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People who rarely or never buy concert tickets perhaps have the idea in their head that you either call up your friendly ticketing agent on the phone, or go down to the hardware store on a Saturday morning to get in line (get there 20 minutes early!) for tickets still. That’s how it used to be, right?
It’s a different world now. At least when it comes to Radiohead, it’s more like a savage fight.
People who are not fans of Radiohead probably aren’t aware that they sell out arenas everywhere, every time they play, which is rare in itself. Not only do their shows sell out, they sell out very quickly. People who are not fans of Radiohead will probably tell you that they “don’t get it” and can’t see how they sell out like this.
Radiohead has become THE show to see in the modern age. One could argue that they are right up there with the Rolling Stones and U2 because of such a cult following. The best part is that they pretty much did it all by word of mouth. It’s pretty rare to hear Radiohead on FM radio in America, which is partially what makes the band so appealing to their listeners; they don’t have the same music being regurgitated to their ears over and over again.
For those of us that do “get it”, obtaining tickets to arguably the biggest band in the world is difficult, and I’ve learned that there is some “strategery” to it. One of the good folks at the WOXY message boards even posted a long bit of advice on how to do this, downloading Fire Fox attachments and the whole nine yards. Things are getting complex.
Nearly 5 years ago I saw them for my first (and only) time at the Blossom Music Center near Cleveland, OH. By that point, I had only been listening to the band religiously for about 3 years or so. But it still stands as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and I can remember wondering during the whole performance “Where have I been my whole life that I’ve missed these guys?” From that point on I’ve vowed to not miss them again.
Well, things haven’t quite worked out as planned.
The tour in ’03 (Hail to the Thief) was their last world tour, though they did play some select shows in the states in 2006. They lined up a double-header in Chicago with the Black Keys opening (yet another favorite band of mine.) I had a TON of people try to log on and get tickets with me. Both shows were sold out within seconds flat.
On August 20th, Radiohead will be coming close to me again, so below is my latest adventure in trying to score tickets to one of the best bands in the world.
Monday evening: I have the core crew of 9 people set that needs to get tickets, but the problem is that W.A.S.T.E. (the Radiohead ticketing agent on their website), only allows purchases of 4 at the most. All it says is that tickets are on sale soon. HOW soon? The rumors are flying online that it will happen this week, and probably Thursday.
Tuesday evening: Major alert! Pre-sale tickets go on sale through the Radiohead site tomorrow, but when? Some say it will be 9am UK time, which would be 1am Seattle time. Should I try to keep getting up once an hour all night to check? No. Good news is that one friend has backed out of our gang, which brings our needs number to an equal 8; plus he’s decided to help out with trying to get tickets still. A gentleman and a scholar.
Tuesday 11:20pm: Bed.
Wednesday 12:50am: Alarm starts going off. Is it time for work already? Back to sleep…
Wednesday 1:00am: Alarm is still going off. I look at the clock. OH NO, RADIOHEAD!! I pounce out of bed and run out to the living room on my tiptoes. Jimbo (my obese cat) starts running towards me with his mouth wide open and a paw pointing at it while mouthing “Ahh! Ahh!” Like a good NFL running back, I’m able to stiff-arm Jimbo, do a spin move, make a high-jump/backflip combo over my futon and land into my computer chair in perfect form. I log in to the Radiohead website, and go to W.A.S.T.E. instantly. Tickets are not on sale. Oh well, back to bed.
Wednesday 6:00am: I’m doing my daily routine getting ready for work and decide to log on again, but tickets are not on sale. At 6:09 I decide to refresh just for the hell of it and it reads “ON SALE NOW.” I nearly spilled my bowl of Raisin Bran as I panicked to get it together. Typing with one hand and texting friends with the other, I begin the process. 4 tickets, in the pit! Checkout. HOLY SHIT!!! And then nothing happens….for 4 minutes. Finally, I get a notice that says the server has timed out and it appears my dream is over. After many tries, I finally give up, as do all of my friends. One thing to keep in mind is that the genius’ at Radiohead’s site decided to make all American shows on sale at the same time, which jams their site in a major way. So now twice during the day, I try calling in to KEXP for tickets, but with no luck. 1 presale down, 2 to go, plus General Public tickets.
