The idea of VIP packages at concerts began in the 90’s, as promoters spied an opportunity with prime seating and profits. The concept of a “golden circle” program was put in place, and high priced opportunities opened up for your not so regular gig-goer. Now, the disparity between ticketing tiers is comparable to air travel – where economy will get you your basic service; jostled with the crowd, leaving you tired and sweaty, while upper class options offer a fantastic array of wonder for those who can afford it. And all those extras will pretty much eclipse the very reason why you bought the ticket in the first place.
This week, ahead of the release of Views, Drake announced his much anticipated Summer Sixteen North American tour, alongside Future. As pre-sale tickets became available, it became apparent that Drake is offering perhaps the deal of a lifetime. Forget front row, or box seating. A privilege that dwindle’s into nothingness when set against a 6 God candle, a 6 God incense holder, a 6 God custom disposable camera, a 6 God foam hand (always wanted one of those) and a Summer Sixteen car freshener, bag, and “floaty pen” (when we find out what that is, we’ll let you know). All this comes on top of prime seating in the first front rows, plus a photo opportunity with Drake himself, and is known as the 6 God Meet and Greet Package*.
We can’t pretend that that isn’t a serious amount of swag that Ticketmaster are offering. With a healthy $1000 price tag, some may feel that is too much swag for one person to handle (when you’re not Drake obvs). For a scaled back version, you could opt for the Summer Sixteen Ticket Package. This one will only get you pins, patches and car freshener (lucky you) plus prime seating.
Future’s own Meet & Greet package is a little more modest at $500, and includes more standard items like early entry, VIP seating, tour shirt, various other merch items (including socks and a bandana) and of course the meet and greet, plus photo-op. The listing on this one is a little more dressed up, as it mentions the VIP laminate pass and “limited availability” as part of the deal.
Drizzy and Future are not the only ones to tout special packages. The Rolling Stones will kindly make their “tongue pit” available to you for only $1275. And no, by this time the band are far too old for that to be what you think it is. The tongue pit is effectively a cattle pen for the filthy rich. The deal does offer a bespoke lithograph though, screen printed with the date and location of the show you attended. Showing your age boys… Unlike Melbourne rapper 360. A twenty first century boy through and through with his “Selfie with Sixty” offer. iPhones at the ready.
Katy Perry takes the sensible approach as her premium seating offer addresses very real issues concerning gigs and nature’s callings. The $500 price tag includes a dedicated bathroom, so you can heave a sigh of relief as you calmly take in the fifty person queue, while you suck down your fifth drink. But if you’re after something a little more esoteric, of course you should look to classical music. Andrea Bocelli offers an interesting deal which actually strikes me as pretty good value; for $995 you can attend a pre-show dinner “exclusively designed for only a small group of people” with a “high-end Andrea Bocelli-inspired menu” plus other extras.
Festivals are well known for offering ludicrously luxurious deal to punters keen to avoid a real festival experience. (Read “real” as “mud, tents, potential dysentary and getting up close and personal with pretty much everything”). From hot tubs in front of the main stage at Alabama festival Hangout, to glamping, cabanas and beauty treatments elsewhere. All while your regular punter longs for simply a tap, under which they could stick their grubby head.
It seems that all these “experiences” come with a price tag that is about more than just money. In a way, these are all options to remove oneself further and further from the real reason behind the event. You may get physically closer to Drake, or the Stones – for maybe about three seconds, before security hustles you away, photo in hand. But the distance between you and the action? All the vast majority of fans who got there on a regular ticket? Immeasurable. Nothing compares the sweaty glory of thousands of people moving together to their favourite music, to shared experiences. People meet partners, friends, spouses at gigs and festivals.
But stood arms crossed in the VIP section? It maybe be just a fence, but the distance between you and everyone else is infinite. So you may as well light up your 6 God candle, throw on your giant foam hand and make yourself a party for one that is worth that $1000. because you’ll be the only one at it.
* please note that all this swag will only be handed over after the show. So don’t get those hopes up too high where that giant foam hand is concerned. But plenty of time to test out that floaty pen!
Full tour dates for Summer Sixteen below:
07-20 Austin, TX – Frank Erwin Center
07-21 Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
07-23 Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
07-24 St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center
07-26/27 Chicago, IL – United Center
07-31 Toronto, Ontario – Air Canada Centre
08-01 Toronto, Ontario – Air Canada Centre
08-04 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
08-05/06 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
08-10 Boston, MA – TD Garden
08-12 Buffalo, NY – First Niagara Center
08-13 Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena
08-14 Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
08-16 Detroit, MI – Joe Louis Arena
08-17 Pittsburgh, PA – CONSOL Energy Center
08-19/20 Washington, DC – Verizon Center
08-21 Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center
08-23 Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum Complex
08-25-26 Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena
08-27 Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena
08-30-31 Miami, FL – American Airlines Arena
09-02 New Orleans, LA – Smoothie King Center
09-03-04 Houston, TX – Toyota Center
09-06 Phoenix, AZ – Talking Stick Resort Arena
09-07/09/10 Los Angeles, CA – Staples Center
09-11 Las Vegas, NV – T-Mobile Arena
09-13/14 Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena
09-16 Tacoma, WA – Tacoma Dome
09-17/18 Vancouver, British Columbia – Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena