Keeping with the tradition started in 2002, the 9th annual Sasquatch Music Festival was again held at the Gorge Amphitheater in the city of George, Wa over memorial day weekend. I had my media pass for coverage solidified, but my lady, Kim, didn’t have one and I hadn’t exactly locked down my transportation situation for how I had planned to get to there. This, of course, was in keeping with our own tradition of doing everything half-sketch. Time was winding down, so I needed to crank the “hustle” dial up to 11. As stated in our previous piece about this year’s Sasquatch, a key element of our coverage will address the festival experience from the perspective of an attendee and not just as a “reporter”. That element will come into play now, as I talk about getting your broke ass to the show, dodging ticket scams, and working the hustle in your favor.
STEP ONE: The Ride
A week before the festival, friend/artist, Thea Wolfe (creator of the WEEN coloring book) had a farewell party before her big move down to the Hollywood area. Unfortunately, this meant that we wouldn’t be kicking it during the WEEN set at the festival, as planned. On the upside, I met someone at the party who offered to give Kim and I a ride up there. This actually worked out remarkably well, but I will refer more to that later, during the actual day by day reviews. The main point is that carpooling isn’t necessarily a bad avenue to take.
I was a little concerned about traveling with people that I didn’t know too well, primarily because they seemed really nice and I can be a critical asshole. I think that the trick to traveling with strangers might be to make sure that the people that you are riding with have the same goals in mind. If you are only attending the festival to go to a big party, roll with the cats with the mardis gras beads and the keg. If you’re trying to sling rock and pimp out chicks, catch a ride with some fools that are strapped with glocks in a Cutlass. I was going for the artists and I think that the reason that my trip worked out as well as it did wasn’t only because I traveled with people that made the music a priority, but also because we generally wanted to check out the same acts at the festival. I feel that two people that are both really psyched about checking out Pavement have a better chance of a blind carpool working out than if one person’s favorite act is Fallout Boy while the other’s is Ornette Coleman. The benefits of the carpooling are obvious; savings on transportation costs. There is off-site camping but, if everyone plans to camp in the “official” campground together, you can also save on the camping fees. The camping rates have gotten ridiculous, but that’s something that will also be sporadically referenced throughout the later coverage as well.
STEP TWO: The Ticket Game
The next big step was to obtain another weekend pass. With fees, full-on weekend passes went for a price of about $180 originally, while individual day passes were about $75-80 themselves. These tickets were sold out. This meant that, about a month before the actual event date, weekend passes on Craigslist and Ebay were averaging out between $300-450 and single day passes were going for a hundred plus, easy. The last week, Craigslisters were still holding onto the dream, but it was clear that the script had flipped and that the supply had then severely outweighed the demand. Just because everyone was asking 4 bills a piece doesn’t mean that anyone was actually still getting it. I won’t play into schemes like this and will hustle up to the last minute, if necessary, but to insure that Kim was covered, we didn’t push it by showing up to the gates empty handed.
I found a weekend pass on Craigslist from someone in Chicago and was able to get the price down to $200. Due to a severe lack of regulation, it’s a terrible idea to conduct any transaction on Craigslist that isn’t done face to face. Keep in mind that this is the last week and time is a factor. The seller lives in Chicago and will not be attending, while I need these tickets in hand fast. This worked in my favor as I was able to convince the seller to post their tickets in a “Buy It Now” auction, which included free overnight shipping. This meant that I was dealing with a regulated system and that, if something went bunk with my transaction, Paypal would return my funds. The seller was even willing to take on the Ebay fees to make sure that they weren’t sitting with their unused tickets. Sometimes you have to cut your losses folks, and that’s true on both ends.
