Tickets? Yeah, Right…

Tom Morrell

photo: Tom Morrell

Answers to the great ticket mystery have started to unfold.  Yesterday afternoon, Music Today began trickling emails out notifying the majority of the 100,000 ticket requesters that they had been denied any tickets.  It seems as though it was all or nothing, as people who got tickets seemed to get their entire request filled.  This seems like a clear an attempt at preventing thousands one-ticketed fans from descending upon Hampton to try to find the other two nights.  It makes sense, but if Phish thinks the Hampton lot scene will anything but a completely laughable ticketless joke, they are fooling themselves.  Unlike MSG, where there is no lot, and you had to walk the streets looking for extras, Hampton has an extensive parking lot and surrounding area that will no doubt be flooded with ticketless masses.

I have only heard about four people I know getting tickets, and one of them got TWO orders filled, so she has four tickets for each night!  Two other “winners” also got their whole order filled, and the third “winner,” my brother, was the only one I know to get a partial order filled, as he only got two for night three. Strictly from an observational standpoint, this system seems like an incredibly random and inequitable way to distribute tickets.  Someone who has never seen Phish grabs their dad’s credit card has the same chance of scoring tickets as a loyal fan who has been seeing them for over decade, and given the band countless thousands of dollars.  In my opinion, this doesn’t seem right.  Rewarding some with six tickets and most with none in a random selection process seems a bit too haphazard.

I don’t have any easy answers, but this is NOT how the situation should be.  Many people will wind up not going to these shows because they will be forced to pay scalper prices in order to get in.  The ticket game is almost impossible to win- with the Phish allotment of tickets virtually impossible to attain; and with Ticketmaster being so entangled in ticket broker relationships that most of their allotment go directly into the hands of scalpers.  Who is left out of all this? The fan!  Us!  It is a jacked up system that has been ingrained for so long, that it seems hard to overturn.  In taking a “strong stance against scalping,” Phish doesn’t seem to care about the reality of the situation.  At the very least, they could have played MSG, a venue with a 20,000 person capacity for concerts instead of the 13,800 person Mothership.  That would have allowed over 50% more people to get into these shows, and they could have played Hampton the following weekend, thinking of the big picture.

The Promised Land

Hampton - The Promised Land- photo: Abhi

The average fan entered the lottery anywhere from 1 to 10 times.  When not getting tickets, they are forced to try to break the Ticketmaster log jam, which as we all know, is almost as impossible as the lottery.  Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones to actually get into the server, but by the time you enter in the “code word” and information, you’re out of luck for the other two nights.  With a two ticket limit put into to place to spread the love, this will also ensure that no one will have extras for these shows, forcing our average fan to confront $250-300 tickets for each night.  Let’s say you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife- now you’re looking at $1500 for the run- JUST FOR TICKETS!  With the first round of tickets gone, it seems like broker prices are already starting to climb into the $300 range. Once the 18th has come and gone, I don’t even want to know what they will be charging.  This has gotten completely out of control.

What is a shame, is that people who should be inside Hampton, won’t be able to enter due to these exorbitant prices.  I understand that Phish only controls their allotment of tickets, but maybe it is time for them to revisit their ticket distribution model, in order to ensure that fans inside didn’t have to cancel their winter vacation to get in.  My only idea right now is to go back to the original “Grateful Dead” model for Tickets-By-Mail.  It seems like a no brainer.  The reason why there are 100,000 requests, is because any jackass with a credit card can put in a request that matters just as much as any other.  With mail order- you needed to have the cash in hand if you wanted to order tickets.  If that were the case, I’d say that number of “requests” would decrease exponentially.  It’s really the only way to do it.  No one ever got rejected from mail order before- it was about how good your tickets would be!  Although Phish had good intentions, this is a classic case of technology screwing something up that was running smoothly.

Hopefully, this is all due to the massive hype of their comeback, and when they announce further dates, there will be greater chances of getting tickets.  Hopefully, they won’t announce dates one weekend at a time, a process that would ensure a repeat of this exact same predicament.  Honestly, they should have announced all the dates at once so that many people could have chosen what weekends to see, lessening the white hot intensity that is focused on Hampton.  But they didn’t.  So, for us “lottery losers,”  we need to battle an insufficient server and thousands of brokers on Saturday morning, in a virtual sprint for tickets that will inevitably end quicker than Usain Bolt’s Olympic races.  There is no easy strategy here.  All I can say is, think positively, and “Good luck!”- this ain’t no walk in the park.



UIC Pavilion

UIC Pavilion

A popular favorite from the Summer of ’94, this is one that everyone has heard.  One of the best shows of the tour, this first set is filled with Phish favorites, and the second set is for the ages.   Peaches, “Mind Left Bowie” kicks off this epic frame, and before long, amidst a dark twisting Tweezer, the band reprises the Mind Left Body jam at the the peak of this set highlight.  Pausing briefly in Lifeboy, the rest of the set explodes with an energetic YEM, and a set closing Chalk Dust. This is a classic- in soundboard form- enjoy!

I: Wilson > Rift, AC/DC Bag, Maze, The Mango Song > Down With Disease, It’s Ice, Dog Faced Boy > The Divided Sky, Sample in a Jar

II: Peaches en Regalia > Mind Left Body jam > David Bowie, Horn, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Tweezer-> Lifeboy, You Enjoy Myself, Chalk Dust Torture

E: Bouncing Around the Room-> Tweezer Reprise

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57 Responses to “Tickets? Yeah, Right…”

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  1. Matso Says:

    Agreed, word for word!

    If they were going to do it right, they would have gone back to the old Mail Order system – yes, it would have been more work for them, but it would have been fairer (not completely fair, but fairer). If they kept any kind of records from back in the day, they would have also been able to cross-reference to see if the applicant had made previous requests and perhaps give priority to those who have showered the band with so much love – and cash – over the years. In terms of the web-based application system, I wonder if they recorded IP addresses and weeded out multiple orders sent from the same IP? In the circumstances, it seems unlikely.

    As for choice of venue, it didn’t help things. As much as I would have preferred MSG (or another bigger arena), given the time of year, it might have been impossible to find 3 straight nights where there was no basketball or hockey game on. And from the band’s perspective, none of them (save perhaps Trey) have played to a crowd of that size in a few years, so a slightly more intimate venue might have been more appealing.

    Anyway, the band generally gets it right, but they haven’t always handled organisational aspects of big events in the most sensible way in the past (Anyone notice how few speakers they had in the crowd at Coventry – only single speakers as opposed to the racks they had at other fests – I couldn’t believe it and it really pissed me off at the time as the sound for large areas was terrible)

    Oh, and I suppose it goes without saying, I was denied.

  2. patrick Says:

    Just a heads up. The download link is actually the 6-11-94 show. Thanks for that though. I also need that.

  3. Frankie Says:

    Me too! Denied! A shame but hopefully the band will find a way to make sure as many people as possible will be able to partake in the celebration. Webcast anyone?

  4. Murray Says:

    FYI>The link for the download of the day is for 6/11/94 & NOT 6/18/94!

  5. smedvin Says:

    i prefer the old method, but what if every order had to pay a processing fee of 25 bucks that the band could donate to charity. it would cut down on the number of people placing multiple orders and might deter scalpers from trying to pick up tickets. o know i would have no problem paying a little extra to cut down on some of the people attempting to get tickets.

  6. Frankie Says:

    Great picture of the moon and the Mothership!

  7. Mathew Says:

    i for one would assume that if they did it that way they would receive too many orders for the shows. I think it is pretty correct to assume that most people would order two tickets, which menas it would only take 6,900 people to order all of the tickets for the three nights. I am pretty sure that if over 100,000 orders were put in there is a good chance that 6.9 % of those people had the cash for the tickets. then they would have to not only deny requests but have to refund money as well. I just do not think it would be possible.

    What I do not understand is why Phish does not get all or most of the tickets. Do people have to go through ticketmaster, or is there anyway to go around them? oh well looks like its the clusterfuck of ticketmaster on saturday

  8. Andrew Says:

    I hear you, but it’s simply not true that tickets-by-mail never rejected people. I had a number of successes, but was turned away (as were many) for a lot of the big shows (NYE Runs, etc).

