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. MP Says:

    I’d say the difference in difficulty scoring tix online now verse 5-10 years ago is mainly a connectivity issue, more people with faster connections. I remember going to be grade school computer lab (I have elementary school connections, give me a break) and setting up about 15 computers to grab DeerCreek ’97 tickets. Got the tix we needed, and a few extras without much problem, all pavilions. I doubt I would have the same luck today with a similar situation. Online is just too competitive, like Miner said, its just dumb luck to score online anymore. I don’t think bots are too blame, though. Maybe i am naive.

    That being said, I do think Ticketmaster is setting aside larger lots of tickets to dump directly to the secondary market, either via TicketsNow or some less obvious relationships. Someone mentioned awhile back, around the Hampton onsale dates, about the Cubs and a court ruling that allowed them to resell premium tickets at a significant markup, through StubHub, and how this opened up the flood gates. I would like to hear more about that but cant find any reference to the ruling. It seem these allocations could be as high as 10%, maybe higher?

    The entry for StubHub on Wikipedia is interesting, if not a little thin. I think what is most interesting about this is the larger ramifications regarding the complete mockery of the social contract between us and our governing bodies. This is indicative of a growing trend toward corporate governance and is frankly, frightening. Scalpers lobby government to repeal ‘anti-scalping legislation’ and making it happen? Government for who? By who?

    Our parents reaped the fruits sown by “the greatest generation” and we are going to need to sow the seeds of change if we expect to enjoy the quality of life they did. Any angry fans on this board who are still trying to decide what they want to be when they grow up, don’t underestimate the difference you can make. The world needs you. Do good work and you can change the things you don’t like. Guaranteed. Even something some people would think is trivial.

  2. hairy pood Says:

    ^6/19/04…. i didn’t get to see them in 84…

  3. wizzle1986 Says:

    on a semi-related note, Phish should just record video of each show and do streaming/theatre simulcast as well as releasing video with the LivePhish…not necessarily as an alternative to attending shows but just in general, I know I would love to have video of the shows I have attended in the past

  4. cottle Says:

    MP – you’re right on the money…and I don’t think the direct relationship between TM and Ticketsnow can be overstated. TNow no longer offers tickets to shows before they go on sale (court-ordered), and the no longer direct you to TNow from TM (also court ordered). They’re gonna get away with as much as they can until somebody calls them out for gettin’ out of pocket.

    …and if they’re the ticket master, wouldn’t that make us the ticket slaves?…

  5. dyda Says:

    someone said phish = mainstream already. that i would argue considering what passes as music in the mainstream nowadays.

    no, never paid scapler. never had to.

    yes will grant that $50 is way less than the demand some of the venues commands and perhaps paying up to double is ok in certain circumstances, but heading over to ebay and seeing what they’re going for makes me so angry cause there’s no way 90% of us could justify thousand dollar tix. especially when so many people are facing financial woes.

    do you really think internet sales are going to be done away with? not to be a downer, but living in the age we do that’s just never going to happen. it’s not a matter of clout, if the ticket seller owns the venue then they’re going to need a pretty good incentive not to sell online.

    since this problem extends into professional sports as well it seems that getting a large group of displeased fans/phans lobbying congress to make this practice illegal again is an option.

    i like the idea of having a venue (or one on each coast) not owned by corporate interests which the band can use as a home base. however that would mean that they’d have to increase the size of their operation since their current management wouldn’t take kindly to them trying to rid themselves of involvment within the biz.

    anyone else bothered by all the corporate naming rights nonsense with most venues now too? that should have been a sign a decade ago that things were heading towards this.

    i still hold out hope that this will all die down after the initial hype wears off some. but yes, i will have to agree that the reality is that $50 (really more like $65) is a steal and if you managed that you should consider yourself lucky.

    i like the europe tour idea, but that would require $ on our part to get across the ocean. so yeah, get used to higher prices one way or another.

    still don’t think we should be encouraging random scalpers looking to make a buck off our devotion. find a way to beat them at their own game until it is made illegal. seriously snag as many as you can doing whatever it is they are and then undermine their efforts by not marking them up crazy amounts. reasonable markups like just enough to cover the costs of the venture. it’s not like we’re looking to cheat each other and if we are then the band may as well quit again.

    obviously something is wrong with the tix selling sites if they either can’t handle the volume or immediately move their tix to their secondary market. venues selling out in minutes is nuts.

    who knows. this post was just me trying to proactively think out loud…

  6. Dankboybill Says:

    ^harry i’ve been lucky there before but the wife aint in to it

  7. dyda Says:

    right on mp with the call to activism. there are two good quotes on the rothbury page:

    “The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.” – Walt Whitman

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

  8. Selector J Says:

    @ Miner and Exree:
    Agree. Agree. Agree.

    Official simulcast for a small fee. Tiny overhead and unbelievable return. You could do $5 for streaming audio. $15 for streaming video (when available).

    This should have already been in place for Hampton but I can see how other concerns took priority. Imagine the revenue from The Fox show alone! Let’s do this already.

  9. JOTZEH Says:

    I’m completely with you regarding the unnecessary and ridiculous difficulties that came with buying the tickets this time around. The only thing that I disagree with is the idea that the real fans did not get the tickets. The older Phish gets the more people become entranced by their music and the more “real” fans join the club.

    Don’t get me wrong, the current system isn’t working and it needs at least moderate adjustment, but as more real fans have been introduced to Phish over the 5 years gone, I think that Phish Inc. simply underestimated the number of fans it would draw to their shows.

