My Well-Earned $2.25

Source: Zipcar.com
Source: Zipcar.com

I recently got an e-mail with a very official-sounding “Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster Class Action Settlement” contained in the subject line. As an occasional concertgoer, I instantly recognized Ticketmaster but had no clue who Schlesinger is. After reading the email, I still have no idea who Schlesinger is. However, I am hoping that Mr/Ms. Schlesinger got a better deal than what I got.

By virtue of my having purchased tickets in the past through Ticketmaster, I am a member of a legal class against them. My reward for being in the right place at the right time is a breathtaking credit of $2.25 off a future online ticket purchase. Check out my good fortune below.

Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster

Am I fortunate or what?? Instead of the outrageous $173 per ticket that it would cost for me to see Sting and Peter Gabriel on their upcoming tour, I now only have to pay a bottom feeding $170.75. I rock, so to speak.

Schlesinger, whoever you are, you sure showed Ticketmaster a thing or two. Let’s hope their lesson is duly learned.

So we have… ticket agents, tacked-on fees, online ordering, class action law suits, etc.. I wonder if the obligatory guy puking in the bathroom during the show now has to reserve his stall ahead of time?

It’s all just a really long time since… <Warning… Old dude phrasing about to be used> … I went to concerts back in my day.

Yes, back in my dayThings were so much easier before everything just got so freakin’ expensive and complicated. I really do know because I went to lots of shows, both large and small. And I generally bought my tickets at a box office.

That was the time in my life when I absolutely lived to go to concerts. I would carefully pore over upcoming shows announced in the local street weekly, clip out each advertisement in a very anal way, and place it on a corner of my coffee table. For the next 24-48 hours I would mentally add and subtract what had to be sacrificed from my meager budget in order to see a show. Or two.

Really, how important is electricity when you come right down to it anyway? You can just bring home cheap take-out food and talk to yourself for entertainment, which is exactly what I recall doing for a couple of weeks before the Talking Heads came to Washington, DC on their “Stop Making Sense” tour in 1983. My utility credit rating suffered, but honestly David Byrne was just too cool to miss. Nutrition and reading at night? So overrated.

Byrne on the other hand was simply infectious. Days afterwards I prefaced all sentences with, “You may find yourself…”

Source: Tophatlounge.com
Source: Tophatlounge.com

Those were days of my having a non-existent love life with lots of free time available because of it. But I was also living out my teenage fantasy of being able to see live music with frequent abandon. Whether it was a small intimate club or an acoustically poor sports arena, I was happiest when I had upcoming concert plans.

Luckily I had no real compunction about going to shows by myself. Although it was sometimes a little awkward an hour or so before the show when couples and groups milled around, I easily amused myself by watching the roadies and instrument technicians setting up the stage. I also got into great conversations with kindred music lovers. There was no smart phone yet invented into which one could focus his eyes and avoid all human contact. Nope, you engaged with others.

Only if a comrade of mine really liked the artist would I bother to go with anyone else. I always found it hellish if someone simply went for a good time or a chance to pick up a girl. Those were the types who ended up talking all through the performances and ruining it. After suffering through that a couple of times, I quickly learned that sometimes it was better to often just go alone.

Those DC venues are now all foggy in my brain, with some still around and others long gone. There was the 9:30 Club, of course, at which one never worried about sitting down because it was so small (and hot!) that nearly everyone stood anyway. There was also Cagney’s, d.c. space, the Bayou, the Birchmere, and Blue’s Alley.

The bands and solo artists I got to see are forever time-stamped in the many YouTube videos preserved from that era: Marshall Crenshaw, Jane’s Addiction, New Order, are three that I vividly remember and yet none have even survived enough for me to have any of their albums in my present CD collection. I have no idea what’s up with that.

I still remember the pain of having plans to see R.E.M at the 9:30 in 1983, but then coming down with the flu two days before and being sick in bed for it. It’s now considered one of their cult performances.

