Bob Dylan's Ticketless Warfield Show Finds Underwhelming Support

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America's favorite old man/recording artist Bob Dylan tried to stick it to the man this past Wednesday night at San Francisco's Warfield Theater.

The 69-year-old folk legend decided he was going to rebel against Ticketmaster and surplus ticket charges and nix issuing tickets to his show altogether.

It's a noble experiment in a town in San Francisco that's more than up to it, yet Wednesday night at the Warfield fell flat on its face.

Why did Dylan's ticketless gamble ultimately fail? For starters, the 2,250 capacity Warfield Theatre was visibly undersold -- perhaps due to the fact it was the middle of a rather slow week. Admittance to the show was $60 cash -- a fee many concert-goers were more than willing to pay.

After all, Bob Dylan is an icon, and $60 is more than reasonable to see Bob Dylan at a somewhat intimate venue, especially a venue he hasn't played in over 20 years. However, that $60 didn't guarantee fans admittance to the show -- they still had to arrive somewhat early (doors were at 5:30 pm) in the hopes of gaining admittance to the show. There were absolutely no paper tickets -- no tokens of guaranteed admittance -- issued for this show.

So how come Dylan's show at Oakland's Fox Theater the previous night sold out in less than an hour -- even if tickets were well over $60? Fans were guaranteed their tickets -- their place at Dylan's show.

Now, not every single one of Bob Dylan's fans have grandchildren, but its safe to say that a good amount of them -- especially the ones that pay to see him live -- do. Those same fans aren't really in the mood for some sort of experiment/gamble when it comes to seeing Bob Dylan live. They want to pick out their seats beforehand and take the time to go to the selected venue -- which could take a couple of hours, in certain instances -- knowing that they have guaranteed admittance.

Dylan really did all he could to try to garner support for his Warfield experiment, but it seems Dylan and his promoters' eyes were bigger than their stomachs this time around. In all honesty, had Dylan's experiment worked well, I wouldn't be writing about this. There's nothing that interesting about a sold-out Bob Dylan show at the Warfield -- in the year 2010, at least. Some of the things Dylan does (Christmas albums, ridiculous Rolling Stone biases) tend to irritate me, but this experiment was a rather noble cause. Certain factors could have helped things go a little bit better than they did Wednesday night, but certain other factors doomed the experiment before it even started.

The times might be a-changin', but someone needs to let Bob Dylan know that he doesn't have to be the one to try and change them himself.



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10 comments
Amy Sanders
Amy Sanders

I love Bob Dylan, but the idea of having to gamble to even get in would have put me off of going to the Warfield show. And I'm not technically old. Just kids, no grandkids.

my mommy blog: http://newmothertips.info

Jbendik
Jbendik

If he tried this in NYC, it would be a massive success.

WilliamthePleaser
WilliamthePleaser

"Doomed" experience? really? Wow, for an almost completely non-advertised, late-annouced middle of the week show to fill about 80-85% of a venue when so many people were scared to take off their job that day for fear of not getting a ticket, I'd say it was a successful experiment.

Besides, you missed the point, that Dylan has heard what so many fans have been complaining about for years, the ridiculous fees of ticketbastard. They're already claiming to now have more "transparent" fees for people...so, I'd say experiment = success.

Srosaloki
Srosaloki

P.S. I got there at 3:30 and had a blast waiting in line. Met many very nice people and even got an opportunity for a work project. The party started on Market Street and by the time we all got in (which did not seem very long), everybody was having a grand old time. Sorry you missed the sweet community!

Srosaloki
Srosaloki

There was only a very good and very successful concert on Wednesday night. The place was crammed packed and the only reason I was able to go was precisely because of the way Mr. Dylan did his sales. I am computer free and living on a very limited budget and Mr. Dylan had me in mind when he allowed for equality in the purchasing of his tickets for the Wednesday night concert. And, he was fabulous. I would even venture to say it was a private party!

Lilsy Palmer
Lilsy Palmer

You just don't get it do you?Dylan doesn't cross picket lines and apparently wanted to make a statement about Ticketmaster.That's the real story and you missed it.No one cares if you're irritated.You need to find a job in another field.

Timebandit15
Timebandit15

General admission shows are very different than reserved seats shows. GA means you come early, you get to be where you want, up close or front row of a seated section. There are always lines for a GA show that start early in the day and those are the folks who end up right at the feet of Bob Dylan. They know every song and love the experience. The formula they used for the Warfield was very agreeable to the GA crowd. I think with more publicity it would have sold out. People who aren't used to change projected that they wouldn't get in or that somehow it would be a drag to line up. None of those scenarios were true, so next time maybe people will join in the experiment. We were all happy and maybe that was the idea from the beginning: serving the fans.

Diana Wolf
Diana Wolf

Tsk, Tsk... such a facile, glib dismissal.Such silly and simplistic filler masking as commentary.Surely you could have done a better analysis if you had offered some constructive thoughts on how this idea might be perfected.Perhaps you see nothing wrong with the added fees and don't much care about the issue since your convenience is more important to you than the extra money it costs for tickets to a show. Whether those fees are generated by ticket handlers or scalpers matters little.How fortunate you are. Not all are in such a position and going to a show is a luxury that many have to forego just because the extra fees make the cost prohibitive. Particularly in todays financial climate when being able to do something fun and happy is simply unaffordable and takes some real juggling of finances to indulge in such a simple pleasure.Maybe a writer who understood the financial complexities of the many and had some empathy in that direction would have been a better choice for this article.

It may be that cynical disregard and the casual, flip kiss-off to a good idea is your style of reporting or writing- or how you live your life-But again, adding something to the conversation would better serve not just the idea- but you as well- both as a "journalist" and as a human being.

By the way-far from a failure- the event, the idea was a blazing success to those who were willing to brave the line and take the risk that they wouldn't get in- and wound up rewarded for their tenacity. Lucky Them!

Seems like it was successful for Dylan as well since by all accounts he was in good form and was visibly enjoying himself.

Swiss
Swiss

It didn't fall flat on its face - were you there? it was one of the most amazing concerts I've seen. There were about 300 empty seats but if the promoters had tweeted, Facebooked, sent out email alerts -- and made sure the messaging was right in the traditional media from the beginning there wouldn't have been any extra tickets --- i.e., he correct messaging would have been: tickets go on sale at 5:30 - tkts will be sold up til the time of the show until it's sold out - some people may choose to stand in line for 5 hours beforehand but if that doesn't suit you, you can instead choose to swing by after work and you may get lucky and see Dylan in a tiny intimate historic theater. The promoters and venue kept up the story about it being mayhem and a "scene" at the Warfield, instead of focusing on the fact that there were tickets left and if you wanted somewhat spontaneously to see Dylan, you had a good chance of doing that.

In any case, the show itself was marvelous - Bob Dylan was on fire - and the crowd that was there were massively appreciative of his gesture of playing such a little venue.

Pkeiselt
Pkeiselt

I think he did do this (or something similar) in NY once - it was at the famous SUPPER CLUB back in 1993, and its now something of a legend among Dylan fans and ROCK Concert goers...

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