A huge concert last night at the Juice Box (Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros), with Beyonce and Jay-Z headlining her "On the Run" tour stop here. Local critics ranged from outstanding reviews to one who called it a "thugfest". Believe me, there were worse. I'll confess I'm a big fan of Beyonce - have been since she and her "Destiny's Child" group first broke cover at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion years ago. I haven't followed her musical career for several years, but it was good to see a highly talented hometown girl make good.
With the shift to music downloads and plenty of online piracy, artists are having to make their money on flashy tours. I'm sure it's tough. A "Hard Knock Life", if you will. But to my rather ancient mind, concert tickets have gone through the roof in the past four or five years.
Last night's extravaganza re-set the bar for Houston concerts. A ticket for the cheap seats was $400 presale - and it ranged upward from there. Sure the show was a spectacle, but $400? Your seat was in a baseball stadium (mercifully covered against the heat and mosquitoes), The acoustic properties of a ball park are not the best - certainly not $400 worth - but the fans were there for the experience, not the music. (Insert discussion here as to whether Jay-Z's rap is actually music.)
To top it off, when concert-goers arrived at the parking garages that ordinarily rent spaces for an exorbitant $20-$30 for a game, they discovered the bite had risen to $60 - $80. A lot of folks spent the first half hour looking for an ATM as the garage owners gouged the unsuspecting public. $80 should BUY most of those spaces, not just rent them for a few hours.
So that's the best part of $900 for you and your lady just to park and enter the stadium/concert hall. Buy a couple of tour shirts and maybe a drink or two, and you've spent over a grand for a couple of seats in a ball park. Now Astros tickets are starting to look reasonable - you and the kids can park, see the game from decent seats, even go for the traditional hot dogs and peanuts, and maybe a couple of souvenirs for the kids - all for under a coupla hundred. And I thought that was unreasonable. (I recall Dad spending less than $10 to take our family to Buff Stadium with a dinner of hot dogs and peanuts thrown in. Kids could sit in the "Knothole Gang" section of bleachers in far right field for a dime - later raised to a quarter - to watch an afternoon game.
Maybe I've been sleeping under a rock, but is a THOUSAND DOLLARS the going rate for a couple of concert tickets now? The folks streaming into the venue weren't your usual tony theater-concert-opera crowd. Although the pictures in the rotogravure showed nice looking, well-heeled couples, video at the entrance to the park showed a considerably different crowd. It rather looked like they'd emptied out the third ward (rough part of town, think Houston's answer to Compton). To most of these folks, a grand for an evening's performance - no matter how good - is WAY out of reason. It's going to swallow their entertainment budget for the next ten months or more. Boy, I hope it was worth it.
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“Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I’ll tell you a story."
_____________________- F. Scott Fitzgerald
TLN #42 -The Meaning of Life
Concert ticket prices are definitely higher than they used to be. Big names at big venues can easily fetch $100+ per ticket. $400 is ridiculous though.
I actually saw Jay-Z last December (by himself) and floor tickets were $150. That was easily the most I have ever paid for a concert ticket, but in my opinion it was like seeing a legend that I may never get to see again. I'm not a huge rap fan anymore, but it was one of the best concerts that I have ever attended. It was also not your typical "rap attendees". There were just as many white guys in suits as there were thugish black people.