    The point is, tickets are going to be harder to get, because more and more people are “real” fans of Phish, though they might not have been around to witness the heyday of Phish.

  10. t Says:

    Welcome to Grateful Dead circa 1989!

  11. nonoyolker Says:

    Someone dropped the words “embiggened” and “cromulant” earlier. Genius! That episode is just finishing now. What are the odds!
    I hate paying extra for tix, but lets face it, i am NOT missing a show. Its a shit reality. At least we aren’t in a recession or anything…

  12. nonoyolker Says:

    Just remember “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man”

  13. cheese Says:

    if Phish really wants to make money they should simulcast every show. They know it will sell out anyway and everyone could enjoy it
    there are probably contracts with venues / promoters that says they can’t simulcast though
    thats the problem – ticketmaster and live nation have the rights to sell tickets for just about every venue in the US that Phish can play
    we need to go after the venues to break those contracts!

  14. Read Icculus Says:

    ……it is Wildtown.

  15. cottle Says:

    “A noble spirit embiggens even the smallest man.”

  16. cottle Says:

    damn.. somebody beat me to it.

  17. dyda Says:

    i didn’t tame the mighty buffalo. it was already tame. i just shot it.

  18. patrad Says:

    i second the no more online. the only was we got pavs for alpine was to go to alpine the day of onsale. yeah, i’ve bought tickets on a hiking trail using my iphone and that is convenient. but when it facilitates this? ditch it.

    I also am highly disappointed in the bands response. i think you nailed it. it’s red light phi$h now. if phish is upset, all of red light would be upset. well that’s a poor move IMHO for a band that makes it’s living off it’s fans touring. phish needs to give red light an ultimatum to fix it, and if they don’t, move on.

    meanwhile i’m happy today because panic is playin with the allmans on my 30th bday in chi-town and i’m not immediatley filled with dread about trying to get tickets. you know. . . the way it should be.

    hell they may even simulcast it (see: halloween, NYE) . . . i bet red light is putting the kibosh on that as well. they could make way more phi$h dollars selling DVDs instead of letting fans get what they want online.

  19. shpongleyez Says:

    nono, No No!

    Other than RR and the Fox tix will come to those who wait. Don’t give in to temptation!

    On the other hand, who’s to say what’s right these days, what with all our modern ideas…and products?

  20. Mugician Says:

    What’s so great about the Fox anyway? Just good sound? Does Phish have big history there? Curious…

    Here’s my dream come true: Phish does Fox and Boulder Theater (both around 2000 cap) in Boulder, CO for a week straight. Ha! That would be way too intense… The Fox in Boulder has such fucking amazing sound…

  21. cottle Says:

    The Fox is great on numerous levels. Phish last played there in 94, and it was one of the sickest Tweezers ever! It may be the one that made it onto “A Live One” but I can’t say that with certainty. Plus it only holds about 5,000 people, which is teeny-tiny. Last time Phish played anything near that size was Radio City in 2000. Aside from that is the magic of the venue itself. It’s ornately decorated, w/ gold-leaf paint everywhere, snazzy carpets, intricate woodwork. If you’ve ever been to the Fox in Atlanta, it’s a comparable venue.

    Nice call on the Fox in Boulder. I saw Sector 9 there on 12/30-31/01, and I’ll never forget how that place just rumbles with bass (in a good way), you think the building is going to shake off of the foundation.

  22. Billy Breathes Says:

    The Fox in St Louis is a VERY special place…do your DD son. 🙂

    Here’s one little tid-bit for you…

    Jerry Garcia, from the Grateful Dead, wanted to once purchase the theater and make it The Dead’s 2nd home base venue….their home away from away from home…if you will.

    Do your DD!

    Steal Your Face.

  23. Mugician Says:

    Straight up! I’ve some REALLY kickin’ shows at the Fox in Boulder.

    My god the Tweezer on A Live One is beyond epic. 30 minutes of fresh, insane improv. It’s really incredible. If you ever have 30 minutes non-stop to spare, take a listen to the whole thing, it’s WELL worth it!

  24. dyda Says:

    a live one tweezer is from bangor, maine – 11.2.94
    an even crazier tweezer from bozeman, mt 11.28.94 is only a two minute segment called ‘montana’ on alo. you can get both full versions on this site. just gotta poke around.

    the fox will also be the smallest show of the tour following the biggest shows at the roo. it’s a throwback to the days when the band was only big enough to play a room that size. intimacy.

    dig the new set-up miner but could you get it to read top to bottom instead of bottom to top. whatever though will get used to it being backwards.

    yes moe. is good. or at least i haven’t not liked anything i’ve heard from them. they’re from upstate ny and hold an annual festival called moe.down (also one in the winter called snowdown). being from pgh i see alot of them around here. they actually play free shows several times a year here and will be at all good 13 this year. worth checking out. their lineup is interesting too as they have two guitarists who trade lead, bass, keys, drums and a xylophone/percussionist.

    i really like dark star too. more than ratdog but not as much as phil. their set at all good 12 was the highlight of my weekend. have yet to see them at nelson ledges but that’s apparently a good time too. they’ll be at all good 13 also.

  25. dyda Says:

    whoa, but the timestamp isn’t working properly as i just posted about the bookend november 94 tweezers at 12:20 EST and it put it in the middle of the page at like 9:20. eh. little kinks to work out

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