Black Keys Ticket “Fiasco”

“Why the Black Keys shut out hundreds of fans, causing chaos at the Wiltern”

This is the best thing that ever happened to Safetix.

Now most people know.

Technology solves problems. It enables a step forward. But something is always lost in this transition.

For years, the touring industry discussed “paperless” tickets. Now, everybody going to a concert has a smartphone, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford the ducat. So, just like in recorded music, physical has gone by the wayside, enabling the act to control the ticket.

Who controls the ticket? That’s another thing debated for decades in the business. Is it the act, the promoter, the ticket-seller or the building or..?

Now I’m not saying brokers have not provided a service. I’m also not saying that acts don’t take advantage of the secondary market. But if the acts want to control who gains entry, isn’t this their right?

Never forget, Ticketmaster always gets the blame. It’s got to be somebody’s fault that little Trevor and Madison can’t see the show. But the acts are revered, it can’t bet their fault, so the blame is shifted to Ticketmaster, which is paid to take the heat. Ticketmaster just does what the acts tell them to do, but no matter how many times this message goes out, no one seems to believe it.

Then there’s the problem getting the message out to begin with.

How big a Black Keys fan could these excluded buyers be if they didn’t know this was a non-transferable ticket show?

Oh, maybe Ticketmaster and the Black Keys didn’t make the message clear. But next time they will.

But now that it’s news, more people will know how Safetix work. That’s how hard it is to get the message across these days. In a world where Fox and the rest of the media are arguing whether the whistleblower is a bad actor.

Acts hate the secondary market because they don’t get the uplift.

Unless they sell directly to the secondary market to not only gain more profit. but guarantee sales.

But concerts are different from other products for sale, the customer is not always right, even though an ignorant press often says he is. In a world where if you complain, someone’s afraid to speak to the veracity of such a claim, where you can return stuff with impunity at Costco, enabled customers think they can beat the system. But when demand exceeds supply, the tables turn. Those who get tickets are thrilled, and those left out just can’t wait to go the next time. As for those complaining today, do you think they’ll stop seeing concerts in the future? Of course not! They’ll become more informed, the same way they learned about Stubhub, et al, to begin with. And now the secondary market will have to police its wares. Shouldn’t resellers know what can and cannot be resold, isn’t this their business?

Then again, the purveyors have screwed up ticketing to begin with. You’ve got to join the fan club, get a credit card…by time of the public on-sale date, oftentimes fewer than 10% of the tickets are available. Why do acts do this? Because the credit card company and the fan club pay! It’s extra money. The acts say it’s for marketing, but the truth is it goes straight to their bottom lines.

So, if a gig is “oversubscribed,” if all the tickets are gonna sell instantly anyway, with Safetix shouldn’t we also go to randomized ticketing? As in everybody who says they want a ticket signs up and then the computer picks buyers at random?

Now in theory Safetix shuts out the secondary market. But it won’t be long before scalpers sell the smartphone the tickets are purchased on. Yup, a cheap smartphone for expensive tickets. It’s a war I tell you.

But now the act and ticketing company have a new weapon.

The Robbie Robertson Video

At first I ignored it, figuring it was just hype for his new movie and LP. Yup, Robbie’s selling something, and when the tsunami of hype starts, I tune out.

Now Robbie Robertson can’t sing. Oh, everybody can sing, and his vocal is perfect for his composition “Broken Arrow,” which is more about emotion and feel than perfection, Rod Stewart’s cover doesn’t come close, but there was a reason the songs were sung by Rick, Levon and Richard in the Band.

I don’t understand why they had to stop working together. Then again, the Band albums got progressively worse, certainly after “Stage Fright,” although the double live LP “Rock Of Ages” was great, especially with the horns. But like Steely Dan, the band could have continued to make records without going on the road, after breaking up, nobody equaled what came before.

I won’t get into the politics, the wars, the competing books, what we’re truly left with is the music. Most famously “The Weight.”