For a time I lived so close to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia that I could literally walk there. It’s since moved to a larger, more modern building. But I recall being the guy from my circle of friends who would get there early and sit outside waiting for them to open the doors so that I could snag a table for us close to the stage. I saw Mary Chapin Carpenter there so many times, long before she was really considered a “country” artist and really just more of a folk singer. I remember Shawn Colvin being her opening act, and this was before either of them were well-known nationally.

I can still recall the girl who asked me in the most sincere way:

“Is there a reason I should know why you only take me to the brothers of famous singers?”

This was after I took her on consecutive dates to see Livingston Taylor and Tom Chapin respectively. She had a point, of course. It just seemed gauche to admit that I was seeing Steve Winwood the following week with someone else, which I distinctly recall doing.

Steve Chapin and Livingston Taylor Source: Halifax Chronicle Herald
Tom Chapin and Livingston Taylor
Source: Halifax Chronicle Herald

By the end of the eighties I was married to my first wife and my priorities had changed. Having a mortgage and paying more attention to my career pushed concerts to the backseat. Although I still saw shows a few times a year, they seemingly required a withdrawal from a mutual fund to pay for them. I started to buy concert videos instead of actually going to see live music.

Still, I was lucky to see Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, Indigo Girls, James Taylor and Carole King, CSNY, Phil Collins and others just too many to mention. And, all along I was apparently paying those Ticketmaster fees that now offers me a whopping $2.50 credit.

Someone who never worries about “too many to mention” is a blogger by the name of Douglas Harr. Doug writes about concerts and the histories of bands, and he’s also a lover of progressive rock just as I am. He is currently finishing a book about concerts he’s been lucky to see over the years in the Los Angeles area, and I know I’ll be wanting to get it as soon as it’s ready. If you love live music, check out Doug’s blog.

Until next time…

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33 thoughts on “My Well-Earned $2.25

  1. I saw Michael Jackson for under $50. That was a long time ago. Hard to get tickets under $200 these days. We used to do a lot of concerts. Some famous, some not so famous. Saw a lot of talent that never hit the big time. That’s just sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. what timing! I received that same Ticketmaster message -silly people, next purchase they will get $20-$30 plus for the privilege of buying through their site, if not more. Also you mentioned Stop Making Sense in 83. I saw that here in SF and it was one of the best concerts ever. Just saw the move screened at the local Alamo Drafthouse theater, which has “music Mondays” – the screening was sold out and everyone clapped between the songs – what an amazing show – will be one of the top chapters in my next book, on 77-86!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some pretty good music you heard here in town, Marty! I love the Birchmere, although I don’t get there very often. And their food is now good. Imagine!

    Back in the late 60s, early 70s, my high school had rock concerts of real bands. Tickets were $3.00 — just over your “reward”. The Doors, Cream, The Byrds, Livingston Taylor. Good times, good times …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, no, no. The Birchmere is supposed to have dried out, well, everything; and all of it sitting in a basket with limp lettuce from someone else’s basket from the night before. But you picked at it anyway because you still had a full 90 minutes before the house lights went down. Oh, well, times change. I guess better food had to eventually happen. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice piece, Marty…

    Despite living in Manhattan for 35 years, I wan’t a regular at concerts, or clubs for that matter. I did see Van Morrison at the Palladium, and the Allman Brothers, and the Grateful Dead

    Now if you switch gears, I did prefer Broadway shows. Through a lady friend at work who was enrolled in some sort of Student Discount Program for theatrical shows on Broadway. I saw with her Peter Pan, Les Miz. I remember sitting in the last row in the furthest reaches of the theater to see The Phantom of the Opera. The seats were so high up that I recall telling other people that we sat in the Alpine seats for Phantom.

    I also saw Hair, Godspell, Cats, Prisoner of Second Avenue, Amadeus, Aida, and The Lion King in person.

    I also attended Modern Dance concerts as well. I saw The Alvin Ailey Dance Company twice. And I took in a few Off-Off Broadway shows.

    As far as being a part of a class-action suit, I think I was involved with one regarding Time-Warner. I would have made more than the insubstantial sum you earned in future credits, but it wasn’t enough to induce me to buy a stamp and walk to the post office.

