Best Of Rock: 10 Reasons I Don’t Go To Concerts Anymore
By Ralph Greco, Jr.
Ok, I still go to concerts, but I knew I couldn’t title this ‘10 Things That Annoy Me About Concerts These Days’ without making this piece sound like I was whining. A more emphatic statement for a title makes it sound like I am fed up. Either way, the following are 10 completely subjective things that annoy me about concert-going in this day and age, and why I have curbed my attendance to live shows in recent years.
1) Prices – Is it just me or does anybody out there think paying anything over $100 for a ticket to see anyone these days is a crime? I have seen mega concert acts come to my local enormo-dome, as well as the smaller outdoor sheds or theaters, pricing tickets at a rate I simply can’t swallow. And with the 50th anniversary Rolling Stones…really? Dude, this is getting out of hand!
2) Inconvenient fees – Following from above. Anybody want to tell me why I am charged all these extra fees when I buy a ticket that I receive in an email and have to print myself? The only one being inconvenienced is me.
3) Having to watch a show around a sea of raised smart phones – This happens more to me at smaller venues when the audience is packed in like sardines and everyone around me (almost always taller) holds their phones aloft to either snap pictures or videotape the concert we are all packed in like sardines to witness. I find, while craning my neck trying to get a good view of the stage, I am more often than not gazing through multiple smart phone screens simply because there are so many around me.
4) Talkers – I am plagued by these inconsiderate slugs in movie theaters all the time (some people just can’t understand they are not in their own living rooms when they go out to a movie theater), but at concerts I seem to be as lucky with some idiot sitting behind me talking through the entire show — even during the slower, quieter songs.
5) Short Shows – Other than Springsteen, one of the few giving you your money’s worth, lots of acts try to skate by with a mere 90 minutes or less. That’s understandable for newbies without the songs, but veterans should know better.
6) Parking fiasco – I attended a concert of a band I will not name (who actually played over two hours) for a price that was exorbitant (I got a comp) at an outdoor venue where the parking was so atrocious I have vowed never to attend a concert at this place again (not that they care about losing my patronage, I’m sure). Lots of these places, the outdoor places especially, have either changed their venues configuration to stuff in more attendees or have given up the land where you used to park, leaving us with fewer places to park — or places so far away from the venue that the trek — always in the heat of summer — is akin to the Bataan Death March.
7) VIP meet-and-greet – Granted this one is voluntary, but it’s for those fanatics with the means to pay far beyond a normal ticket price for some face time with the headliner. I have seen some pretty sorry excuses for meet-and-greets and promised premium seating, but they seem to have a permanent place in the concert biz. Really, you have to wonder how much more money some of these acts need that they will charge an even higher fee than an over-priced ticket for a chance to hang with them in a special VIP area, maybe catch a sound check? What happened to the old days when some willing groupie would loan herself out to the road crew for a chance to get backstage. At least those carnal exchanges for access were more a direct honest bang-for-your-buck.
8) YouTube – Why bother going to a show — it’s going to be streamed across the net any way sooner or later, right? Those videos that everyone shoots with their smart phones take all the mystery and feeling of exclusivity out of going to the event when you can just watch it on your computer.
9) MTV – Don’t get me started…I could blame the complete loss of quality in popular art to MTV and give you a dissertation on the same, but here’s what happened as far as I can tell: As MTV became ever more popular so did visual video techniques, making the general public ever more comfortable and rabid for the quick cut and the overall aesthetic for the visual to supersede music. Having now what amounted to three-minute commercials to watch — rather startling, sometimes sexy, almost always innovative or at least arresting commercials at that — soon we saw artists employing video behind them on huge screens in concert or putting more time, money and energy into their videos than in their live performances (or, in some cases, musical acts who make popular videos that are not really musical acts). Newer and older acts alike began to not only explore and exploit MTV for its commercial potential; they began to ‘see’ their live act through the prism of that small-screen quick-cut aesthetic fashioning their concerts. Now, live performing is a lot less about an artist reaching the people in the cheap seats (of which aren’t that cheap) as it is the artist playing to the camera. The big visual, engaging musician, well-reasoned performance is not gone entirely, but as the recent spate of AMA performances attest, what we get now are more or less live videos. Performers don’t connect with the audience; they perform ‘at’ them, often sacrificing live musicianship so much (thanks to lip syncing and Auto-Tune). In my opinion, it has become de rigueur to offer less than a stellar engaging live set.
10) My worry over all the above – My worry over all the above. After buying tickets, paying for parking, parking my car, standing in line to get in, shilling out money for drinks and snacks, spending more on a program and a T-shirt, going to the bathroom, finding my seat, straining to see and hear sometimes…I am simply too exhausted to enjoy it.