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…”

  1. Mr.Miner Says:

    Honestly, I’m not trying to spread ANY negativity. Just trying to make some observations about a system that is clearly not working…

  2. DingDongYo Says:

    The idea that the band should somehow judge who their most loyal fans are and reward them with tickets is absurd. Think about the problems that would arise if they tried to implement something like that. Ticket agents would have “proof” of their devout loyalty, and some fans that have seen hundreds of shows dating back to ’90 probably have no records of anything. Anyone who thinks they “deserve” it more than someone else needs to (reality) check themselves. (not intended for anyone in particular) There will be lots of other chances to see the boys…

  3. Frankie Says:

    I would have sold my tickets to Miner if i had gotten any! This man’s love for Phish is contagious and his blog has boosted my already-huge love for Phish since i rediscovered it a few weeks ago! Write a book my friend and we’ll read the f**in’ thing!!!

  4. Jon Says:

    One way to look at this: if we didn’t have this situation with the tickets, Phish probably wouldn’t be what they are. But they are, and thus, the quandry.

    To say that the system is “clearly not working” really doesn’t make sense, Mr. Miner. The point of the system is to distribute tickets randomly, because that’s the only way it can be done now. It works perfectly in that sense. There’s no alternatives, not even mail-order. I get pissed off too when some kid–who likes Phish because they heard ‘Heavy Things’ on the radio–scores a ticket and not me. But what about when a person who has seen 50 shows gets a ticket, and not the person who has seen 100 shows? Is that not fair also? How do you judge who is deserving?

    I was at the MSG reunion show in 2002, but as exciting as it was, there were better shows later in the tour once they got rolling a bit. Not everyone can go to every show, which in the end, is probably fair given the circumstances. I think that part of the reason Phish is back is to turn over a new leaf, and perhaps they hope that will extend to their fan base as well in terms of what is possible (or not possible) “when going on tour.”

    Keep up the good work on your blog. I look forward to following it once the tours do get underway.

  5. Adam Says:

    First of all, I love this site…Great work Mr. Miner! I strongly disagree with the assertion of my fans that long-time fans “deserve” tickets more than new fans who haven’t been to many or any shows. I obviously would love to be at Hampton, but I think there must be more anticipation for new fans. I’m not talking about casual fans, but hardcore younger fans. The twenty year old who has a hundred shows on his computer, but has never been able to see Phish. I don’t understand why someone who has seen phish since 1995 somehow has more of a “right” to be at Hampton. If anything, I see it the other way around.
    Also, as for the ticket situation, I think it’s just a case of supply (not enough) and demand (too much). Clearly, they should have played a bigger venue; I would even venture to say a stadium. I also think they could have cut down the ticket demand (and the profit to scalpers) by raising the ticket price significantly, say $100-$150/ticket. Paying $150/ticket would suck, but it would be better than paying $300 to a scalper. Even better, Phish could donate $50-$100/ticket to Seven Below, or some other good charity.
    Finally, this insanity with subside after the first couple shows. By the time when all serious fans can get tickets, Phish should be hitting their stride (like 2003).

  6. Adam Says:

    and by “my fans” I mean “many fans”

  7. verno329 Says:

    I don’t think Miner was spreading any negativity. Just frustration at being shutout, which I totally understand because I share that frustration. I just don’t understand the concept behind keeping out “newcomers” and only allowing “veterans” to go these shows.

    @ Matso You are right. If they could have gotten around TM they certainly would have. Unfortunately they would have to build a venue themselves to completely avoid the TM monopoly. They have done this in the past with events like Clifford Ball, Great Went, Lemonwheel, etc. but they obviously can’t do this for a whole tour. If they had done a large festival of their own as their comeback show would probably be the only way they could have left out TM and satisfied as many of their fans as possible. That would have been sweet but I understand their hesitation at having their first show in 4+ years be a festival with 50,000+ in attendance. Especially considering what happened with Coventry

