Hear me out: Deliver again tenting out for live performance tickets

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U2 fans line up outside Real Groovy in 2005 to snag concert tickets.

Ross Giblin/stuff

U2 fans line up outside Real Groovy in 2005 to snag concert tickets.

This story is from the team at thespinoff.co.nz.

If Taylor Swift can’t get fans’ hands on tickets, it might be time to return to late-night slumber parties on the streets.

The concrete was cold, the toilets were hard to get to, the snacks and drinks were BYO, and the screeching of tires, honking, and outbursts from strangers went on all night, meaning anyone who tried to turn a blind eye, was bad luck.

But the camaraderie was there immediately. Back in the day, when fans queued for concert tickets, they’d sit in the cold, stare up at the stars, pass around cups of lukewarm tea and hot chocolate from a thermos, and then share stories about all the other times I’ve sat in the exact same spot , for exactly the same reason: to get tickets to some of the biggest shows in the world.

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In Auckland this would most likely be Real Groovy’s old location on Queen Street, with orderly lines of music fans weaving out the door, down the street and around the back. They arrived early, a folding chair under one arm, a worn sleeping bag under the other to claim their spot, then sat shivering for the 9am start the next day.

These fans have forged bonds, built friendships, and created memories that will last a lifetime. Do you know what else they have? Tickets. People brave enough to camp out to see their favorite artists live almost always got tickets to these shows. These shows would have been very special because they went the extra mile to get there.

Even as ticketing sites shifted their operations online, Real Groovy and the Aotea Square Ticketek office were still selling tickets this way in 2016 (joke”.)

These days, true fans aren’t guaranteed tickets to anything. For proof, you only have to look at what happened in the US when tickets to Taylor Swift’s 2023 Eras tour went on sale last week. Fans overloaded Ticketmaster in record numbers, swamping the service and causing panic among fans and fans’ parents, despite the fact that it took many of them time to become “verified” and allegedly enjoy preferential bookings.

Instead of camping under the stars, they sat in digital queues alongside bots and scalpers for hours, patiently refreshing their browsers when the system crashed, and then re-entering those online waiting rooms only to learn they were last in line Stand in a queue.

it’s hell I’ve sat in those waiting rooms too. Ticketmaster’s ticket buying system has become a strange, disjointed, and stressful experience. To secure passes for Billie Eilish’s final shows in Auckland, my daughter nervously looked over my shoulder as I clicked through multiple browsers only to get the exact same screen.

It’s transactional, impersonal, and frustrating. Of course, if Taylor Swift can’t fix this, we’re in big trouble. We need a new system, a bold plan to get concert tickets back into the hands of real fans. My answer? Bring back the late-night slumber parties.

Why not? As Marie Kondo likes to say, it would bring joy. Look how happy these AC/DC fans are. Camping out on Queen Street for AC/DC tickets in 2009, they found their old school uniforms dressed up as Angus Young and Co. and pretended to rock like they were 14 again. The Getty news agency has surfaced to to honor this moment for eternity.

When can you dress up now? when does someone Halloween? It’s not the same. Camping out and hanging out with like-minded fans is certainly better than staring at a screen for six hours and chewing your face off while trying to get through congested ticketing systems. I hate Black Friday, but I defied the crowd and bought one thing for the moment: a new sleeping bag.

Your train, Ticketmaster.