Want VIP?: How Fat’s Your Wallet?

Posted: 5th September 2010 by admin in News Bites
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This poster deserves an autograph

A free Alice Cooper autograph from 1987.

Remember when you had to sleep in a car to be the first in line to get the best concert tickets? Remember when getting a rock star’s autograph was your reward for persistence, loyalty and obsession? No? Well, I do and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Today’s sad reality is the truest rock fans can’t compete with Mercedes-level incomes, silicone boobs and the multiple extra hundreds(!) of dollars it takes to buy VIP concert packages to get backstage for a quick photo or autograph. I have no problem with willing wallets being opened for VIP treatment, but the fact that a band’s most loyal fans are often stuck with lawn tickets and no hope whatsoever of meeting the subjects of their lifelong loyalty seems more than a little crappy.

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.

What you SHOULD be ready to tell me to gain a place in line are band members’ REAL names, a birthdate or two, the drummer’s previous day job, or the name of the singer’s previous band. Can’t do it? Then step aside, Barbie! 

Dio signs all my albums backstage ... for free!

 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.  

I don’t have the magic answer and I admit it’s impossible to open the floodgates, but my point is, there should still be a sliver of possibility that the spoils of fandom could be available to a random select handful of us who still own a vinyl copy of “Love Gun” (and can name the artist who painted the cover).

Bruce Dickinson charged me $0 for this autographed backstage pass ... and let me raid Iron Maiden's beer

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.

By the way, if you think interviewing “rock stars” over the phone is in and of itself a reward (and to me, it is), I can assure you that when the phone hangs up, I’ve got PLENTY of WORK to do (for the sake of promoting the untouchable band, no less).   

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).

Hanging out with Lemmy? Priceless!

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.

If, however, I can’t even entertain the illusion of meeting a band I’ve financed and championed for a lifetime, then I have to ask why I still bother (answer: because divorce is not an option). After all, if the true fans didn’t make it cool for the rich kids to want to join your club, there would be no VIP package to sell in the first place. Can I get an Amen?
  1. Vomit Launch says:

    I’ll vomit to that!!

  2. Sean says:

    oh man…an autographed From The Inside? My favorite Cooper album.

  3. Al says:

    Amen brother. Not that I’ve put in the time next to a dumpster but amen to the fact that I know information that someone who buys music for something in the backgound doesn’t and shouldn’t deserve two minutes with an artist. Don’t make an autograph or photo a consession stand item, it’s personal.

  4. Troy says:

    I have waited in many lines to meet rock legends over the years, and can answer random trivia questions if needed. I however enjoy VIP when I go to a show. I hate when standing in lines cuts into my drinking time.

  5. Billy Rowe says:

    This was great !

    Great Idea with the random trivia at shows to make It to the meet n’ greet ….

  6. Mark says:

    well, i definitely agree in that i have been frustrated over the years fighting to get the best tickets possible, only to realize all the best seats go to the house, the band and the sponsors. So i get it. However, I will tell you that i have laid down many 1000’s to do 4 KISS Meet and Greets in 4 different cities as a capper to my 35 years and running love affair with the Hottest Band in the World. This is after logging 60+ KISS shows over the same time period. I have even brought along my wife and one of my sons to share my joy. So, i get the point and yes i do see those “who could care less” from time to time up in the good seats. However, its a generalization to think some of those people opening the wallet aren’t the “true fans” If anyone wants to challenge my KISS loyalty…Bring It!! unfortunately it is capitalism and the market is there and so thats how its turned out. In a way we all benefit because without the big payday it might be a little tougher to get our heroes back out on the road.

  7. Steve says:

    I have to agree with this blog…I have been a life long KISS fan since I got my first album (KISS ALIVE) and I too had attempted many times to meet my idols…being a military brat and spending most of my time overseas the opportunities were slim..but finally last year in Austin…I finally got my chance…had a friend working on the tour..and got in on a meet and greet…but while waiting..I got the feeling of just being another person in line waiting for a photo op, and a handshake…I mean what can you say to Gene or Paul that they haven’t already heard or even really care about in a “set up” meeting they do everynight to make some money…I have met a few other “rockstars” in normal settings…i.e. club, restaurant, backstage…and those encounters were more genuine and seem to be more “real”…I will never stop being a raging KISS fan…but the cattle line up isn’t how I wanna interact with the bands I dig…I will stick to the “chance” meetings and enjoy the shows and memories without paying to shake a guys hand…suks..but it’s just the way it is I guess…by the way 2fast2die…saw u in line getting tickets at that KISS show in Austin and rockin out at the Vains of Jenna show…next time we’ll have to drink a few beers and talk a little rocknroll!

  8. Tammy says:

    I’m gonna give you 10 “AMENS” for that one, Dave. You said it perfectly (as usual) and I gotta tell you…to me, that was one of my fave pieces from you. Completely heartfelt with just a tad of insight into you. Bravo!

  9. admin says:

    Mark, you make an informed and educated point. I also know you are the exception to my generalization. Thanks for restoring my faith. I just wish guys like you weren’t the minority

  10. veelive says:

    AMEN! Having said that, ITunes has changed the way we buy “records.” Back in my younger Dave Matthews Band-obsessed, stalker days, I knew the name of every CD the band released. Now, due to electronic downloads that make it possible to buy only one song, I cant’ tell you the name of the band’s last CD (which isn’t even an appropriate name to call that thing you get music on anymore). Like you, 2Fast2Die, I’ve paid my dues and finally got to meet my southern-rock supastar; but I’ve also unabashedly paid close to $500 bones to see him upfront with all the plastic folks. In summary, I appreciate your rant, but insist you get with the times. We all love nostalgia, but maybe it’s time to accept today’s unfair, greedy concert and VIP prices and love that IPhone you just bought that allows you to Shazam a song and buy it on the spot 😉

  11. Natchet says:

    Agreed. Totally. Besides, I’d rather hang out with you than some twatty DB rolling around with a bunch o’ cash backstage.

    Speaking of… Beers. Soon. There are stories to be told and “quiets” to be had.


  12. Shannon says:

    Amen! Totally Agree!

  13. Joel says:

    A bunch of AMENS!!!