Friday, April 6, 2007

Even Unyielding Commissioning has its limits

Across this line, you do not… I took in Andrew Bird’s performance at Lollapalooza last summer and came away thoroughly entertained. What he does live can only be characterized as impressive. Given that his new album is superb as well, I sure as hell want to see him play at the Riviera on April 20th. In order to get the tickets at face value, I figured I would swing by their box office and pick them up for me and some friends. Of course, the place was totally deserted. “Well,” I reckoned, “I’ll just have to go through Ticketmaster.” I know that Ticketmaster is a ripoff, but since there appeared to be no other way to procure tickets, we all agreed it was the best way to go.

I had no idea what I was in for. The face value of the tickets is $21.50 each. That’s what it says on Ticketmaster’s website. Added to that is a $1 “facilities” fee. That’s cool, I can deal with that, and I suppose that would apply even if they did have a box office. However, once you choose the tickets, there is a $7 “convenience” fee per ticket. Now, that is highway robbery, but I definitely expected it. I decided to ensure entry into the show, it was worth spending 29.50 on something that was inherently worth 21.50. However, after you place your order, you are taken to checkout where you also get to spend an additional $1.12 on tax. Tax?!!?! Since when do you have to pay tax on a concert ticket??? This is unheard of. But what really made this a bridge too far was the fact that after their seven dollar upcharge, they add on $5.05 in “Order Processing Charge.” Five Freaking Dollars. To pay their computer’s electric bill? That was too much. If you are ordering only one ticket, the upcharge (not counting the facilities fee) is 57%. Fifty-seven point four percent!! That is rotten.

I recall when Pearl Jam brought suit against Ticketmaster for non-competitive, monopolistic behavior, the company’s main defense was that you can always just purchase the tickets at the box office. Well, if you call the Riviera, towards the end of their lengthy recorded message, they state that you can only purchase tickets at the box office for shows going on that evening. But what if this is a concert that is sure to sell out? You will never have the opportunity to buy tickets from the box office because by the time the box office opens, all those tickets will be long gone. I’m no class action attorney, but this seems illegal to me.

In any event, my conscience won’t willfully let me pay to be ripped off by a company whose job is to rip people off. That would just be dumb. So I’m going to have to take my chances that Andrew Bird isn’t quite popular enough to sell out the Riv ahead of time. If we all band together, people, perhaps we can put a stop to this egregious price gouging. Needless to say, I’m pretty much done with the Riv if I can help it. They should at least have a box office at one of their affiliate theaters (that’s what the Congress Theater does). If the show sells out and I miss it, will I blame myself? Hell no – I have principles, even if I cost myself a good time in standing by them.

A real scoop! Speaking of Pearl Jam, they are headlining Lollapalooza in Grant Park this year. I’m not a huge Pearl Jam fan, but there are going to be another 150 bands, so I’m sure there will be plenty of rawkin' goodness. In fact, an “inside source” has informed me that Sileversun Pickups will be playing as well. No, I’m afraid I can’t name my source – you’ll just have to trust me. Reporters have to protect their sources, yaknow, so I assume bloggers have to as well. But they will be there. This does strike me as confiential information. Was I supposed to keep that to myself? If so, then I’m a dick, but a dick with scoop! In any event, tickets are 165 with no processing, shipping or “convenience” fees. I recommend getting yourself one before the prices go up. The full lineup will be announced on April 12.

That other fest. Pitchfork tickets are on sale as well. Some bands have been named, but none of them so far have really gotten me excited. That said, last year they ended up with an extremely impressive lineup, so I am hopeful for the acts yet to be named. I recommend attending this as well. Besides, it's only fifty bucks for three days. What a bargain!


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