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. dyda Says:

    i said the same thing about empty seats during the first round of summer onsales, spike. not realistic. especially at red rocks. i’d be wary about another 10 year ban though.

  2. Micah Kagan Says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the spreadsheet, Mr. Miner.

    There are some problems with the sheet, and I agree with some of the comments. I can’t take into account cross-posing on StubHub & TcketsNow!, nor could I get good data from Ebay (its listed in such a way that would make it impossible). There are also hundreds of other secondary sellers on the web that I haven’t included either. But, as a general guiding document, I think it is very helpful and sheds light onto what is really going on.

  3. Daveman Says:

    The madness does really need to stop. Funny that in this world of technology the methods that seemed to work best for people were phone and in-person. TM and LN’s sites are epic fail, I can only imagine what the world will be like when they merge. The Matrix here we come…

    Hopefully though things do calm down in the next year or two when people realize that Phish is going to be around for a while.

  4. Sam Says:

    a phish festival in some town in texas would be hilarious.
    red rocks is going to be flooded with ticketless people, doesn’t look to good to me…

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    It’s not often mentioned that the issues in 96 were in nearby morrison and had nothing to do with ticketless at red rocks the venue.. And the circumstances were dubious at best.

    The town should be more prepared this time, so I wouldn’t worry that much about another ban.

  6. dyda Says:

    ‘dubious’ is the key word but if the locals have a preconceived notion in their heads… all the more reason to be on our best behaviour and stick it to them in that regard

  7. RobAins Says:

    SOAM and Al, sittin’ in a tree….jk 😉

  8. SOAM Says:

    That would be sick if it was in Bush’s neighborhood and traffic was like coventry

  9. dyda Says:

    about stadium shows, this is the (relevant) first half the roger waters liner notes i was talking about:

    “Anyone who is familiar with my work and with the comments I’ve made during the course of my career will know that I have an antipathy towards football stadium rock shows.

    These arenas are perfect for sports, political rallies, and Billy Graham-style revival meetings…I mean, they suit God and football, but I don’t think their scale is appropriate for rock ‘n roll which has always worked at its best in circumstances which allow for a much greater degree of intimacy, and contact, between the performers and their audiences.

    There’s something about playing before 90,000 people that brings out the worst in everyone. In the performers, it can’t help but encourage and exaggerate the puerile, attention-seeking part of our personality which is more concerned with power and status.

    Audiences for their part get sidetracked by the scale of the event, and the last thing to be properly celebrated is the music.

    The connection is lost. I particularly felt this loss after the success of Dark Side of the Moon.

    On subsequent tours it felt very much as if just about everything human and important – the quality of performances, as well as the fact that relationships between the members of the band had broken down – was ignored or neglected simply beacuse there was suddenly so much money involved, and because our lust for the concomitant acclaim was so great that genuine creative endeavour, and the authentic pleasures that accrue from it, and thus devolve to everyone else, were put on hold. The Wall, which I wrote during that time, is probably still my most thorough and articulate statement of these concerns.

    My recent American tour, from which the live performances on these CDs have been chosen, was naturally faithful to my present requirements.

    I have increasingly found myself directly addressing audiences, reaching out to them, if you like, in ways I hadn’t attempted before, or at least certainly hadn’t in the bad old days when I’d have hidden behind any prop or device to shield myself from the responsibilities, and ultimately from the rewards of that relationship. This was not something I’d deliberately planned. It simply began to develop on the ’99 In the Flesh tour and went on from there. The size of the venues, and my physical proximity to the audiences which they allowed, obviously encouraged this adjustment, but I also think it indicates some fundamental change in my attitude towards what I do, as well as a change in my attitude towards what I want to get out of it.

    Much of this has to do understanding, of should I say, feeling, the truly reciprocal nature of the arrangements between me and my audiences.

    There’s a bond established between us, one which is very precious, and one from which I now derive tremendous pleasure.

    At best, a kind of communication occurs in which all present are equally involved.

    On these recent tours we – the band and I – came together every night just before we went on stage to perform a short ritual. It was a bracer really, but also a kind of mantra. We’d form a circle, join hands, and shout “Genuine Love!” I know that may sound a little corny, but all of us meant it.

    If what subsequently occurred wasn’t about love – mutual affection, respect and trust – then it really wasn’t about anything, so it was a pledge that we renewed every night.

    That the pledge worked I’m quite certain was reflected in our performances, as well as in the audiences’ warmth and enthusiasm which was often overwhelming.”

  10. wanderin Says:

    @ CoWfunk

    Those issues in 96 were caused by a few (dirty rats), and of course it made the rest of us look bad, it was all good the rest of the time —at least what I observed/participated in

  11. Weyoun42 Says:

    Okay, I can see Waters’ point on stadium shows. But, if you look at the stadium they’re doing in Chicago, that seems to be reasonable. Not to put too fine a point on it, if we were going to concede more stadium and arena shows, how big is too big? 10,000? 20,000? More/less? I live in Michigan and would love to see Phish play another gig at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. They play sports there, but the place was designed for concerts. It seats 13,000 and is made in a horseshoe configuration. The acoustics are very good and I’ve seen several shows there. I’ve been in the back corner upper deck to most every show I’ve seen there and still enjoyed them quite a bit.

  12. Selector J Says:

    TICKETS: The ticket spreadsheet does not account for multiple posts of tickets so there is an even smaller percentage of broker owned tickets than is represented. I would say it’s probably a little over half the number shown in column T.
    Also, many brokers post extremely high prices for tickets that they don’t even have in hopes of finding the tickets with the once the phantom tickets are bought by using the sucker’s capital.

