Between rising prices and bad behaviour, we need to revive the dying concert experience
I used to be an avid concert goer before the pandemic. But ever since live music has made a comeback, I have noticed a shift in the overall concert experience.
In my early 20s, I was lucky enough to go to a different concert every month from 2018–2019. I’ve experienced everything from a packed Rogers arena for Childish Gambino in 2018, to Mahalia in a small bar in 2019.
Since the pandemic rules have lifted, I’ve seen Lorde in Toronto and, more recently, I was lucky enough to go to the Eras Tour in Seattle. Even though I enjoyed my time at these concerts, I noticed incidents that I hadn’t before.
In Toronto, I saw people talking on Facetime directly in front of my eyeline. At Taylor Swift’s show, I saw people taken away on stretchers before the second opener even went on stage and later, videos of drunk people falling on strangers went viral.
According to the Guardian, “bad behaviour at concerts has become the new norm,” after musicians have been hit by items thrown by fans.
In London, someone threw their mother’s ashes at P!NK, Harry Styles was hit in the eye by a rogue Skittle, and more seriously, Bebe Rexha had to get stitches after she was hit in the eye by an iPhone.
This bad behaviour is said to be linked to social media. Fans want to interact with their favourite artist for a chance to go viral, or for the artist to finally notice them.
On top of this worrying fan behaviour, people are also passing out at concerts. “Want Want” musician Maggie Rogers used TikTok to urge her fans to drink water and take care of themselves after she noticed concert-goers passing out and having panic attacks at her shows.
Rogers isn’t the only artist this has happened to. Another TikTok went viral earlier this year from the Sabrina Carpenter concert in Calgary. During the concert, the singer stopped her show three times to check on fans who had passed out.
It is important for artists to make sure their fans are okay, especially in the wake of the Astroworld tragedy where 10 people were killed after a crowd surge. But it’s also the audience’s job to take care of themselves and others, particularly now that prices have skyrocketed.
Prices and demands for tickets have tripled since the 90s, and it has only gotten worse with Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing.
Dynamic pricing is when the prices fluctuate based on demand for the show. The idea was to prevent fans from buying fake tickets and giving the extra profit to Ticketmaster and the artists. But this has backfired for the fans.
Ticketmaster can use dynamic pricing to increase ticket prices when the number of tickets decrease, meaning some fans might find a ticket for $500 but as soon as they get to checkout it can increase to even $700.
Even though the introduction of dynamic pricing was supposed to help the fans, Ticketmaster has profited $16.7 billion since last quarter, which is up 44 per cent since 2019.
For Olivia Rodigro’s GUTS tour, fans claimed ticket prices were ranging from $130–$800 for nosebleeds, even though LiveNation stated that prices were ranging from around $50–$200.
Also with Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fans”, it’s becoming even more selective for getting tickets. Verified Fans were supposed to give fans a better chance at getting tickets, but it makes it harder for fans to even get a chance to get face value tickets.
For some shows — such as Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in Toronto — it’s almost impossible to buy a ticket even if you can afford one. The odds of getting a ticket were one in 400, as 31 million people registered for presales for her six Toronto shows.
Concerts are an important part of our society, as they offer community and even reduce stress. However, they have been increasingly inaccessible to the average person. And, if you’re lucky enough to even get a ticket, there’s a chance of your experience being ruined by a rowdy concert-goer. There needs to be a change, or at least a return to pre-pandemic concert culture.