Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Do You Determine A Concert's Worth?

We are currently living in times of a questionable economy, and with that questionable economy, most people take an extra second to evaluate certain spending decisions. I was in this position yesterday when I got online with the purpose of buying tickets to see the Pixies at DAR Constitution Hall on November 30. A tour which, by the way, is being promoted as a Doolittle tour. (This information will become more important later.) Because of the band and venue, I knew tickets would be somewhat expensive. I was right, through Ticketmaster, a singular ticket came in at $53.50 before any added charges. This probably means we are talking about at least a $70 price tag once all of the goggily-gook is piled on. (Before I go any further, this is not meant and will not turn into some rant on the Pixies or Ticketmaster for the presumed $70 ticket. )

Once I saw how much tickets were, the fascinating world of economics started bouncing around my brain. Should I buy a ticket? Is $70 worth what I will be getting in return? Figuring there are plenty of people facing similar decisions, before doing anything rash, I decided to close my browser and break it down to determine the best course of action. Assume for all intents and purposes that I am your average person. I don't make a ton of money, but I make enough where I could spend $70 on a ticket if I really wanted to.

Obviously to pay $70 to see a band, you have to like that band. Well, I like the Pixies. Now, they're not necessarily my favorite band, and I wasn't raised on their music. But I do like them enough to play them semi-regularly, and usually loud enough to earn the disdainful glare that my neighbor down the hall gives me when I see her in the building. (Is it possibly to play the Pixies soft? Of course not.) I own four of their albums. Strike that, I own three of their albums (Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, Trompe Le Monde), with the fourth being a greatest hits compilation that I found for $1. I could have sworn I had Bossanova somewhere but after rummaging through my music collection, it has come to my attention that I don't. Anyway, I like all of these albums and I love Doolittle. Love it. It gets the most play of their stuff, and if I were to ever make a collection of my 50 favorite songs of all time (for all of our sakes, let's hope I don't), "Debaser" would probably make the cut. So, I certainly like the Pixies enough to satisfy this particular category, and the fact that they will be playing most or all of Doolittle makes the show even more compelling.

But there are still more issues to consider. Seventy bucks does not grow on cherry blossom trees. How about the venue? Well, I have seen two concerts at DAR Constitution Hall (My Morning Jacket, Smashing Pumpkins) and enjoyed myself both times. It is a very comfortable place and has pretty decent sound. I can not fathom any reason why this particular time would be different. Also, getting there and back is nothing more than a nice, brisk walk.

(Quick side story: I lived in Dayton, Ohio, for three years and one of my good friends lived in a nice house in a nice, quiet neighborhood. Every so often, we would spend a weekend on his porch shooting the breeze and drinking a beer. One of his next-door neighbors was a nice unassuming woman who would pass by and say hello while she was walking her dog, or maintaining her garden. This woman we later found out was Kim Deal. I throw this in here because I love this story. My friend lived next door to a person who played bass for a band that I really liked and we never put two-and-two together probably because we've grown accustomed to assuming that rock stars don't spend their weekends planting flowers.)

Two big questions out of the way and the only drawback seems to be the ticket cost. But I should probably mention that I can't really think of an acquaintance in DC that would be interested in tagging along. If I go, I will probably be by myself. Not a huge deal, in fact, I am kind of an old hand at this.

Also, if my calculations are correct, November 30th is a Monday, which means I will have to work the following day. That sucks, but that also means I will probably purchase one less beer than I normally would. (Depending on the length of a show, I would normally purchase anywhere from two to four beers, give or take a substitute rum and Coke if I am feeling tired.) If I recall, drinks are in the $6-7 range. Subtract that from the ticket cost and now we're looking at around $63. Well, now I'm thinking, because the only other venue I could imagine the Pixies playing in town would be the 9:30 Club. Suppose they were playing there instead of DAR Constitution Hall. I would bus it there, and mostly likely try and cab it back (read the last paragraph of the previous post as to why). Being that it's not too far, the cab would probably cost $6-7, including tip. Not forgetting the $1.10 bus fare, bump the cab fare off the price, and all of a sudden, this ticket is in the $56 range just for the sheer reason that it's at DAR, and I can walk home and feel comfortable that no one is going to go all Avon Barksdale on me.

See, this is kind of fun, isn't it?

Another thing I considered was using my connections to somehow try and circumvent the price of the ticket, but then I remembered that I don't really have any connections. Maybe I could email someone in the Pixies camp to try and set up an interview or a show review in a lame attempt to get on the list. But I can't do that. For one, the chances of landing an interview with someone from the Pixies would probably be slim to none. And second, while I would love to talk with someone from the Pixies, it would never be so I could get into a show for free. That goes for any band. No, if I'm going to this show, this ticket is going to have to be purchased.

I honestly started writing this without being completely sure what I was going to do, or where this post was headed. But about five minutes ago, something dawned on me and I think it's going to be the ultimate decider in what my final decision will be. I have never seen the Pixies, and this is huge. It's not as if the Pixies have countless tours left in them. When it comes to seeing them, we are probably all playing with house money at this point. And with that, I keep thinking back to January 2007 when I had the opportunity to purchase a ticket to see the Bears play the Seahawks in the NFL Playoffs during the Bears' march to the Super Bowl. After being conflicted, I said to hell with it, and paid an obscene amount that I really couldn't afford at the time. And you know what, it ended up being totally worth it. (I'm not going to print how much the ticket cost to save a lecture in case my mom reads this.) When I look back at it now, I don't think about how much the ticket was, I think about how great of a time I had. And while this concert might not have the flair of a game-winning Robbie Gould field goal, it certainly has potential to be great. And a few years from now, will I think about how much the ticket cost, or how great it was to see the Pixies? I can almost guarantee and am hoping it will be the latter, which is why I am going to buy a ticket. Right now.

UPDATE: Tickets are gone. See what happens when you spend too much time thinking?



Thomas said...

Sh*t! That sucks. Same thing happened to me recently. Maybe try stubhub? Liking the frequent posts.

Anonymous said...

This may be the most boring essay ever written.

Alex said...

You're telling me.

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