    “the issues in 96 were in nearby morrison ”

    Same difference. The town of Morrison is about the size of the Spectrum’s parking lot and it’s not too far removed from the venue. The total population of ticket-wielding and ticketless fans would be enough to piss them off again, I would think. Then again, money talks (ask Hampton).

    TEXAS: Thank goodness that Texas rumor has been put to bed. Now all you east coast liberal elites can take the Depends out of your underwear. 😉 You would think Phish were doing a festival in Sadr City…

  13. Chalkdustin Says:

    This whole issue is a very sharp double-edged sword. One the one hand, the band doesn’t owe us anything. They are musicians, not businessmen. Their only job is to produce the mind-splitting cosmic-railing sounds we all love. Period. Why should they care how much we pay for a ticket to see them. I rave to people about their music, not their management. We’re being selfish asking for their help. On the other hand, why should the band NOT care? Phish wouldn’t be Phish without the fans. Don’t we deserve a little love? Try to weed out all the scalpers and bots that take OUR tickets from us. How can they sit back and not care that each time a new show goes on sale, the entire community erupts in frustration? They’re being selfish by not helping.

    Frankly, I don’t know what the answer is. Play in big stadiums? Invest in their own venues? Phish-only fests? Paperless or mail-order ticketing? Who the hell knows. There are too many “what if’s” here. Yes, the whole sale of tickets is a mess. Yes, our changes of seeing all the shows we want and scoring good seats have been obliterated by greedy ticketing-whoring scalpers. Yes, I’d rather have pav seats to Alpine and Deer Creek and no, I don’t want to fork over my entire month’s earnings to do so.

    Pardon all this going-nowhere ranting, but I can’t help but go back and forth on this issue. All I can say is that I’m grateful there are cool dudes like Miner and everyone on here who are kind enough to want to work as a community by trading and selling tix for face. At least we’re making progress here.

  14. Selector J Says:

    ^”in hopes of finding the tickets with *theM* once the phantom tickets…”

  15. guyforget Says:

    what if there were just no online sales through TM & Livenation? What if everybody had to get get inline, get a wristband, then they call a wristband number, and that’s the first in line? The old school way seems simple, and would force people who really wanted tickets to make an effort. Old school way seems it would still work. Can’t Phish mandate the the how they wnat thier tickets sold?

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’ve seen great shows in stadiums. I’ve seen crappy shows in stadiums. I’ve seen crappy shows in tiny venues too.

    If the sound is clear and loud throughout, the connection can be made. And I do think it’s not just the scale of the event that causes disconnection but a calculation that runs something like this:

    PED = Es (C/S)

    PED = Performer Ego Engorgement, which leads to disconnection from audience
    Es = Event Scale, measured in audience members
    C = Cocaine, measured in grams per performer per show
    S = Sanity of performer

    Note that over a series of shows this causes feedback loop, as high PED levels erode S and increase C

    point being hopefully Big Red and the fellows have high S value now, and zero C, so would be ok

  17. youenjoy09 Says:

    ^ what a formula! You have outdone yourself!

  18. Selector J Says:

    Nice, Mr. C.
    So you’re also saying there is some serious variance in PED depending on whether: C>S, C=S, or C<S. What is the range of S, I wonder?

  19. SOAM Says:

    Roger Water is more responsible than Yoko in regards to wrecking a great band-if it wasn’t for him the Stadium Floyd shows would have been more incredible than they were-He says everything out of spite. It is a coincidence that the later floyd incarnations always played stadiums-he is still trying to put down david gilmour because gilmour had the balls to say the final cut blew, waters ego needed to be checked and they needed to regroup. Love him as a musician (he puts speakers in the lawn=phat) but if I saw him I would have to deck him just on priciple and for tolerating all his bitchy whining regarding being a rock star-pleeease

  20. SOAM Says:


  21. Chalkdustin Says:

    @ Mr. Completely

    Dork. 🙂

    Kidding. Seriously, nice math there. I think you also need to factor in the amount of C (or M/E/N etc.) the audience imbibes in.

    Sanity never came their way.

  22. SOAM Says:

    Forget -I’m a little wary of ticket camping (little too Dazed and Confused) I just don’t have the time bro…but the scalpers would hire the homeless to score front rows RR’S and then pay them with some mad dog 20/20 so either way society is affected

  23. dyda Says:

    yeah, this was when he was touring at the usual summer sheds. keeping in mind that alpine is twice the size of most and toyota isn’t the size of an (american) football stadium.

    what i found interesting was that he was talking about IT in some regard. the connection felt between everyone there and that ‘we’re all in this together’ and stadiums just not being as conducive to that occuring.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    @chalkdustin that’s “geek” to you ;o) has anyone mentioned we rule the world now?

    @selector yes that’s the key ratio I think. Note that if C=0 the whole equation becomes moot. I can’t speak to the value range of S as I have never been an expert in that area

    the stars, they really suck tonight

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    Venues and ticket sales places don’t want us camping there.. That’s why they do the lotto.

    Love the formula mr c!!

    If morrison doesn’t realize how much money we bring they’re clurless. I think it will be different this time. I believe rr is now a state park or somehow different anyway, taking it out of the hands of morrison. And its easy to be at rr and not go to morr. Hopefully people will be smarter..

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