Like many other Fall Out Boy fans, I didn’t get to see the band’s first post-hiatus appearance in the UK at The Underworld in London. I was gutted, yes, but I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t really expect to get to the event but I naively believed I had the same chance of getting one of the 500 tickets as everyone else. I’ve since discovered that I was wrong. I predicted a bun fight for tickets, but I didn’t imagine a war – and one that true fans would lose in favour of influential industry figures. With the risk of sounding hypocritical, I write this from the point of view of both a Fall Out Boy diehard and a music blogger.
The controversy surrounding FOB’s London show is no longer about the disgrace of it selling out in seconds (minutes before the date was scheduled to go on sale), its suspicious last-minute removal from all ticketing agencies other than See Tickets, or even the fact that another band were ousted from their own gig at The Underworld when Fall Out Boy publicly announced a double-booked date, without any confirmation from the venue. Instead, the controversy soon became about who got tickets for the gig. However, this came from curiosity, not jealousy. Unlucky fans began to wonder why so few, if any, of their friends – online or in real life – were attending the gig and decided to investigate. Any who conducted a quick Twitter search for ticket holders soon found a long list of industry workers, ‘friends of friends of Fall Out Boy’, journalists and musical peers. It became very hard to find an ‘ordinary’ fan, leading to a rumour that 100 of the tickets had been allocated to a guest-list instead. Perhaps, this was a coincidence? As confirmed by the venue, the truth was worse.
In a tweet sent to me earlier today, The Underworld venue revealed that at least 250 of the already rare tickets were given to so-called ‘insiders’. According to the venue’s official Twitter, “fall out boy sold half the tickets to fans on see tickets and the other half they gave to media [sic]”. Interesting, and sure to irritate a large number of fans. While the mention of “the media” explains the disproportionate number of Fall Out Boy fans attending who write about music for a living (I’m aware of the irony), it will still mystify many fans. It also doesn’t explain the appearances of some so-called ‘VIPs’. Did You Me At Six really purchase their tickets, like ordinary fans? It’s highly improbable. They too were almost certainly on the ever-expanding guest-list.
Perhaps, it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be writing this if I’d been lucky enough to attend the gig – either as a fan, or a reviewer. That’s a fair comment and I recognise that I’d have probably been so consumed in the hysteria that I would have forgotten about those left out. Although I hope that I still would have recognised that the absurdly large guest-list is unfair. How can a ratio of 50/50 of ‘people in the know’ versus the general public be justified? While I understand that a reunion show will demand a large amount of press coverage and I respect them for recognising both the big magazines and small blogs (apart from this one, a-hem), I struggle to see why they willingly butter up scenesters and taste-makers when they claim to be saving rock and roll. The success of their comeback single should have told them that they didn’t need to win people over with free tickets to the hottest gig in London town, because the hype was already there – without the industry circus.
The fact is that whilst getting tickets to see Fall Out Boy in one of their club shows was always going to be like finding the golden ticket, it’s insulting for so many diehards to know that there are people attending the gig for no other reason than it being yet another industry freebie. Do Fall Out Boy even know that half of their crowd are really there on business, and if they do, do they think it’s fair? (Feel free to answer that one, FOB).
How is using a one-off gig as a networking event going to save rock and roll? (I can answer that one for you, FOB – it won’t!).
This was billed as a special one-off show for fans, but it was anything but. For the 250 ticket buyers, it was a dream come true but for the rest for us on the outside looking in, it’s been a nightmare.