I guarantee I could walk up to any KISS or Aerosmith concert VIP line and school half those “fans” in a game of trivia. If you can’t (at the VERY least) name all the band members, you don’t deserve a place in line (at least not at the exclusion of me). If you can’t name five albums besides the latest release, then get outta my way. If you don’t remember the Scorpions before “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” then excuse me as I cut in front.
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was some kind of random trivia contest at every gig that made it possible for concert goers to upgrade to meet-n-greet status by answering a series of questions or otherwise proving their fandom? I realize the age of Google would make it easy to cheat or cram, so the key would be the element of surprise. Maybe I’m in line for a beer when somebody walks up and asks a tough trivia question about the night’s headliner (Who is Wicked Lester?). If I answer correctly, I advance to the next round where I spar with other contestants to become one of, say, 50 lucky upgraded VIP honorees.
Some may think I have no room to bitch. After all, I’ve met and interviewed lots of my heroes and have managed to gain a better-than-average degree of access. Why? Because I’ve been willing to wait for hours next to a Dumpster behind a club. Because I pursued a degree in journalism for the very purpose of interviewing bands I love. Because as I type this today at the age of 43, I’m surrounded by posters of Iron Maiden and KISS that I’ve literally owned and delicately cared for since the sixth grade.
Sure, I get paid (very little) to write, but if you think the resulting articles are as easy as jotting a grocery list, you need to talk to my poor wife. I’ve had an easier time filing tax returns! I agonize over making every word as perfect as possible, because I take pride in my work and it’s important to me that I make the bands sound interesting and larger-than-life. So much so, that I drive my wife nuts with my middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks and inopportune flashes of inspiration (not to mention my ceaseless self-editing and the vicious self-critiques that invite depression).
If a band wants to sell an autographed guitar, a framed platinum album or a Harley Davidson, then by all means, let the bidding begin. If a band wants to sell VIP packages because the royalties from a multiplatinum catalog and profits from $75 T-shirt sales aren’t paying the bills, then go right ahead (I wholeheartedly realize touring is an enormous expense). If people are willing to fork out hundreds of dollars for a snapshot and a commemorative Koozie, then yippee for them.