The Segregation of America’s Live Music Experience

Today I grabbed the cheapest tix possible to see Dead & Company here in L.A. with some dear friends. The concert will be on Dec. 30th (we’re skipping the New Year’s show). Our seats are in the nosebleed section behind the stage with an obstructed view. While excited to see this band live and hear some of my favorite songs again, I will be forever dismayed at what the concert scene in general has devolved into.

Even though ticket prices for the cheapest seats are lower for Dead & Company than your average concert, the prices are still considerably high. Ticketmaster is offered as an only option (with outrageous fees and surcharges), and like so much else in America, the less money you make/have to spend, the more you are penalized, marginalized and physically and statistically separated from those with more money than you. Growing up, I could pay $12.50 and get a seat in the first row. Or the twentieth row! …Or the last. All that was required of me was that I wanted to hear the music and had a desire to partake. It wasn’t an experience just for the rich and well-off. And we all sat together, intermingled, rich and poor, young and old. It was a communal experience that celebrated what we had in common, not accentuated what separated us. We weren’t isolated into roped-off sections, divergent tiers based on income. The only difference, perhaps, were those who camped out overnight for tickets (pre-internet) and those who bought them later. But that wasn’t class separation. What we have here and now is just a reflection of the attitudes and gross disparity our country has come to not only represent, but in some circles celebrate.

screen-shot-2015-08-25-at-10-23-46-amBy the way, I don’t put this on the band, on Dead & Company. This is the system we’ve all created and all allowed to propagate. I’m just bemoaning a cultural and societal shift that deeply saddens me. And I’m glad the band offers a handful of relatively affordable tickets compared to the average ticket price so that those of us in the lower income brackets don’t have to get shut out entirely. There are too many concerts and too many performers whose cheapest tickets are priced out of my reach. The experience of seeing those artists is clearly for others. I must, for now, remain on the other side of that dividing wall.

And if you were wondering, yes, I would still bemoan it even I were rich and could afford those perfectly thrilling seats that here ranged between $117 and over $1,000 (“VIP” packages). I still wouldn’t want to be forced to sit only with people who hold equal financial-status. Just like I believe everyone should have health care, even if it costs my business more, just as I believe we should all have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education even if I have to pay higher taxes to allow that to happen, just as I believe no one should have to be homeless, my sensibilities are not geared toward “so long as my needs are met, it’s all good.” I know that’s become the conservative mantra (at least in tangible actions), but I find it a profoundly dehumanizing way to live no matter what side of that fence you’re on.
The Segregation of America’s Live Music Experience

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