3.6.09 (J. Kravitz)

3.6.09 (J. Kravitz)

Something’s got to give in this discouraging state of affairs.  Phish tickets have gotten nearly impossible to acquire on actual on-sale dates, and there is no solution in sight.  In a nutshell, this sucks, and many fans are being left ticketless. This weekend, we witnessed the death of online Phish ticket sales, and discovered the only way to score a decent ticket is to be the first in line at an outlet- sometimes.  Although I had most of my tickets, I tried to score tickets for every on-sale this weekend to fill in the gaps and grab tickets and hook up friends in need.  Not interested in buying lawns, I was able to score a whopping two Gorge tickets out of seven on-sales.

This isn’t coming from a place of bitterness-I have my tickets, and for that I am blessed- just one of utter dismay and empathy for those who had similar experiences.  I tried all weekend long to score a decent stub and met with fail after fail after fail- and I consider myself pretty savvy with the ticket thing.  After my multiple experiences this weekend, I thank my lucky stars for having so many friends looking out for one another, because without such a network I’d be out of luck right now.  Yet not everyone has such a network, and these on-sales are their only real chance of getting tickets, and herein is my point.

Page and Trey (J.Kravitz)

Page and Trey (J.Kravitz)

Let me narrate this weekend’s bumpy road, and I bet that some of it sounds quite familiar.  Red Rocks- not a chance.  I never even saw the screen after I selected two four-day passes.  Next day- I tried for Darien while a friend stuck out on Merriweather.  I was never able to access a screen to actually select tickets- not sure why.  Maybe I refreshed one too many times, but I was never let back in, even after restarting my computer- though obviously nothing was left at that point.  There is nothing on Live Nation’s site about refreshing screens.

SPAC- nothing.  I am thrown into a waiting room from which I never emerge. Once I decided to bite the bullet and refresh the screen, tickets were gone.  Live Nation’s server seemed to be jamming every single time, and even when I did get by the captcha in under fifteen seconds, there was always an error message waiting on the next screen.

blockbuster_video_storeMeanwhile, I heard of a friend’s success at their local Blockbuster, and decided that for Shoreline, that would be my plan.  But first the Gorge was going on sale.  Completely defeated and ready to toss my computer out the window, I would attempt Gorge tickets as a mere formality.  But less than an hour before they dropped, a friend stopped by and suggested we look at places to go in the city.  We hopped in her car and sped down to a little Ticketmaster outlet within a store in the Mission.  Upon arrival, there were about nine people there and about a half an hour to go.  I figured we were screwed but decided to wait and be told formally.  In conversation, I learned that eight or nine people had scored four-day passes for Red Rocks there the previous day. Hmmm, I thought, we are going back to the old-school.

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

While waiting in line, I realized that our technology has finally outdone itself.  With so many people trying to score tickets against insurmountable odds created by ticket bots, hacker software, and scalpers, online ticket sales for Phish shows are officially dead.  Sure, there will always be stories of the people who were lucky enough to get them- but that’s what it is, pure luck.  Sure, you can strategize until the cows come home, but with zero barriers to entry, when thousands of people all hit the button simultaneously, whoever gets pulled into the system is quite random.  Online ticketing is far too accessible- you can sit in your underwear with your bong and click the mouse, or try order tickets when you should be working.  Back in the day, you’d have to go to a Ticketmaster outlet- it took a lot more effort.  Online on-sales have become no better than another lottery at this point, so we are left to trade and scalp; it’s a bad scene.

As the guy at the outlet furiously ran credit cards and printed tickets, the two-day passes sold out, as expected, with the person before us.  We did manage to score two individual tickets, and now she’s in.  That’s my success story.  But it wasn’t supposed to be the main story- that was coming Sunday with Shoreline.

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

I tried for Hartford and landed in another waiting room, then all that was available was lawn- all within about thirty seconds.  Really?!  I got into the system in the first thirty seconds and all that was left were lawn seats- something was going on here.  Unless you got right in at the moment the tickets went on sale, your chances at a pavilion seat were slim to none.  Sure we can all get stubbed down, but it’s all about having your own ticket in your own pocket.