    The reason I have total sympathy for Phish, Inc. is the physical presence of the requests. Say tickets-by-mail actually did cut down the number of requests dramatically. You now have, say, 25,000 envelopes in a room, and it’s your job to manually inspect their postmarks and make sure they were all submitted properly. You then manually process the thousands of winning orders. Then you manually reject the thousands of losing orders. Or you have an automated system that handles it in a few afternoons of negotiations about the selection criteria (full orders or partial orders), followed by truly randomized selection.

  9. Clay Says:

    PTBM….Now those were the days..When fedex came to your door on those April afternoons..ripping open a loaded envelope and start looking at hte designs as well as the seat locations..

    those were the days!

    I actually think the chances of getting tickets on TM are far less than getting them in the lottery…With brokers and basically no rules its going to be a diaster

    Also, I agree Miner, the lot scene at Hampton is going to be abysmally bad! I hope that town knows what they are in for !

    Keep up the great work!

    Thank you Mr. Miner

  10. Pnutbag99 Says:

    I do miss the old mail order days. Making sure you had all the right money orders, that you had everything right on the envelope, “do you list the shows on the bottom right or bottom left?”. It was like a lot scene at the post office in Philly that was open 24 hours, everybody trying to get the earliest post mark they could by showing up at midnight. Good times!

    I was also denied, have a few friends that got lucky. Hoping to get in for face, but apparently it is a different animal these days.

    Good luck everybody!

  11. verno329 Says:

    No, there is no way to go around Ticketmaster. I’m sure the venue has a deal that requires them to sell tickets through Ticketmaster. This monopoly will be very difficult, if not impossible, to break.

    I agree that the mail-order system would be far too bulky and inefficient to work. All of the benefits of the mail-order system can still be worked into the online system very easily (aside from the cash in hand strategy instead of the credit card usage, which I don’t understand how paying cash instead of using a credit card makes you more of a fan, but anyway).

    And I’m not trying to flame anyone, but the argument that says Phish should exclude people who haven’t had the chance to see them and only sell tickets to those who have spent their time and money seeing Phish for years makes no sense to me. There are only 41,400 tickets available for all three nights combined. There are far more than that number of fans who have seen Phish 20 or more times who would love to be there. How do they determine who deserves it the most? And everyone is going to want to be there for all three nights. I doubt anyone would be willing to go to just one of the shows and skip the other two simply so more people can get to see them.

    Maybe they could do a movie theater thing again? I really liked the ones that they did in ’04. It would be better than nothing.

  12. Andrew Says:

    Not complaining, but your link of the day goes to 6/11/94 Red Rocks, also a great show we’ve all heard, not 6/18/94 as listed.

  13. shpongleyez Says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Amen, Mr. Miner. Phish Tickets By Mail. Not only do you have to have cash in hand, but you have to get individual money orders for each show, plus a money order for the FedEx fee, and I had totally forgotten about listing the date of the shows on the bottom right of the envelope, Pnut! Anyhow, good luck to all, I guess…I’m still waiting to hear back from one of my surrogates, so here’s hoping. I sure am not looking forward to getting up at 6:45AM on Saturday to fight through the ether and the phone lines to get just one night…If I’m lucky.

  14. WSPilgrim Says:

    Miner–first of all this is an excellent site. read it every day and am a big fan. but fyi, the download of the day link is 6/11/94 at red rocks

  15. eric Says:

    I agree with all the above statements. Phish should isssue 100% of their tickets by mail, obviously the demand is there. I would like my odds better there through the mail than through the ticketmaster. Ticketmaster is going to be a clusterfudge, plus there is no way you are going to get tickets to more than 1 night. My group combined put in probably close to 35 orders among ~10 people….we got nothing, no where, nada, zilch. Some of my friends are not even going to try ticketmaster or scalping and are going to save their money for a later tour segment.

    I don’t blame the band at all for wanting to start out in a smaller more intimate venue. I just hope the lot scene doesn’t blow up too much, and set a bad tone for ’09. As for me…I am going to try on Saturday, but I feel as if my heart is not in it. I have no faith in ticketmaster. I am starting to think that I’d rather save my pennies to catch a chill west swing, some vegas shows etc. And for good sakes!!! LET PHISH PLAY RED ROCKS!!!!!

  16. MP Says:

    Isn’t this always the way these types of events end up?

