Apr 102015

Reserved for the 1%. Others need not apply.

The entire front section is reserved for the 1%. Others need not apply.

I face a quandary; A crisis of consumer conscience. Just how much money am I willing to pay to see a favorite band from the past? Clearly there is an upper limit, and the music industry has changed (much like the online gaming industry) in a way that suddenly and unexpectedly challenges my upper limit.

Whales must go to concerts too.

But first, the backstory.

Over a course of one’s life, one has many favorite bands. Or at least I did. For me the best music has always been new music, something I haven’t already heard over and over. I still love much of the music I used to love, but I know it. I can hear a note or a chord and it immediately opens up the entire song for me. Maybe not every lyric is accurately remembered, and maybe not every note, but they are all known and familiar and well-worn in a comfortable way.

This is not bad, it just is, and it means that I have gone through a lot of favorite bands over the years. But one band held that spot for longer than any other, and maybe just as importantly, held it during the late teen/early twenties formative years: Rush. I went to sleep at night listening to Permanent Waves. I went on road trips to the tune of Moving Pictures. I went to their shows every year, although I can’t remember much from them. Being of that age, we used concerts as an excuse to see how wasted we could get. As it turned out, we could get very wasted indeed and thus I have only the spottiest of memories from most of the concerts I attended.

But they are fond spotty memories and many of them involve Rush.

And now we are old, Rush and I, aging together. They still put out new albums and tour, every year. I rarely listen to the new stuff, and when I do it is without the same passion; I have new favorites now (Roll the Bones was pretty good though).

They are thinking about retiring. Apparently. This year’s tour is a retrospective, reviewing their 40 years as a touring band. No band ever seems to truly retire, even the Rolling Stones are going to get their creaky selves on stage again this year. But Rush never stopped being a band, never took a hiatus, never stopped recording. That can’t go on forever. As their manager put it in an interview for iHeart radio:

I did not want to do a farewell tour. There was no one in the band who wanted to do that because there is nobody who thinks it is that final or thinks that they won’t make music or do something. But I will tell you this. I am probably not going to be able to get a band full of 65 year olds out again on the road–which is what would happen next time with any potential tour–they all would be 65-ish. Neil is as much an athlete as he is a musician, but with these 2 1/2 and 3 hour length sets, I don’t know if it possible to keep up with that (physical) demand. And they each want to go out on top in every single way. From their status….well, that is more me—the status—than it is them; and still having the ability to be at their best. To play at the level that they have been able to play.

And so. Maybe the last one. Where they will be playing at least some of their older material. The tour does not come to my city, but it comes close enough. A two-hour road trip hardly even counts as a road trip. Totally do-able. Off to Ticketmaster!

But whoa. I expected sticker shock. But I did not expect the good seats to all be reserved for VIPs. All of them. The first 16 rows are not even offered to regular people. The entire front of the floor has been put behind a velvet rope and given a cool $1000 entry fee. A thousand dollars! Each!

What do you get for this enormous outlay? From the Ticketmaster explanation:

– Specially designed RUSH gift item (exclusive to VIPs)
– Tour Program
– Official VIP laminate
– Rush VIP Wooden Pick Set (limited edition, exclusive to VIPs)
– Crowd-free merchandise shopping
– Dedicated VIP entrance (where available)
– On-site VIP host

Note the absence of anything worthwhile. Some souvenirs. Maybe you get a dedicated door, maybe you don’t. You don’t even meet the band. What? These are just seats with a handful of tawdry baubles. Not an event, not even a party tent. Just seats. For $1000! In other words, they are tickets for people who don’t really care what their tickets cost. The 1%. The rest of us need not apply.

In the image at the top of this article, the bright green sections are all VIP only. The 1% section.

I expected the front row to be bought out and resold at a premium. I expected the best seats to cost the most. But I did not expect that they are all completely out of reach of the masses, right from the get-go. Never offered to the public at all. VIP only.

I am offended. And thus the quandary.

There are other seats, lots of them. But I don’t want to give money to people who are offending me. Nor do I want to drive two hours and invest what will still be several hundred dollars, all for the privilege of feeling like a second-class citizen in our newly class-based society. Dammit, I should have had that chance to sit up front! A tiny, remote chance, but still a chance! But no. VIP only.

How ironic that the band’s first big hit was Working Man, a paean to the middle class, a group which is no longer allowed to approach too close to the band. Keep your distance Working Man (and Working Woman). Go ahead and pay us, but please do it from afar!

And so I will not be seeing Rush on what may be their last tour. I will not relive my memories. I will miss what may be my last opportunity to see The Trees and Tom Sawyer (and Roll the Bones) performed by the original artists.

I guess it is not really a quandary after all, since I know what I will be doing. Or in this case, not doing. The only vote that really counts is the one you make with your feet, right?

VIP only? Screw that.

🙂 😀 🙂

  6 Responses to “Live Music: Reserved For The 1%”

Comments (6)
  1. I know a lot of the bands I really love do VIP stuff, but I’m fairly sure they all include meet & greets with the band (and the bands are not on a level with Rush, so don’t charge anywhere near that much!)

    But the $1000 “item” described above sounds extremely sucky

    • As a contrast, I went to Bonnaroo in 2011. Four days of concerts with the biggest names in music. I bought the VIP package so I could sleep in a VIP tent close by venues. There was VIP seating in most of the venues but it was decent comfortable seating that was not up front. Good seats but not anywhere near the best in the house.

      And all of that was still less than $1000.

  2. As much as I love Rush, yeah. $1K?! NO. FREAKIN’. WAY.

    By contrast, my hero Weird Al Yankovic is going to be in town in August. Tickets start at a paltry $35, and for $260, you get a premium reserved ticket in the first five rows; a meet-and-greet with Al himself; a pre-show party; a personally autographed, limited-edition Mandatory Tour poster; a complete set of Weird Al trading cards, including the new Mandatory Fun ones; an “additional exclusive Weird Al merchandise gift;” and an on-site concert concierge. All that, for basically 1/4 of the price Rush wants for much, much, MUCH less.

    (Don’t get me wrong, Rush’s “Grace Under Pressure” concert was amazing. But definitely not $1K amazing.)

    • Technically it was $1032. Because apparently 1k wasn’t quite enough, got to get that extra $32 in there.

  3. Rush is by far my favorite band. All of my DDO YouTube videos have been set to their music in the background. I’m surprised to hear about this. I know they are coming to the Greensboro Coliseum in May which I expect is the same date you are referring to Geoff. Since I live on the NC coast, I was really contemplating making my way out there. I wonder how much influence the group actually had with these pricing decisions. The Greensboro Coliseum isn’t very large, I think it would have been better for the group to do the show in Raleigh.

    • (NPC): You tell Sir Raleigh, “Ask your questions Sir Raleigh. My sense of Law shall not fail me.”
      *While serving a term as Mayor, you learn that a band has requested to perform in your city but plans to create a special VIP section to be sold at $1000.00 per seat. What do you do?”

      😉 not sure where I was going with this but I’m working on a post in regards to the Prison, Sir Raleigh and Duping; couldn’t resist.

      There is a “fan” base that not only wants but expects this price range. Geoff, I think you should go. I see the fact; that nothing worthwhile is in the VIP, as a slight nod from RUSH. “They can have their $1000.00 seats but don’t expect us to give them anything worthwhile(other than the privilage to pay a $1000.00).

What do you think?

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