Monday, May 10, 2010

Comfortably Dumb.

Roger Waters is on tour. If you're under the age of 30 you probably have to Google him. He's one of the founding members of Pink Floyd, and apparently carrying the mantle for the band as he tours "The Wall," in a 33 city, 38 show tour. The show is coming to the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on November 8 & 9. To the right are the ticket prices.
The original "The Wall" tour in 1979 lost $600,000 of the band's money, and it seems that Waters is trying to recoup that loss with the current ticket price. From memory, I'd say that a ticket for the original 1979 tour went for about ten dollars. Calculate the inflation on that and complain about gasoline prices.
For the median price of $158, you don't get the four other members of the band or any of the original theatrical elements. What you do get is a 66-year old Roger Waters and some guys who may not have been born when the original LP was released.
I'm not sure who the audience is for these kinds of shows. I'd guess it's old people with a lot of money. I am one but not the other. I find them depressing, and I refuse to go to "reunion" shows or other such events where bands are reunited for the glory of a big profit. Generally, all they are is older, and their voices have dropped an octave so that the notes they gloriously hit in their late 20s are now strained and enhanced with electronics as they become eligible for Social Security.
The audience has to be full of 20-something's who never saw the original band and 50-something's who enjoy living in the past and will likely be disappointed by the new show, but powerless to demand a refund of what for some people constitutes a week's take home pay.
Not only do you have the privilege of paying as much as $253 for a seat on the floor, but you also have the added "fee" of $20.09 (I have no idea where the 9 cents comes from) and an "order charge" of $4. So, it isn't enough that they're raping you for the ticket, they tack on fees that make an already ridiculous $253 ticket cost $277.09. To prove my point, if you earn $7.25 an hour (the federal minimum wage) and work a 40-hour week, your gross pay is $290. Subtracting a modest 28% in income taxes leaves you with the princely sum of $208, which is barely enough for two $78 "Upper" tickets (translated: last 5 rows) for you and your poverty-ridden sweetie. Such is the state of concert-going today.
By contrast, the minimum wage in 1979 was $2.90, making your take-home check worth about $84. That would have left plenty of money to take your sweetie to the show and buy dinner and perhaps even a t-shirt or a program. (They sold programs in the late 70s) Not to mention the fact that a Pink Floyd show in 1979 would be worth a week's pay, as opposed to now when the only thing left of Pink Floyd is a sexagenarian raping the corpse of his old music for retirement money. Such is the state of music today.
Not only that, but in 1979 the music was fresh, the performers were young, the show was in essentially the same building, the sound system was just as large, the band was together and you could say that you had seen and heard something that nobody had seen or heard to that point. Now, not so much.
But it isn't just Waters. Check the concert listings in your Friday newspaper. The pages are filled with old-timers touring with fractured bands with shows full of old songs at ticket prices 20 times what they charged when they were relevant. If it isn't them, it's "tribute bands" who cater to people who seem to enjoy seeing someone who sounds like someone else just as much as they enjoy the actual performer. Most of the tribute bands have been together longer than the bands they are copying. It's sad, and a strange commentary on what we (well, you) find appealing.
Mark Knopfler called it "money for nothing."
When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse
out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look and it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown.
The dream is gone.
"Comfortably Numb" (Roger Waters & David Gilmour)


susan said...

Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god

i have to go. I 'll get into the 401K. It will be worth it, I don't need the money when I'm 65. It's Pink Floyd, almost.

Thank you Anthony. Thank you.

Must have ticket. Must have ticket. Keep repeating .

Cliff Yankovich said...

gotta agree with you on this one. As an old fart who saw the Original Genesis do the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway show for either $10 or $12, there was no way I was going to cough up hundreds to see the "reunion" san Peter Gabriel. As the post above demonstrates, there are plenty of folks ready to fork over the cash.

Anthony said...

I see from the full-page ad that the two scheduled shows in Philly have sold out, and a third has been added. I suppose we're in the minority here, and there are plenty of old folks who want to re-live their glory years regardless of the price.

There's an old saying: Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the general public.