  8. Little Buddy Says:

    To all those that think a pure snail mail money order can’t work anymore, you’re just wrong. How could something that worked for the Dead for 20+ years and worked for Phish for over a decade suddenly become impossible to manage. The reason the Dead model (later adopted by Phish) worked was because it took a lot of effort to get it it right. It’s really easy to have all your relatives log into a website and plug in their credit card number – hell, I had 7 surrogates just for me and totally struck out in this lottery. They could easily go back to the way mail order used to be – and should always be. Get the index card, the envelope, the money order and the right post mark date and you have a good chance at tickets. I’ve been turned away from the old Dead and Phish mail orders on occasion too, but it is still a superior process to the online lottery and it is not unmanageable, obviously. They did it for years! I was lucky enough to win the Hampton ’03 lottery and saw all three shows, so I new I probably couldn’t get lucky twice (even if I should have some major Hampton karma after giving my son the middle name “Hampton.”) At any rate, I already order my tickets at outrageous scalper prices before I found out the results from the lottery. Why, you might ask…because I cannot and will not miss IT. This system sucks, but it is what it is and I’ll make my money back on the lot. I’m not mad at Phish, but they really should try to address this. I also agree that as great as Hampton is, a larger venue, or a huge freakin’ Phestival may have been more appropriate. Thanks for your blog Mr. Miner. Always a pleasure to read – especially yesterday’s “IT” commentary.

  9. jer Says:

    dudes…it’s the comeback of PHISH. there is no WAY getting tickets would be an easy task no matter how they did it. and there’s no way on earth for them to know who’s been to more shows blah blah blah. they can’t play favorites.

    i say: accept the inevitable: most who want to, including me, simply aren’t going to be able to see the comeback shows. yeah it’s disappointing, but there’s nothing that can be done about it. and there’s no one to blame, least of all Phish themselves. i don’t know…i don’t like seeing negativity being thrown at them ALREADY! let’s grow up. ya can’t always get what you want, that’s just life.

    i think we can probably expect some kind of webcast, maybe even in theaters like other shows in the past. Phish obviously care deeply about their fans, and i think they will do what they can to try to make sure as many as possible get to see these shows.

  10. Comrade Says:

    I think every phan is equally deserving the chance to get tickets – and yes mail order back in the day was a pain but i would trade it for TM any day! What really sucks are the ticket brokers/scalpers. How is it that ticket companies are already posting on stubhub and ebay with up to 11 tickets for sale? With prices already hitting 8x face.

    I agree with some of the posts above. Phish could have helped out in a big way by announcing possible stops for a tour later this year.

    As it is, Hampton is going to be overloaded. I’ve called 12 hotels so far and every single one is sold out.

    Does anyone know what the seating will be like? i.e. will the entire place be GA?

  11. soulish Says:

    I think the complaints about people who aren’t longtime phish fans getting tickets is more directed at the people who got tickets who are not fans at all, but plan on selling their tickets, whether they be actual brokers or scalpers, or just people who thought, oh yeah phish is coming back I can make some money off of this. They sell the tickets for exorbatant prices b/c we’re willing to pay it to get inside. So what happens is that in the end most of the people in the show are actually true fans, whether old or brand new but most of them had to pay way too much money for the tickets. (and hey I even support people coming to the show who don’t know a lot of phish, but are interested, hopefully interested in the music and not just the scene though, and maybe not for THESE shows, but some down the line, THESE shows after all are special).

    I’m a fan of the pittsburgh penguins and when we made it to the stanley cup last year I went to every playoff game and was able to get tickets to all but 2 from ticketmaster. So I bought tix from stubhub or wherever and got in to all of the games anyway, but the price I had to pay for the 2 I didn’t get from ticketmaster was almost as much as I paid for 4 or 5 other games. However, everyone in the games that I saw were true fans, they just mostly had to pay too much for their tickets. BTW, as a sidenote for one game I ended up with an extra ticket and sold it at face value, b/c I felt it was only fair, I can’t go around getting mad at people for selling their tix for 10x face value if I do that myself. Hopefully if anyone here has an extra they would be willing to sell it at face to a fan rather than make a quick buck off him/her.

    The point of all this is that what we really want is a way not to judge true fanhood, but to keep people with no intention of going from buying the tickets and raising the price. B/c fans always end up in the shows, but someone else makes a buck off it in the process. Here’s hoping my luck with ticketmaster continues through the weekend.

    One last hint for ticketmaster, make sure that you fully complete your order for a show (if you’re lucky enough to get a chance) before searching for another show. They don’t let you look for more than one show at once and that killed me before.

  12. MP Says:

    I like the idea of hierarchy.

    “No PHISH for you!”

  13. eric Says:

    Here’s ticketmaster strategy of the day….I am going in to my work on saturday to use my work computer and network. Both are much faster than my home setup. I figure it cant hurt.

    On another note, if I don’t end up going to Hampton, I won’t be too upset. I’m sure the music will progress and get better as ’09 goes along. Plus I would save $$ to hit a chill ampitheatre Western swing which I would much prefer to the tidewater VA area, or any other crowded northeast corridor arena shows.