    Once the storm has passed things will return to normal. With the pending announcement of Philly, Boston, MSG (and others in 2009) there will be plenty of opportunities to trade for these tickets, the scene is just starting to stretch and yawn. Once it wipes the crust from its eyes, takes a quick pull off the pipe and begins to wiggle and groove again, we will all be exactly where we want to be.

    Few talk about NYE 2002, or the 3 Hampton shows that followed. Sure the allure of seeing the first shows back after 4 1/2 years is hard to resist, but its doubtful that these show will be as storied as say, the 4 night island run in 1998. One thing to keep in mind, these aren’t the last shows Phish is playing, they are just the beginning of Phish v3.0.

    The scene at Hampton is going to be interesting inside and out. Lots of rookies, which is great, but for a band that is supported as heavily as Phish is by extremely loyal fans who are responsible for the depth of the community and the richness of the experience (through sites like this), it will be an all together different vibe. You think we could organize a live feed and screen in the parking lot for an outdoor dance party to satitiate the ticketless masses?

  17. Justin Says:

    Let me just start by saying that I was one of the lucky bastards to have my ticket request granted yesterday. I received 2 tickets to all 3 nights. I have been listening to Phish and seeing shows for over 15 years and I consider myself to be one of their biggest fans. The joy and elation that ran through my veins yesterday as I opened my email and read the confirmation was one of the greatest I’ve felt in all of my life. That being said, I join all of you in your disappointment in yesterdays mass rejection. I agree with an above point that Phish should have control of the entire ticket allotment, not just a limited amount. This would ensure that many more long time fans would have access to these tickets and would block out many of the newcomers and ticket scalpers. I think that no matter how Phish handled this ticket situation there was gonna be people that were not happy. The band hasn’t played in 5 years! All of us wanted this to happen so bad and now that it has there is an overwhelming excitement including a 100,000 ticket request frenzy.

    I don’t know if my thoughts will help or hurt this discussion but just know this. I strongly believe that there was no one out there who wanted tickets to these shows more than I did and I got them. Phish and Musictoday got right….at least once with me. Good luck everyone, hope to see you inside.

    Tube opener!!!

  18. lanser Says:

    :throws hat down, kicks dirt.

  19. Keith Says:

    This download was for 6/11/94 not 6/18/94

  20. flushafleshfarm Says:

    You know, you’ve been a force for good for a while now. You spread the music. Stop stooping to the level of the usual whiner, spilling the SAME old complaints that would occur to the average 12 year old. Never seen you spread the bitterness before. I think a lot of people read this every day. Negativity is available elsewhere. Be responsible to your calling. Phish cares. A lot. This method was best for them and will end up being best for the fans who get to see the shows. The venue is small, the fanbase is big, and the band has been growing for 20 years. Buck up. Give ’em a chance to get comfortable and get the music back on track so you might not run out of classic shows to post.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    LINK TO 6.18.94 is FIXED. SORRY !

  22. bj Says:

    I agree the ticket system isn’t perfect, but I think the main problem here is simply the venue. Of course I understand why they want to play their favorite spot, but something much bigger would have been better for the fans. The reality is that most of us probably wont be at Hampton. I’m sure as hell not paying for a scalped ticket. I’ll do my best on Saturday and we’ll see what happens. Hopefully a string of shows out west this summer…

  23. Beatpharm Says:

    Wait a sec………Phish is coming back????
    I thought everyone was kidding.

  24. eric Says:

    Congratulations to Justin. Hopefully the ticketmaster gods will smile on me and I will join you there.

  25. Matso Says:

    @ verno329 – point taken re: deserving fans. I suppose there’s no such thing as ‘fair’ or ‘deserving’ where a lottery is concerned. As the day has gone on, I’ve come around to thinking the band probably did the best they could. I am positive that if they could have gotten around TM, they would have, but venues depend on distributors for other events where the act/team, etc, don’t have the option of doing it independently.

    @ flushafleshfarm – give the Miner a bit of a break. He clearly cares A LOT about this band and I’m sure was more gutted by being denied than most of us. I appreciate that today’s might have been somewhat emotionally driven, but he stated his case well and this is his blog after all…

    Let’s pray for a high-quality webcast!

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