The Abysmal Summer Concert Situation

As I mentioned in a previous post, concerts are one of my favorite things about summer. Starting the summer between my sophomore & junior year of college, a friend & I had a tradition of going to see a show together every summer. She lived in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and I lived in Richmond, so we would meet in Virginia Beach and go to a concert at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater. That first summer (2007) we saw Ratt & Poison together (with a group of our other friends from school), and then we saw Styx, Foreigner, & Def Leppard together. The next summer (2008) we saw Cheap Trick, Heart, and Journey together. (If you’re noticing a trend of bands from the 1980’s, congratulations – you’re very observant). We positioned ourselves out on the lawn, where we would be able to enjoy the concert and still have our eardrums in tact when we left, and where we could watch washed-up women in their 40s still acting like they were 15. That was half the entertainment. Last year, in June 2009, me, my husband, his best friend, and my concert buddy went to Bristow, VA the day after our wedding to see Aerosmith & ZZ Top together. I thought my yearly concert dates had ended, but in August of 2009 I decided to drive to Virginia to see Incubus in Virginia Beach, and my friend went with me. This, I was sure, would be our last concert date, since I now lived in Tennessee & she was preparing to go into the Army. Earlier this month, she and one of our other friends came out to visit me on their way to Fort Riley, KS. I was hoping we would be able to catch a concert while they were in town, since, after all, I live one hour from the state capitol – Nashville, AKA “Music City, USA.” My hopes were unceremoniously dashed when I looked up information on the line-ups for the summer. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers were coming, but NOSEBLEED seats were $100. Front-row seats were $400. We paid $30-$40 to see those ’80s bands together. Two or 3 really good bands who all put on a great show, for $40. I was NOT about to pay $100 for crappy seats to see one band. Heart was also coming, but again the cheapest seats were $100. Since I had already seen them for $30, I just couldn’t see paying that. That was the way that it went, all the way down the line – any bands that I would even REMOTELY want to see were WAAAAY too expensive.

To be fair, I think this is a national problem, not just a Tennessee problem. TN has had some good shows in the past year. I’ve seen Metallica & Alice in Chains since I moved out here, and those were both awesome shows. But it seems like this year, a lot of bands are taking a hiatus from touring, including most of the ’80s bands I usually go for. Incubus is also taking a break. Those bands and singers that ARE touring are seeing a decline in ticket sales because of the recession. Some are even canceling shows due to lack of interest & low ticket sales. And then of course there is the issue of location, location, location. Nashville is known for country, not rock, so many bands figure they don’t have much of an audience out here (since most of them are from California), even though there is a HUGE military base an hour away. You know – a military base with lots of male soldiers who like to rock out to stuff other than patriotic Toby Keith songs. Not that I have anything against Toby Keith, I just prefer other stuff. All of these combined factors – high ticket prices, vacationing rock stars, & being located in the South have combined to create a dreary concert landscape for this summer. I can only hope next summer will bring better shows.

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