  14. Frankie Says:

    NO PHISH FOR YOU!!! Ahahaha! Classic!

  15. Drinks>Chainsaw Says:

    Comrade – It’s all GA….

    I got shut out too. I do have a feeling I’ll be at all of these shows though. I have a feeling Mr. Miner will be there as well. These situations seem to work themselves out. It did in 03 anyway, for me…. Hey, Miner, if I get an extra ticket I’ll hook you up with it. Hell, if I get ticketmaster tickets to all three shows, I’ll give you a show. Just for having the raddest blog on the intraweb .. Cheers.

  16. Shut out!! Says:

    First of all, great site Mr. Miner!!

    I have two rooms reserved, but got shut out.

    Anybody looking for a place to stay in return for a tickets??

    Hapton 97 was my first show, and the thought of not being back for this makes me ill.

  17. verno329 Says:

    @ Little Buddy I never said that a mail order system couldn’t work. Just that it was bulky and not very cost-effective. It was a great system when there wasn’t a technical alternative that was more cost effective. With a better alternative cost-wise available I can’t imagine any company/business/band going backwards.

  18. Tony Says:

    Anyone have the ticketmaster #’s? Damn I know I shoulda written them down!

  19. Mac Says:

    If it were up to me, I would have come back with a festy righ off the bat, shoot the ticket supply thruough the roof. Sell 100,000 tickets to Big Cypress or Maine, and do it right….then let demand die down a bit and head out on tour…..

    As it is, I’m staying home this March 🙁

  20. Matso Says:

    @ soulish – thank you, that’s what I was trying to say. It’s not about newbie v grizzled veteran, but about keeping the prices fair (and accessible to all) and weighing the odds in favour of those who really love the band.

  21. Derek Says:

    thanks for posting; i just discovered your site and your writing is great! i know it won’t make those who lost out on the lottery much happier, but for what its worth, i was lucky enough to get 2 tickets, and i HAVE been a loyal fan since ~’98. my buddy got rejected three times and now he’ll get to come along as well. anyway, enjoy the trey run (can’t wait for boston)!

  22. ted Says:

    “…What is a shame, is that people who should be inside Hampton, won’t be able to enter due to these exorbitant prices….”

    Are there certain members of the fanbase who “should” be there? Hmmmm…that sounds a little clique-ish. Sorta like high school.

  23. Alex Says:

    Excellent assessment, I think, and some interesting ideas here.

    Regarding the “People who should be there” comment, I think the point he is making is that—yes, after supporting this band over the course of 5, 10, 15 years, spending thousands of dollars, travelling tens of thousands of miles, sleeping in ditches, trodging through acres of mud, being SLAVES TO THE TRAFFIC JAM for countless hours, growing the network of fans one tape and CD at a time, I think dedicated fans deserve to be treated as such and given some sort of precedence over ticket scalpers and people attracted simply by the spectacle. Think of it as a frequent flyer program…

    We built this city, and now we’re being turned away at the gates? For a band that so celebrates its relationship with us fans they should look after us a little better. You don’t treat old friends like this. Like, “Oh, sorry, I know we’ve been tight for the last 15, but there’s only so much room at our party so you’re goign to have to pick a number with Scalper-Sam and the new kids on the block.”

    Now, I’m not saying close the gates to newer fans and only let old ones in. But for such a special occasion as a reunion concert, perhaps they should have been more methodical, electronically matching names/CC numbers with long-time supporters and offered them first crack.

    While I’m all for new people discovering and enjoying the music, let them come and check out Summer tour. Orchestrate the reunion like a school reunion…a celebration, in the present, of joyous times past with those who were there. It doesn’t make sense to invite people who weren’t in your class to your class reunion, does it?

    While I’m sure my rambling manifesto has its flaws, the bottom line that I think we can all agree on is that the current system is broken, plain and simple (With a tip of the hat to Barack for the rhetoric), and there should be some serious strategizing to see how to make the system more fair.

  24. Comrade Says:

    Does anyone know why the lottery tickets went for $49.50 while on TM they are listed at $46.50?

    Not a big price difference/deal but seems a little strange.

    Oh well i guess the convenience charge and shipping from the lottery ($42.50) is probably a lot less than TM will charge.

  25. Hayden Says:

    I agree 100% with Mail order tix.. we use to do it for all of our Dead tix back in the day.. This whole ticket thing is a total nightmare, really kills some of the thrill of seeing the boys back on stage.

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