Yet for Sunday I had scouted my plan.  I located a random Blockbuster an hour outside the city, and was heading there early- very early.  Waking up at 7:07, I hopped in my car by 7:30 and was in the desolate parking lot of Blockbuster at 8:30 am- alone!  I had done it, I had accomplished my goal- I was first at an outlet.  I smoked a joint solo just to celebrate my forthcoming pair of 100 level tickets, and sat on the curb with the Sunday Times- blowing up my solo lot scene.  I spoke with the manager, and he was on board with the mission, so I relaxed and enjoyed the morning sunshine for 3 1/2 hours.  About an hour into my personal sit-in, a second guy rolled up, and we shot the shit as we gloated about our situation.

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

I checked in with the manager again, telling him about the high demand, the scalpers, and the incredibly time-sensitive nature of his forthcoming task.  He was down, he would do all he could to make sure we were hooked.  Beautiful- or so we thought.

Finally, it was five to twelve, and tickets were about to drop.  As I watched him navigate the computer, I realized how slow he was at each movement and began to fear that his lack of speed would be our doom- but I was first- I knew I would at least get my two.  12:00 hits!  He pulls up two pavilions but has no idea what button to press to try and acquire the tickets.  After about twenty seconds of searching he finally found the “add to cart” button, which I thought was strange for a corporate outlet.  A cart?  Anyhow, as he entered the order, his computer came back with an error message!?  What the fuck?!  I came here to avoid error messages!  And so he started the process from the beginning again, and I knew I was sunk.  By the time he pulled ANY ticket, it was 12:10 and it was a lawn, which we let a third guy have who came up at the eleventh hour.

Fishman (J.Kravitz)

Fishman (J.Kravitz)

I was momentarily livid.  It was so obvious that Live Nation sent their guy to install their computer at Blockbuster, dropped off an instruction manual and left.  The guy confessed to being “very new at this” having only sold twenty tickets ever, and no offense, but it showed- he was totally unprepared for the task at hand.  If I was behind the terminal, I’m confident we would have all walked out with pavilions, but alas, what could we do- he was the guy that worked there.  To make a long story short- first in line, 3 1/2 hour wait, no tickets.  Nice.

What to do now?  I have no idea.  With internet on sales as random as the lottery, outlets’ efficiency subject to staff competence, and a phone system in which we get hung up on, we are left with very little control over our own destiny to score Phish tickets.  It’s reached the point of absurdity, and I have yet to hear a legitimate solution.  This whole paperless ticket trend wouldn’t work for Phish, as you wouldn’t be able to trade or buy tickets for friends unless you were actually going in the door with them.  Though by subverting scalpers, everyone just might be able to get tickets again.

Ironically, part of the problem is the relatively low price of Phish’s tickets.  With a $50 face value, they are sold at a fraction of the cost of any major act like Bruce Springsteen, The Dead, or U2.  Knowing the profit margin available on Phish tickets, scalpers, like vultures, flock to them using ticket bots and mark them up 400-500%.  If that’s their business, how can you blame them?  The incredibly high demand for Phish tickets far outstrips the supply for any given show, driving the true market value of a Phish ticket far above $50.  With such a high demand, they are able to make ridiculous profits on Phish.  In trying to keep it cheap for the fans, the irony is that fans aren’t getting the tickets; it’s a total mess.

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

3.6.09 (J.Kravitz)

So we are left to our networks of friends, trading boards, and scalpers- not always feasible options for everybody.  I am a firm believer that if you go to just about any show and try hard enough, you will always find one.  But it shouldn’t have to be like that; it shouldn’t be so damn hard for to get a ticket to see our favorite band.  But with the band members taken out of business decisions this time around, we are left with Coran Capshaw and corporation Phi$h running the show, and, honestly, they seem like they couldn’t care less.  Sure, they put anti-scalping messages on Phish’s ticket site- but do they actually do anything? Not so far.

ticketsnow-ticketmasterBruce has done something, Trent Reznor has said something, Eddie Vedder pioneered the anti-corporate ticket movement, and Metallica, AC/DC, and Tom Waits have tried paperless tickets requiring credit card and ID for entry.  Yet nothing but silence has come from camp Phish as TicketsNow continues to hawk all their summer shows at absurdly high prices.  It seems clear that Phi$h Inc. likes the hype and these sky-rocketing prices in the secondary market, as the demand to see Phish will only increase with every fan shut out.  In the end, with the millions rolling in, no one cares who is getting the tickets or how they are doing it, this much is plainly obvious.

