, and about the only ticket-related pleasure I get now is the hour I spend every few months decorating my envelopes to send off to GDTS TOO. I’m not that skilled an artist, but I do put some work into my crude offerings—which usually involve cut-out pictures of the band along with some colorful but not-very-well-executed felt-tip marker designs front and back—and I like to think that perhaps my envelope will jump out at one of the good folks filling ticket orders. (Not that my handiwork would ever be confused with that of the real artists who decorate their envelopes.) The jury is still out on whether this works. I’ve gotten great tickets for a reserved-seat shed like Shoreline Amphitheatre, and I’ve also gotten terrible seats there. (“Was my art that bad?” Sniff, sniff…).

    From the GDTS TOO website: Definitely not one of my envelopes, sad to say…

    But I like knowing there are still human beings involved with the ticketing, and I’m happy to know that my “service charge” is helping keep some very nice people employed. I also like that a couple of times a year I’m keeping my hard-earned dollars away from Ticketmaster. Because lord knows I’ve already given them sacks of dough through the years. It’s a little victory, but I’ll take one when I can get one.

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I didn’t know it at the time, but I was part of a historic ticketing injustice.

A few years ago, tickets were going on sale for a Bruce Springsteen show at the Oracle Arena. Now, I’ve had very bad luck buying tickets for big reserved-seat shows the past several years. Aside from the fact that I can almost never afford the best seats, by the time I usually get through for my shot—in the old days on the phone, more recently online—there’s nothing good left.

On this particular Sunday, however, it looked like my luck was going to change. Less than five seconds after the digital clock on my computer hit 10 a.m.—just about the first instant a home computer could get through for tickets on Ticketmaster.com—I was “in”! No queue, no “your approximate waiting time is” (often a sign of certain doom). I pressed “click here to buy tickets,” visions of Bruce’s sweat flying onto me as I danced in what I hoped would be the best seats in the house.

But a curious thing happened. I was immediately redirected to a resale site called TicketsNow, where there were plenty of great seats available, but for double, triple and more over list price! This is literally half a minute into the official on-sale time! I was majorly bummed out, and clicking back didn’t take me to a place where I could actually buy tickets that weren’t pre-scalped. By the time I’d gone through the whole process again, and gotten through to the correct ticket-buying portal, and waited in a queue for a few minutes, the seats that came up for me were in the last five rows of the farthest upper section from the stage. Er, no thanks. I’m not seeing Bruce that way (or anyone for that matter … I have some dignity left!)

This scenario was apparently repeated quite a few times during the on-sale days for several other top acts, but when news of this blatant scam reached Springsteen’s camp, they were appropriately outraged, and they succeeded in getting word out to the press. Ticketmaster immediately stopped linking folks automatically to TicketsNow. But beyond that nothing changed.

I suppose the episode further exposed the greed of Ticketmaster (who were in the process of merging with Live Nation), and also confirmed what many of us have suspected for a long time—that good seats for concerts are not really available to regular people. There has always been corruption at every level of ticketing—blocks of seats that go to scalpers or resale agencies or to the friends of the promoter or the people who work for whatever ticket company is involved. We expect that to occur. But it has gotten much, much worse through the years.

Although I certainly like the convenience of buying tickets online, I sometimes miss the days when we’d line up outside a ticket outlet, or, better yet, the box office of where the show was taking place, knowing that where you were in line actually was a predictor of where you might end up in the venue. In the very early days of my concert-going life, I didn’t know anything about on-sale dates and such, and that’s why I never got primo seats for any Dead show I saw at the Fillmore East. I was always in the far rear of the downstairs or the back of the balcony. Just never could quite figure that one out. (I did sit close for several other acts—Quicksilver, Ten Years After, Pink Floyd—that apparently weren’t as in-demand as the Dead.)

Here’s a show I went to;
not my stub, however.
Can’t remember where
I bought my ticket.

The first sign that my affection for the Dead was starting to become borderline obsessive may have been the Saturday morning in December 1970 when I eschewed playing in a semi-final championship game for my intramural basketball team to instead freeze my buns off waiting for hours outside the Capitol Theater in Port Chester to buy tickets for the Dead’s February ’71 shows. (I’m not sure I admitted the truth to my teammates. We won anyway, but lost in the final.)

By the following year, the main place to buy tickets for rock ’n’ roll shows was a department store called John Wanamaker at the Cross-County Shopping Center in Yonkers; definitely not in my neighborhood. It was a staid and proper clothing store, and the well-dressed types who worked there hated it when Dead tickets would go on sale, because suddenly the ticket outlet on the second floor would have a huge line of scruffy hippies lounging around and partying in the store! (I must pause a moment to salute my late mom, who, while I was vacationing in California after graduating from high school, drove all the way to Wanamaker’s, lined up and bought me tickets for the Dead concert at Gaelic Park in the Bronx later that summer of ’71. Thanks, Mom—they played “St. Stephen” and all sorts of other cool stuff!)

When I moved to the Bay Area in the fall of ’73, I was delighted to learn that Bill Graham Presents always put aside a few hundred tickets for every Winterland show, so if you didn’t mind sitting outside for a few hours on show day, you could get into just about any concert. My experiences in New York had made me paranoid enough that I always tried to score tickets on the first day, but there were two or three shows that I did the Winterland Wait for; I don’t think I ever got shut out there.

During the late ’70s and through most of the ’80s, my job working as a writer in the music biz usually meant I could get free press tickets for reserved-seat shows (yes, I know how fortunate I was). But I never lost my fan instincts—I wanted to be up close in clubs or general admission arena shows, so I thought nothing of waiting outside a venue for long stretches in the chilly night air. I think it was the few times I risked life and limb outside Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City in ’72 and ’73 to get up close to the Dead that taught me that a good spot inside is always worth the wait. And I have nothing but fond memories of lining up outside Discount Records on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley waiting for tickets for this or that show to go on sale on Sunday morning (and later on at Tower Records and other outlets). There were always like-minded people to chat with, and it was hilarious when a few big shows would go on sale the same morning—you had Dead Heads and Neil Diamond hardcores and REO Speedwagon fans all mingling together in the line.

As the number of computer ticket outlets increased over time, and eventually included areas way outside the region of the venue, the harder it got to get good seats at your friendly neighborhood record store. Then, when online ticket sales really exploded, suddenly you were competing with people from everywhere, and the whole ticket thing became a total crapshoot.

So here we are now, decades down the line from my first shows in New York City, and about the only ticket-related pleasure I get now is the hour I spend every few months decorating my envelopes to send off to GDTS TOO. I’m not that skilled an artist, but I do put some work into my crude offerings—which usually involve cut-out pictures of the band along with some colorful but not-very-well-executed felt-tip marker designs front and back—and I like to think that perhaps my envelope will jump out at one of the good folks filling ticket orders. (Not that my handiwork would ever be confused with that of the real artists who decorate their envelopes.) The jury is still out on whether this works. I’ve gotten great tickets for a reserved-seat shed like Shoreline Amphitheatre, and I’ve also gotten terrible seats there. (“Was my art that bad?” Sniff, sniff…).

From the GDTS TOO website: Definitely not one of my envelopes, sad to say…

But I like knowing there are still human beings involved with the ticketing, and I’m happy to know that my “service charge” is helping keep some very nice people employed. I also like that a couple of times a year I’m keeping my hard-earned dollars away from Ticketmaster. Because lord knows I’ve already given them sacks of dough through the years. It’s a little victory, but I’ll take one when I can get one.

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I didn’t know it at the time, but I was part of a historic ticketing injustice.

A few years ago, tickets were going on sale for a Bruce Springsteen show at the Oracle Arena. Now, I’ve had very bad luck buying tickets for big reserved-seat shows the past several years. Aside from the fact that I can almost never afford the best seats, by the time I usually get through for my shot—in the old days on the phone, more recently online—there’s nothing good left.

