The music gods have smiled on me this week. As most of you know I’m a bit of a music fanatic. I love all kinds of music, old music, new music, popular music, obscure stuff… But my greatest love is the music of Counting Crows. I have seen them somewhere in the range of 25 times. I would sit down and count but it’d take a while. I have met the band, gotten things signed, caught numerous guitar picks and sweat towels…all of that. It has become a needed fix every year. Their shows vary so much they all seem new. You can see them 3 shows in a row on the same tour (which I’ve done) and each show is dramatically different. Even the songs are performed differently. It’s brilliant and creative and I love every second of it.
Back in the day they usually played General Admission (GA for short) shows. The theory behind this is A)ticket prices are reasonable and B)the biggest fans get the best seats because they will get there at the crack of dawn for a show that isn’t starting until 8PM, just to make sure they will be on the front row when the doors open! I have done this SO many times. What also makes this experience so great is C)you get to hang out in the line all day meeting other CC junkies, sharing show stories, swapping bootlegs (which the band promotes and encourages) and generally soaking up “The CC Experience!” and D)you are guaranteed to be surrounded by other big fans when you get to your coveted front and center spot. What makes it even better is that these are the people you’ve been hanging out with all day so if, for instance, you have to pee in the middle of the show, these “fan friends” will hold your spot and allow you to push your way back up to the front! This too has happened to me a zillion times! They also still love you if you jump up and down and scream your head off because they are doing the same thing. PLUS…and here’s the biggie…you don’t have to put up with lame people who are just so-so fans who don’t know many of the songs and constantly yell “PLAY MR. JONES” at the stage…to the point that you want to yank them up out of their seat and escort them out of the venue for being an idiot and not appreciating the music. Nor do you have to put up with the obnoxious concert goers who are there because they “liked that song back in high school” and thought it would be a good excuse to get some friends together, get drunk and go hear some live music. You don’t have to put up with their loud talking through the entire show and their horrible yelling of the wrong lyrics when “that song” comes on.
Have I painted the picture here folks? Have I accurately described the GA experience and convinced you all that it’s the best and most special way to experience the Counting Crows? Good. Moving on….
Okay…so then the band does what some people have labeled as “sell out” by signing some contract or tour agreement (I don’t exactly understand). This did a couple of things… they were committed to a few “co-headlining” tours with bands like Live and Goo Goo Dolls where they played huge venues and each played an equal set length. Translation….no GA, high ticket prices, a short set, obnoxious fans…AND…having to suffer through setting next to the occasional Live or Goo Goo Dolls freak. This was a DARK and SCARY time for Counting Crows fans. I spent a fortune to see them because I would accept no less than the first 2 rows so I ended up forking out 200-300 bucks for a ticket AND I had to sit through an hour of Live or Goo Goo Dolls only to see a set that was over in the blink of an eye. Then somewhere in the mix Live Nation got in the picture. I am convinced that Live Nation has been sent by Satan to destroy all that we love about music. And in the words of one of my favorite music movie characters describing the changing of the music industry::: “they will ruin rock and roll and strangle everything we love about it.”…..they are well on their way….
Now I don’t understand how all of this tour crap works with the band, record label, Live Nation, promoters, sponsors, blah blah blah…but what I DO know is that the past couple of tours have been thrown together poorly, dates were added last minute, shows weren’t well coordinated and some of the venue selections have been…how do I put it…ridiculous? No…odd? Just plain wrong. I don’t know. But it doesn’t fit the band or the vibe or the atmosphere that is a CC show. Not all of them but SOME. Such as …and if you’re on twitter you remember last summer…TUNICA. A FREAKING CASINO IN TUNICA. Complete with Paula Dean buffet, mullets and all. I won’t get into all that. It was the closest option I had. The majority of the front row was composed of people who were comped tix in the casino or something…they could care less about the music SAT DOWN the entire time and even had the lead guitarist shaking his head and trying to engage them in the show. I won’t go into that anymore. BUT I was not going to let that be my 2009 Counting Crows experience. Oh hell no. So I ended up with a ticket to a show in Myrtle Beach at the House of Blues which was…drum roll please…one of the ONLY GA shows on that tour. It was electric. It was magical. I was the first person there, I sat outside the door all day, I made friends, I listened to amazing blues music, I shared CC stories…and when the doors opened and we piled into that standing room only area in front of the stage, I was pushed and squeezed by the crowd, I was sweaty and tired…but it was perfect… and when the music started and I began to jump, I felt the entire crowd pushing against me, jumping with me…hands in the air…screaming the lyrics in unison. Not one stupid chair, not one stupid person sitting down. Everyone one around me FELT that show like I did. THAT…my friends…IS THE COUNTING CROWS EXPERIENCE. Myrtle Beach was…bleh…but the show def ranks in my top 3 CC shows of all time. You can’t go wrong with HOB…EVER!
So we come to this summer. It’s the same Live Nation song and dance…not a well coordinated tour, dates are being added last minute and it’s the same freaking special guest as the last 3 summers — I’m not referring here to Michael Franti who joined last summer and whom I ADORE, but Augustana who’ve I’ve seen more times than I’d like to admit and CAN NOT STAND….for numerous reasons. I should write a whole separate blog on why I hate Augustana. LOL. So anyway, I had been watching and there weren’t any shows close by that I could feasibly attend and then, boom, one day they add a show at Chastain park in ATL on a doable date.
