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Rant of the Day: Is Festival VIP Really Necessary?

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford | Comments11 Comments
I don't know why American festivals think it's necessary to do the "VIP" experience to sell tickets. If you're not familiar, many American events (like Rocklahoma) offer expensive packages with a close seat, unlimited beer and food. European festivals don't do this and I think that's the way to go. I used to be a fan of the seat idea -- a guaranteed close view -- but never cared about the beer or food. I always flushed that money down the toilet regarding Rocklahoma (and Rock the Bayou, too) because I don't drink the beer and can't eat much of the food. So - is it fair for people to have to pay a couple hundred bucks more just for the seat and none of the other perks?


I bring up this topic because I noticed some people asking for a VIP package for M3 on another forum. I'm not really sure why a one-day event would demand such a package? There are ample beer and food stands. Sure, the VIP package usually includes air conditioning, but M3 is so early in the summer, the extreme heat usually isn't an issue. I know it doesn't get nearly as hot in Europe as it does in America, but still. I tried to explain the VIP thing to one of my British friends and he was both appalled and amused. Maybe we're all just spoiled, I don't know. I do know, however, Rock on the Range doesn't do the VIP thing (or at least it hasn't in the past) and the fest hasn't suffered for it - quite the contrary! It's set up European style with a barrier, and if you want front pit you get there early and fight for it. There's no free beer trough or food line. Just vendors like any other normal event. Tickets are cheap as a result.


The older I get, the more practical and tight I get with my money. Obviously, I've got no problem spending money traveling to shows. I support the bands I like and I want to have a good time whenever possible. That said, I'm sick of spending money when there's no value add: I need to get an actual bang for my buck. It just seems the entire infrastructure cost for a large scale event would be cheaper sans "VIP" and therefore ticket prices a little more friendly. At least, it would seem that way on most levels. So ends my rant of the day.


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Reader Comments (11)

I had no idea that they did this in American festivals... It does seem a bit stupid, because you're always gonna have fans who don't have much money, especially kids, who then can't get to the front because of people with money, who might have turned up hours later. The other way the more determined you are to see the band, the better spot you will get.
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucifer
If I had the bread, I just as soon pay the extra bux for a point blank seat. Who needs to arrive a century early or duke it out with the hoi polloi to get up front?

Of course, if I'm broke at the time, I'll do it, but if I got the extra coin on hand, I'll blow it just to not have to put up with the obnoxo American rock concert audience I've been dealing with since age 15 at shows like Bill Graham's Day On The Green in '75 at RFK (Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Nazareth, Pat Travers, and Frank Marino & Mahogony Rush -- hahaha!!!)...

What a pain in the arse!
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
UPDATE:

This just in from scorpnews.com...

Scorpions is a confirmed act for the 2K10 M3 festival along with Danger Danger (alright, Kenny O... We are there!), Kix (Yay!), Nelson (hahaha!!!), Dizzy Reed, Jetboy, ZO2 and Warrant.

Other acts they are rumored to be talking to are Tesla, Jackyl, Dirty Looks (Killer Metalboy! fave since day 1!), Sebastian Bach, Winger and, get this, Britny Fox!

Rockit, Rockit!!!
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I thought the VIP package for Rocklahoma was great. Due to the heat you have to drink so much, that it was very convenient we could just go to the VIP tent and get water without thinking to pay for it. Also the food was excellent and when I think of the prices outside I know it was the right way to go.

Above that the VIP tent with the air-conditioning ruled. I think I would have died without it because of the heat.

What I don't like are the seats in front of the stage. They are deserted all day long and there is no good atmosphere right up front because people from general admission can't come close. That's so much better in Europe because even the early bands get an excited crowd.

So I'm pro VIP regarding Rocklahoma but against seats. Seats are for old people. ;)
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterXandra73
I don't normally spend the extra $$ for VIP, but I will say that at the first two Rocklahoma shows, it saved my arse! We had 4 seats in row 8 (definitely worth it!), AIR CONDITIONING, and tons of water, BEER, and food. And yes, the food was both good and plentiful.

I can see if someone is a non-drinker and/or not concerned with better food quality than burgers/pizza/chicken wings; for them it would make sense not to shell out the bucks for the VIP upgrade. But especially at a multi-day festival in the dead of summer, it sure seems like the way to go.
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGator
Haha!!, Xandra, very funny comment about old people, but who the heck wants to stand for 3 days if it can be avoided.

Too bad there wasn't anybody in those seats. They should let people go in on the day with a cheap upgrade to fill 'em up. They wouldn't get the food or free drinks, just the seats. I think it could work and then you'd have your excited crowd you're looking for at Rocklahoma.

But let's not forget, Allyson's speculating whether they'll have VIP at M3 and she's debating whether it'll be worthwhile for that event as it will most likely not be that hot in June in Maryland.

She may be right, too, when she says it's a must for the "boiler" shows like Rocklahoma. As she's mentioned in previous posts, it really is baffling why the promoters don't hold the event either earlier or later in the Summer.

Regardless, personally, I'll do VIP everytime to avoid the zombies in General Admission. Xandra, it's not about seats (tho I'll take one, if they got 'em), hahaha!!!, it's about the morons in the crowd you normally have to contend with.

Trust me, though you've still probably seen more shows than me, I've seen about 400 and I've always felt like it was a hassle to be dealing with the Cattle Class of the American Rock concert going public ever since I was 15. If I've got the cash for VIP, I'm outtie!
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I had platinum tickets to Rock Gone Wild and my experience was............well, we all know how that turned out.
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
@Metalboy: You have to forgive me. Lol.I'm from Europe - we do not have seats at festivals. Never, no matter how long the festival is.

Not even in normal venues - just the sides have seats in huge arenas. Most of the times there are not many morons. Maybe Europeans behave better? ;) Just kidding.

At the Mötley Crüe concert we had tons of morons, But that's not how it usually is - I guess it also depends on the type of bands that are playing.

For me seats at a rock or metal concert feels plain wrong. I bought seat tickets once for Iron Maiden. God, what a terrible night that has been. Everybody was sitting around us and there was no way to rock out. It was painful to watch the crowd in front of the stage having a good time while we were rotting in our seats on the gallery. Never again.

And I agree - they should let people into the VIP area during the day. Not when the sun sets and the big bands are coming, but in the afternoon it would help a lot.
January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterXandra73
Xandra, dahling...

I've been goin' to concerts at Arenas, Stadiums and Shedz since '75 and I can tell ya every one of these joints are wall to wall seats, usually including the floors or fields (Stadiums), unless it's "festival seating", in which case they leave the floor or field open for general admission and/or standing room only.

This is done at things like The Virgin Festival (a great Alternative Festival at RFK), etc, in this country and I imagine, because of how you describe it, this is generally how it's done in Europe. I can't wait to go to Donnington (maybe this year!) and believe me, I won't have any problems remaining standing the entire show.

That said, I saw Zep in '98 at Madison Square Garden when Plant's voice came back and Page bothered to learn his own records again. They were killer, having ditched the Indian sitarists and the 23 piece orchestra they hid behind during the "Walking Into Clarkesville" tour. They went and got that bald drummer who was in AC/DC for awhile and Jones was there. It was unreal!

The place was sold out ten times over but everyone had a seat. There was no "Standing Room Only" situation. And during several key songs like the epic "Kashmir" or stuff like "Night Flight" or "Trampled Underfoot" or "The Ocean", the entire place was pogoing their as*es off, just jumpin' up and down like maniacs but in perfect unison to the beat.

But there were still some people who made use of their seats. For some, jumpin' up and down on the floor wasn't enough.

They decided pogoing up and down on the chairs to be much better!
January 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
It's good to have the choice. Europe may get the bigger bands but if you come from overseas to a US festival its cool to have a seat, not to have to worry about food and drink, and to meet a few people. The best thing about events like ROK though is the availability of the bands to talk to. You just don't get that in Europe without the backstage passes.
January 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark
I didn't meet any of the bands at ROK. :( I'm going to the Bang Your Head!!! Festival every year here in Germany and most bands do signing sessions and there you have the chance to talk to them. It's a really cool thing. Lots of festivals do it actually. I guess not the bigger ones, but I like smaller festivals more anyway. ;)
January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterXandra73

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