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...there always seems to be some sort of corruption in ticket sales. Case in point, when Elton John announced he was going to play Sudbury, Ontario (a place NOT known for big shows) in 08' it was a REALLY big deal. He was going to play the 2000/ 2500 seat Sudbury arena. We didn't (and still don't) have a ticketmaster outlet. So all tickets were sold at the venue or at their website. I think it took something like 12 minutes to sell out. My wife and I tried desperately to buy a pair but it didn't happen. Anyways a couple of days later it had been leaked to the media that all the politicians and bigwigs in Greater Sudbury were able to buy tickets BEFORE the general public. Well this naturally outraged almost everybody. There was such a stink made about it that some of the politicians secretly,gave their tickets back. A couple of weeks before the show the Sudbury Star put a small article in the back of the paper saying they had some pairs of seats left. Come on in and give us your name and we'll raffle them off in a lottery. I made my wife go almost immediately and she gave her info and we crossed our fingers. Three days before the show we got a call saying, there was a pair of tickets waiting for us at the arena. Well slap me and call me Sally if they weren't front row seats. Even tho some of the bigwigs gave their tickets back, it still made me sick that they got the best seats in the house. I'm very thankful for the happy ending. Tickets were 130 bucks each. I made sure to wear my loudest GD shirt, and I even got a high five from Sir Elton himself.
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Yeah, the other thing that was touched on briefly in last week's blog was the whole VIP ticket issue. I have mixed (but mostly negative) feelings about it. Seems like it's just the rich getting the best of everything, as they do throughout society. I still have this image in my head of one of the last Rolling Stones shows I went to a number of years ago at the Oakland Coliseum (arena). There was a whole section of $300 seats in the first 10 or 20 rows, and damn, those rich a-holes were so NOT into the music compared to everyone else in the place. They were mostly kind of sitting around or standing around chatting with each other--I had a really clear view of them and it bummed me out just to see them! What a waste of great seats! Obviously you can't generalize about the folks who buy "premium" and "VIP" tickets--many are no doubt staunch fans. I would buy them in a heartbeat if I could! Absolutely! But it doesn't seem FAIR to me in the slightest. Let's have a level playing field, where everyone has the same shot at the best seats. That will NEVER happen. Not in this world we're living in where the rich now control every aspect of everything in our lives. It's a dark, dark time we live in...
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Another example of a time, and most notably a band, that left us with more than we had when we were around them. I remember the time, the anticipation for a ticket after the postman walked off with your postcard, and most importantly, the thrill of a seat , a fair seat, and most of all a feeling that it was open to anybody, and maybe not all, but the feeling of equality, the antitheses of the elitist felling that sometimes pervade today's shows. I am so thankful for that vision and the unselfish way in which this wonderful band put itself out there. And Blair, what a great piece of history you are preserving. Thank you.
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Did I mention that I cried like a little girl when he played Levon?
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I'm young enough to have actually camped out for tickets once. In 1989, The Who, had a reunion tour and, because my friends and myself were really into the Who and we were in high school, we decided to skip school and camp out at the local ticket outlet (The Wherehouse?) in order to score tickets with maybe a hundred other people. Sadly, we still ended up with crappy tickets. I guess maybe some of the issues today existed even back then. I remember I was pretty annoyed not to even get tickets on the floor. I'm still annoyed that I seemingly can't access the ticketmaster website and get decent seats for anything that is popular. In contrast, GDTS was pretty random, and I felt like I always got tickets and had a fair shot at getting good reserved tix for those venues that had reserved. Now it seems like all the good tix are reserved for upper tier pricing. I miss the lottery approach that GDTS had. I met someone who worked there, and it was pretty random and they played all sorts of cool games to give out tickets like assigning everyone named "Jennifer" to one particular section. That is pretty cool.
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I was in that same ticket line "that cold December morning". I was starting to think the Dead were becoming "more popular than Jesus". As I remember Derick and the Dominoes played the night before at the Capitol.Those were the days. "Ah where do all the years go" Ken Babbs 7/27/72. "What's become of the baby this cold December morn."By the way , Blair, your notes for the new "Europe 72" box trunk are top notch. Many thanks to a real scribe.
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It was a lot of fun to be buried in Europe '72 for a few months when I was writing those. Now I'm eagerly awaiting my copy of the box, which I have not seen, nor heard...

Y'know, I confess I had no idea who "Derek & the Dominos" were when they popped up on the Capitol marquee and in ads a couple of months earlier. Had I known, I definitely would have gone to see them. I was a major Cream fan and of Clapton in general. But of course one of his things back then was that he didn't want it be "Eric Clapton & the Dominos."

