Summertime Blues

Summer concert crowdsAs we near the summer concert season, for the nights of trudging through parking lots in the semidarkness (“I thought I remember parking by that pole. . .or maybe that one”), of carrying damp blankets that began so well folded, of swatting mosquitoes that we think are there, of listening to the echoes in our ears of the music that we’d heard and that for which we wished. . . .

Are we really going to go?

Will tickets be sold? Will people fill up their tanks with what is inexorably becoming, again, liquid gold and drive out to the slightly bucolic venue? Will the arranged bills have sufficient power to offset prices of the ticket in the context of an economy that may be improving with all of the speed of a toenail fungus infection?

Could the summer of 2009 be the inflection point that people look back on as the one when the summer concert gave up the ghost, when the reconstituted hair bands or this week’s flavor are incapable of pulling in a sufficient house to cover the cost of picking up the plastic beer cups and the cardboard popcorn containers? I wouldn’t bet against it.

It has gone beyond just the banks and the car companies and the newspapers. There is bankruptcy, or nearly so, as we all work to reorganize what we have in the light of what we’ve lost. This state of affairs for the music industry has nothing to do with illegal downloading or any of the other usual suspects put up against the wall as explanators of the spiraling fortunes. No, its much bigger than any of the RIAA’s bogeymen and bugaboos. Much bigger. It’s war being waged and bubbles burst, securities and no promises, debt and paying for disaster.

So much for summer.

12 thoughts on “Summertime Blues”

  1. Wow, what a positive outlook. Pardon me while I go stick my head in an oven…

    Seriously, though, even though Mr. Mac speaks the truth (where the fuck does Bon Jovi get off charging a minimum $180 for their tired dog & pony show?), I still see this as a chance for rebirth. Yes, there will be tears in the music industry as the old model goes the way of so many 8-track tapes. But here’s your chance for rebirth; how can you find a way for penny-pinching wanna-be music consumers to feel good about choosing to spend their money on music? Affordability is one way; how cool would it be to see more bands jam econo? I don’t have the answers, but maybe Mac’s nightmare scenario won’t be such a nightmare after all…

  2. Good points. Again I ask: where are tomorrow’s arena artists? The reality is that one would probably have to look to the jam-band network for those; today’s “stars” are met with an increasingly fickle audience that looks at ticket prices and walks away from it. How long before those that control such things understand how greed has helped push away the fans? The last arena show I saw was filled with camaraderie, only to have Live Nation’s staff come around and usher everyone in from the parking lot into the venue. There, they could enjoy $9 beers and $5 slices of Papa John’s cheese pizza. Don’t they understand that the communal aspect is part of the arena appeal? Keep prices low, let us police ourselves a bit, and allow us to go to an event instead of a show. We may come back again this summer. And if you look the other way while I’m sparking a joint in the parking lot, I may indeed be too stoned to care about your beer prices and that lukewarm cheese pizza would look a helluva lot better than if I was sober. Greed is ruining the event to the point where we’ll stay home next time. Last time I checked, there ain’t a lot of money to be made when that happens.

    What’s frustrating is how the answer is right there. We haven’t lost our love of music, but we have noticed how you’ve tried to milk us dry at the same time you’re dismantling the memory that keeps us coming back.

  3. The biggest problem with most concerts these days is not the crappy artists or high ticket prices, but the asshole security guards at the venues. No matter how good a show might be, if the venue is run by dicks it’s hard to be in any frame of mind to have a good time. And I’m not just talking about the usual petty frisking and drug confiscation. Case in point: Being coerced to sign a legal waiver to enter the Palace for Neil Young/Wilco. We had to spend 30 minutes arguing with security and management to get our general admission tickets changed to avoid signing the thing.

  4. Signing a waiver? That’s f&cked up.

    I dunno, I think the concert industry is doing fine. OK, so maybe the Live Nations of the world won’t be able to sell out every arena at $200 a ticket without papering the house half the time. But the live concert experience still provides something that can’t be downloaded for free.

    I’m in the midst of a long string of gigs – Weakerthans, Constantines, Lewis Black, Joel Plaskett, TV on the Radio, Fogerty, Coldplay. Lots of artists across most genres coming to town, and tickets aren’t ridiculously pricey. Last night’s Joel Plaskett gig was $20 and was two hours of awesome.

    Long live the concert experience. Damn the mosquitos!

  5. I stay home and mind my own business. Concerts, amusement parks, movies are all a big ripoff. I like being in the forest among God’s woodland creatures. It’s free and the filthy humans are few and far between. Although I hate camping. Who wants to sleep on the hard ground? I sleep in my own bed in my own home. Hotels are filled with invisible hoochie coochies. If I won the lottery I would never leave y home. I would just have my assistant shove groceries through a hole.

  6. The next show I want to see is Iron Maiden and I want to take Sven. We’ll leave the wives at home, sit in my 4Runner huff nitrous and smoke pot and then go into the arena for two hours of EDDIE. It will set you free. We’ll then go back to our normal existence, allowing a weekend a year to free our minds to the power of metal \m/

  7. “Huff nitrous and smoke pot”… is that the new euphemism that the kids today have for hooking up?

    Besides, Sven, you don’t want to go all natural on us; the crickets won’t take song requests. For them, the phrase “Free Bird” means a cardinal that doesn’t cost anything.

  8. When I saw Maiden in ’04 I had about that experience. It was awesome and I’d do it again in a second.

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