Now…I’m sorry for the many tangents but this is essential to this story. I saw CC once at Chastain and vowed to never see them there again. Any other band it’s fine…but not MY FAVORITE BAND. Because…Chastain has this “table setup” which means in the area in front of the stage they have tables. And these table seats are held by season ticketholders. And these season ticketholders come to all the shows with their tablecloths, candles, bottles of wine, brie and crackers and TALK. They aren’t there for the music…they are there for the social event. It’s in an upper scale area of ATL and it’s just the thing to do. You bring your snack and drinks and chat. I was able to get my hands on a ticket for a set in the first section behind the stupid tables and I paid 275 for it. But the energy sucked, the people around me didn’t care….and the people at the tables in front of me were annoying. So much so that Adam, the lead singer, stopped in between songs and said something like “so are y’all just gonna sit there and eat and talk? Couldn’t you do that at home? You don’t want to stand up?” He then encouraged fans behind them to stand if they wanted to because this is a rock and roll show and not a picnic…or something to that effect! It was cool that he acknowledged how stupid it was but the show still ranked at the bottom of the list for me for that reason. Okay so then on the tour last summer, my friend and fellow CC fan, Kristin, saw them at Chastain (I didn’t go cuz I have vowed not to) and I went on to the Myrtle Beach show. She called me all excited and said it wasn’t the “table setup” …she had gotten a front row ticket which was actually on the front row…they took out the tables and put rows of chairs in. She said the energy was amazing and the show was awesome. We both assumed this setup change was due to Adam’s hatred of the tables and the people that come with them 😉
Okay back to present day…so I see that they have added a Chastain date…I kinda get excited because I JUST KNOW it’s not going to be a table setup and I’m hoping it’s going to be the way it was when Kristin saw them last year! So I called the venue and they directed me, of course, to the local Live Nation people putting on the event. Even though it’s not a Live Nation venue…they do “rent it out” for the summer and have a concert series there. Again, I don’t understand how it works but the Chastain people assured me they had no say-so or control in any of it…only fueling my belief that Live Nation is taking over the world and doing the Devil’s work. So I get this peon (definition: “used colloquially to mean a person with little authority”) desk guy with an attitude. I ask about the setup. He says it’s a table setup. I tell him the story I just told you and that I JUST KNEW the band wouldn’t want it that way. He assured me the band knew and approved it. How the hell, Mr. Peon, do you know what the band does and does not know? Are you the liaison between the Live Nation/Chastain people and the band’s people…NO. Have you personally asked Adam Duritz what he prefers? NO. We argued for a minute and then he basically told me that I should be appreciative of the tables and the “valuable season ticket holders” because “their contributions are what make it possible for us to hold these events.” Oh yes, Mr. Peon, I should be totally grateful. Screw you…I can see and have seen Counting Crows in numerous other venues and could give 2 shits about your stupid Chastain Park summer concert series.
Okay so my only other option was to drain my savings and go to a GA show in Atlantic City NJ. What would you do? Pay jacked up prices (200 or more) to get a decent seat at Chastain (but deal with the table people) or pay to fly to freaking New Jersey and pay 60 bucks for GA ticket …plus hotel room cost, food, cabs, etc. I, of course, was willing to go with the Jersey plan because it meant a WAY better show. But my CC friend Kristin couldn’t do that and Eric and I really couldn’t afford to do it either so I bit the bullet and began looking on Stubhub.com for people selling tix to Chastain. Surprisingly, we found that one of those “valuable season ticket holders” had decided to put all 6 seats of their precious table up on Stubhub. Actually there were several tables that were being sold. Maybe they don’t like CC, maybe they’ll be golfing or at a tennis tourney..or maybe, just maybe, they remember Adam yelling at their ass and don’t want to go back to see Counting Crows. But for whatever reason, they are selling their seats. The listing says “tables Row 2” which I’m assuming means the second row of tables. It was the closest option…200 bucks a seat….we bit the bullet and did itSo the tickets come in the mail this week and looky looky what they say……
They say Table ROW 1…how did we end up with that? I don’t know. Did they post it wrong on stubhub? Did they send us the wrong tix? I don’t know but the tix are the real thing and stubhub has a guarantee anyway. So…all that to say…Even though we might be POSING as the “table people” …we will not have wine and brie. We will have beer. And we will not be sitting. We will be standing. The the most important thing to remember about all of this…there will be NO table people in front of me. Only behind me. I WILL BE ON THE FRONT ROW! Table or no table, it’s the front!
And just in case you were wondering..the tables each have 6 seats. Eric and I got 2 of them, my friend Kristin and another friend got 2 of them….I don’t know who the other 2 people will be but they better be down with some jumping, screaming, and of course…Miller Lite! Wheee
The Music Gods have smiled on me indeed. Front row, 2 hour drive, a place to stay, and the fact that I don’t have to buy beer at 6 bucks a pop!