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Another part of the online ticket buying experience that baffles me is how seats are doled out. I have been on at the moment tickets go on sale, clicked "best seats available," and gotten terrible seats at the same time that others are getting good ones (never the other way around - they hate me). I purchased for the 2009 Dead show in Albany within the first ten minutes they were on sale. Our seats were literally in the last couple rows of the furthest section from the stage in the top of the upper deck. We went and looked before we went to far better seats in a not nearly full arena. That isn't even corruption. It is just another example of designing a system for the ease of the technology and customer or user be damned. Oh for the days of looking at a chart and picking your seats - a process that some venues are finally starting to replicate online.

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Three years in a row (86, 87, 88) it was our college Rite of Spring to go to Hampton ~ the Baltimore crew met up with the Cleveland crew and we all had the concertgoing times of our lives. In '86, the first show wasn't even sold out (though it certainly wasn't empty). By '87 (even still pre-In the Dark) there was no doubt tickets were gold. Jerry had almost died, and everyone awaited ticket news with bated breath ~ we knew we must camp. And we did, and were the second party of people in line ~ we were let into the department store, still two hours before the store and its mall opened for regular business, and made that so-self-satisfied walk through men's clothing to the Ticketron cashier, knowing we were guaranteed tickets. And then.....the most dreaded announcement of that era....."the computer's down." We knew that as we waited, tickets were flying out of every other outlet in two states. When they came back up, first night was sold out. We later found out our cousin had slept in, had breakfast, and cruised to another mall where he got tickets for all three nights. In '88, we finally got smart and did mail-order. Ah....why haven't we always done this? Night two, Hampton '87. To echo Blair's sentiment, it was worth everything & anything you sacrificed all day to get up close (still is). Two Falls earlier, my friend & I had discovered this glory at Richmond, having gotten in early enough (only because it was so wet & cold) to simply walk up right in front of Jerry's setup, give or take a few standing heads who got there first. Couldn't believe it when they walked out (so casually) and took up their instruments. What a night. So the following Hampton '86, a ritual was born: give up day two to wait in line all day and see 2nd night up close (yes, "Box of Rain" was 2nd night). In '87, having missed first night, we were pumped, especially hearing all day comments like "It was good to see Jerry leading the band again" and "I've never seen Jerry like that"...... And when the lights went down, and THAT "Touch of Grey" opened with those power chords, we were at the epicenter of the love fest, as a revitalized Jerry sang "I will survive." Burned into memory forever. (Youtube "Iko" from that set, or the next night's monster "Terrapin" to see what kind of energy Jerry was sporting....though Touch of Grey is sadly not posted.) '88 2nd night wasn't too shabby either, preserved for posterity as Download Series volume 5. Will never forget Jerry kicking his leg during "Fire" and the "yeah, I'm hot" look he shot over to Bob & Phil after the second jam.... This is why general admission shows are the best. Me and my brother (veteran of two of those Hamptons) did the same thing for Further last year at Eugene. And we were right in front of Phil. And we got paid.
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...antonjo. I hate reserved seat shows! Great Hampton stories!

