The Unbelievably Bad Usability of a Show

The Hold Steady at The Boulder Fox Theatre 4/10/09

I listen to about 6 hours of music everyday.  I love smaller ‘undiscovered’ bands because of their drive, feel and accessibility.  Every indie music fan drools every time they say “I saw ______ with 40 people in the room.”  Music geek pride, you listened to the music before anyone else did (or they even existed).

This works out well with my conscience, support bands via tour after I stream or sample their music.  They must make money from their tour, right?  All those blogs say that, it must be true.

So, I’m going to become a fan, go to the show, buy a shirt and watch my new friends become the next U2.

Awesome.  Rock and roll.

Major problem though: over the years I have learned to hate shows (I listen to about 1500 hours of music a year, about 18 of it is live).  That is pathetic.

Why do I avoid live music?

As a fan, the usability of a show is horrific.

Let’s go through the steps:

  1. Find out about the show (somehow, not through my allegiance to the band), price being 2-5x the price of a cd or about 1/3 of the ACDI
  2. Pay 1/2 the ticket price in add on fees
  3. Make a guesswork plan to figure out how much the venue is lying on the show time
  4. Call the venue to get more information, no answer, no support
  5. Wait in huge line for willcall tickets
  6. Come to the show, hope to not be too late
  7. Greeted? by a bouncer for ID and ticket
  8. Try to figure out the schedule, which nobody really knows
  9. Did you miss the first band?  Who knows, well, you can buy a drink at least
  10. Buy a drink 2x the price of the bar next door
  11. Try to figure out the opening acts, which is published at a merch table with a line around
  12. Band plays that you don’t know the name of
  13. Short break between band and act you want to see is an hour
  14. No chairs, your feel stick to the floor just fine
  15. Band (name?) plays a set
  16. Set order forever disappears into musictopia, for it isn’t posted anywhere
  17. Wow, this sounds pitch on what their album sounds like
  18. Beer spilled on you by drunk fan
  19. Kicked in head by out of place crowd surfer
  20. Swarm of bad cell phone pictures being taken the whole show (why the venue doesn’t shoot pro shots for fans to use to promote the band / venue is beyond me)
  21. Planned encore
  22. Ends exactly on time!  10:30 on the dot!  They sure know how to keep a schedule
  23. Pushed out by bouncers, fliers for the next show on as cheap as you can get cardstock

The entire experience, you are not interacting with one person that cares about your experience.   It more feels like a bar holding your ransom than a musician sharing their life passion.

Think about that.

Two friends just went to a show in Denver where the main act played a 30 minute set at 10pm (with doors at 9 with an opening act).  No communication from the venue or band about this.

You bought your ticket and you are a sucker.

Can we interest you in another show?

You know, so the band can make money.

When they come back to town in 12-18 months.

The usability of a show is horrible.  I bet we could fix it though.


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