Few things annoy me more than high ticket prices. This may lead some of you to label me cheap, and while I do to pinch pennies, my reluctance to hand over my Visa number is not the sole reason for my annoyance. Whether it is a sporting event or a concert, high ticket prices rob the show of its heart and thereby diminishes the experience. I have gone to many New York Yankee games in my life, I have sat everywhere from the insanely expensive seats behind the plate to the more than affordable bleachers. If you want a comfy seat and closer view of the game I can’t blame you for taking the behind the plate seat, but I will take the bleachers every time. The bleachers have soul and an appreciation for the game. I’ll put it to you this way, I have never been told to sit down during a critical moment in the game sitting in the bleachers and I have never been high fived and shared a beer with a complete stranger behind the plate. Since the New York Giants moved into their new state of the art stadium, tickets prices have raised, accordingly I have never seen a game in the new stadium, but from all accounts the life has been sucked out the new stadium transforming what was one of the best home field advantages to simply a pedestrian one. When ticket prices rise the audience converts from die hard to corporate. Meaning only businesses with deep pockets can afford tickets and they mostly care more about making an appearance than the performer or team they watch (why do you think golf crowds and operas are so reserved). This affects music too. Jay Z recently performed at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall, where tickets ranged from $2,500 to $5,000. After watching some clips of the concert I was taken aback by how weak the crowd responded. I have seen Jay live twice, once at Yankee Stadium and once on the Watch the Throne tour, and both times Jay commanded the crowd and worked the audience in to frenzy. In the clips below, I will compare two Jay-Z shows, each in New York, Carnegie Hall and MSG, each with Jay performing PSA and each backed by The Roots.
It starts and the crowd gives a muffled roar that soon builds to silence almost like a polite “okay now you can start now.” Then Jay starts, “Allow me to re introduce myself my name is…” and crickets. Jay pauses expecting the crowd to join in with “HOV” and he receives silence.” At the 43 second mark we get our first crowd shot, and no one is vibin’ out, no one has their hands in the air. Nearly everyone takes pictures or video with their phones and camera like they were at the zoo watching the giraffes. Honestly, is anyone even singing along? These people look like they’re starring at the new exhibit at the Guggenheim. Jay tries to get the audience involved at the 1:36 mark, prompting them “Make some noise” and they meet him with a fizzle. At 2:28, we catch another glimpse of the crowd standing around with not much interest. The song comes to a close and I counted zero Rocs in the air, begging the question do these people even know what the Roc is?
MSG (PSA starts at 4:03)
Now this is what a Jay Z concert should feel like. The crowd has a slight buzz to it then the beat drops and the crowd loses it. They go insane; everyone has their hands in the air and is totally in the zone. The girl at the 4:26 goes into what I would describe as a jiggle fest. At 4:52, another crowd shot shows people going HAM. The entire crowd sways to the beat and is completely enamored with Jay. The crowd almost looks violent, jumping, dancing and head nodding. No question this audience knows the song, they probably have his entire catalog. The songs finishes and you can see people in the crowd throwing the Roc in the air and showering Jay with love.
So the question is what show would you rather be at?