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great notes on the Bremen show! Really enjoyed the Town Musicians of Bremen tie-in ; ) And you're right ~ the 2nd Playin' is better. Jerry's lead gets downright scary.
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Hampton is a special place for me. I saw my first GD show there in 86 (Box of Rain! Ok, the show wasn't one of their best but for me it was magical). I was living in Georgia in 89. It was my birthday and it had rained so much that the birthday rafting trip I had planned had been canceled because the river was closed. I was feeling kinda blue. I got a call late night from a guy in Virginia that was a friend of a friend. We met at a party once and I had laid a few tapes on him but we really didn't know each other well. He told me that Hampton was to be played a week later and that if I could send him some money he would get me a couple of tickets to each show. He said that he knew I would be interested because I had been three years in a row. I drove to Western Union in the middle of the night. One week later, I was seeing two legendary shows. I really didn't know the guy that well and he could have easily ripped me off (and I of course made the long drive without having tickets in hand). This guy gave me memories for a life time.
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Living in San Francisco in the late Sixties and early Seventies, we used to buy our tickets to Grateful Dead shows at Pacific Stereo stores which worked fine, for a long time. Then things changed on how we bought tickets in the mid-Seventies and I had moved away by that time. Since I had moved, I then used GDTS Too which again worked fine for many years. Skip forward to the mid-Nineties, when in 1995, GDTS Too sent me three nights at the OMNI in ATL, Ruby sent me two tickets for each night and each night the seats got better and better so that on the last night of the what would be our final show, she had us seated in the 12th row. At the time, we were ecstatic unknowing that this would be our final show. Kind of amazing and we will be forever grateful to Ruby and GDTS TOO for those three nights at OMNI in ATL in 1995.
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I'm really surprised they gave you bunk seats! Is there no loyalty in favoritism anymore? Well, I guess this proves GDTS TOO is still the fairest way to buy tickets if the name Blair Jackson appears on the envelop and they don't bump it to the top of the pack.
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Everybody thinks that because he wrote a book and now writes a lot for dead.net he is on the "All Access" pass list everywhere he goes. And that Rhino gives him a Gulfstream V private jet so he doesn't have to slum it in first class between shows. He also gets all his 5 star hotels paid for as well as the room service bill. The crystal bowls are filled with you-know-what and there is always a complimentary hummer on stand-by with a driver. C'mon people, writing is hard work and he gets none of the above. Please correct me if I'm wrong, Blair. Maybe you do get all this stuff and Rolling Stone gives you two curvy blond assistants to boot who drive your wife insane with jealousy as they write up your articles from the micro-tapes you toss them... Well, a guy can dream, can't he?
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...obviously have me confused with someone else... ;-)
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well, if you're foolish enough to see Springsteen............ only kidding!!!! ha ha!! only joking my good man!!! yeah, i guess we don't know the half of it regarding tickets put aside and vip nonsense; i remember having a similar experience when Tom Waits announced his first UK shows in many a moon. 2003/4?? absolutely no purchasing or any other deals until a particular day; even had other friends on the phone bombarding the ticket office before it opened, right up until the clock struck 9.00am just in case. amazingly got put through, only to be told that seats in Row Z at the back of the balcony were all that's left; a mere snip at £120.00!!!! mmmmmmm............ one of the reasons why big shows just don't appeal anymore; terribly sad as i love some of these artists but i'm just not prepared to waste that kinda money. last stadium show i went to was Rolling Stones in '95 i think, at the old Wembley Stadium. kinda ok i guess; the main reason anyone would go see them being Charlie and Keith of course. great to hear the songs i grew up with; big staging etc. great view even, fairly near the front on the floor. but worth paying for? absolutely NO WAY!!!! luckily, mine were free tickets. and agree regarding complimentary tickets/guest list, blair; i feel the same way. i'm involved in music and can get freebies sometimes but i just don't feel comfortable really. much prefer to be selective and pay for it. if someone's creating real art, i want to pay for it. so that's why i generally stick to smaller venues; the vast majority of artists i'm interested in aren't associated with arenas and stadiums. and if they were? well, i can live without seeing them. Japan is even worse!! even for a relatively low key foreign artist, you were looking at £40.00 for a real small club show. and you have to pay a drinks surcharge.....even if you don't want a drink!