If you see a Craigslist posting for someone out of town that requires you to work through an “Ebay Agent“, they are full of shit. I repeat: “IT’S A FUCKING SCAM!” If they refuse to use Paypal but claim to be working with Ebay, you need to ask questions, because that shit doesn’t make any sense. Another thing to make sure of is that you are purchasing what is referred to as “hard tickets“. Ticketmaster offers the buyer an opportunity print out their tickets in the form of a paper “E-Ticket” at a reduced service fee. There’s a bar code on them and it’s perfectly legit if you actually plan to go. However, if you might need to resell them later and especially, if you are in the market to buy, avoid these like the plague. Actually, if you are a shady asshole and you don’t give a fuck about screwing others over and/or getting bit in the ass, I guess that you could actually go ahead and get them. Think about it, it’s just a piece of paper, which means that an endless number of copies could be printed out and, after the first one has been scanned into the show, all of the rest of them are void.
STEP THREE : The Flip & Recoup
I am an inherently unsatisfied person. I get that from the Jewish side of my family. Even though we already had Kim‘s tickets covered, I continued to keep a Craigslist web-tab for Sasquatch tickets open, which I would refresh fairly regularly throughout that last week. I had friends that still needed tickets for various days but, even once their needs had been met, I couldn’t help myself. I was still interested in seeing the evolution and de-evolution of this tickets fiasco. Plus, I had a feeling that there might be some last minute hustle that I might be able to pull off and I was right. I’m pretty sure that I get that from the Puerto Rican side of my family; my grandfather use to be a fence in Watts.
On the Friday night before the festival, I found an ad for someone that was trying to sell two weekend passes for only $100 a piece. I texted her to confirm that I was reading the ad right and it seemed that I was, so I arranged a meeting. The deal was that I would have to take both sets. I didn’t really have the money and I was pushing it with the time, which put me in risk of having to take 6 extra tickets into a possibly over-saturated market. Remember, it’s only a deal if you can use whatever you’re purchasing and/or get your money back. Once my bus hit downtown, I sent out a text letting the seller know that I would be wearing a green coat like “Puerto-Rican Gumby.” I got a response that said, “I’ll be playing the role of the pink lady“. Soon an older woman arrived, a little bit animated, sucking down cigarette smoke, and wearing a carnation pink coat. She handed me a stained envelope. I looked inside at the tickets and noticed that there were 3 pair (each stapled together) and each with a ticket price stamped on them of $0.00. “These are comp tickets?” I asked. “I got them from (107.7) The End” she said. “I just wanted the Honda.” So, they were won as part of a radio contest… that added up. Plus, Kim had worked for Ticketmaster years ago and verified that they had issued comps that had been stapled together in the past. The tickets seemed to have the correct reflective design behind the print, but I told the woman that I still wanted to check them with heat to make sure that they were legit. Although she didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about, she didn’t seem to have any issues with the idea either. Ticketmaster tickets are printed with a thermal paper, which means that, if they are heated from the bottom, the paper will darken and turn black. That’s why if you keep a ticket stub on your dashboard or in your wallet they will often darken. I borrowed her lighter and carefully lit one of the sets from under the bottom. I made sure to avoid the details and the barcode which, if unreadable, could void them out. The ticket turned black and she asked if that was “good“. I said yes and told her that I’d take them. Then, she asked for her lighter back, because I had accidentally pocketed it. The woman further explained that she had offered them to her 20 year old nephew but he had 3 papers to write. Then she added how disinterested she was in going to the show and seeing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros by saying, “I’d rather cut my tits off“.
We had gotten along pretty well so she even told me that I could pay her what I could afford instead of the entire $200. I pointed out that, although I didn’t need all of these tickets, it was still a really good deal and that I did have the cash on me. “Why don’t you just give me 160?” she said, so I did. I was so happy to get the tickets for only 100 a piece, that I keep forgetting that I actually saved another $40 on them on top of that. Every time that I remember this part, it makes me happy all over again, because it’s like a little hidden surprise in my mind. When I got home, it was already 10 o’clock. I called my friend Joel, who was looking for Monday tickets and told him not to worry, because I had him covered. Then I checked Craigslist and saw that someone was looking for 2 Sunday tickets for $180. I responded to the ad and met them at a grocery store parking lot down the street. My investment was covered and, with the profit going back towards Kim‘s original ticket price, the total cost of the trip was back down to $180. Joel had driven me to the store and I gave him both of the Monday tickets for a total of 80 bucks. He had offered me a lot more and people were offering $200 on-line for them, but it’s not cool to get too greedy and he’s a friend. With Joel‘s money, Kim‘s total ticket price was now down to $100. I also posted my own Craigslist ad, letting people know that I had 2 Saturday tickets available and to make an offer. When I returned home, someone had already answered with an offer of $160, so I told him to swing by because I would be up packing. By 12:30 all of the tickets were gone and, factoring in the price of Kim‘s tickets, we were now up $60. With us chipping in $15 a piece for gas and $15 a piece toward our share of the camping pass, the basics of our trip were completely covered without us having to spend a dime. It was already a half-hour into the actual kick off day of the festival, but I was set and able to relax when I finally went to sleep that morning.