This is 2009, folks- we can pull up our friend’s entire music libraries on our phones from across the country, we can zap messages to people around the globe instantaneously and locate anything with pinpoint accuracy via hand-held GPS devices, but somehow we can’t figure out an effective system to get tickets in the hands of real fans.  The real question remains, does anyone really want to?


To correlate some numbers to this debacle, check out “The Economics of Phish Tickets,” thanks to Posterus Nutbagus!  Here is an explanation of the spread sheet.



2889100254_8494a287a8Speaking of tickets, The Phish Thoughts Ticket Exchange has been updated for all the new shows!  We have opened up the board to the public- no longer will you need to email for an invite.  Please respect the board, as this is a community resource to get around the secondary ticket market.  Please respect the board and post carefully to make sure you are putting your info in the right place. Please read the instructions on the board before posting.  There is a permanent link to the board on the upper right of the home page.  If you make a successful deal through the board, please send an email with “Great Success!” as the subject line with the details of the deal in the text so we can track transactions.  If you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions, please email!




I am re-posting this classic SBD for the sake of completing our ride through Red Rocks history.  We conclude with a straight up classic- certainly one of the best ever in Morrison.  Enjoy the blistering show from start to finish, as we dream of the end of July.

I: Wilson, Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself, Rift, Down With Disease, It’s Ice, Tela, Stash

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Run Like an Antelope, Fluffhead, Scent of a Mule, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, Maze, Contact > Frankenstein

E: Suzy Greenberg

Last “Frankenstein”07-26-91.

Tags: ,

307 Responses to “TicketShit”

  1. Selector J Says:

    @ Mug: “I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with the latter scenario!”

    Besides being a ton of work for an unrealistic goal with relatively minor effect on Phish fans, I see nothing wrong with this scenario either. 😉 Seriously, I’m just busting your balls. I admire your enthusiasm but I am a reformed idealist turned full blown buzz-killer. I’m all for the doable, not the possible, these days.

    What Phish could do is start officially audio (video?) streaming every show. That would be possible, awesome, and numb a little of the “I got shut out” sting. I’m familiar with some of the legal concerns but Phish has all the capabilities to do it without issue. Not only that, the No Spoilers Crew could just chill after the show 😉

  2. guyforget Says:

    off topic, anybody interested in caravaning from Shoreline to Gorge? My buddy and I will be renting a car one way from SF to Gorge, and thought maybe it would be cool to have a few cars together for some scenic overlook puff sessions on the drive. if so, we should swap email/phone numbers and meet up at Shoreline.

  3. Exree Hipp Says:

    I completely agree about the live video streaming. I think even a single angle from the soundboard would be a feasible, highly desireable, profitable solution for the band. I watched Obama’s recent press conference live streamed via Hulu and I was shocked at the quality of the image. No checking/buffering for a major event, too.

    If Live Phish charged $5 for this as a non downloadable show, I’d pay every time and see all the west coast stuff I’m missing.

  4. guyforget Says:

    $5!!!! you must be high, son.

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    “^ That is a main reason why I think these things don’t exist like we think they do: No Phish fan has figured out how to do it yet. ;)”

    ^^ wanna bet 😉

  6. Mugician Says:

    Sigh. Life can be disappointing. Oh well. I have tickets. That’s the only thing I know is 100% possible and true.

    It’s just so goddamn hard to believe that nothing can be done (other than streaming – which would be WAY awesome), and in my desperation I kinda tend to get ahead of myself, blurting out any and all my ideas without actually understanding the situation.

    Does anyone have anything to say about the combination of email address and confirmation/shipping address/credit card to limit ticket buying?

    Another question: are scalpers getting tickets from the lotto too?

  7. Exree Hipp Says:

    $5/show Too much or too little? I’m talking about it being a one-time view, streaming, with nothing downloaded to the computer, and you watch it live as it goes. That’s in line with iTunes movie rentals, etc.

  8. Mugician Says:

    Forget: I’m thinking more and more that I might wanna do that! Here’s my email: devon(DOT)dejohn(AT)gmail.

    I’m thinking that it might be funner if me and my friend go to Shoreline and then Gorge, rather than just both nights of Gorge. But that means I have to find more tickets for face.

