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. McGrupp Says:

    the 50 people on this board sure aren’t going to make a difference by posting their thoughts and venting emotions.

    it is what it is.

    andy – the scalpers have software, your solution is null and void.

  2. Powder Lips Says:

    They should just have a simple 5 question multiple choice timed phish quiz when you go to buy tickets, easy enough for fans, hard enough for scalpers, think capsaw will go for it?

  3. Comrade Says:

    As long as SUPPLY is greater than DEMAND – there will be tons of dissappointment.

    as to the scalpers – yes they suck – but they will only charge what people will pay.

    but i also take issue with the spreadsheet (though it is very nicely done) it does miss out. I would bet that the % of tickets being offered online by scalpers is much smaller than 10% certainly and i think smaller than 5%.

    i think that many if not most of the posts for tickets online are the same people (tickets) – it makes sense – it doesn’t cost the scalper anything it post on many different sites and it makes sense in that they get more exposure.

    scalping will always suck – but pure and simple – there are too many of us wanting to go to too few shows.

  4. guyforget Says:

    we need to hire that kid who films undercover on farms, puppy mills, etc and tries to prosecute for illegal acivity. He’s on HBO, current one is about cruelty to pigs….
    We need to hire that dude to go undercover and get a job at TM/LN/Ticketsnow to see what the F is going on.

    He doesn’t have a high hourly/project rate. We could fund it. I’m in for $100, or maybe i will only pay $49.50 because that’s the only acceptable fee for such a thing…

  5. R1 Says:

    I’m growing a little tired of the “shame on you for paying above face” preaching.

    Sorry, but I’m willing to pay above face to get pav seats to a show that I’m definitely going to. I’m not willing to pay absurd, exorbitant rates, but “above face” doesn’t necessarily mean that. Paying less than $100 for a decent reserved seat certainly doesn’t seem crazy to me. Straight trades or scoring tix is clearly a better option, and I would not pay the ludicrous fees being charged by some, but there are reasonable prices above face. That’s what I work 50 hours a week for – to spend money I things I value.

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    Phish became my favorite band not only because of the incredible music they create, but also because of the way they steered their ship. Sadly, each day I lose more and more respect for them because of the choices they continue to make in this new world. From the scumbag Capshaw, ticket fiasco on a near daily basis, to getting court orders to stop the fans who made their careers from hawking t-shirts, it’s all becoming a bit hard at forgiving insult after insult. Music has always been my only concrete belief and Phish brought me that truth and purity more than anyone else. Which is what makes all of this so heartbreaking. As far as scalpers, the power lies in the people, as always. DON”T DO IT! Make them come out to the lot face to face to desperately hawk their shady wares. And when they do, me no want no nice guy.

  7. guyforget Says:

    Amen R1

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    I,I,I. Aye, aye, aye.

  9. guyforget Says:

    i pose an honest question to all on this board, a simple yes or no will suffice and we’ll all know what question your answering. you don’t have to tell what show or how much, but….



  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ I gotta agree with R1 and Forget. Bottom line, if you CAN’T find a ticket in ANY other way, pay for that shit. Morals are morals, but Phish is Phish- let’s be serious here.

    PS: I’ve only ever scalped for the two comebacks. Sometimes spending money is better than stressing out for months, IMO. And it’s very clear that $49.50 is WAY under market value for a Phish ticket.

  11. Selector J Says:

    Somebody find me some scalper software that does something besides organize your windows when you’re buying online and track ticket prices after they’ve been bought. I think the “magic” scalper software is a myth.

  12. Chrispy Says:

    2 Words for Phi$h Inc.


    Yep…you know. The old 3×5 index card and money order method. Worked very well for years with the Dead and worked just fine for WSP NYE 08 here in Denver.
    Also, please write your congressman and tell him/her that you are against the TicketMaster merger with Live Nation. Although under investigation now by the feds for possible antitrust violations, there is no reason to feel confident this critical merger will be disallowed. And if this merger is completed, our purchasing power will only be further deminished.

    I too was shut out at a Ticketmaster Outlet in Thornton, CO.
    I too had the same experience of watching an incompetent person completely fumble. After verbally confirming the store’s ticket scoring strategy prior to the onsale, he blew it. Out of aprox. 45 people at the store, one individual walked out of there with 2 four day passes. UGH!

    For some perspective, Phish sold out Red Rocks in about 10-12 minutes in 1995. That day, the lady at a Denver RiteAid was able to punch out about 5 Orders. That was a long time ago and I remember it well because I drove 7 hours each way (from WY) to buy tickets and 7 hours each way for the shows. If you look at this experience, you might decide that the ticket buying situation has not really changed all that much. There was always huge demand for RR tix from all over the country. Viewed another way, I witnessed an 80% reduction in ticket output from a single TM outlet.

    In this modern age, Mail Order may seem dated and naive but I would bet that given enough thought and some ingenuity, it would work. It is a return to the roots of Jam rock in my opinion. I will always remember the care that went in to my GD mail order effort. It is the antithesis of the “sitting at home in your underwear” and could possibly be the only way to truly foil the ticket brokers. And if the band has to play in some weird venues to get around the TM contracts and such…all the better.:)

    Now that the community is leveraging Google Docs to an extent, maybe we should put together a document dedicated to creating a viable way out of this mess.

  13. Mugician Says:

    Question. People talk about scalper bots/software… what about the captcha?

    How many tickets are these assholes buying all at once?

    What about some kind of timed email confirmation, with a limit on tickets per email address/credit card combo?

    As for Mcgrupp: the 50 people that read this board have to know a lot of people, who know people who know people….

    What about *forcing* Phish to take action? Or just going straight to congress?

    I mean CHRIST, the way some of you are talking – it seems like there ISN’T a goddamn thing we can do! I honestly don’t believe that we are powerless.

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    Yes I have. Once, and it shames me to this day. I realized it is far more important to me to keep the one pure thing I have in this wonderful life to remain that way. I would rather be part of the solution than the problem. If good people like us don’t take a stand, then who will? If you are financing the scumbags who are causing very real grief, then please refrain from complaining.

  15. Los Says:

    No doubt! Ive said it before…

    Hampton 3day pass $900.00…

    …pHISH Hampton ’09…priceless!!!!!

  16. Selector J Says:

    Mug: What’s there to do? I think it sucks like everyone else but not because we’re being wronged.

    Let’s say, everything being equal and the scalpers get no tickets- It’s a drop in the bucket. People would still get shut out by the thousands..

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    scalper bots are VERY real…no myth there, folks….able to snag around 10 tix in an instant…multiply that my many computers, and you’ve got a problem

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    hm so why don’t we get some scalper bot software, buy a ton of tickets, and sell them to each other for face?

  19. Doc Says:

    I’m no techie, but how hard (and expensive) would it be for phans to set up their own bots? Fight fire with fire.

  20. Selector J Says:

    Miner: I know the bots used to be very prevalent before TM got their act together on the internet. But within the last 7 or 8 years, I think they’ve become pretty innocuous. I mean who’s writing and updating the scalper code? The scalpers? I doubt it. TM has a lot of money to stay ahead of these guys.

    I still say it’s overblown.

  21. Mugician Says:

    Selector J: of course! No matter what, people are gonna get shut out! Is anyone willing to make ANY sacrifice?

    Would you rather: scalpers, thousands for tickets, people get shut out because they can’t afford shit, OR no scalpers, $50 a ticket, more people can afford to go, and just as many get shut out as before! I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with the latter scenario!

    Miner: what do you think about what I just said (since you seem to insist that the bots are real [also not contradicting you here]): “What about the captcha? What about some kind of timed email confirmation, with a limit on tickets per email address/credit card combo?”

    I thought the whole reason behind captchas were to keep “bots” and spamware OUT. If bots can buy “10 tix and instant” and there’s a captcha on TM/LN, what’s going on there? Does this “software” have auto-captcha filling non-sense?

    I just don’t get it. I also think that if all of what I just said is the case, that a timed email confirmation combined with a ticket limit per shipping address/credit card/IP/something would really cut down on how many tickets scalpers can actually get a hold of. It’s not a solution to scalpers all together, but that WOULD make things better for a bit I would imagine.

  22. Exree Hipp Says:

    Miner, bots have not been a reality for sites like TM for years. That is one of the primary jobs of the software. It does a lot of things but there’s a reason the inventor was given a MacArthur grant.

  23. Selector J 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. 😉

  24. wizzle1986 Says:

    Phish Festival….No holds barred….Everyone gets in….Everyone gets laid

  25. Exree Hipp Says:

    Don’t forget that if people were to somehow act en masse (and we’re talking more than a hundred thousand people doing this, already an impossibility), we would be right back where we started. Getting the price to $50 by sheer will would not remove the number of people who want to see the show, and people would still be shut out. Then, the second a ticket changes hands, demand increases the price, etc. Asking several thousand people not to recognize that their tickets are worth more than they paid is like asking everyone to just try really hard to make the stock market go up.

    Phish makes an effort to put as many tickets as possible in the hands of their fans. For those that inevitably go to wealthier fans, Phish tries to take a cut (TicketsNow). They are more entitled than anyone to it, IMO.

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