Tag Archives: concert etiquette

The Day I Met the Pet Shop Boys

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 I have been a fan of the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant even before he was a Pet Shop Boy. He used to write for my teen Bible, Star Hits (Smash Hits) magazine. I remember when he left the magazine to become a famous pop star. I was sad, because I figured I’d never hear from him again. Oh, ye of little faith! Of course he and Chris Lowe became extremely famous and fabulous, and are one of the few 80’s bands that stood the test of time.

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Fast forward to 2014. Pet Shop Boys are touring America, and are selling VIP meet and greets. I hyperventilated at the thought of actually pressing the flesh with Mr. Tennant himself, who had been my hero since those halcyon Star Hits/Smash Hits days. I just had to snatch up a VIP ticket, even though it was a bit out of my budget. I later found out that photos were not permitted, which was a huge bummer for me. I’d rather have a photo than an autograph any day.

Finally, the day of the show arrived. After standing in line for almost two hours, and meeting some lovely people who were in line with me (Hello, Jessica!), it was finally time to meet Chris and Neil. I was so nervous. I actually felt like I might pass out. Some of my new friends went in with me to offer moral support, or maybe they were worried I’d actually faint. I’m not sure.

Anyway, I turned the corner into the meet and greet room, and saw Neil Tennant himself smiling at me as if he were happy to see me, and extending his hand out to me. (I’m sure he did this for everyone) He was wearing black pants and a black jacket, and he had on some sexy glasses that made him look like a college professor (the one everyone has a crush on).

Huge disclaimer here: yes, I know he is gay, but I had a huge crush on him before I realized the truth of the matter, and sometimes I still can’t forget how that felt. I joked that I was going to tell him, “You’ve been whispering in my ear for 27 years,” but I didn’t. So chalk up some points for me for self-restraint.

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I shook hands with Neil and Chris. Chris has never seemed like a real person to me. He seems like a robot – never speaking, never smiling, never showing his eyes. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him smiling, chatting, and wearing a grey hoodie and sweats. He was so laid back and casual! I said to Chris, “It’s nice to hear you speak,” and he replied cheekily, “I’m a real chatterbox!”

Neil was busy signing everything I brought, plus my laminate. I brought my copy of the Best of Smash Hits book for him to sign (he wrote the foreword), and he immediately exclaimed, “Ooooooh, Smash Hits!” upon seeing the book. It was delightful. They both graciously signed all the items I brought (I even had them sign something for a friend), and were lovely and sweet.

Even though I didn’t get a photo with them, it was a great experience, and definitely worth the money.

After that, it was time for the show! Those of us who had VIP got into the venue early, so I had a good spot in the front. If you haven’t seen the Pet Shop Boys live, you really missed out on a sensory overload. It’s a spectacle in every sense of the word. They change costumes, there are dancers who also change costumes, a light show that will dazzle your retinas, and of course, the wonderful songs.

Here’s a taste:

I had a fabulous time at the show, except for a few jerks in the audience. Every show in Austin has a problem with people who show up and then spend the entire time chatting with their friends. I don’t know why these people feel they must be right up front if they’re going to gossip for hours…I did finally turn around and “shush” them but it did no good. Then, a few minutes later, their friends pushed through the crowd to join them. These people had made their own “disco” hats, and were shining a light on them using the flashlight app on their phones. It was ruining the light show and blinding me. Next, they started taking selfies of each other with the hat on. They were moving around, pushing everyone, laughing, chatting and ruining the show. Finally, I’d had enough. I started elbowing them back when they pushed me. Then I grabbed the arm of the girl with the hat and said, “Why don’t you go to the back? You are extremely annoying.” The best part about all this, is that they actually did go away after a minute!

I’m totally going to get punched in the nose at a show someday, but I am glad I didn’t this time. It’s my bad karma from being super annoying at shows over the years. Maybe it will be erased soon…

Once those pests went away, I was back in blissful ecstasy. The show was amazing, and I will never forget that day. I still can’t believe that I actually met them and talked to them! They will always seem so much larger than life to me.

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Scalping the scalpers

It’s so much more convenient to buy a concert ticket nowadays than it was when I was in high school back in the deep, dark, 1980’s.  I remember that I’d lie to my mom and say I was staying over at a friend’s house, and then we would all head over to the mall and camp out in the parking lot in front of the Diamond’s Box Office.  (Goldwater’s turned into Diamond’s, and is now Dillard’s.  Thank you for playing.)  Spending the night in the mall parking lot involved a boombox, lots of cassettes, a deck of cards, board games, Mad Libs and blankets.  Usually, we didn’t bring food or water, because we were stupid teenagers.

Every Saturday at 10am, the tickets for that week would go on sale.  Every event went on sale at the same time, so if there was more than one big show, you might find yourself in line behind Van Halen fans when you wanted a ticket to see Thompson Twins.  This could be a huge problem because by the time your turn came to get a ticket, it might be sold out, or all the floor seats might be gone.  My friends and I solved this problem by finding the most remote box office locations we could.  When a-ha tickets went on sale, we went two hours of of town to the Prescott mall so we could get good seats.  (THIRD ROW, BITCHES!)

While this was a thrilling adventure, it led to heartbreak more often than not.  For every time I got a seat in the first five rows, there were ten times I either got no ticket or had to sit on the lawn or in the balcony.

