Tickets? Yeah, Right…

Tom Morrell

photo: Tom Morrell

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

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

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

The Promised Land

Hampton - The Promised Land- photo: Abhi

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

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

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



UIC Pavilion

UIC Pavilion

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

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

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

E: Bouncing Around the Room-> Tweezer Reprise

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57 Responses to “Tickets? Yeah, Right…”

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  1. Sara Says:

    Hi, I just sent the following letter to my local paper (Norfolk, VA)…We were blocked too…in every way! Sad, and I don’t think we have the extra cash to buy tix at the prices they are going for!
    Here it is…..
    Both my husband (34) and I (35) have been fans since high school. We were very excited that we would have the opportunity to see them again and in our own backyard! I really really tried to get tickets to the March shows at Hampton Coliseum (just a few miles down the road) and was blocked out by Ticketmaster this morning. My husband drove to a Ticketmaster location this morning only to turn back home after seeing a sign that informed him that Phish tickets would only be available by phone or over the internet. Both my husband and I tried to buy tickets from the Ticketmaster website but we were both blocked out by the server this morning at 10:00, by 10:04 the Ticketmaster site was trying to redirect us to a scalper site that they are affiliated with ( where the price had gone up from $45.50 to $360.00 for tickets. At the same time I was trying for tickets online I was calling multiple Ticketmaster phone numbers but alas they were all busy.

    Phish did have a pre-sale lottery but we were not so lucky. I read around the web that the lottery system was able to award tickets to 6.9% of the people requesting tickets. Would multiple requests from us have helped our cause (I just made one request for 2 of the three nights, after all we have kids and one will be 2 months old)? The band asked that we make only one request per household (in the fine print). I guess there is still a chance to get tickets if we are willing to part with almost $800.00 for one night of Phish bliss! EBay already has auctions going on selling the 3 night package for over $2,000.00. I guess that besides the lucky few who received tickets directly from Phish during the pre-order, the majority of the phans at Hampton this March will have parted with a ton of cash to be there!
    Will a night that should have cost $100.00 plus babysitter and libations be as fun if it costs $1000.00? Hmmm…

  2. dave Says:

    hey – yeah, i hear you with the sadness about it all. i guess phish is out to get us then???
    i hardly think so….look at it this way -once they announce their other dates on their spring tour, i hear it may be as early as the end of March, the demand for hampton will slide like the US economy, along with the scalpers ticket prices…cause there will be MORE SUPPLY of phish to go around.

    i did get 2 tickets to every night – and like you and everyone else here – i put in 12 orders with friends, family, cousins, neighbors helping me submit…it is a difficult scene to grasp if you didn’t get tickets, but listen, phish will be back and you WILL get to see them….

    in the mean time, have you guys heard of a band called THE STRANGE DESIGN? Saw them in Providence last week and holy shit – they killed it — they cover phish like nobody’s business…….

  3. mosesmauzy Says:

    yes i will eventually see phish again. the thing is the first notes they play on their first night back is what it is about. thanks for the positiveness. my daughters 2nd bday is the 6th. that day is tremendous for me. so even more tremendous now. but instead of 2 tickets i need three for each night. if you do not mind seeing them later on then i would love your tickets. thanks

  4. gills Says:

    P-H-I-L-L-Y R-U-N A-N-Y-O-N-E

  5. Matt Says:

    Just to share my point-of-view – I have Never seen Phish, but have been mesmerized by them since 2000. It’s too bad that I have spent most of that time Wanting to no avail… My point – I work 6 MILES from Hampton Coliseum, and I also went 0-for-0. Every chance there was for me to be a true Phan was “taken away” by the Navy to send me 500+ ft underwater. I may have never seen them live, but what would make you think that you have any more right than me to do so, even had I gotten tickets(with my own credit card, consequently)?

  6. eric Says:

    Given the plight of some recent fans who live near Hampton and got shut out of tickets, I wouldn’t mind seeing the band give lottery preference to locals at each venue. It seems logical and fair to me. I know the first three shows are special and a bit different than a regular tour stop though. Some people who live in Hampton got shut out and now are going to have to spend way more for a scalped ticket, or spend way more to travel to see shows because Phish might not be back to Hampton until next year.

    I have been through the seven stages of grieving and have finally landed on acceptance that I was shut out of tickets and have made my peace. Bring on WestCoast Summer Tour ’09!

  7. JRodg Says:

    I’ve seen Phish 66 times since my 16th birthday in Fall 99, more than I’ve missed I’m proud to say, and I agree something with the tickets needs to be changed. I don’t agree going back to the old system will work. I was lucky enough to receive PTBM via mail order for summer and Fall 2000, the last times implemented… And post the first hiatus the demand was already too large to utilize the same distribution system of all requests being filled. In fact that is why the lottery was created to deal with the overflow… I think they need to create a system where tickets can only be purchased in person and in limited quanities, with a physical line you know who’s in front of you, otherwise you have no control over dishonesty…
    just some thoughts… I am going Hampton I’m ashamed of how much I paid… :(…

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