Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Yet One More Reason Why You Should Never Pay $40 or More for a Concert

Repost from Chris Hall’s wife via the Lefsetz Letter:

Squeeze reunited this summer for a whirlwind tour, ostensibly to show a US record company that they still have fans, and to encourage them to re-release the Squeeze catalog. Chris found out about an offer to buy VIP tickets that entitled fans to get good seats near the stage, and meet the band backstage after the show. We immediately bought the special tickets. They were $175, but we saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, since it’s unlikely that they will reunite again, so it seemed worth the expense.

 

The concert was Friday, August 3. We had two other plays scheduled that weekend, so we decided to stay in the city Friday and Saturday nights. It was all set to be a memorable weekend.

 

It was memorable, all right. But not in a good way.

 

Our seats were just about perfect — although they were on the left side of the stage, they were on the aisle. We had a perfect view of the opening act, Fountains of Wayne. (My current favorite band.). So far, we were having a great night. I was so thrilled to be there.

 

As soon as Squeeze came onstage, however, things changed drastically.

 

A young couple raced up and stood in the aisle right next to our seats. They blocked our view of the stage, and spent the first two songs talking to each other – and when I say “talking,” I mean shouting in the general direction of each other’s ears, so as to be heard above the sound system.

 

I waited a bit to see if they would settle down or move, but they stayed put. I could not see or hear the show as long as they kept up their disruptive behavior. I asked them to please stop talking, or move to a different location. The woman said that her boyfriend liked to talk, and that they wouldn’t be moving. She appeared drunk, and I didn’t want to engage her further.

 

They stood there awhile longer, and then she leaned over to me again and said “We’re with the band, so &*#$ off.”

 

At that point, I knew that they would not be going anywhere, and I was fighting a losing battle attempting to reason with an inebriated woman – and one with special privileges to boot. Chris asked me if I wanted him to get security, and I agreed that it seemed like the best solution. They are trained to deal with the intoxicated, and people who are standing where they shouldn’t be, and those – like this woman — who are both.

 

Chris returned with an usher. She tried to get them to leave, but they showed their backstage passes to her, and she did not succeed in moving them. Another usher arrived. Still no movement.

 

During this time, when the ushers were trying to get them to leave, the woman came back to our seats and tried to talk to us about our decision to call security. I wouldn’t talk to her.

 

She started in on Chris, who was standing to my left (she was to my right, in the aisle). I had noticed earlier that she had very little regard for personal space. She sidled up to me whenever she wanted, she got chummy with every usher who came up to them, she just had a way of getting close to you when you REALLY didn’t want to be anywhere near her. Well, when she was trying to talk to Chris, she was zeroing in on him, and he put up his hands to stop her. It was a defensive move, NOT an aggressive one. His left hand made contact with her right hand, in which she held a fairly full cup of beer. The beer came out of her hand and spilled onto the man sitting in front of me.

 

A third staff member arrived, and I suspect this was the first true security person on the scene, as opposed to an usher. He tried to elicit the story from them, but ended up conversing and laughing with the boyfriend. We were quite frustrated with how this was progressing, because we felt like we were right in wanting them to be out of the aisle, not disrupting those of us who had paid dearly for our tickets.

 

Finally, a woman with a clipboard arrived, exuding competence. She got the whole group to move out of the aisle to resolve the issue elsewhere. As she was escorting the group up the aisle, the boyfriend casually leaned his arm into our row and poured his beer all over Chris, dousing him and the woman sitting next to him. And unlike the girlfriend’s spilt beer, this was no accident.

 

With their departure, we finally were able to focus on the concert. The peace didn’t last long, however. The boyfriend came back and went after Chris, accusing him of throwing his beer at his girlfriend. Fortunately, security was right behind him, and dragged him off. We hoped that was the end of the incident. We settled back again to enjoy what was left of the show – although we were so agitated that it was nearly impossible.

 

Shortly after that, the security man came back and told us that the woman had called the police, and that we would have to go to the lobby to talk to them. I just wanted to resolve the issue, because I felt like we had done nothing wrong. I thought that the police had arrived already, and that we would just explain the situation, they would see that she had overreacted, and we would get to go back to the show.

 

Instead, we spent the rest of the concert standing in the lobby. We told our story to the Beacon Theater security, and then to the police when they arrived. We eventually had to sign a police statement regarding the incident, and Chris has the potential to be charged with harassment if the woman chooses to press charges.

 

We finally received permission to go back into the theater during one of the encores. I figure we saw about a third of the show. It was definitely the worst concert-going experience of my life, and possibly one of the worst nights of my life.

 

They finally ousted the couple, and we were able to go backstage to meet the band. I did feel like everyone was looking at us, and I got interrogated by the keyboard player (the couple’s connection to the band), but he could have just been making conversation. He asked where we were sitting, and whether we could hear.

 

Coincidence? I still don’t know.

 

The representatives from the promoter’s and the Beacon Theater were both really nice while we were standing around in the lobby, waiting for the police. The Beacon Theater woman offered us tickets to a future show, and the woman from the promoter’s was very interested in hearing our side of the story.

 

Two days later, the Beacon Theater people offered us the opportunity to purchase VIP tickets — at face value — to a future show within the next year. As my sister pointed out, that situation worked out so well for us this time, we aren’t exactly itching to try THAT again.

 

And almost a week later, I still haven’t heard from the promoter.

 

After playing the whole evening over and over in my head, I can only say that NONE of this would have ever happened if security had acted quickly to remove the couple from a location that was disruptive to paying customers, hazardous in case of emergency, and in which they had no right to be. If the first usher had either handled it herself or brought someone in immediately to remove them, there would have been no spilled beer, no poured beer, and no 911 call to the police. We would have been able to enjoy the concert in the seats that we paid $175 apiece for, the couple could have enjoyed the concert from a location that did not disrupt other people, and the thought of Squeeze would not make me break out in a cold sweat.

  It’s taken me a long time to admit this, but I guess the moral of the story is not to buy reserved tickets to a rock concert. I should stick to the general admission shows where you can move around to avoid the drunken louts, instead of trying to reason with them. Maybe I’m just getting old.

September 18, 2007 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City

1 Comment »

  1. No, actually, the moral of the story is to avoid anything VIP. People who consider themselves VIPs think they can do anything they want, no matter how obnoxious. If you had been sitting up in the balcony, at a fifth the price, where the sound is just as good, you would been able to enjoy the show without any of this happening.

    Comment by delarue | September 18, 2007 | Reply


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