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1976. And it is announced that the Grateful Dead are going to be playing at Wembley Stadium with Santana and NRPS in a huge event in August called ‘Greetings from San Francisco’. I will be my first chance to see the Dead! The only way to guarantee getting good tickets was to go to London to buy them. So 16 year old badger collects the cash from a bunch of friends and heads on the train from his small country town to London. If you know Oxford Circus underground station in London you will know that it has many exits. I did not then know the area well and I spent a while wandering round and up and down stairs and streets trying to find Shaftesbury Avenue. As I am standing in the street looking this way and that I am suddenly grabbed from behind and surrounded by four guys in jeans and sweatshirts and shoved up against the wall. A warrant card is shoved in my face. POLICE. “We’ve been watching you hanging around here” they say “what are you selling?” “ Nothing” I say, totally freaked out. I am forced to turn out my pockets “ Where’s all this money from then” a cop announces triumphantly waving the ticket money in my face “I’m going to buy some concert tickets” I say “Who for” “The Grateful Dead” “ Never heard of ‘em. Stop lying to us son and tell us where the stuff is” Now a crowd of people is gathering. They are told to move on while my interrogation continues and every pocket and even my shoes are searched in the street. After 15 minutes of interrogation and searching I am released and told not to hang around there again. Bastards. It is my first encounter with the heavy side of policing and I am shaking like a leaf. I finally make my way to Shaftesbury Avenue and get the precious tickets. It’s all been worthwhile because at last we are going to see the Dead. Except A few weeks later the show is cancelled. Bill Graham and Harvey Goldsmith were overambitious thinking they could sell 80,000 tickets. After another cancellation in 1978 it was not until March 81 that they finally came. Of course I sent back all those unused tickets from 76 and 78 for refunds. I guess they would be worth a lot now.
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yeah, i remember you; shifty eyes, incoherent, puddle forming around the shoes as the fuzz emptied your pockets. hadn't laughed so hard for years..... heh heh! yeah, London policemen in the mid-seventies not all that friendly; truncheons for the express purpose of breaking black heads. rather unpleasant. good story though; didn't know about those shows. would've been mighty fine though. nice lineup. as Mickey said, "well...Bill was wrong about a lot of things..."!! heard that was the reason Bill was ruled out of promoting the Egypt shows as he wanted to bring along Santana; tried and again and still failed ha ha! would loved to have seen the Dead at those early Glastonbury festivals; still, Gong more than made up for it!
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11 years 6 months
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well I am sure my plight was very amusing to you skanky regular Oxford Circus dealers selling your bags of oregano and oven cleaner to hapless tourists. Every year there were rumours that the Dead would play Glastonbury. One year apparently Michael Eavis even went to California and signed them up only for them to pull out. But it was never to be..shame because it was somewhere they should have played. Gong, Steve Hillage, Tim Blake's Crystal Machine, Hawkwind were indeed some compensation..
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48 years 11 months
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yeah, they really should've; loved reading in Phil's book about he & Jerry climbing Glastonbury Tor and visiting Stonehenge/Avebury.one of the most disappointing attractions now, for anyone thinking of visiting; railed in, crappy kiosks; distinctly un-spiritual. Dark Star as the sun set? Drums/Space as the night draws in and the mushrooms making the countryside glow? unequivocally "yes please"! oh well, it happened in my head, anyhow.....
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In the fall of 1984, I showed up at the Worcester Centrum without tickets the first day of the run. It was about 10 in the morning when I arrived, so, on a whim, I decided to try the box office. I ended up with 3rd row on Jerry's side the first night, which was a smoker with Iko opening the first set and Terrapin the second, and I was about 20 rows back the second night, where we got a Help > Slip > Franklin's > Jack Straw > He's Gone > Smokestack for the second set before drums. After that, it was onto Augusta, Maine, where I wasn't so fortunate, but still managed to get tickets at face value in the parking lot for both shows, but if I had a point to make here, it was this: sometimes nostalgia is all that it's cracked up to be.
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48 years 11 months
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yeah, it's true Mike! some of us will be looking back at Sept 2011 and saying how good we had it!! and wouldn't that be a crying shame.
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@iceninedog, the original GDTS (Grateful Dead Ticket Sales) operated from February 1983 until March of 1996, and handled only Grateful Dead concerts and a few special benefit concerts....GDTSTOO, Inc. (we were NOT allowed to refer to us as Grateful Dead ANYTHING by the lawyers) Formed in April of 1996. This means that ANY mail order tickets you got for Grateful Dead shows were from GDTS NOT GDTSTOO! @blairj, in the early 1970's the assistant manager of Discount Records in Berkeley was Hale Milgrim, who went on to become President of Capitol Records from 1988-1991... Concerning concert holds, I can only talk about Grateful Dead holds when I used to allot them in the last few years of Grateful Dead...My/the band's policy was to not to hold any tickets in the first ten rows of Arena/Shed shows. and nothing in the first 15 rows for stadium shows. and then we would hold about ten rows for all the various holds: band, promoter, building, record label, promotional stuff and sometimes even Ticketmaster holds for their employee's. Depending on the show there could be as many as 2,000 holds for reserved seat shows...starting in 1991 at many shows I would go into the audience and ask where the person got their tickets. About 85-90% of the people with GDTS tickets said they got them from GDTS. The rest got them from friends and a few from scalpers (in my mind there is no such thing as a "broker" they are all scalper scum...) Of the Ticketmaster tickets about 85-90% bought them from scalpers. (I am talking about the seats in the first 10-15 rows... Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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blair, i think i was trying to buy tickets to phish's comeback shows at the hampton coliseum around the same time that you thought you scored great tickets to see bruce. i was not toyed with as bad as you though in that i never even got "in," i was stuck in the god-awful "your wait time is fifteen minutes" screen, but as i was waiting in that screen knowing that the tickets to all three nights were being sold out as the seconds ticked by, i got a great view of the advertisement which took up a third of the screen for ticketmaster's "tickets now," resale website. The ad read something along the lines of "can't get the tickets you're looking for? come to ticketsnow for tickets to all major concerts, sporting events, broadway musicals, minor league hockey games, and underground chicken fights," or words to that effect. It felt like ticketmaster was laughing in my face. Well, i was right, the shows had all sold out in the fifteen minutes i had to wait. i never even stood a chance.what i didn't realize at the time, but came to soon after is that the reason i didn't really stand a chance was because i wasn't just competing with fans for these tickets on my home pc, i was competing with the countless ticket resale companies that have sprung up in this internet age. Companies that had many computers that were far more powerful then mine to jam the system and scoop up as many tickets as possible, sometimes seemingly all of them. The more i thought about it the more outrageous it seemed. i am not old enough to remember concert ticket buying in the seventies, or the eighties even, but i do remember waiting in lines at tower records, hoping to get a bracelet that guaranteed you were one of the first one hundred people to buy tickets, and all the wonderful nervous anticipation that went along with that. It didn't suck any less to get shut out, but at least you felt like you had a fighting chance. I understand that scalping has existed forever, and i understand that the internet has changed the game in the way of allowing people much greater access to sell the tickets they bought to someone who is willing to pay more money for them. i can't see the legalizing of companies whose sole goal is to buy up as many tickets to as many events as possible and then resell them to the public at a higher price with fees that will make you beg for "ticket-bastard" surcharges, as the answer. especially in this digital age where a company with some money's advantage is just insurmountable to the average ticket buyer. it all actually gets worse when you realize that there are some bands who will hold blocks of tickets to sell directly to the resale companies because they realize they're losing money in ticket sales by stupidly giving them all to ticketmaster/livenation. did i mention this infuriates me? I can understand how the mtv, pop-rock, radio crap music, bands that dominate our mainstream radio could allow themselves to practice something like that, as they've all sold out long ago and are fake anyway, but it's a practice i must think that any band with a loyal following that they can depend on would detest. what's the answer? i don't know. the only thing i can think of is for bands like furthur, and phish, and others that have their own direct sales to their fans to demand a greater share of the tickets for them to sell directly to their fans, so at least the band may have a modicum of control over the end price. ultimately for now i'm left with a "you can't fight city hall" feeling on this one, and if i'm forced to, i'll suck it up and go through a broker if it's a show i am dying to see. i've only done it a handful of times so far and each time it had been worth it - the dead at msg in '09, and furthur at radio city for two years running in the winter/spring...being in the buliding those nights was worth more then money. small solace is that i am starting to notice at both phish and furthur shows the declining prescence of overpriced tickets. it's as if the ticket re-salers are realizing how many extra tickets are showing up on the lots and for how cheap they're being sold - it's enough to make you feel bad about having paid full price every now and again. there are moments where this form of unbridled captialism is running aground due to the sheer good nature of good people. i know this is getting long, but one more quick story if you'll allow it...phish has obviously learned a lot from the grateful dead handbook, both musically and business-wise...phish has a mail order ticket lotto for their fans, they've always had mail order, now it's just electronic. anyway, after the horrible experience of trying to buy tickets to the hampton shows, or to the shows from their tour that summer in '09, we tried again in the fall. my friend won FRONT ROW tickets to two shows within ten days, two for a show at the wachovia center in philadelphia right before thanksgiving, and four for a friday night show at msg in early december. we literally hit the phish lotto. whether or not that was a glicth in the phish ticket lotto system, i don't care...two nights i'll never forget. sorry for rambling, thanks for the time, as always blair, great blogs.
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11 years 2 months
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....there are so many! Two extremes. At Red Rocks in 83 I think, I had a number of extra tickets for each show (sent to me by the good folks at the GD office). I wanted to basically give them away once I got to the gig, in exchange, well, just for a little greenage since I had flown to get to the shows and was lacking.... I could not give them away, since folks seemed worried that they were counterfiet, there was a rash of that then. It was weird, I could not in the end give them away! Back in the day we often did not have tickets to all the shows on tour, we would sometime use the ticket for the NEXT show to get into a show, and worry about the next show, well, the next day. Often doors would just open, and so on. I remember various "codes" at box offices. At the Stanley Theatre there was a sign taped over the ornate box office which said "Show is completely sold out, there will be no tickets on sale at noon today" which we knew meant, show up at noon ,and there will be some tickets! Only show I never got into was in Utica NY, after a mini-riot out front featuring cops on horseback pushing a crowd into heavy shut metal doors. I decided it was worth a pass that night! We used to call ticketron (I think it was then) the night before tickets would go on sale, and let it ring all night, to be first connected! Ah yes, now all you need is a credit card, and a letter from your bank manager to get a ticket to a show! I actually think the ticket price for one good seat to a decent show these days is as much as seeing a WHOLE east cost tour in the late 70's! Well, I start to ramble, time to sign off!
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Just reading the liner notes to show #4 4/14/72 and Larry Rogers refers to Jerry & David Nelson and sometimes Jerry and Sarah playing "...in Palo Alto...upstairs at The Trident..." It was upstairs at The Tangent! The Trident was in Marin County! Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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nice find Larry when rock stars start to sell you songs whining about the music industry that made them rich, they have nornally run out of ideas and are past their sell by date......Dire Straits, Van Morrison etc
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11 years 5 months
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I have front row center seats for Steve Earle next week, NOT VIP, just regular old venue presale (and what's the deal with this whole presale sale thing? Scam, or reward for those who are paying attention?). I'd nearly given up on the presale idea altogether, having gotten a string of so-so seats through that route, when these popped up. You spin the wheel enough times, your number comes up sooner or later, I guess.
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I just received the following email from Dead.net: "We hope you are enjoying the sights and sounds of your Europe ‘72: The Complete Recordings box set! The label containing your official box number is about to clear customs and will be shipped to you shortly. You’ll then be able to customize your box by affixing your official unique number anywhere you’d like. If you have any questions, please contact Dead.net customer service: 1-800-CAL-DEAD (800-225-3323) 410.568.3715 (for International customers) Or Customerservice@dead.net Dead.net customer service is open 10:00am-10:00pm ET Monday-Friday and 10:00am-6:00pm ET on Saturdays. We are closed on Sundays and US Holidays. Sincerely, The Dead.net Team" Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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I had nothing to do with proofreading or fact-checking the E72 box set, much less issues of mailing, personalization or any of that stuff... Perhaps your comments and/or complaints would be better directed elsewhere. I am but a lowly scribe.
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Sorry Blair, I thought I had seen early posts about the Europe '72 Boxed Set in this topic (not by you, but by responders), so I was just joining in. No complaints about you other than the now corrected Grateful Dead Ticket "service"... Steven Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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    ClarkeBG
    6 years 10 months ago
    By the subsequent year, the
    By the subsequent year, the main rest to buy cheap rock of ages tickets ’n’ roll show was a department store called John Wanamaker at the Cross-County cheap cirque du soleil dralion tickets Shopping Center in Yonkers; certainly not in my district.
  • smarcus
    7 years 3 months ago
    Sorry
    Sorry Blair, I thought I had seen early posts about the Europe '72 Boxed Set in this topic (not by you, but by responders), so I was just joining in. No complaints about you other than the now corrected Grateful Dead Ticket "service"... Steven Thank you, and Stay In Touch!
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    blairj
    7 years 3 months ago
    Hey, Steve Marcus...
    I had nothing to do with proofreading or fact-checking the E72 box set, much less issues of mailing, personalization or any of that stuff... Perhaps your comments and/or complaints would be better directed elsewhere. I am but a lowly scribe.