The Break Down
Sometimes, there are ways for everyone to come out pretty well. The woman in Chicago who sent the original tickets got her investment back and wasn’t stuck anymore. The woman who had won her tickets from the radio station and didn’t even want them or want to deal with them, came away with a $160 profit when she needed to dump them off at the last minute. The people who got the tickets from me all paid around face or less and were able to avoid everyone on Ebay and Craigslist that was trying to force them into taking the shaft. People are greedy as all fuck and, just like the art of war, it’s easy to use their own force and greediness against them. Some people would rather walk into a show with extra tickets or just leave them on their dressers unused, before ever hooking anyone up with a deal that is even moderately reasonable. From what I’ve heard about past Sasquatch years, it is often possible to get tickets for as little as $10 on the last day, because people are leaving and even scalpers have made their money are done haggling in the blazing heat. There are always costly aspects and random obstacles but, if you are down to put in some effort, there are usually ways around them. I’ve traveled around this entire country getting into concerts for free. I did an entire PHISH tour one year and, beyond a trade or two, my only ticket price involved a $10 bill that I slipped a door man in Atlanta. I’m pretty sure that he thought it was a Twenty, but that only reinforces my point.
I have been given more free tickets in my life than I could possibly count, but I have also given away quite a few. In fact, I thought that I was probably going to wind up kicking down any extras that I had, until they disappeared so quickly. It’s a little new-age and corny, but I feel like if I respect the balance and feed into it occasionally, I will usually come out well in the end and open opportunities for myself in the future. I didn’t make a profit, but my trip was incredibly cheap. It’s important to know when to fold ’em on both sides. If you have a fancy job and/or some money and don’t have a problem paying full price for a ticket, then the obvious move is to get your tickets early and avoid the mark ups. If you are rarely in a spot where you can afford to pay face for these expensive festivals, then you’re gonna have to work the scene the way that we do. I have an incredibly difficult time bowing out to strong-arm price-fixing. In other words, “I don’t play.” If you try pushing your passes for “$450 Firm” until the last minute, then you get what you deserve, especially if you are from out of state. The main point here is that, you’re not stuck and you don’t have to respond from fear or panic. Everyone else is panicking anyway so, if you aren’t, you’re already ahead of the game. Just know a few tricks, like how to play the odds and how to weigh them. Know if your tickets are legit and make sure that fact is equally important to you if you plan to sell them. Limit the likelihood of yourself to get raped and stabbed, by meeting strangers from Craigslist transactions in public places. Tickets being sold later in the day may have already made their way in and out of the gate, which means that they’ve been scanned and are worthless. If you want to take a risk, that’s fine, but know that you’re taking one and be ready to deal with the consequences.
Some people have money and want to go to the festival, so they buy themselves tickets and pay for their trips with money from their high-end jobs, parents credit cards, or drug income. Some folks don’t give a fuck about the festival and their only goal is to make you pay a shitload of money. This post, as well many of our posts, is targeted more towards the people who want to experience the art but can’t always afford to do so. Hopefully, we are able to give you a few ways to avoid being dumped on too hard and, for those of you who were unable to attend this specific festival and/or are wondering about attending next year, I hope that the the rest of the Sasquatch coverage will provide you with a solid and accurate representation of what it’s truly like to be there.