What would you do for a ticket?
Long before for the dawn of Web-based amenities like Ticketmaster.com, eBay and Craigslist, getting your paws on highly sought-after tickets -- be they for Spring Training games or Springsteen -- meant one thing: waiting in some sort of ridiculous line. And actually procuring said precious pass was often a testament to ones ingenuity -- or degree of desperateness.
Although tickets of all kinds are still offered on a first come, first served basis (well, sort of), the idea of purchasing in person seems downright archaic. But back in the day, we all did what needed to be done to get a seat. A few of OnMilwaukee.com's writers share their memories.
Molly Snyder Edler
Corey Hart concert on the Summerfest grounds, circa 1984.
This is embarrassing, but in the summer of 1984 (I think it was '84), my BFF and I were crazy for the Corey Hart song "Sunglasses at Night." Consequently, we were full of shrieks and claps when we heard Hart -- not to be confused with the Brewers outfielder of the same name -- was coming to the Summerfest Main Stage for a free show. (The concert was not during the Big Gig's 11-day run, it was either right before or right after.)
Because the seating was limited, and Hart was in the prime of his relatively short-lived musical career, my parents dropped us off at 5:30 a.m. to wait in line to see the show. I remember lots of girls had handmade signs (sadly for us at the time, we did not) and most of them were scrawled with lots of big, bubbly hearts because of Hart's last name and because we really, really, really hearted Corey back then. Ugh.
St. Patrick's Day, 1988.
Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love Express" tour was rolling through the Rosemont Horizon, a crappy suburban Chicago arena that has changed names about 15 times since then. I badly wanted to go, but I didn't have tickets and couldn't convince my friends to come along because I had not procured tickets beforehand (there was no Craigslist at the time) and they were more interested in consuming mass quantities of green beer. Undaunted, I hopped in the car, drove down to the venue and broke just about every rule that there is for procuring a ticket from a scalper.
I got there ridiculously early because I overestimated how heavy the traffic would be that day. (Apparently, all of Chicago was busy consuming green beer, too). I was willing to splurge for about $100 for a good seat, which was a lot of money 20 years ago. I asked the first scalper I saw if he had a single to sell. The guy showed me a ticket in a decent location and before he could lay out a price I said "I'll give you $75 for it." He said "OK."
Looking back, I realize that was a ridiculously stupid thing to do. The key to getting the best of scalpers is to talk to several of them, get a feel for the market and wait for the price to drop before showtime. I wasn't having any of that. I wanted my ticket in hand so that I wasn't in danger of making the drive for nothing. Once I had the ticket in hand, I realized that the doors weren't going to open for another two hours or so. I contemplated heading to a nearby bar, but I saw a group of people huddled with their ears pressed against the wall of the building. I walked over and realized they were listening to the band's sound check.
Once I heard that, I realized that my $75 investment was going to be worthwhile. The show was outstanding and, thanks to my friend, Zack, I now have a bootleg CD of the evening. In the middle of "Rosalita" the band breaks into a version of the "Irish Jig." Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
Drew - the Rosemont Horizion is now called the Allstate Arena, and it indeed is one crappy arena! I always wonder someday if a plane taking off from nearby OHare would ever just crash on top of it.
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