Nowadays, tickets go on sale at all sorts of times of the day and days of the week.  (I still think that is really weird, don’t you?  OK I am old, I get it.)  Instead of camping out in front of a box office location, I press “refresh” over and over until the tickets go on sale.  I made sure to get on as many presale lists as I could, so that I get first pick of the seats, because old habits die hard.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you plan, shows sell out quickly and you are screwed.  The most infamous and recent controversy that occurred over scalpers was the New York LCD Soundsystem farewell show at Madison Square Gardens.  James Murphy posted up a “fuck you, scalpers” blog and made sure to add more shows once he found out what happened.  The only way to get into these shows was to show your ID.  You couldn’t sell your ticket to anyone else.  The person who bought the ticket was the only one who could enter the venue. I thought this was a great idea, and was glad that some real fans got to see the shows.

Because of the prevalence of scalpers scooping up tickets and selling them for much more than the original price, the music industry is considering going paperless. This would mean that from now on, the only way to get into a show would be to show your ID or have your credit card swiped. I am of two minds in regards to this practice.

First of all, it would be great to get rid of the price gouging from scalpers. For example, I wanted to buy a ticket to see the sold-out  Adele show at Stubb’s next month, but the only way to get one was to pay almost $200 on stubhub.com. Obviously, I don’t have the money for this, so I can’t go to the show. (Should have bought one when they went on sale, I know, I know.)

On the other hand, sometimes I like to sell my tickets. In the past year I have sold tickets twice. In both instances, I had every intention of going to the show when I bought the ticket, but ended up being unable to go. I was able to recoup my money and break even. I never sell my tickets for more than what I paid for them. Because I’m broke, I was thinking of buying a 3-day pass to Austin City Limits and selling it for a profit, but that makes me feel pretty skeevy. (Even though I’d make a nice chunk of change on it.)

What is the recourse for people like me, who just want to give their ticket to a deserving fan, and break even? There is nothing you can do if you have to claim the ticket yourself. In that case, you’d just be out the money. It would make me feel more cautious about buying a ticket to a show months in advance.

That’s another problem. Why are tickets sold six months in advance in some cases? Who knows what I will be doing in six months? It’s a long time to plan an evening out. I’m not a spontaneous person, but even I think that’s ridiculous.

I’m not sure if paperless ticketing will solve the scalping problem, anyway. There will surely be some way to work around the obstacles, and then we will all be in the same boat.

Do you agree with me that tickets should remain transferable? If not, why? I’d love to hear some thoughts on this topic, and some scalper horror stories.

In which I apologize to fellow concert-goers

My lovely friend K. sent me a bootleg of a Martin Gore concert I attended on May 7, 2003.  I was watching it and feeling so absolutely full of adoration for Mr. Martin Lee Gore, but something was ruining the atmosphere.  That something was my own shrieks and screams.  I know it was me because I was the only person screaming as if being chased around the kitchen with a butcher knife, which was my go-to concert scream.  I sounded like I was being waterboarded, or worse.  And now, eleven years later, I would like to tell myself to shut the fuck up!

This revelation has led to a public apology.  Since 1985, I have attended hundreds of concerts.  During most of them, I probably did something incredibly annoying.  A few incidents stand out as the most cringe-worthy, and the most in need of a public apology:

1.  I would like to apologize for collapsing and vomiting all over myself during the July 1985 Power Station concert.  I had heat stroke, and if puke got on your shoes, I am very sorry.

2.  Beastie Boys, please accept my apology for participating in the violent booing which caused you to leave the stage when you opened for Madonna in 1985.

3.  Whoever sat near me during the a-ha concert in 1986, I apologize for screaming hysterically that I could see Pal Waaktaar’s kneecaps through the holes in his jeans.

4.  Nick Rhodes should apologize for wearing a half-shirt that led me to faint when I saw his treasure trail in 1987.

5.  Daniel Ash, I’m sorry that I tried to climb up on stage and molest you during a 1988 Love & Rockets show.  You did step on my hand, so that makes us even.

6.  Morrissey, I apologize for screaming “take it off” when you started unbuttoning your shirt at a show in 1993.

7.  Everyone who sat near me during the 1997 Duran Duran winter tour, I sincerely apologize for the bloodcurdling screams that erupted from me whenever Nick Rhodes did his spoken word bit for “Medazzaland”.  I’m especially sorry to the gentleman who was sitting by me in San Diego who asked me to be quiet.  I yelled at him, “LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT MOTHERFUCKER!”  I am surprised I have never been beaten down at a Duran Duran show (at least on that tour).  I also want to apologize to my friend H. for bruising his shoulders when I squeezed them really hard during the spoken word bit (again) in LA.

8.  I’m particularly sorry for being the person at shows that sings along really loudly, to the point where others stare.  I’m remembering a Tears For Fears show in which I sang “Woman In Chains” at a volume rivaled only by fighter jets.  Sorry, dude who stared me down.

9.  I apologize for being the shithead who was constantly taking crappy pictures with a crappy camera at every concert I attended in the early to mid-2000’s.  I was trying to get a good shot for an earlier blog, and I utterly failed on every count.  I only succeeded in being that douchebag who takes pictures and gets in the way.

10.  I do NOT apologize for being the person who stands up and dances during concerts, because that is why people go to concerts.  Don’t tell me to sit down, why don’t you stand the fuck up instead?

Ah, I do feel better.  That was cleansing.