Tag Archives: Live Music

“And I won’t quit. . .”

During 2017 to 2021 Bruce Springsteen appeared at the Walter Kerr Theatre and St. James Theatre in New York, “Springsteen on Broadway.” As Weil/Mann/Leiber/Stoller had it:

“But they’re dead wrong, I know they are
‘Cause I can play this guitar
And I won’t quit til I’m a star on Broadway”

There was a hiatus until February 1, 2023, when Bruce got the whole band back together again and kicked off a tour in Tampa, Florida. By mid-April the band played from coast to coast and in between. Then it was off to Europe, with shows in Spain, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria. . .then back in August to play Wrigley Field and a continuation of the tour.

When he was singing, playing and storytelling in New York, Springsteen was on one of the two stages—just a few blocks away from one another (48th and 44th Streets)—about 260 times.

Looking at the itinerary of the current tour, it seems like he is working to top that while racking up more sky miles than most mileage whores could even dream of.

Continue reading “And I won’t quit. . .”

Living in a Virtual World

Although it might seem as though concerts are in full swing—after all, there is the galactic phenomenon of the Taylor Swift tour, to say nothing of Beyoncé and others (yes, The Who Hits Back! is still running in earnest because Townsend and Daltry just can’t get enough)—as Phaedrus told Socrates, “Things are not always what they seem.”

For one thing, concert-going has become an economic issue for most people, and we’re talking Federal Reserve Board-level for the regular person. Th average ticket price in 2022 was $111, up from $90 in 2018. While $21 might not seem like that big a deal, look at it another way: that’s a 19% increase. Add 19% to all of the related aspects of one’s concert-going experience and it is, as they say, real money.

According to Morning Consult, 37% of adults say they’ve attended fewer concerts this year. That’s not none. But when more than a third of those who would don’t, then there are more than moderate warning signs for those who may not be a first-tier draw.

When that 37% is broken down demographically, the warning signs are in LARGE LETTERS and with all manner of flashing lights and other attention-grabbing aspects.

40% of Gen X members say they’ve seen fewer shows. Only 10% of them say they’ve attended more.

And while there is often a gulf between Gen X and Boomers, that’s not the case when it comes to attending concerts: 41% say they’ve seen fewer shows and 9% say they’ve seen more. (It is also worth noting that the Elders have actually stayed moderately more consistent, as 36% say they’ve attended the same number of shows as they have previously. That’s 4% better than the 32% of Xers who have done the same.)

And while those two generational cohorts have good levels of income vis-à-vis those who are either up and coming or who have student loan debt that is about equal to that of a small country, the macro finding is that 82% of those attending fewer concerts say that it because. . .the tickets are too expensive. That’s the number-one reason.

Continue reading Living in a Virtual World

Too Crowded

“On the expressway to your heart
The expressway is not the best way
At five o’clock it’s much too crowded
Much too crowded, so crowded”
— “Expressway to Your Heart,” The Soul Survivors

One of the things that is generally part of the concert experience, almost regardless of size, whether the venue is a comparatively compact club or a stadium that is capable to handling the population of a small city, happens twice, both before and after the event.


First is it a challenge of finding it, which can mean a lot of driving around, looking for a spot that won’t result in a ticket after the show. What’s more, there are other calculations that have to be taken into account: what if it is forecast to rain and the spot happens to be blocks away from the venue: getting drenched isn’t exactly something to look forward to, even if the storm occurs after the show.

Or it could be an event of sufficient magnitude such that when you buy your tickets there is the option to also buy parking in one of several lots or structures. While the destination for the parking is certain, there typically a long line that inches forward into the lot as people scan the QR codes on their phones, a scan that sometimes takes several tries for some of those ahead of you in line.

Anticipation for the show becomes alloyed with the frustration of the lag in actually getting there.

Then there is the exit.

Continue reading Too Crowded


Joseph Campbell and the Rolling Stones couldn’t give me a myth
So I had to write my own.

It’s hard to remember how self-serious everything was back in in 2012. Even parody was so far up its own ass, sites like Hipster Runoff made it impossible to distinguish sincerity from sarcasm. Into this world, snoozy sad sack Joshua Tillman created Father John Misty, a fun-loving maniac hellbent on going wherever his body led him, banging women in cemeteries, drinking greyhounds, doing a little too much ayahuasca, smoking everything in sight, until his organs screamed “Slow down, man!” This was different. It was fun! In a world that had been taught to fear fun.

The backstory was preposterous and hilarious. Dude takes some drugs, gets naked and climbs a tree and realizes he’s been wasting his life being boring and miserable so he moves from the pretentious and uptight pacific northwest to a place where milk and honey flow, just a couple states below in sunny Los Angeles.

His performance of “Only Son of a Ladies Man” on Letterman blew minds. There was an independent rock band actually putting on a show. Being funny. Having fun. Performing!

Continue reading FJM in GRAP-MI

Listening Live and Counterfactually Hearing

Good but not great. That is what numbers from Morning Consult show about the U.S. public’s interest in going to a concert. Its latest figures (October 21) have it that 54% say they’d be comfortable doing so. Which is certainly an improvement over the 39% who gave it a nod a year ago. And massively better than those who reported on October 25, 2020 that they’d feel comfortable: only 18%.

So while more than half are good going to concerts, in the wider sphere of entertainment options, the number is the lowest among the options:

  • Going to a sporting event: 56%
  • Going to a theater performance: 58%
  • Going to an amusement park: 60%
  • Going to the movies: 63%

Still, it is a reason to give pause when considering that little over half of those surveyed said that they’d be comfortable going to a concert (and one can only assume that “concert” includes things like orchestral performances and nights of easy listening and smooth jazz). The high amusement park number is understandable because it is an outdoor venue. But given that there are only some 300 drive-in movies left in the entire U.S., movies are things that people see indoors. And for every one of the 250 Shakespeare in the Park festivals there is certainly a multiple of indoor theatrical performances: there are 41 Broadway theaters, so if each of them had one show during one week that would be a greater number (287).

Seven baseball stadiums have roofs that may or may not be open. Which means that 23 are open air. Of the 30 NFL stadiums, four have closed roofs, five have retractable roofs and the remaining are open air. The 20 biggest college football stadiums are all open. However, given the closeness of the numbers of those who feel comfort in going to a concert (54%) and to a sporting event (56%), the argument could be made that it is a matter of the yelling, screaming and overall participant engagement that might have the lower numbers compared to the other forms of entertainment.

Continue reading Listening Live and Counterfactually Hearing

Brody, Circa 2022

Well into the run of Seinfeld (8th season) there was an episode that is probably more memorable for the Elaine’s rather exotic dance moves but which includes a subplot of Jerry becoming a movie bootlegger, making a video, at Kramer’s and his friend’s Brody’s insistence (Brody happens to have a gun), of Death Blow. Brody sells the tapes on the streets. Jerry has quite a knack for the genre, as Brody tells him: “I’ve never seen such beautiful work. You’re a genius. The zoom-ins, the framing. I was enchanted.”

(This digression can be skipped. Consider: The director of Death Blow created a finished product, having worked with a director of cinematography. All of the zoom-ins, framing, pans, long shots, over the shoulder, etc. A finished product. Yet Jerry takes that work and applies his own craft to it. This isn’t a case of sampling, as it is the entire work that is still being presented, albeit in modified form. It isn’t an annotation because nothing, except for selection, is being added. It isn’t analogous to Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album because there isn’t actual reimagining of Death Blow, but simply a change of point of view. So what is the Seinfeldian version of Death Blow? As Brody is something of a savvy street hustler (remember the gun), he clearly knows what the market is interested in, so the Seinfeld cut of Death Blow evidently has something that the original lacks.)

Long before there was digital file sharing of music there were physical bootlegs. While there were an array of vinyl products, making records requires a pressing plant, and while back in the 1960s and ‘70s there were more of them around, it was still something of a feat, although owners of pressing plants knew that the capital equipment they had wasn’t making them money unless they were pressing vinyl, so there were opportunities for the audio Brodys. The development of cassettes facilitated the creation and distribution of bootlegs in the same way that the ungainly video camera that Jerry wielded did for bootleg videos.

But now, with the exception of those who are collectors, the physical media bootlegging has waned and given the vast catalogs of streaming services, so, too, has the digital.


Continue reading Brody, Circa 2022

Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)

Arguably the biggest cohort of people who attend concerts—which seem to be the means by which a number of performers are finding to be the means, perhaps the only means, by which they are able to make a sufficient amount of money to keep the lights on—are students, and directly after them are those who have recently been students.

According to FinanceBuzz the average ticket price for classic rock acts between 2017 and 2021 was $119.14. Pop: $100.65. Rock: $85.94. Then within those categories, the performer with the highest average ticket price during a single tour for Classic Rock was Bruce Springsteen, at $508.93. Pop, Lady Gaga: $337.43. Rock: Metallic: $229.31.

These numbers are enough for one to shout Jesu!

Which then might lead to a solid financial move, in that the least expensive musical genre is Christian, with the average ducat going for $39.38.

That’s a third of the average price of a ticket for Classic Rock.

The Christian performer with the highest average ticket price was Laurent Daigle, at $58.64.

That’s about 12% of the price of a ticket to see the Boss on Broadway.

Which brings me back to students and those who have recently attended organizations of higher learning.

