Friday, April 19, 2013

Why Stones Fans Pay

The Rolling Stones are driving me to bankruptcy. After buying two tickets to see them play at the Los Angles Staples Center, I had to lock away my credit card until I pay off the balance –  probably sometime in 2014. Much has been made about the excessive ticket prices for their upcoming tour ( The cost of a single ticket ranges from $150 to $600, while a staggering $1500 will get you into the Tongue Pit, a standing-only, general admission area right next to the stage.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. It’s ridiculous to pay that much money for a concert ticket. By participating in this sort of price gouging, I’m only exacerbating the problem. Trust me, I’ve heard it all before.

I’ve even dabbled in joining rebel groups like The Rolling Stones Liberation Front, a non-violent guerrilla unit with simple demands: smaller venues and cheaper ticket prices. The organization proved no match against concert promoter AEG Live, and on April 4th issued a statement: “the RSLF has officially commenced implementing counter-active measures.” The members were disappointed, and we commiserated with one another as we pulled out our credit cards in solidarity and purchased our Stones tickets.

The dignified thing probably would be to sit this one out and send a message that we’re not going to take it anymore. But let’s face it, as life-long Stones fans, shelling out half a month’s salary to watch a three-hour concert from the nosebleed section every time they tour, we’re used to shedding a little dignity here and there. Tapping into one’s savings for a concert is not for the casual fan. We are diehards, and yes, maybe even a bit foolish, but we’re loyal. No amount of money will keep us away.

We will pay, and this is why:

We Are A Devoted And Diverse Fan Base
The Rolling Stones are a phenomenon. The world greatest rock stars, they appeal not only to their generation but to their children and grandchildren. They have fans from all over the world, having sold an estimated 200 million records worldwide. They are ranked as one of the greatest artists of all time in Rolling Stone magazine and are the most successful and longest-living rock-and-roll bands in history. They’ve recorded hundreds of songs, over 35 albums, and their tours continue to be the highest grossing in history, selling out venues all over the world despite the high ticket prices. The Hyde Park concert sold out in less than five minutes – that’s 65,000 tickets!

Everybody Loves A Rock Star
When I was a teenager, I fell in love with Mick Jagger. I celebrated my new boyfriend, hung posters of the Stones on my walls and bragged that my rock star was hotter than yours. Even though he was older than my father, he was a symbol in which to pour all of my energy, the crazy pubescent hormones that seemed to be taking over. I know I’m not alone in my passion. The allure of the rock star is transcendent.

If you don’t want to be with one then you want to be one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught grown men grinding air guitars and pounding imaginary drum sets when they thought nobody was looking. Just the other day I found my husband standing in front of the mirror, axe slung low over his body, right arm in the air, striking the perfect Pete Townsend pose.  

We Love Mick, Keith, Ronnie & Charlie
Mick Jagger is easily the greatest front man of all time. He brings enthusiasm and an unabashed sexual energy to the stage and puts younger wannabes to shame. He also plays a mean harp, and along with Keith Richards, is one of rock and roll’s most successful composers. The coolest cat in the world (and sometimes pirate), Keef continually tops the best-of-guitar lists. Charlie Watts is an accomplished jazz musician. Besides being another of rock’s great guitar players, Ronnie Wood’s paintings have been exhibited around the world.

We Love The Music
Yes, we love Mick and the boys, but in the end, it is simply about the music. It is the one, true thing in our lives. Capturing moments, concentrations of time, the music articulates everything that we feel, want to say or need to say but can’t find the words. The Rolling Stones express our souls, transport us to a moment of emotional purity. The music is capable of reaching down into our guts and pulling out what is authentic and real. Great songs purge you but they also energize with idealism and joy. They fuel your tank and propel your forward. We love the Rolling Stones because of the way their music makes us feel: like anything is possible.

It may only be rock and roll, but we like it, even if we have to pay an arm and a leg for it.