  9. Mr. Icculus Says:

    A fucking Men mr. miner this ticket shit sucks. I was shut out of every online sale last week and this weekend. Using an atomic clock and getting into the system the second of sale time only to be put in a waiting room that had no tickets on the other end. This is bullshit that i have to pay 120 for a merriweather pavilion seat. so pissed i cant score a ticket to a venue in my own back yard. WTF why isn’t phish doing something about this. Hundreds of brockers online are makieng a fortune. Shut them down cancel the stubs i don’t care do something. Does this mean football and baseball stadiums from here on out?

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    Exree- it’s idiotic if the band DOESN’T do that. It takes ZERO overhead and would rake in millions.

    Mugician-Yes scalpers are getting lottery tix as well.

    and yes, scalper software is being updated all the time…

  11. WHOLE TOUR! Says:

    phish hdtv pay per view for every show= problem solved. allman’s just did it for 15 shows in a row online. i’d gladly pay a 200 dollar full tour subscription fee.

  12. Exree Hipp Says:

    Scampers definitely come in through the lotto but a lot of them are being cracked down on. Isn’t this what happened to Miner’s first Hampton ticket hookup?

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ yup. It’s like the organization doesn’t think.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ Turns out that the scalper actually got the tickets- they were delayed or something….or so he said…I got tickets elsewhere….

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    so let’s summarize. Again with the list format.

    There are basically two things people are getting mad about.
    1) I didn’t get all (or any) of the tickets I wanted and neither did my friends
    2) The scalpers suck and are getting rich off us, which makes #1 a thousand times worse

    Let’s tackle #2 first

    2-A) $50 is obviously not accurate market value for Phish tickets. While it’s weird to say, considering the first Dead tix I bought were about $12.50 I think, it’s clearly true.

    2-B) there’s no evidence large numbers of tickets are going to scalpers. 10% is not a lot and I doubt it’s half that if the spreadsheet is accurate (and thanks for putting that together, dude, a little geek shoutout for ya)

    2-C) markup on the scalper tix is not insanely exorbitant – no one will be paying $300 for GA Gorge tix. If I end up paying ~$100 for the extra I need to take my 4 year old son into the Gorge saturday, that’s worth it.

    So the bottom line on #2 is not nearly as bad as we had all, reasonably enough, first thought.

    But…if scalpers aren’t really the problem…then how do we fix it? What do we do about problem #1 when the cause is simply that there are too many Phish fans with computers and credit cards? No amount of ticketing method change will fix that.

    There are only two things we can do, and only one of them is active.

    Solution 1: Wait it out. Pressure may recede. They may play bigger places. These things always run in cycles; just relax a bit. Chill.

    Solution 2: audio and/or video simulcast/PPV. This really will help with demand, and will ease your own pain when you miss out.

    If you want to get involved and do something proactive, that’s it: convince the band to pursue the simulcast/PPV option. If you start petitions etc make them very polite. Forgo the spoiled sense of entitlement, that the band owes you something. Nonsense. If you go in demanding something you won’t get it. But if you ask nicely, and in large numbers, you never know – and at least, it’s something to do.

    OK I’m done with this topic, it was good to talk it out but I’m ready to move back to the music and getting excited for summer.

  16. guyforget Says:

    sounds good Mugician- we’ll talk more as we approach the zero hour.

  17. Soylentinthemorning Says:

    well said, mr. minor and a relative mirror of my own experience.

    tried for red rox through gorge mail order.

    out of our group of 7 phans trying for 5 concerts each, we got 4 shoreline pavs and 4 lawns.

    being unemployed and having NEVER had any success online, i figured tm would be the way to go to try and get RR and Gorge.

    got lucky, found an out of the way TM and scored tix for both.

    had different clerks on each day, but BOTH understood that if i was willing to spend 1+ hours waiting for a show to go on sale, it was SERIOUS and they were gonna be on the case to get those tix.

    both checked the time and came over a few minutes before on sale and then did continual refreshes until the tix went on sale.

    voila! i got tickets.

    so … after those success, i figured that BB retail was the sure way to score Shoreline tix.

    found a local BB, got there early, was 1st in line.

    tried to be friendly with the wage drones behind the counter, tried to explain how fast the tickets would sell out, tried to convey a sense of urgency.

    and yet … i just knew this wasn’t going to end well … said as much to a friend as i was waiting.

    sure enough, ticket girl is wander around the store at 11:55.

    i mention something at 3 minutes til.