Thursday 9:58am: One of my buddies is supposed to be getting tickets for me as I can’t use my work laptop, but I just tried calling him and his phone went straight to voicemail. Panic. So what else can a thirty-one-year-old man do in this situation? Call his mommy.
That’s right, I call my mom at work because I know she has easy web access. By the time she logs into my Ticketmaster account, it’s 10:02 and I know things are looking bleak. After she’s in, apparently a pre-sale password is needed. Now LiveNation is simultaneously having a pre-sale, and the password is “lyric” but I didn’t know a password would be needed for Ticketmaster. MAJOR PANIC. So I tell her to bail out and to log into LiveNation. She tries for 4 tickets, but it eventually tells her that the quantity is not available. Even with reducing the quantity, no luck. Out of 5 friends and nearly ten open screens, only 1 friend was able to get 1 ticket. I’m really starting to get upset thinking that not only will I likely not see Radiohead this time, but unless they play at some state fair forty years from now (Oh god! Sharing the bill with Limp Bizkit!), I might never see them again. Congrats to my buddy though, even though I am jealous.
Thursday afternoon: KEXP is giving away tickets again, looking for caller twelve, and I’m frantically calling in. Usually I hear “Welcome to KEXP where the” and I cut it off by pressing the number 1, with another pre-recorded voice that says the on-air DJ is busy. But this time I hear a real person say “KEXP.” There is an odd pause and my mind is too confused to form a sentence. Finally, like Ralphie telling Santa about his Red Ryder BB gun, I belt out “What number am I?!” The person replies “Caller 10”, to which I reply with a long and loud “AAAHHHHH!!!!!!!” And the phone goes dead.
Friday evening: Tomorrow is the final chance at cheap tickets as Ticketmaster goes on sale for the general public. If we couldn’t get pre-sale tickets, we’re pretty much screwed. I’ve spent the whole day bumming and doing a little ticket broker searching. Face value is $35-$55, and lawn seats are going for around $75; seats are around $110 and I can even get a pit ticket for $160. My friends really aren’t on board for paying this much even though I’m trying pretty hard to talk them into it. Then out of the blue, my buddy calls to inform me that he wanted to keep it a surprise, but since my hand is on the mouse to spend big bucks, he felt obligated to fill me in that he got 4 tickets yesterday in the Pavilion and I can have 1 of them. I’m not sure if I want to punch or hug him right now, but regardless, I’m ecstatic! The cost is around $75, but they are in a center section, halfway up the row. JACKPOT!!! But even though I am in for sure, I still have troops depending on me, so tomorrow I’ll still try to get more tickets for friends.
Saturday 9:58am: I’m all logged into Ticketmaster and my palms are beginning to sweat. 2 other buddies are going to try for us and yet another of my friends is going to use my credit card to try and get some tickets. 3, 2, 1….Click! Like a rocket, I’m in there for 4 seats in section 205 (top pavilion, center). It was un-real how easily I zipped through the line. Then I get a text from a buddy: “Got em!” Yet another text from a friend who got 2 tickets too, and then my buddy with my card calls to tell me he got 4 pavilion seats as well. While I’m on the phone with him, another friend is calling, but I decline to answer him with all of this madness happening. Turns out I should have clicked over because he was calling to tell me that he could get 4 more and wanted to know if he should get them. He eventually did. So yeah, by the time it was all done, we had a total of 23 tickets for 9 people! How could this happen? Usually going against the General Public is about impossible and at press time, there were STILL lawn seats available.
Several people have said the reason is because the White River Amphitheatre is not a great place to see an outdoor show. Plus cost might be a factor. My friends are probably pissed that I talked them into dropping money like this, but how was I supposed to know? I dropped over $500 alone on tickets, but I’m pretty confident that we can sell these to friends, or try to make a little profit on them.
Regardless, I’m going to the show for sure and this has been the most insane ticket-buying experience I’ve ever had.
So, does anyone want to go see Radiohead on August 20th  near Seattle?
Jimbo: Fat, dumb, and happy
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