I often joke that I am Old. I don’t truly think of myself as Old (yeah, with a capital ‘o’) but sometimes I am struck forcibly by the way the world has changed since I first learned how to do certain things. Today’s revelation is about attending live rock concerts.
I began attending rock concerts when I was in college – ’74-’78. I’d never gone to one in high school. No desire, and probably over-sheltered. In college it was so easy to go hear live music. There was so much FREE music in bars, parties, and festivals. Getting tickets to touring bands was easy as well. I’ll drag out my “I was an EARLY Bruce fan” story. It was ’74 and I was chatting with my sister who had called me from work. She had access to a WATS. Hah. Who can tell the audience what a WATS line is? I was telling her that there was some guy giving a concert tonight but no one was going, some guy named Bruce Springsteen. She went nuts, telling me that he was fantastic, Boston was still rocking from his show there, I must GO GO GO. I said okay calm down, let me see if anyone will go with me. Finally I found a dorm mate, Marilyn from NYC, who agreed she wasn’t doing anything else so she’d go to this concert with me. I wandered over to the venue at 4:30 that afternoon and picked up 2 tickets. Well. You know the rest of that story. 🙂
The next year when Bruce came around we slept out the night before tickets went on sale. I’d gotten there so early that I was within the first 75 ‘sleepers’. An hour before the doors opened the back of the line rushed the front of the line. It wasn’t pleasant. I did get tickets but the seats were not reserved – all general seating. Which meant it was going to be the same mad house trying to get into the show. (It was, and that’s another horror story for another day.) Suffice it to say, I LOVE Bruce & the E Street Band and have seen them numerous times in NJ. There is nothing like a Bruce concert to make you feel energized, alive, ecstatic. The man and the band give their all and so does the audience.
So when the tour was announced in the summer of 2022, my sister and our friend and I all wanted to get tickets. The first new wrinkle was the presale auction. First you had to win the RIGHT to buy tickets. The auction demanded that you specify which show (place/date) you wanted to attempt to ‘win’. My sister and I won the right for 2 different shows, both in Long Island, NY. Our friend Ann won an auction right for the NJ show. Next came the actual date when the sale began. I’d never had to buy tickets under these conditions before and at first I had difficulty understanding the process. Various seat selections would be displayed, also showing a price, and you had to click to get that selection. For the first several minutes (and please imagine me hyperventilating and stressing out) every single time I clicked on a selection I’d get a message that someone else had them, try again. Slowly the screen began to make sense and I could try to “aim” for certain tiers and sections. I ended up spending $100 more per ticket than my original plan, and then add on fees and the rest, but I got 4 tickets for the LI show for ONLY $1480. Yeah.
The show was great, of course. It turned out to be much easier to get to than expected. Some of you reading this, however, know about the Belt Parkway and the Cross Island Expressway and know that easier does NOT mean traffic-free. (It was at the UBS Arena in Elmont, NY. A place I hope to NEVER visit again.) We came out from the concert to my car in the parking garage, where I discovered that (most likely) the honking big SUV next to me had kindly dislodged my front bumper, leaving a beautiful red dent as well as a shrieking Parking sensor.
I have asked UBS Guest Services for assistance in identifying the car next to me. This is a modern garage, with sensor lights indicating open parking spaces, handicapped spaces, how many open spaces THIS direction and how many THAT direction. You’d think they would have working video cameras. Not only have they not been able to “find my car” (despite the photo of the wall sign showing exactly where my car was parked) their attitude sucks. I’ll say that every person there I met F2F was WONDERFUL. All the client-facing folks via email are rude and lack the most fundamentals of good client services. The arena also raised the parking rates for the concerts (compared to what they charge when the hockey team is playing). So keep adding $$$ to that $1480. Another $55 to park. Of course like most venues these days the prices inside for food, drink and collectibles was through the roof as well. $50 for T-shirt. No thanks. I bought a cocktail in a can for $19. Since I could not identify the offending party in the accident, I had to pay the $500 deductible on the $3200 repair bill for my car. There’s also a story about trying to leave the parking lot the night of the second concert but that one is your typical Long Island traffic story.
Okay, these things happen. It’s the only accident I’ve ever had going to a concert. (Some time let me tell you about the Bruce concert at Giant stadium where somehow I missed the parking lot and found myself heading back to the NJ Turnpike, but the wonderful police officer STOPPED all the traffic coming from the toll booths to allow me to turn around and try again. *grin* Not all my stories are sad ones.) The other part of this concert that was all new to me was the fact the NO paper tickets were allowed – everything had to be on your phone – digital. Well. My one prior experience with that was trying to get into Giants stadium for a FB game, 5 of us with the tix on one phone, and a massive crowd all trying to access the internet to show THEIR tickets. That was 18 months ago and the world has moved on, so I could accept that perhaps this would work. I confess that I just handed my phone to the “ticket taker” and let him swipe it for us. 🙂 What happens if your battery dies? I understand it, but I am curious about all the possible “what ifs?”.
This week we had tickets to see another concert in New Brunswick. I’d bought those tickets back in November 2022. I would have sworn, nay, I’d have placed MONEY on a bet, that I’d gone through the venue’s website. Why am I so certain? Because how else would I have know this concert was happening? I’m NOT plugged into concert tours but I AM on this venue’s mailing list. Be that as it may, again I found myself trying to pay $150/ticket and ending up spending a total of $354 for 2 tickets. Again I got an email with my digital tickets. I confess – I did NOT open up that email to actually LOOK at the tickets. This is my VERY expensive lesson.
We went to the show, went to our seats, and I saw that the seats were all even numbers. I looked at our tickets and saw they were the same row, but one was even and one was odd. NOT together in other words. I asked the usher and she asked me was I Odin Hill. Huh??? Well, no, I’m not. But guess what – I had Odin’s $59 tickets. Who knows who had my $150 tickets. I got no sympathy nor empathy from the staff at the venue. Their response – we can’t help you. You didn’t buy through us so if you want to sit together, you need to buy 2 new tickets and take this up with your credit card company. We left. I bought and paid for those tickets in 2022. No one is going to help me get my money back and besides – I actually RECEIVED tickets. They just weren’t the ones I bought as stated in my confirmation email.
After buying the Bruce tix back in July 2022, I felt so battered. Going to a concert these days feels so terrible to me. The concert might be great, but buying tickets, paying a zillion add-on fees, having things like parking fees boosted just because they can – it stops being fun. Our friend Ann who was trying for the Bruce tix in NJ had a bad experience as well. By the time she was allowed in to try to purchase tickets, the prices had risen to a starting price of $600. That’s a lot of money and that’s before the additional fees get added. I needed to sell one of my 4 tickets. Given that they were all digital, I had limited options. I could ask Ticketmaster to help me – for which I’m fairly certain they’d have charged a fee to me and to whoever bought them. I could have offered them up to sale to “anyone”. Then it’s a game of chicken – I transfer them to you and trust you to send me your $? Or vice versa? Or do what I was fortunate enough to do – found a friend in town who wrote me a check and rode to the concert with us. By the time I was done trying to sell the ticket, figure out how to “tailgate” in a venue that forbids tailgating, plan the drive on 2 of the worst highways in the area, have my car damaged, drive back home – I’m not sure I’ll be attending many more concerts such as these.
A sadder but wiser girl am I.