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. Mugician Says:

    How come they haven’t played there since 94? Another RR situation?

    What’s “DD”? I assume it’s research considering the context, so rather: what’s “DD” stand for?

  2. nonoyolker Says:

    Boulder is not far from New Mexico. “Wait, there’s a NEW Mexico???”

  3. dyda Says:

    heh. dur. there isn’t a keyboardist in moe. rather one of the guitarists will sometimes play a moog or similar keyboard and the xylophone fills in the rest of that sound.

  4. nonoyolker Says:

    DD= Due Dilligence. Or Double Dragon, Dunkin Donuts, or Double Down depending on your crowd. Either way, perfectly cromulent use of the abbreviation.

  5. DugNug Says:

    Gone are the days of cheap tickets and great seats. Walking into the Bomb Factory for $12.50 and getting front row center for a mind blowing Tweezer. Your comments are spot on. Most phans have grown and aren’t able to hit the road like the good old days. The fact that Phish is playing in my backyard at RR’s pisses me off that I couldn’t get a ticket. It is unacceptable that we only hear silence from Phish. I desperately want to purchase a ticket but paying $400 a ticket goes against everything that Phish is supposed to stand for. This is a business but since when has access to a Phish show been for an elite class? It is a sad feeling to know that I can’t take my twins to a show for their first time. If we buy tickets, we give into the green greedy machine, if we don’t we miss out on seeing our favorite band. This is not pity party but a sense of sadness that we can no longer share in the groove with phans that have been phamily for decades. A phamily reunion will not be complete due to corporate greed. Write a song about that Phish!! Call it the LemonWheel of fortune, any other suggestions?

  6. cottle Says:

    No, they didn’t get banned or anything, it was just that 94/95 was a big time for the boys. They started blowing up, and they began to outgrow many a venue.

  7. Mitch Says:


    it was me talking about doing something. email me if you get a min to discuss a few things i’ve noted.

  8. John Says:

    Back to ticketshit– Right on for finally saying something. I could only try for one show(Merriweather). No luck. That brings my success rate to a whopping 0 %. THIS SUCKS!

  9. Mitch Says:

    I’ve got an idea… anyone wanna start a broker biz to buy up jonas bros and britney shit-ass tix? Then sell them so we have enough money for phish??

    I consider myself pretty damn good at buying tix at onsales, if we can get decent seats (broker bots will get front 10 rows) then we could still make a killing. think of all the rich parents who think buying the tickets to high school musical will make their kids like them.

    Who wants to invest in my new company?

    Ticket Fuckers, our slogan is gonna be “you want tickets? we’re gonna fuck you”

  10. Mugician Says:

    I honestly can’t imagine anyone spending even 50 bucks on Spears. But then again, we’ve got quite the abundance of whackos and what nots living in the US.

  11. Mugician Says:

    Scratch that last – they’re everywhere!

  12. youenjoy09 Says:

    Speaking of Jerry……

    Dennis McNally (Grateful Dead publicist and official biographer) in an interview last week, recollecting on the day he first interviewed Jerry….

    “I remember lots about that day, but one of the things I remember in particular was that when we were done, Garcia broke out a joint. This was long before the era of fantastic sinsemilla and all that stuff. We were used to smoking occasionally good Columbian, but in general pretty mediocre pot. Anyway, Jerry pulls out a joint, and I was happy to share it with him. A little later, I remember riding back (to) New Jersey, sitting in the shotgun seat, and I was SOO ripped. All I could think was . . . well, geez, if anybody on the planet should have great pot, it’s gotta be Jerry! (laughter).”

    haha….well that just makes my day….:)

    here is the link if anyone is interested….

  13. Panda Says:

    Hell yeah Minor,

    THIS BLOWS, and you hit it on the head with that post.
    Thanks kid, but I will take lawns and so far 2 for 10 in 2009.

    I think your comment “”get tickets in the hands of real fans. The real question remains, does anyone really want to?””

    says it all. They (band) are not doing anything about the ticketshit

    PHI$h INC sucks bring back Paluska!

    My first show back @ Red rocks for 200 minimiun?
    Yeah right after coventry!

    Maybe they think we are that dumb?

  14. Davey Says:

    Side Note—
    Is moe. any good? They are playing a show near me and I’m jonesing. Dark Star is playing too but I haven’t listened to moe. They sound kinda soft. Do they ever rage? Basically would it be worth it to eat a cap at go to a moe. show?

  15. wizzle1986 Says:

    ALOne Tweezer was Bozeman,MT if memory is correct

  16. Wilson Says:

    I love the Spears/Jonas buyup plan. that’s actually brilliant.

    i waited in line for shoreline at a SF Blockbuster (8th in line, waited 2 hours). I got pav tickets on the phone while people inside got niothing. That’s the whole story in a nutshell. randomness. I don’t even think the “brokers” had all that much to do with it. the % in the spreadsheet tells that story (with some accurate “corrections” by some posters here). the last few months was simple huge demand on an outdated/nonsensical system. your chances of getting tickets (through about any method) were ultimately, probably, random as all hell. in some sense, it WAS fair. it was just bad fair. it can be improved. i think the old mail order should be updated.

    and as for Dennis McNally- dude gave me tickets (as many as i needed) to the Deadheads for Obama show at the Warfield. cool guy.

  17. JoyBoy Says:

    I didn’t read through every post, but I think I have an original solution…modifying the Trent Reznor, ID verification method.

