Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Up The Irons, Take A Chill Pill, and Pass The Coin

In an indication that there are too many artists named after bears, I totally spread misinformation by suggesting that Iron Maiden was badmouthing my man Panda Bear. First of all, let me say that I love both, what with “Bros” hovering around as one of my top ten played tracks according to and the fact that I had a dream about Nicko McBrain just last night.

I’m not kidding.

I gave him a cherry pie.

But the truth is that Iron Maiden supposedly bad-mouthed Grizzly Bear, which turned out to be some weird rumor and not true at all. All I can say is that it would have been awesome if Iron Maiden did in fact bad mouth either one of those bands, and it would have been even awesomer if the next slam-this time directed at Metallica-was also part of this make believe press release.

You can read about the “incident” here and you can believe every word of it even it is a total lie.

While I was upping the irons at the Maiden show in Chicago on Sunday night, the hipsters arrived for the Pitchfork Music Festival, which included a shitty performance by Panda Bear, according to the bros at GloNo and the chubby guy that used to write record reviews at the Chicago Sun Times.

Panda Bear fans attacked DeRogatis with a level of such intensity that you could almost see the sand in their vaginas. The comments usually incorporated the words “fat,” “old” and a bunch of cute internet abbreviations that unsuccessfully masked the reality that they truly didn’t know how to spell.

And they didn’t acknowledge the idea that maybe DeRogatis was right. I mean, since Jim is considered an old dude, one has to admit that he’s probably been around long enough to know a shitty show from a decent one, and since when has it become a crime to let others know about a bad concert? Never mind the venue in which he does it, or how poorly his choice of words may have been, if the dude thought the show sucked then he has a right to voice his opinion.

My money is on DeRo, Jake Brown ("Play 'Bros, hippy!") and any other honest attendee that had the balls to admit that Panda Bear’s set sucked. My money is also on that every person who got bent out of shape over an honest opinion is probably pale, skinny, and too much of a pussy to ever admit that Panda Bear didn’t deliver.

The same could not be said for the Iron Maiden show.

Sure it was hot, filled with dudes who hydrated themselves with $9 beers, but everyone was cool and I didn’t notice one bit of hassling-unless you call the 19 year-olds patrolling the parking lot and telling the tailgaters to head into the venue for said $9 beers an example of “hassling.”

While we watched this, we concluded that it was things like not being able to hang out and get drunk before a heavy metal show that is directly contributing to how uptight our nation has become. Sure, we get that there are things like liability involved and the need to turn a profit, but there was also a time when live music made memories-and sometimes those best memories came before and after the performance, particularly if the show sucked.

Luckily, Maiden was good enough to create some nice memories, but it burns me a bit that my son or daughter will never be able to really experience a live concert the way I have. Now I’m not suggesting that it would be ok for my daughter to get loaded before a show and become one of those obligatory boob flashers. What I am suggesting is that I would rather that she has a good time and let the event provide her with some release where she could escape from the rules and regulations of everyday life for a few hours whenever a band comes to town.

Because if she doesn’t, she’s more inclined to suppress it and let it come out in other, more dangerous situations.

I’m also willing to bet that if she finds the right music, she’ll want to experience it without the help of substances. I can tell you of countless shows that I purposely went without as much as a drop to drink (or anything else) because I wanted that event to be clearly burnt into my mind for years of reflection.

And then there are nights like before an Iron Maiden show where the bonding and building of the community entails sharing a bottle or offering a cold beer to the dudes in the Focus next to your car in the parking lot.

But Live Nation doesn’t care about our collective experience. They only care about the bottom line.

The fear is that this and future generations will grow up believing that going to a live show means walking into another location of crass commercialism instead of place of worship. The fear is also that they’ll walk away from that live show with little leftover in their pocketbook and with the only memory being “How am I going to pay for this?”

On that topic, I wanted to offer an epilogue on the challenges that my cousin and I experienced in trying to get these tickets.

Firstly, let me say that the seats we ended up getting were awesome. We paid a price for them, of course, and that price totally eliminated nearly any possibility for a similar show for the rest of this year.

You may recall, the story ended with a positive letter of explanation from Ticketmaster/Live Nation and a vague offer from a contact within that organization to call the venue and see if there was a possibility to get a hold of some decent seats at the face value. The gentleman committed to looking into it-no promises, and none expected either-with the understanding that he would get back to me. I believe the conversation ended with a declaration of “Let me know, either way.” On my part, suggesting that I would take it up the ass and pay scalper prices if he was unable to deliver.

We had the tickets as soon as we discovered that Live Nation was ass fucking us on the same day tickets went on sale. That should show how much faith we had in getting any sort of progress from a company that is regularly ranked as one of the worst companies in America.

But still, I thought that a follow call, email, or letter (they had all of those contact options) would have been the stand-up thing to do, to again, let me know either way.

Live Nation/Ticketmaster is not a stand up company. I received no correspondence whatsoever, another example of how that company does not believe in the power of music or the passion of its customer. Hell, it doesn’t even believe that this power and passion that I’m speaking of is significant enough that it could build such an unbelievable relationship with its customers that it could easily be ranked as one of the best companies in America instead of ranking down in the cellar.

Let me give you an example of how this could be done.

First Avenue in Minneapolis will always be one of my favorite venues of all time, and a lot of that reason has nothing to do with the layout, the bands that stop by, or the venue’s history. Sure, all of that is important to some extent, but one of the things that I will always remember about it is how I was treated there.

There were several times when I went to First Avenue to see a band, and even a few when I just went there to have a few drinks and hang out. I’d go up to the bar, order a drink, not act like an asshole and tip the bartender when my drink arrived. That simple act of respect would often lead to a “Hold up…” while the bartender would go and grab a complimentary ticket of a mid-week show that maybe wasn’t selling as much as they’d like. At the time, I lived about three hours away, so I wasn’t able to attend most of these shows-even though some of them featured well-known national acts and I would have totally checked them out had I lived a little bit closer.

The point is that my little offering, that little bit of investing in their business wasn’t taken for granted-and with their little offering to me, I would be as loyal as I could to this venue because of how I was treated.

I understand that there was a financial incentive to do this-more people=more drink sales=more profit-but the way in which they set out to make that profit was completely different than the reaming that I received from Ticketmaster/Live Nation.
Finally, there’s another thing that Ticketmaster/Live Nation is doing that I saw as plain as day during the Maiden show. It kind of relates to my First Avenue story, but it doesn’t amount to any comp tickets.

Instead, I notice a couple of Live Nation staff members walking around the merch and food area with signs offering Ozzfest tickets for $10 and other shows of interest at dramatically reduced pricing.

Great, huh?

But imagine how pissed you’d be if you’d already shelled out $60, plus all of those bullshit service fees, and after you’ve paid all of this you learn that your seats are kind of crummy because the douchebags sold all the good seats to a ticket broker that’s probably on the Ticketmaster/Live Nation payroll anyway.

I’d be pissed.

I’d also learn to never fall into the same trap again (unless it’s an act that I simply must see, regardless of the price) and I will condition myself to wait until those prices fall so that I can get to the show on the cheap.

Which is exactly what I plan on doing when the Scorpions roll through the area for their final show.

After all, I’m too broke to pay full price after the Maiden ticket fiasco and I’ll be damn sure if I even consider a $9 beer if I do end up going.

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