    One other note – I recall watching a huge concert on TV. It was 1986 The Amnesty International Live Concert – and from that day I can still recall Peter Gabriel singing the haunting song about Steven Biko

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if I lived in NY I’d have probably gone to as many broadway shows as possible, Alpine seats or not. How can you pass up such an opportunity? Still, you done good with the music if you saw Van Morrison, someone I’ve never seen and who remains on my list of acts to see before they stop performing.

      Like

  5. You saw New Order? Wow. Talking Heads would have been awesome to see. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I saw Celine Dion opening for Michael Bolton at Pine Knob (shudder). This was before she was famous. I went with a friend. This same friend and I went to Phil Collins. We were in the pavillion and the price was very affordable. My last concert was Gravity Kills, opening for the Sex Pistols. So interesting about the credit. Now they can say, “You too can see so and so for under $200.” The small print or voice would say price applicable after $2.25 was applied. Taxes not included.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, please, there was so much I did NOT list. Like that time in college when I pleased my girlfriend like actually going to Cobo Hall to see Barry Manilow! Or the not once but two times I saw John Denver! I’m sure there’s lots more I could find in my brain attic that I’d rather not reveal. 😉 But, yeah, New Order was cool — I remember saying at the time they were the Crosby, Stills, and Nash of the eighties. They weren’t… they were simply New Order! Ah, but still good memories. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We saw Sex Pistols at Cobo..my ex begged me to leave early. When Barry Manilow was in town, I remember my mom and her friend were sad bc they didn’t go.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I received the same judgment courtesy of Herr Schlesinger. Do you know who REALLY makes out on these class action suites? The lawyers. They’re paid millions upon millions.

    Your tastes change. You can listen to that old music today for nostalgia’s sake. But it’s healthy to move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re absolutely right on both counts. But I’m a little worried about the moving on part — since I retired I’m suddenly listening to way more Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Harold Arlen song stylists. Care to join me for a Dubonnet cocktail? 😉

      Like

  7. Loved it.
    They owe me about a million dollars – and that’s just for the last year or two. Congrats on your $2.25 though. Despite the “Just Because We Can” fees, I’ll still continue to be victim to their fee rape because of my comedy and music show addictions, and what’s always in the back of my mind with many of the musicians I see is: “who knows if they’ll ever perform again?” With that in mind, and my own advanced age, I refuse to go to a concert unless I can have the best seating, so I’m also to blame for the costs. Hey, if I’ve made it this far in my life, I deserve to finally enjoy the best, right? If I’m going with my concert buddy, and two seats together aren’t close enough, we’ll look up one seat each, and if it’s closer, we’ll buy seats that way and just enjoy the actual music (or comedy) individually.
    Unless you had the up-chucking type of flu, you should have gone to see R.E.M. I remember having the worst strep throat I think I’ve ever had, and still going to see B.B. King at Selland Arena ages and ages ago. Come to think of it, maybe you were right to stay home. I should have. The music was amazing, but so was my pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m totally with you on the “Who knows if they’ll ever…” concern. That was why I saw Stephen Stills a couple of years ago in Portland – I just wanted to make sure I saw him ONE more time even though I’d seen him may times before. The voice was shot, of course, but he still can pick that guitar.

      Your strategy with your friend sounds like the best arrangement. You can talk about the show later when you go out for coffee. Just get the best seats possible!

      Yeah, that R.E.M. show. I think what hurts is that it appears to be a near-legendary appearance for them. It so figures I missed it. But I do recall being as sick as a dog and nearly went to the emergency room b/c of a high fever. Oh well — thank God for YouTube!

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  8. I have no idea what I paid for concerts BACK IN MY DAY. It’s been too long. Probably not much more than that whopping $2.25 windfall. Spend wisely, Marty.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Just saw Daughtry this past weekend. An acoustic pool event at the M. Paid $67 for two tickets…but it was the bottle service that killed us! I won’t be gauche and say. 😉

    Wow, so jealous of you $2.25. Mine always end up in unclaimed property! heh

    Liked by 1 person

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