I bought Eagles tickets today for their Hotel California show in Las Vegas. I’m ashamed to tell you where they are and how much I paid because it seems almost obscene to spend that much money on 2-3 hours of entertainment. I know that we all have expenses and choices about how to spend our disposable income. I make a good living. I don’t have kids. I have credit cards, so I can splurge once in a while. It still makes me think, though, about all of the different ways that I’ve gotten tickets to see this band.
The first tickets I ever got to see an Eagle were from a broker. Or, because this was in England, it was from “ticket tout”. There was an office building right across from Big Ben when you crossed Westminster Bridge in London. They had shows advertised on pieces of poster board taped to stands. I was a student in England for a semester. I wanted to see a show at the iconic “Wembley” (granted this was the arena and not the Live Aid stadium) and the prices for Don Henley were doable. I don’t think I realized I was paying a broker at the time. I was new to buying tickets and I was in a foreign country. It all seemed new and mysterious.
I know some of you are older than I am and can remember getting your tickets at record stores or box offices. I know I purchased more than a few sets from “Ticket-Tron” at the customer service center at Sears. I spent hours dialing the same number over only to get a busy signal. When I finally got in, I took whatever seats they offered (after some time and experience, I would immediately hang up and call again in the hopes of getting something better.)
When Hell Freezes Over came along, we drove to San Antonio from the Rio Grande Valley (4 ½ hours) to get tickets. They were selling them at a record store and there was some convoluted system that involved getting in line, getting a wristband and then having a drawing for the order that wristbands would be able to get tickets in. We spent hours trying to figure out which branch of the store would have the least amount of Eagles fans in the neighborhood. We got wristbands and stood in line for ever and ended up with really bad seats.
We’ve won a few sets of tickets on the radio and had a few given to us (thank you so much, you know who you are), but for the most part, we’ve bought all of the tickets for the 115+ Eagles shows and 70ish solo shows we’ve seen. We’ve sat on the lawn and run for general admission seats. We’ve seen the insides of fancy theaters and places that probably have hockey-stick induced bloodstains on the seats. We’ve been in brand-new stadiums and arenas that are now parking lots (RIP Met Center).
It was great when ticket buying went online and you no longer had to worry about the phone. You could grab a set of tickets and send them back if you didn’t like them. You just couldn’t to it too much or too quickly or you’d get labeled a “bot” and get kicked off the website.
You could also connect internationally and get tickets for European shows. We got up at 4 AM to buy tickets to London shows and we spent some time wandering around the seedier parts of London trying to find an office for a guy willing to sell us tickets for the Earl’s Court shows back in 2001. That was an adventure. The Internet made it possible to pull up front row center seats for a show in London on Easter Sunday in 2008. We got them a week before the show and figured out how to get across the pond (airfare was surprisingly cheap). We had a blast.
In the early 2000s, though, we hit on a ticket buyers’ dream. We discovered that the band would release seats in the first three rows on the day of the show. We spent hours analyzing the time that this happened and had it down to an exact science. We spent an entire summer, going to about 14 shows. We didn’t have advance tickets for any of them. We’d roll into town, check into the hotel and start calling (usually tickets were taken offline a few hours before the show). If we weren’t calling, we were at the box office. We’d repeatedly ask for “best available”. We’d be told it was 40 rows back on the floor. We’d wait 10 minutes and ask again. Same, far away seats. Finally, though, to the utter astonishment of the college student working the box office, one of those tries would produce front row center seats. We’d snap them up for face value and have an amazing evening. That strategy worked until the band started VIP and package pricing.
Their first foray into that was the Eagles fan club. Remember that on Yahoo? It was possible to get some decent seats through that, though. And to you remember ticket auctions through the fan club? We won front row seats for Lubbock once. They lost the order and ended up putting two folding chairs at the end of an aisles where we couldn’t see. We were compensated for the hassle with one box set for the two of us.
After that came “I Love All Access”. You could pay a premium price and get front row seats...you just didn’t know where they were until they handed you your ticket envelope as you walked into the show. If you did this for Don Henley solo, you also got a meet and greet. If you did it for the Eagles, Taylor or Deacon Frey might be in charge of handing out your swag bags. I Love All Access gave way to Lane One. They don’t have as many perks, but you can choose your seat. These days, you also have to deal with Platinum seats and presales and things have gotten really, really confusing.
We sure have had adventures buying tickets. We’ve gotten them from a guy in a newspaper ad. We had to meet him in his Trans Am behind the bar-b-que place in Tupelo, Mississippi. We spent an entire drive up to Wichita calling this poor woman repeatedly until 2nd row center became available (thank you cell phones!) We’ve gotten general admission for things like Austin City Limits and the Aspen Jazz Festival and then sat all day in the same place to guarantee front row. We’ve joined mailing lists and made donations. It’s all been quite an adventure.
And I want to say this as well. Every ticket we bought...every price that we paid was a choice. We don’t blame anyone for being greedy. The market is what the market is. You actually have to give it to the Eagles and their management for finding new and interesting ways to make touring worth their time. We’re glad they are still out on the road and we will continue to make choices. That’s why we’ve been to fewer shows. Sometimes, the price or the timing just doesn’t work for us. We skipped the Classic shows and aren’t going to Europe this summer. We found a way to make Vegas work and we are super excited.
That being said, I don’t think I’ve been as nervous getting seats as i was this morning. Not knowing the prices ahead of time made it difficult to plan (perhaps that is for the best, though. $7500 for front row caused some serious sticker shock. Just for the record, if you add in fees, the price of two of those tickets would equal a year of college (with room and board) where I want to college....at today’s prices. I’m happy for those who can afford that, but that’s something even I can’t justify paying. I understand that prices are high. It’s a special show in an expensive town (though I’m thinking they will add another weekend) and I was prepared for that.
The shows are amazing and they are fun. I think I’m just a little sad that getting the actual tickets...the thrill of calling or standing in line and hoping that you’ll get lucky isn’t fun anymore. That used to be part of the adventure and while i don’t miss the sound of the busy signal, I miss the old ways in more ways than one.
See you in Vegas!