Now my favorite cut is “King Harvest (Has Surely Come).” The first time I heard it was in Brad Weston’s playroom, we had identical split-levels in the development. Brad told me I had to hear this one track, not the whole album, just this one cut, and he dropped the needle and…

Dry summer, then comes fall
Which I depend on most of all

This was not the 1960s, all shiny and mechanized, this was a guy living off the land, dependent upon Mother Nature, from seemingly the last century.

And at this late date, I love “Look Out Cleveland” and “Rag Mama Rag” from the second LP, which I think is the best, I can even listen to their take on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” but I push the button whenever Joan Baez’s version comes on the radio.

And I’m a huge fan of “Stage Fright,” which is seen as second-tier, but not by me, maybe it’s the Todd Rundgren engineering. The killer is “The W.S.Walcott Medicine Show.”

There’ll be saints and sinners, you’ll see losers and winners
All kinds of people you might want to know

Actually, no. Today no one wants to know anybody not from their class. Losers are pooh-poohed, hell, look at the homeless situation.

But the truth is life is only about people, they’re all that counts. Your possessions won’t keep you warm at night. And one thing about people is they’ll surprise you, even the ones you think you know, but if you’re open to adventure you’ll be wowed and excited on a regular basis, that’s why you travel.

To Hawaii, the Congo, Japan, Jamaica, even Venice Beach in this video.

The rendition is not that memorable, but the video is. You’ve got Ringo, you’ve got Robbie, but the rest are a surprise.

Now the first thing you notice is Robbie is playing a brand new Stratocaster, in a world where old is better, you never see a star playing a brand new axe. Even better is the tone, it’s live, it’s not fed through studio sweeteners, it’s a guitar, it’s the sound that kicks you in the gut in live shows.

And I’ve never seen Marcus King live, but his vocal didn’t quite resonate, but it was cool to see him.

But not as much as Roberto Luti in Livorno, Italy. THEY’VE GOT ROCK AND ROLL IN ITALY? Man, if you didn’t see the credit, you’d think this guy was picking down in the delta.

Then Larkin Poe at Venice Beach? Hell, I’ve heard their name a zillion times, but have never heard them or seen them, I didn’t even know it was two women, now I’ve got to check them out.

And I don’t want to spoil it. But I will say that Lukas Nelson was the highlight for me, as well as the women singing in Trenchtown.

You start to smile, you’re intrigued, you come to believe music does link us all together, that it’s an alternative world from the politics dominating the discussion today. Somehow everybody got the message, everybody has commonality, everybody’s on the same page.

You almost feel like it’s the sixties again.

But that was fifty years ago.

Ahmet Zappa-This Week’s Podcast

Majordomo of the Zappa Trust, son of Frank and Gail (as they told him to call them from birth), TV show host, writer, entrepreneur, Ahmet Zappa grew up by the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, he has stories to tell.





The PBS Woodstock Documentary

It’s on Netflix. I just finished watching it.

Wasn’t gonna watch it, but then I started getting e-mail and texts about it, and last night while Felice was taking a shower I started it and got hooked.

Now if this was 1970, the documentary would only play in movie theatres. We’d line up to go, it’d be a tribal rite. You were either on the bus or off the bus, and you wanted to be on it.

But today no one goes by bus except for the disadvantaged. It’s like the sixties are only a memory. But this documentary brings them back.

The war. Started off as a rumor. We just had “advisors” there. And “there” was so far away. China was closed, Australia wasn’t advertising, Americans went to Europe, but if you flew east, you were positively exotic, because no one did, at least no one I ever encountered. The only reason to fly east was to get your ass shot off in Vietnam, which eventually we saw in black and white every night on the TV screen.

At first we were gonna win the war, after all we were America! And then some on the left started to say we never would and that the Domino Theory was hogwash. And then you started to approach eighteen and got scared. Would I have to go?

They’d find you, you couldn’t escape. You could get a deferment, like Arlo Guthrie, but most of us were not hippies, we were gonna qualify and we were positively freaked.

And the body count kept getting higher. And then there were protests.

The youth were all on the same side. The news referred to it as a “youthquake.” Sure, some areas caught on later rather than sooner, but the baby boomers, the population bulge, decided to question norms and deviate from them if they found them unworthy, and with music as the grease, we pushed ahead.

No one was a Republican. And if they were, you knew who they were. And it was not about being a Republican because you were rich, nobody was that rich. The Republican Party represented what had come before, the Democratic Party was about pushing ahead. It started in 1960 with JFK, and when LBJ started to put on the brakes, he encountered blowback. LBJ did so much good, but he couldn’t get us out of Vietnam. And then Nixon and Kissinger kept saying they were pulling back while just the opposite was true, kids were being killed day after day.

Let’s make it simple. You can either vote for the people who are gonna send you to Vietnam…

Or not.

Then again, you had to be twenty one to vote. You could die in Vietnam before that, the draft age being 18.

And when Mick Jagger sings “I shouted out, Who killed the Kennedys?” today, there’s no darkness, no reflection, it’s just entertainment, but it didn’t used to be. In the sixties they killed the leaders, today we kill the hoi polloi. Come on, admit it, when you’re invited to a mass gathering, when you go to an open-air concert in a non-traditional space, it crosses your mind, “I could die here.”

So they organize the Woodstock festival to make money. But people came for the music. And at the time, it was the bill of all bills, no show had featured so many stars, and this woke up all the fans and they made a pilgrimage to Bethel, New York. It’d kinda be like having a videogame festival outdoors today, based on the most popular multiplayer game, people have no idea how many people are hooked, then again, you play inside.

Back then we went outdoors on a regular basis.

No one is fat in this documentary. What is it, the fructose, the additives, the lazy lifestyle? I don’t know, but that was long ago, and in this footage the times look glorious.

Now you can only do something like this once. You can only push the envelope once. Like Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” promotion. Once people have seen the trick, it can’t be replicated. And today’s music festivals are about anything but the music, they sell tickets before the lineup is even announced. It’s not so much who’s on stage, but who’s in the audience.

But back then, we were all in it together. There was no VIP. Everybody was equal. Kids didn’t judge hippies, they wanted to be one! That was the freedom they were yearning for, and the exploration. You wanted to be all you could be, as opposed to studying economics so you could work at the bank. Who in the hell would want to work at a bank? As for the money…no one we knew, almost no one at all, was a millionaire. Society was much more homogenous. And you could make it on minimum wage.

It’s fascinating to see how word about the festival was spread through alternative newspapers. Those were the internet of their day. Radio was Twitter. There was no Facebook or Instagram, self-promotion was not lionized, you had no thought of becoming a business, first and foremost you were a person.

And the way everybody talked to each other, helped each other…today we judge people and exclude them.

Now I’m not saying everything was better in the sixties, there was poverty and racism but there was hope and a can-do spirit. As for Obama running on hope, wasn’t that a joke. And anybody proposing something new is criticized. We can’t have Medicare for All, the public won’t go for it! It’s like we’re going backwards, we’re isolating our country from the world, people want to go back to what once was as opposed to what can be.

But that can’t happen. And if it did, people wouldn’t like it. They’d lose their conveniences and just be a face in the crowd, if you were special back then it was based on your personality, not your clothing or your ride.

Oh, we’ve strayed so far from the garden.

And we’re never going back there.

But when you watch the footage of Crosby, Stills & Nash performing “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” you tingle.

Do you know what it was like to hear this “wooden music”? These were people on stage, evidencing their humanity, the tunes weren’t made by machines without melody.

It’s getting to the point where there’s no fun anymore. Everybody feels powerless, everybody is greedy, they and their family come first.

But back then Sly wanted to take us higher. If we believed in the music our lives were complete. In 1976 Don Henley sang “we haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.” Now we’ve gone even further off course. But it’s those acts from the sixties and seventies who are still alive who sell out stadiums, who fill every seat. Sure, it was about the money, but first and foremost it was about music.

Back at Woodstock they let the music set them free.

You’ll feel the same way when you watch this documentary.

“Woodstock: Three Days That Defined A Generation”