The New Ticketmaster Presale Scam

Over the past few months, and particularly the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a new trend among new bands releasing albums and pitching them via Ticketmaster. It began as a bonus for buying tickets. As if the band appreciated you attending their show so much that they’d treat you to their new album free of charge.

Then… the “Verified Fan Presale”. Here’s the pitch for that… “Hey, here is a presale password for our show, specifically for our fans.” Except there is no restriction to prove fandom, so anyone can get in on it. But it continues, “If you buy our new album, we will make sure you get the best tickets, first come.” Okay, now I’m listening. Except scalpers will happily pay the $10 dollar fee for a new album for an opportunity to make hundreds of dollars for the best tickets.

Next problem. I don’t know if it is Ticketmaster, or the venue, but somewhere along the line the message seems to be, put the worst tickets up first, fans will suck them up because they think that’s all that is left and they actually are fans, so they will be mad, but still click purchase. Then when the regular on-sale comes, put up whatever is left. The worst tickets in the building are sold to “verified fans” like me, and unless you have hours to spend waiting for the best tickets to pop up, you are stuck with whatever they so graciously offer.

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I do not have proof of this, only my fairly extensive experience in concert ticket buying, but over the past few days, I have spent approximately three hours trying to buy Queens of the Stone Age tickets for the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis. Consistently, without fail I’ve seen the cycle over and over. Only mezzanine, only single tickets, release better seats. Only mezz, only singles, release better seats. Shortly after the image above, I scored tickets in row F in the Orchestra. Does it look like those were tickets that were available five minutes earlier?

My point being, presales are about as effective at getting the best tickets to your fans as shooting a t-shirt cannon in a crowded square at one person. Bands beware. Fans also beware the “Verified Fan Presale”. If you normally just listen to your music on Spotify, keep on doing it. Spotify presales actually seem to be more legitimate fan presales anyway.

 

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Best Week of New Music This Year

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So, this week is really incredible. On top of long anticipated releases from Lorde, Royal Blood, Fleet Foxes and Portugal. the Man; we also had new singles from some unsuspecting parties. The four I’ve chosen to feature were Queens of the Stone Age, The Killers, Shania Twain and George Ezra.

Melodrama is perhaps as close to a perfect pop record as we will get in 2017. It should win awards. Lorde is 20-years-old. Let that sink in… 20. Hasn’t she been around for like… 5 years? Yeah. She has. Moving past that, Jack Antonoff of Fun./Bleachers/Steel Train guided this record lyrically and musically, and Lorde couldn’t have picked a better partner. “The Louvre” is silly, light and perfectly sums up the feel of the album. “But we’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in the Louvre. Down the back, but who cares—still the Louvre.” The album also has it’s more dramatic moments, like any good house party. “Liability” is a still-teenager coming to grips with her stardom. “The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy, ’til all of the tricks don’t work anymore and then they are bored of me.”

How Did We Get So Dark? is the second album from British rock revivalists Royal Blood.  They’ve opened for the Foo Fighters, sold out tours in support of their first album, and will open for Queens of the Stone Age in America throughout the Fall. Given their short but excellent track record it’s no surprise that they’ve delivered another banger of an album. It does have a few shortcomings in that some of the tracks feel somewhat generic. “Hook, Line & Sinker” is the band at their heaviest, but also catchiest. Every riff sounds like it comes straight from the same desert as the band they’ll open for in the Fall.

Crack-Up – The first time I witnessed Fleet Foxes was opening for Death Cab for Cutie in 2008, just a few short months after the release of their first album. Bandleader Robin Pecknold looked fresh and awed by the beautiful venue surrounding him, The Fox Theatre in St. Louis (it is stunning). Fleet Foxes have always been a dense listen that takes a long time to grasp, and that’s how I feel about this album as well. It sounds like Fleet Foxes, it’s beautiful and Pecknold still has a feel for folk, but this album feels less Americana and more global, worldly. I hope he is still as fascinated by the world around him as he was in 2008. It sounds like he is.

Lastly, Woodstock by Portugal. the Man. The first words you hear after the album starts is, “No fake presidents.” It might be the first alternative rock album of the resistance to President Donald Trump. Their first single, “Feel It Still” got the band attacked by Alex Jones, which is pretty much like receiving a liberal gold-medal. It has also been at the top of the charts longer than any other song this year. Oddly, they are already mid-way through a year-long tour in support (or anticipation) of the album, with more dates coming in the Fall. “Noise Pollution” might be the song that takes the band furthest from their comfort zone, but works well to end the album. It features frequent contributor, Zoe Manville, as well as Mary Elizabeth Winstead of Scott Pilgrim fame, and more recently the latest season of Fargo, speaking French… so that’s cool, which this band seems to exude.

Now, for the song I’m most excited about this week, “The Way You Used to Do” by Queens of the Stone Age. If this is an indication of their new album, Villains, we are in for a change in direction like the band has never seen. Mark Ronson produced the new album and it shines though. Speaking with Zane Lowe of Apple Beats 1 Radio, Josh Homme shared this on the decision to work with Ronson, ““I think one of the reasons was to act like a talisman as a reminder of listening to ‘Uptown Funk’. It’s very tight and vacuous. It sounds fucking great.”

Shania Twain returns! “Life’s About to Get Good” is a great summer song. Twain certainly hasn’t removed herself from paying attention to today’s music scene. The album is more pop than country, but it does features instrumentation you’d normally hear in country music. There is some sort of… mandolin (perhaps) incorporated in an electronic way. Anyways, you’ll be hearing this one if you listen to pretty much any station that doesn’t purely handle rock.

