Our long, cold winter of discontent is finally over. That means summer isn’t far behind.
And with summer comes concerts. Lots and lots of concerts — from old favorites and modern pop superstars to mid-level artists and new bands struggling to break through. In Maine, there are more opportunities to see all of the above than at any time in the past decade. Cast your eyes to the next page for the scoop.
But first, finish reading this column, because I am about to give you some tips on getting the best seats, avoiding getting ripped off by ticket brokers and enjoying yourself once you get to the show.
TIP NO. 1: Avoid Ticketmaster whenever possible. I still don’t know what a “convenience fee” is for, but I do know that Ticketmaster and its sister company, Live Nation, tack one onto every ticket you buy, along with other fees. Fortunately, most of the shows in Greater Portland use porttix.com, brownpapertickets.com or their own ticket service, so it won’t be an issue unless you want to see a show out of state.
TIP NO. 2: If you have to use Ticketmaster, remember this: “best available” is a misnomer. When you go online to Ticketmaster.com and choose the “best available” option, you are dealing with thousands of other people doing the same thing at the same time, so the seats you really want may be on someone’s screen waiting for them to decide whether to purchase them or not. If you don’t like the seats Ticketmaster chooses for you, try again.
TIP NO. 3: A concert is rarely truly sold out until the day of the show. Venues and bands traditionally set aside a number of seats for the press, family members, corporate sponsors, club members, etc., etc. If those seats aren’t claimed by the day of the show, they go on sale to the general public. That happened just this week, when prime tickets to Neil Young’s shows at the Wang Theatre in Boston suddenly became available Tuesday morning.
TIP NO. 4: Join the artist’s fan club or get a membership to the venue’s preferred buyer club. It might cost you a few extra bucks up front, but you’ll get first dibs on seats — and it’s cheaper than going through a ticket broker.
TIP NO. 5: As a last resort, use a ticket broker (called “scalper” back in the day). But don’t do it until the very last minute. Brokers don’t care squat about the show itself, they only want to make money. And if they’re stuck with tickets a few hours before show time, they’ll likely sell them at face value or less. (Better still: wait at the venue until the first song starts, then buy a ticket from a desperate scalper on the site.) But beware of counterfeit tickets, especially if they’re printed from a computer.
TIP NO. 6: Now you’ve got your ticket, it’s the day of the show, and you’re ready and raring to have a good time. Take a few minutes to make sure you have everything you need: first, your tickets. (I know — duh — but I’ve seen many frantic people at a concert suddenly remembering they left their tix on the kitchen table.) Check the venue’s website to find out what is and is not allowed. (Not every outdoor venue allows lawn chairs, and most don’t allow umbrellas because they block the view of the crowd.) Finally, take a backpack if it’s an outdoor concert. Pack a rain poncho, a blanket, a couple of snacks, bottled water, sunscreen, bug spray and a light jacket — because even though it’s summer, it’s still Maine.
Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at: