Fare Thee Well

Since his passing almost 20 year’s ago, the loss of Jerry Garcia has left fans in an eternal debate as to whether or not the remaining four members of the band can still call themselves “The Grateful Dead.” Despite the loss of Jerry, the Grateful Dead has created a spirit, culture and community that has been present for almost fifty years.

The remaining members of the dead, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart continue to play, especially Weir and Lesh in their own bands. Aside from the remaining members of the Dead, many fans have created cover bands that play in tiny clubs and big venues all over the country. Furthermore, many bands, such as Phish, have created their own style based off of the Dead’s jammy and psychedelic sound.

This summer, the “Core Four” will be joined by Phish lead guitarist, Trey Anastasio in an epic “Fare Thee Well” three day festival at Soldier Field in Chicago. On February 28th, almost half a million people were frantically logging onto Ticketmaster attempting to purchase tickets to this historic event. Many of these half a million Deadheads partook in mail order pre-sales, under the impression that they were involved in the reemergence of the tradition that shows the band’s commitment to its fans by direct ticket sales, not through third parties such as Ticketmaster or Stub Hub. Unfortunately for these fans, who put their hearts and souls into decorating envelopes and sending money, deals have already been made with big music industry groups to capitalize on the genuine love and appreciation for the Dead.

Pre-sale representatives have reported that they received about 60,000 mail orders which contained about 300,000 ticket requests. Solider Field can accommodate about 210,000 people. Only ten percent of mail order would be filled. So, of the 300,000 tickets that were paid for through mail order, only 30,000 of them would be filled so that 180,000 tickets can be sold through third parties that essentially fill the pockets of the “big guys” in the industry. Pathetic. It gets better, instead of announcing that the show is sold out, the official “sale date” was moved to February 28. By moving the “sale date,” tickets are essentially being sold twice so that Ticketmaster can receive its cut. Not cool…

Even more sketchy is how tickets suddenly became available on StubHub quickly after the Ticketmaster event ended. Tickets are jacked up from anywhere between $600 to $3,500. However, if that’s not within budget, fans have the option to pay $180 for a parking pass to enjoy the show via tail gating.

To be clear, I can’t declare myself a “true fan” since the Dead were before my time, however I did grow up listening to Not for Kids Only, a “children’s album” by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman (counts as something, right?). As college student who has a pathetic bank account (what’s a savings account?) I try my best to budget myself for as many shows as I can (and still pay my bills on time). I don’t plan to be in Manhattan forever, so it’s become my mission to see as many shows as I can. Whether it be the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton, or any other big names that have shows coming up, it’s been sickening to have the play by “their rules.” It’s truly disheartening that big industry guys, and even the artists themselves are essentially supporting capitalizing on fans’ love for music. It’s very disheartening that big industry guys, and even the members themselves allow such pathetic games to be played. These guys have all made their money in their 50 + years of touring, why make it so difficult for people who are true fans and just have a love for the culture and music? As much as I would love to get to Chicago for the 4th this year, I am most definitely in protest and will not be attending. Instead, I’ll be catching local covers such as Dark Star Orchestra and the Stella Blues Band.