A recently conducted survey by Morning Consult based on the fact that the federal student loan payment moratorium is going to disappear in 2023 found that 30% of the respondents said that they would “probably not” be able to afford their student loan payments and another 28% said that they’d “definitely not” be able to pay.

Continue reading Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)

Seeing & Hearing

One of the means by which those who have bought the seats in arenas that are so high that there are reduced levels of available oxygen, which makes vision blurred in some cases and headaches in nearly all (which makes said person wish they’d have ponied up a few more bucks for the ducat), is for there to be massive video screens above the stage such that all of the people in the arena, especially those in those upper tiers, have the sense they are watching TV.

(A digression: If you are in a situation where your view of a person or persons on stage is really quite reasonable and there is an array of giant screens, to what extent do your eyes tend to drift to the screen rather than to the actual human(s)? I must confess that I often look at the screens, not because it necessarily shows anything that I can’t see by moving my eyes down a few degrees toward 0, but possibly because in a lifetime of looking at screens, there is simply a tendency. So let’s say for the sake of argument that the performers on the stage are simply good look-alike mimics and the audio is a recording of the actual performers. However, the screen shows the actual performance as recorded. Those who have good seats would be able to discern the difference, but the majority of the people in the arena, who are watching the screens, wouldn’t. If they were to watch the show and leave, not knowing that the people on the stage were stand-ins, would their experience be any different than if the bona-fide performers performed?)

Last week in Hong Kong during a performance of Cantopop group Mirror, a metal suspension cord snapped and a giant screen fell to the stage, injuring a dancer who was on stage in support of the band. An AP photo of the falling screen is potentially horrific: it is hard to image that there was only one person hospitalized, especially given that there are 12 members of Mirror, so the stage was crowded. (Earlier in the week, at another performance at the Hong Kong Coliseum, a performer fell off the stage. Performing can be a dangerous thing.)

Maybe the cheap seats for Springsteen have a benefit: safety.


Also last week Spotify released its Q2 2022 earnings.

Continue reading Seeing & Hearing

The Price of Performance

“Keep me searching for a pot of gold/And I’m growing old”—with apologies to Neil Young

For the past several months, climate activists in London have been staging protests at the British Museum. They want the institution to stop taking sponsorship money from bp. bp (formerly British Petroleum) is, of course, an oil and gas company. There is probably a bp station close by to where you are right now. The company says, “Our purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet. We want to help the world reach net zero and improve people’s lives.” I don’t know what “reimagining energy” means. Probably some clever copywriter came up with that term. It is hard to imagine (to say nothing of reimagine) precisely how a company that is primarily predicated on drilling holes to pump out fossil fuels that are then processed so that they can be combusted in various things like motor vehicles is going to get to net zero, even by 2050 because as long as these carbon-based fuels are burned, the consequences are, well, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: “the substances produced when gasoline is burned (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and unburned hydrocarbons) contribute to air pollution. Burning gasoline also produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.”

Just how the elimination of the sponsorship by bp for the 990,000-square-foot history museum—which, by the way, has free admission—is going to have an effect on the chemistry of combustion or on the use of petrol there or gasoline here is difficult to suss, but there is something to be said for the pluck of those stalwart Brits who are gluing themselves to things like paintings to prove their dedication to the mission. (What, I wonder, do they do when they have to go to the loo? Bust out the nail polish remover and make a quick break?).

Whether it is a museum or a band, the importance of sponsorship—a.k.a., funding—is absolutely important.

Continue reading The Price of Performance

Gas, Food, Concerts

Funny thing about the economy. To use a hackneyed reference, it is like the weather, as in everyone talks about it, but what is somewhat different is that it is not the case that they don’t do anything about it. (Which leads to a thought: if somewhat talks about the weather, just what is it that they’re supposed to do about it?) People piss and moan about high prices, so what do they do? Spend more. And I don’t just mean spend more from the standpoint that the prices are increased and consequently they need to spend more, but from the POV that they buy more stuff because they have more money.

“What!?” you sputter.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that in May 2022 (reported June 30, 2022, because it takes some time to collect and crunch the numbers) “Personal income increased $113.4 billion (0.5 percent).” What’s more, “Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $96.5 billion (0.5 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $32.7 billion (0.2 percent).”

Who would have thought this is the case?

Gasoline prices are one of the things that there is much consternation about. While some note that adjusted for inflation gas was more expensive back in the summer of 2008, we drive in the present, not the past, so that is sort of a specious point.

But as you may recall from Econ 101 there is a little thing called “supply and demand” and despite the fact that oil companies across the board have exhibited themselves to be shitheels as they rack up profits, there is this:

According to the Federal Reserve, Americans drove 2,849,147 miles in February 2021 and as of April (again, the latest numbers for now) 3,271,946.

More demand, limited supply, increased price.

Continue reading Gas, Food, Concerts