U2 360° Journal > Zooropean March Madness
It's here. It's now. Pre-Ticketing Stress Disorder (PTSD).
And let me preface the following ticketing "journal" by noting that even my beloved Yankees have upped the ante in terms of PTSD. I anticipated difficulties in getting a single nosebleed for opening day at the new Yankee Stadium, but I didn't expect it to come down to either buying a full season, a half season or relying on their single-game lottery for the entire frickin' season. I'll be going to the Mets home opener instead. They keep in touch. They keep it somewhat "real." The whole ticket license concept is ridiculous.
Now then. Back to my band.
It's the biggest drag of being a U2 fan - getting tickets to their shows. After the overwhelming awesomeness of the GA experience on Elevation and Vertigo, it also makes simply getting a ticket - any ticket - a little bittersweet. The goal is GA. And the goal is to avoid scalpers like the plague; they're a form of old-fashioned piracy that has, unfortunately, entered the mainstream and rapidly become an accepted part of the game. They've essentially been formally endorsed by many large parties, including Major League Baseball and TicketMaster, by sanctioning scalper sites via direct hyperlinks and funding these endeavors with money made off "legitimate" ticket sales. Talk about a double dip. The artists - U2, Springsteen, Coldplay and all the rest - need to stand up and make some real noise about this garbage.
The result of all the mayhem is a mental, physical, emotional and financial drain. But it's always, always, always worthwhile in the long run when it comes to seeing U2 perform live.
This time around, with the first tickets going on sale in Europe rather than the U.S. (as I recall, I was able to "warm up" on stateside shows for Elevation and Vertigo), it was a double whammy of getting ramped up for the ticket grind and adapting to mutliple ticketing site methodologies. Sure, the European Union has agreed upon a common currency, but there's nothing in common about getting tickets in Sweden versus tickets in the Netherlands versus tickets in Italy.
Here's the rundown from the first two days of ticketing.
The first tickets of interest were for Gothenburg, Sweden. Their site, ticnet.se, seems to be relatively sturdy. Almost too much so. From the get go, I was put in a single "queue" and waited - for hours - for my chance to get a single ticket. The site kept me processing for hours continuously. No refreshing necessary on my part - and the instructions said it was ill-advised to refresh the browser.
The site simply kept running through a queue routine, a little progress bar going through the paces then resetting. The only indication of my wait was that it was "more than 15 minutes." Along the way, a second show was added and the site nicely updated to reflect that information - in Swedish and English - on my queue page, telling me I'd have the opportunity to purchase for either show from my current position on line.
I never got dropped and I never had to try to re-enter the site. But I also never got a ticket for either show!
And I never seemed to get an option to pick which show, the 31 July show was the default. Granted, it was around 5 a.m. at that point and I most certainly could've missed something looking through my fogged up contacts and fuzzy mindset.
Technically, I was impressed with the site. But, naturally, disappointed about the end result.
Concurrent with Sweden, tickets for Italy also went on sale via ticketone.it. Out of curiosity, I tried to look 'em up and I couldn't even get a single page to load. That sucker was overwhelmed.
Tickets for Amsterdam went on sale. The official tour page had separate links for English and "local." The English link went to a Live Nation site and it seemed like all would be pretty cool and smooth. Upon my very first click I actually had a field ticket selected, but then the site said they weren't for sale yet and from there I was I directed to the exact same "local" site, eventim.nl, in Dutch.
This experience was painful and annoying. There was a 30 second "queue" with a cute little animation of a single-file line of people walking into a ticket booth one at at a time. After each 30 second wait, a "Klik hier!" screen appeared and at that point you either enter another 30-second queue or get the dreaded message (in Dutch) about the server being at capacity (with a graphic of an enormous double-wide queue of people at the box office). Theoretically, another alternative course would send you to the ticketing screen, but that didn't happen for me.
This whole methodology sucked. There was never a sense that I was in a cohesive, over-arching queue, a sense I did get (rightly or perhaps wrongly) on the Swedish site. The "place in the queue" was easily lost and things only got worse after the first 30 minutes of attempts.
There were numerous pregnant pauses, steeped in pent-up anticipation that the next screen would be for ticket selection, and there were also several appearances of the internal 500 error.
For all the Dutch technical savvy and penchant for innovation, the Dutch ticket site was by far the biggest disappontment. Sure, the Italian site was an absolute disaster and it called to mind my experience trying to get tickets for San Sebastian, Spain, on a site that was still at a "Third Worldwide Web" level.
But, based strictly in terms of extended personal experience and expectations, the Dutch site rates as a particular disappointment.
At 3 in the morning, the "klik hier" thing isn't fun to see every 30 seconds.
I'm sure it's not much more fun in the middle of the day, either.
And the cutesy factor of the "long wait" graphic wore off quickly in the wee hours.
As I mentioned, the EU has a common currency, but not a common ticketing platform. That's apparently the rationale behind limiting pre-sale codes on European dates to four seats for one and only one show. The different agents don't "talk" to each other.
But that kinda stinks of the same logic as never, ever feeding a Mogwai after midnight. After all, when is it not "after midnight?"
In that same vein, if the different agents will know a particular pre-sale code has been used at all, why won't they - why can't they - know how many tickets were purchased against that code?
As a "Horizon" member, I consider my pre-sale code the "nuclear weapon" of this whole ticketing drama and it'll be used for maximum effect. While it's limited to only one show in Europe, in the States it can be used for one ticket on up to four different dates. There's a massive difference in power there.
I guess that's one rare reason to thank TicketBastard.
While the current "officially anticipated" dates limit me to only three cities I've never been to (and only one state), it'll come in handy to extend my U2 pleasure in the fall and - hopefully - in 2010.
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