“The Man” sounds like it could have come off the Killers 2008 album, Day & Age. It has the potential or perhaps a bit stronger than “Human” or “Spaceman” off that album. It features a swagger similar to Aloe Blacc’s song of the same title. This song could very well push the band back into pop culture in a way that they haven’t seen in some time.

George Ezra hasn’t found the same fame as others that came out around the same time as his first album. The first time I heard “Blame it on Me” and “Budapest” I thought Ezra would easily be as popular as Hozier. That didn’t pan out as Hozier topped music festival lineups by the end of his album cycle while Ezra still remains mid to low on posters. I still feel Ezra has that potential, and this new single, “Don’t Matter Now” feels like a good start. The horns separate this from his previous work and compliment it well.

 

 

 

 

MUSE/ Thirty Seconds to Mars | 6.13.17

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Rock has changed through the decades. Muse have changed over the last decade plus. When I first discovered them they were the headbanging band standing on the table in the “Time is Running Out” video. It could be said I learned how to headbang watching bassist Chris Wolstenholme playing the opening bassline to “Hysteria”.

This tour gave me access to fanboy excessively due to the stage setup that extended out into the pit area. As #Wolstenbeast ripped into that opening riff, I was transported back to being a 17-year-old kid.

Over the years I’ve grown frustrated with the bands’ insistence on providing America audiences with decidedly shorter and more pop-heavy sets than their European counterparts. Songs like “Micro Cuts”, “Assassin” and “Butterflies and Hurricanes” are routinely rotated overseas while American audiences are lucky to be thrown a bone and receive “Bliss” which lead singer/guitarist Matt Bellamy joked on Tuesday night, “a few of you might know.”

 

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“The Handler”

 

Having said all that, I had an excellent time. The first half of the set had my jaw constantly dropped as the band joyfully ripped through songs from a large portion of their catalogue. “Map of the Problematique” is always wonderful live, “Bliss” was bliss and “The Handler” is quickly becoming a great standard, and it’s visually impressive as well, with the band performing in front of giant hands pulling their puppet strings.

19149471_10154492985031976_1360083490405112541_nThe second half slipped a bit with a cover of The Cramps “New Kind of Kick” for which Bellamy was absent, and the combination of “Starlight” and “Madness” which just seem droll by comparison. Luckily, “Mercy” and “The Globalist” work well to end the main set, with the former stunning the crowd with massive amounts of confetti and the later with on-stage visuals.

 

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Leto rocking a look he described as “Stone Cold Steve Austin mixed with someone’s Grandma”

 

Before Muse took to the stage, Thirty Seconds to Mars played a brief set that lead singer, Jared Leto, noted was just a warm up for an album to be released in 2017 and a tour to follow. As 105.7 the Point’s Donald Fandango noted, St. Louis LOVES this band. They’ve been selling out shows  The Pageant since they released A Beautiful Lie in August of 2005.

19148998_10154492984506976_356228607502370355_nUnfortunately they didn’t have any new songs to play, which was disappointing, but as usual, Leto and co. more than made up for it with charisma and crowd interaction. Not only was there a proposal, Leto brought three crowd members onstage to judge which side of the crowd was more passionate, and as usual, the band brought up dozens of fans for the set-ending “Closer to the Edge”.

Show openers PVRIS also got the crowd going with an energetic set. New single, “Heaven” was well received, but it was “You and I” and “My House” off the bands’ debut album White Noise that got the crowd jumping and ready for what would be an excellent evening.

Roger Waters | 5.30.2017

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Three dates into the newly unveiled Us + Them World Tour, Roger Waters brought the epic political spectacle to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO. The tour has received widespread publicity for its intense scrutiny of President Donald Trump.

Kansas City’s date featured several people reportedly walking out with middle fingers raised during Animals song “Pigs (Three Different Ones).” There was only one noticeable walkout in St. Louis, as an attendee raised a Trump yard sign as he was peacefully escorted out.  Waters noted towards the show’s end that, “Some morons suggested we might not receive a very warm welcome here in St. Louis, but we have received a very warm welcome. It means a great deal to us.”

For the first time in my adult life, Waters is not touring behind a classic Pink Floyd album, but rather had put together a set that blends expertly with a few songs off of his rock release since 1992 album, Amused to Death, titled Is This the Life We Really Want? The new songs blend seamlessly, which is great news for fans of Pink Floyd. “Smell the Roses” and “The Last Refugee” particularly stood out.

The stage is intense and perfect. The screen is as large as the famous wall from his last tour when assembled. There were some staging issues that arose before the St. Louis show. The large screen that stretched over the middle portion of the crowd during “Dogs” and “Pigs (Three Different Ones) apparently malfunctioned during rehearsals, so a decision was made to take it down to avoid any potential crowd danger issues.

At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. The stage was stunningly executed, the sound was PERFECT, and the crowd returned the love sent to it. As the iconic pyramid was formed from lasers during “Comfortably Numb” it finally hit me how surreal of a moment I was actually in. As two giant hands on the screen finally connected and an explosions of confetti with the word, “Resist” printed on them rained from the sky, a sense of connectivity washed over the crowd. Political messaging aside, this was a night that brought together Waters collective discography and (almost) everyone in the room.

Video:

Finale

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“Another Brick in the Wall”

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