    “oh yeah, yeah, i know”

    she then proceeds to disappear into the back (employees) room and emerges after 11:59

    by the time she’s at the terminal it’s already noon … and of course, she gets nothing.

    well, except this stupid fucking look on her face as she tells me, “i dunno why it’s not letting me in. it should let me in.”

    i let her try for a couple of minutes, until a friend calls and mentions that the online sales are now only for lawn and then i tell her to forget it.

    at which point she goes, “are you sure? i mean it’s only been a couple of minutes, i don’t think they would have sold out already.”

    at which point i left, to avoid soiling myself with a fool’s blood …

    god help you if BB is ever your last, best hope for scoring tickets to anything.

  18. cottle Says:

    Lovin’ today’s post, Miner!

    Honestly…how bad would it really be if they just took the internet out of the equation? It would severely inconvenience fans who live in remote locations, but they could still do charge-by-phone. If everyone had to go to the local outlet, then it would be like the old days…you get tickets to your regional shows, and everything else you gotta mail order for. The availablity of tickets would increase, because employees can only process/print the orders so fast, one at a time. Even if you multiply that by all the TM outlets for any given show, that figure is still just a drop in the bucket compared to how many people can “click” at one time. Tickets could still be available hours or, dare I say, DAYS after a show goes on sale in some cases. It wouldn’t rule scalpers/brokers totally out of the equation, but without the internet, they’d be limited in how much of a stranglehold they could put on the ticket market. Since most places do the random number lottery for live ticket sales, then even if the scalpers showed up, they’d still have to wait in line like everyone else…they wouldn’t be able to use bots to gobble up all of the tickets at once.
    In my opinion, the best way to fix this is simply to stop online sales, limit public on sales to within general proximity to the venue (surrounding states), and enforce ticket maximums (maybe 4 pe show).

    Just my two cents.

  19. Dankboybill Says:

    no never
    but have jumped a few fences in my younger days

    ps. the wife and i were shut out of spac. and she wont jump the fence.if any have i’m in need.

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ Great idea. Just kill Internet on-sales….Let’s see who gets tickets then! I’m all for it.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    note re: live HD streaming I just watched some NCAA ballgames that weren’t on TV in my region that way over the weekend, it was a sleekly badass setup. Had a quality slider bar, I was getting mild buffering on full 720i HD so I slid it down one notch and it ran completely smooth and beautiful – it was a flawless experience – the future’s here, we are it

  22. Mugician Says:

    “In my opinion, the best way to fix this is simply to stop online sales, limit public on sales to within general proximity to the venue (surrounding states), and enforce ticket maximums (maybe 4 pe show).”

    – I’ve been saying that for a while… it’d be nice…

  23. cal Says:

    i just want to say thanks for setting up the ticket exchange. i have no idea how successful it’s been for folks so far but i do know there are lots of decent, generous phishheads out there in addition to the greedy assholes, and i’m sure more hopeful now than i was last tuesday that i’ll be able to make my red rocks dream a reality some way or other.

    i remember the days of camping out at boston store and i’ll be more than happy to go back to that and screw the internet! somebody text trey and tell him to read this thread…

  24. Soylentinthemorning Says:

    also … why not try a simulcast again.

    i couldn’t believe they didn’t offer that for at least ONE of the shows at Hampton.

    i mean, i seem to remember the Brooklyn simulcast being a success, if so, why not make that a way to reduce pressure on the most popular/difficult shows?

    if the band isn’t invested in the reselling of prime tickets to the secondary market, this shouldn’t affect their bottom line (except positively) at all.

    it’s not like they wouldn’t sell out Fox or RR if there was a simulcast of one or two of those shows.

  25. hairy pood Says:

    ^^dankboybill: you don’t need to jump any fences to sneak into SPAC. there’s a gate in the back of the venue, built into the chainlink fence. the gate slides open periodically, to allow golf carts in and out. its usually patrolled by only 2-3 people, and frequently 60-100 phans wait on the other side. if someone shoves a log or similar object into the gate when it opens, a few first people will be caught, and the rest get in. That’s how i got into the legendary (as far as 2.0 goes) 6/19/84 show. My birthday show, and the only one I ever had to sneak into.

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