We’ve all been there: we randomly stumble upon a hidden-gem band and rave about them to all of our friends. We download their music, memorize every word and hold heated debates over who’s the cutest band member. One day they come to an arena near us, and their small venue concert is the highlight of our year. We love them for months or even years, then suddenly their popularity skyrockets. Instead of being our pretty little secret, they’re selling out stadiums, and we must pay ridiculously steep prices just to see them through a screen because they’re too far away to really see otherwise.
This happened to me in 2013 when my best friend first introduced me to Twenty One Pilots. They had recently released their label debut album, “Vessel” with Fueled by Ramen. The first song I heard was “House of Gold,” and I was hungry for more. A few months later, the Philadelphia alternative radio station, Radio 104.5, announced the lineup for their annual Winter Jawn, a free outdoor block party. The headliner? Twenty One Pilots. The weather could not have been more horrendous, but they put on a fantastic show.
Flash forward a few more months, and their music had steadily spread to a larger crowd. They announced a new tour, and I scored tickets to see them at a small venue in North Jersey, the Starland Ballroom. The tickets were only $35 a piece, which, as we all know, is dirt-cheap by today’s standards. Once again, the show was incredible and the buzz of excitement never lessened during the night.
Cut to 2016, and I got to see them for the third time when they headlined the Radio 104.5 Birthday Show (yes, this station definitely has an affinity for the band). By sheer miracle alone, I managed to find General Admission/Pit tickets for $90. The venue was the BB&T Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey (formerly Susquehanna). The seating was completely sold out, with people packed on the lawn like sardines. The show was intense — Tyler and Josh pulled out all the stops, and being a part of the crowd was an exhilarating experience.
In the three times, I’ve had the opportunity to see Twenty One Pilots, they never failed to impress the audience. They know how to entertain, so it’s not hard to see that the ticket prices are set on a steady incline. But when I say that, I’m not referring to the tickets available through Ticketmaster, because if we’re being real here, those tickets don’t exist. Everything must be bought through secondary websites like StubHub and VividSeats instead, and it’s on those websites where the prices are double, triple and quadruple the original value.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to watch artists as they grow with time and get additional recognition with every album. The tragedy is what happens when it’s time to see them live. You have to break the bank in order to do so. Granted, more often than not, the concert is great, but there comes a point when I don’t want to have to pay $150 for a ticket if I can barely see the band with my naked eye. Sometimes it’s the record label’s doing, sometimes it’s the ticket-scalping websites, and often enough it’s both. We need to find a way to prevent the continuous exponential escalation of ticket prices so that we can all enjoy our favorite music without having to bend over backward to do so.