GateHouse – As a longtime music guy and someone who has sacrificed precious hours and blood pressure devoted to trying to land concert tickets – be it on the phone, in person or on the Interwebs — it is with great understanding and empathy that I say: Welcome to Hell, Hannah Montana People.
We do not have much in common, me and the Hannah Montana People. For instance, they knew prior to 15 minutes ago that Hannah Montana is not a real person, which was kind of a shocker for me. Montana is a fictional character birthed in a Disney laboratory; when she is needed to appear in person she is played by 15-year-old actress Miley Cyrus, who is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus — who sang “Achy Breaky Heart” and thus planted himself squarely on my own personal list of People Whom I’d Like To Run Over With A Truck — and who, if recent child stars are any indication, will be proclaiming her love for someone like Kid Rock in about eight years, until she tries to run him over with a truck. Point is, I knew nothing about Hannah Montana, so I asked a guy with a daughter, who responded to my inquiry with a glassy-eyed tilt of the head and a sad whimper before sitting back down on the barstool and crying for, like, hours. It was weird.
Anyway, here’s why I was looking up Hannah Montana: She is going on tour, and apparently demand for Hannah Montana’s concerts is at the level you might expect if Elvis and Jesus were to co-headline a series of shows in which they would personally hand out to each audience member a check for $4 million dollars, a coupon for free Krispy Kremes for life and a chance to punch Lou Piniella once in the gut (sorry, not over it).
But in the music world, where demand is high, so is nefariousness. And so moms and dads nationwide are setting out to secure Hannah Montana tickets for the kids, only to find that they’re being shut down with astonishing speed. “This is the only thing she has asked me for. I was devastated that I could not fulfill this wish for her,” said Miami mother Kim Snoke, whose sadness is matched only by her gift for ridiculous hyperbole, to the AP. “I walked away from Ticketmaster in tears.” You and Eddie Vedder, sister.
I poke good-natured fun at folks like Snoke, because we’re talking about tickets to a dingbat pop show, not, say, that desperately needed kidney, but on the other hand I feel her pain, and understand that people are rarely at such depths of emotional exhaustion as they are when slouching away from a failed excursion to the Ticketmaster. I understand that because most people have slouched away from failed excursion to the Ticketmaster, because Ticketmaster is a massive horror show, like some weird relic from 1979, like you can’t believe people actually still have to get tickets this way (two states, incidentally, are investigating the suspiciously speedy sales of these tickets).
The biggest problem, of course, is scalpers (pronounced “brokers” in states that preciously pretend they have laws set up for get around this sort of thing). Since pirates generally win and have cooler costumes anyway, scalpers have, in recent years, become perfectly skilled at getting around Ticketmaster’s fluffy little defense mechanisms. When you get to the window, when you actually get a human on the line at 10:02 a.m. and the tickets are gone, this is probably why.
I am myself no stranger to this type of intestine-clutching horror; it happened a few short weeks ago, in an attempt to procure Springsteen tickets for a show in a very large arena with a great many seats. Having had some experience with this sort of thing before, I had amassed a small, Matrix-like army of technological concerns ready for the 10 a.m. on-sale time: I was rocking two computers and a cell phone, while my brother in Indianapolis and my friend Jamey in D.C. were doing the same. These days, in order to fend off the constant infestation of scalpers, Ticketmaster has instituted a code-word policy; successfully inputting this code word shuttles you into a waiting queue, where you sit watching a clock tell you how long you have to wait for tickets, a count that hilariously went from two minutes to three to 15 to 12 to 23 in a matter of about 120 seconds.
Anyway, as you might expect, during this interminable 120-second wait, all — and I do mean all — tickets for this spacious arena went poof; by the time I got in through the virtual waiting room at 10:03 a.m., no available tickets matched my search. None. This means that, let’s just be conservative here, 14,000 tickets were sold in that time. (Assuming this was the correct time; when he got the No Tickets Left notice on his computer, Jamey’s clock read 9:59 a.m., which would seem to prove the existence of wormholes, but whatever).
If there’s any positive to get out of this, it’s that the Ticketmaster nightmare here isn’t being endured by the usual parade of pale, charisma-absent music obsessives; it’s the mothers and fathers of Disney fans, people who are very probably not used to this sort of rejection and, since they have preteen girls, also very probably easily provoked into fits of rage. Perhaps they can succeed, consumer-wise, where so many others have failed. Or perhaps they’ll just do what everyone else does: get on eBay and complain and complain and complain right before paying up.