From the Barstool of the Publisher – August 2009

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By the time most of you read this, the four days of mayhem that is Phish at Red Rocks will be over — let’s hope without incident, or minimal incident at that.

Love Phish or hate them, if you’re a fan of any kind of music these days, you kind of have to marvel at what their reunion this summer has done, the excitement it has spurred throughout the industry, and the holy-shit-is-that-Phish-in-a-mainstream-media-outlet attention it has spurred.

But one thing that it has also shown is greed, and this time I’m talking about greed within the fan base, not the normal outlets we point our fingers at, like Ticketmaster and scalpers and such.

I was talking with some friends the other night and we were sharing stories about how we got our tickets and who we know that got shut out and all of that. It’s a conversation I’ve had several times this summer and in EVERY conversation it is always inevitably revealed that at least, at least one person used a slew of credit cards from family members, friends and old dead relatives to try to score their seat. I’m sorry but I think that sucks. It’s that kind of activity that fuels the greed of scalpers and ticket agents.

Let’s take these Red Rocks shows, for example. They sold out almost before they went on sale. Just for argument sake let’s say that there were one million people vying for these (roughly 40,000) seats. If everyone who was trying for them used two cards each, then, duh, no wonder it was so hard to get tickets — not to mention the bastards who used five or more cards.

That fervor is what creates all the opportunity in the world for fans to get ripped off in the long run. Now, luckily, some of the monster prices that were happening have settled down and most tickets for the Phish run (as we go to press, just a week before the actual shows) are hovering at around the $200 to $300 mark — which is still obscene, but not as bad as when there were extra zeroes.

I don’t know how we begin to curtail that over-the-top, I-gotta-have-it demand for big-ticket shows, but as music fans we’re the ones who end up screwing ourselves by acting so damn eager. It doesn’t take a business genius to realize that it’s dumb to sell a ticket for face value when someone will pay five times that — blame scalpers all you want, but they’re just cogs in the wheel at that point, and they’re not even driving.

Next time there’s a show you would sell your first-born kid to go to, take the high road and enter one card number. If you’re one of the people who are “supposed to be there” the universe will make it happen, or maybe it won’t, but won’t you feel better about yourself? If you said ‘no,’ you just proved my point.

See you at the shows.

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