Monday, March 31, 2014
Live Music, And The Lost Art Of Going To A Rock & Roll Show
The Fillmore East had a capacity of approximately 3,000 seats, yet I must have met 14,000 people in the last 40 years who said they were at Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys shows in 1969.
I was not there, but for those reading who really were, I have a question if your memories will serve you.
Would you consider Jimi Hendrix at his peak when those shows were announced?
What I'm really trying to understand, and this is for everyone to play along, is this--
when did going to see live music make the transition from a simple decision and a few bucks to an event that requires a Swiss bank account and a whole lotta luck?
I have a memory of reading the New York Times one Sunday morning in 1978, seeing an ad for David Bowie at Madison Square Garden, casually getting dressed and taking a subway to the box office (which was open on Sunday) and buying a pair of tickets for $9.50 each, hassle and stress free.
Today, an artist like Neil Finn (a fave of mine) plays Town Hall for $100 and a minute after tickets go on sale, you are offered seats in the upper balcony. Neil Finn.
Or what about Billy Joel? The guy is sold out at MSG through December even though he announced he'd be playing once a month forever.
Now we have Ticketmaster crashes, lotteries, $1,000 meet and greets, a Kate Bush picnic for £750. You need wristbands, fan club memberships, and gold-status credit cards just for a no-guarantee opportunity to purchase tickets. Or you need a friend of a friend who knows a guy.
I don't quite get the insanity.
What artist's popularity now would be the equivalent to Hendrix's popularity in 1969 and could we just decide to go see that artist the way everyone just decided to go to the Fillmore or the Academy Of Music, or MSG 40 years ago?
I think not.
I don't recall anyone I know ever saying, "I tried to get tickets for the Stones at Forest Hills (Or Jimi at the Fillmore, or anyone/anywhere) but could not get in." My understanding is, there was a time when someone played a venue and if you wanted to go, you'd just go.
Today that is an impossibility without every star aligning.
People tend to offer this-
"There's a lot of free music out there, or much smaller shows you can see for $5 or $10."
And I say, "Yes. You are correct, except...I don't necessarily want to see those people and chances are, I don't even know those artists, so...so what?"
What went wrong? Why? And when?