    If the original purchaser had to show ID, this would make things difficult for obvious reasons (trading, selling extras at face..etc.)….however, this could be eliveated if redlight/Phish offered an exclusive, face-value ticket-trading site, where fans could sell extras to other fans, who would then have to show their ID’s and not those of original purchasers….wow, that is brilliant:)…..they could limit each ticket to one re-sale….that is fair.

  18. JoyBoy Says:

    Wizzle1986…ALOne Tweezer is from Bangor Maine….I think 11-2-94…Montana on ALOne (LOL) is from Bozeman, and possibly the YEM it goes into.

  19. seedybrick Says:

    Maybe next time you won’t be such a stuck up bish and take the lawns seats you were given.

    God you’re like a starving ethiopian crying because you got a hamburger instead of the steak filet you had wanted.

    You’re lucky you had the chance to get anything at all.

    I laugh at the 3.42 hours you spent in a parking lot for nothing.


  20. Frankie Says:

    It’s all Robert Plant’s fault… 😉

  21. drumspace Says:

    the only way for us fans to win is simple in my mind. boycott buying scalped tickets. i know this sounds stupid, or unachievable, but at some point something has to be done by US fans. the outlets, and the scalpers are doing what they have always done, and that is make as much money as they can, as fast as they can. what we have to do, and it sucks, but as a community we can get the scalpers to stop buying phish tickets. its called supply and demand. if the scalpers have the tickets, we as a community dont buy them. Phish would wake up when they see a 1/2 filled venue. the STUPID/GREEDY fans who bought extra tickets with no purpose other than reselling them for over 100% profit would wake up when they are paying their interest on their CC’s and when they cant sell their extra’s. the scalpers would wake up when they invested a ton of $$$ and ended up loosing money on tickets. everyday that tickets just sit on ebay, stubhub, tickets now, craigs list etc. those people are loosing money. how do you get greedy money hawks to change? simple, when they loose money, they want nothing to do with it. HOLD OUT!!!!!
    People we need to wake up. the fever is over folks, the summer tour will come and it will go, and most of us will not see phish this summer, stadiums will not be full except for the very small ones, we will have it one of 2 ways either the scalpers win or we win. goto the venue the day of the show, try and get a ticket for face value+service fee’s. just do not pay over face value for tickets. if you do, you encourage the scalpers to continue. if we hold out, either one of 3 things will happen, either phish will step in and do something like ticketless entry w/ CC’s and ID’s and what have you. this means that we win
    2) everything stays the same, people will buy tickets at $250+ per ticket and the scalpers win.
    3) we win with the scalpers realizing that they cant rake us over the coals because they are loosing money.
    I am 36 yrs old, love phish only tried to get 2 venues (fox and RR’s) and like everybody else out there, got screwed in the process. yes i am bitter, and i know alot of us are, WE SHOULD BE BITTER, WE SHOULD BE BITTER! greed is fucking us over. Phish is our band, this is our scene, we need to change it, and not keep hoping that someone is gonna come and save us from the greedy ticketbastards of the world. plain and simple DO NOT BUY TICKETS OVER FACE VALUE. if we hold out they loose money everyday!!!

  22. Nick Says:

    I started a group on facebook it is called phish please go back to old mail order process anyone on facebook please join!!

  23. NRM Says:

    guyforget: In 100+ shows I never bought a scalped ticket.

    cottle: Re: buying tix in person at the venue or TM site. This can be better than online, especially if geographically limited. However it does not *eliminate* scalpers.Scalpers used to hire homeless to wait on line and then right before tix went on sale, their big bruiser guys would come in and take their places, muscle their way in and pretty much say “whadda ya gonna do about it?”

    dyda: You are right on about corporate naming/ownership of venues. Not only was it a sign of negative things to come, but it was also at taxpayer expense (the folks who actually paid to build many of these venues). It may be small, but I, for one, refuse to use corporate names of the week — It’s still the Mann Music center in Philly, the Knick[erbocker] in Albany, etc.

    I think my final words on the subject are that while no one is pure goodness, Phish used to make a real concerted effort to avoid the corporatization of music and all that comes with it. It saddens me to see what the whole thing has become, I feel a certain sense of betrayal, a loss of innocence and possibilities, even though the band owes me nothing. I/we used to be able — for a few brief hours/or a long weekend –escape the commodification of *everything* and enjoy our time away listening to great music and enjoying art and surprises and phamily. I fear this is what’s really lost.

  24. Neal Pataky Says:

    Bring back old school mail-order. remeber the feeling you got when the FedEx truck finally pulled up? It was like Christmas. I mail ordered the ’96 Summer tour, ’97 Summer tour,’97 Fall tour, ’98 Summer Tour and just about every New Years run and got every single ticket except ’97 Fleet Center and ’98 MSG. I score both of those tickets in the lot for face value.
    I say that they should mail order 1/3 – 1/2 of the tickets then sell the remaining 1/2 -2/3 of seats via Livenation as paperless tickets with CC & ID required for entry. Let those tickets be resold a maximum of one time at no more than 10% face value.

  25. walfredo Says:

    Neal- I agree mailorder is the answer. It’s a lot simpler problem then people think… Make it complicated as hell- require money orders- put limits on # of shows. And negotiate for as many tickets as you can get out of the ticketmaster set.

    moe. is a good band. I saw them for the first time in 1996 when they headlined 3 nights at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. They are underrated songwriters- and they can play. Their older school stuff can rage. I haven’t been to a show since 2000- but I am going to catch them in Seattle next month. They are worth checking out.

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