What does it take to get you excited for a concert? Bands and festivals are selling the “VIP experience” and milestone anniversary gigs to draw the fussy crowds.
What do we want from a Berlin’s VIP ticket prices pale. The Berlin when promoting their previous concert? To listen to live music, dance, drink and be merry? If only it were that simple. Concert-goers, and that includes yours truly, can be extremely picky. For many, plain old live music simply doesn’t do it anymore. Some cannot be bothered to leave the house unless exclusive VIP deals are involved, others only get excited when festivals erect entire fun fairs next to the main stage. On top of that, we want our favourite acts to evolve from their previous releases, while still remaining recognisable. We want reinvention and, at the same time, the ultimate revival.
The VIP craze has been going on for a while now, particularly in the arena pop and rock circus as well as on the festival circuit. In June, the Rolling Stones sold tickets for up to €1300. For that amount of cash, I’d expect Mick Jagger himself to pour me a glass of Cristal whilst serenading me. However, even with guaranteed front seats and second-rate band memorabilia, it didn’t feel all that special. Yet, it was the priciest tickets that sold out first. With U2 taking the stage at Mercedes Benz Arena this month, it’s a similar story. After paying €450, fans will walk home with a lousy tour lanyard – not a kiss on the cheek from The Edge. But again, these tickets are no slow sellers. In comparison, even Lollapalooza Berlin‘s VIP prices pale. The festival has been selling €289 premium passes alongside its regular two-day admission for a couple of years now, mirroring a trend seen with festivals all across the globe. The stage-plus-bar-in-a-field combo just doesn’t do the trick anymore. With music festivals having more than quadrupled in quantity, promoters need a unique selling point – and that’s why fashion, eco-friendliness and fun fair shenanigans have become almost as important to the Lollapalooza concept as The Weeknd, Kraftwerk and Liam Gallagher.
Even if a band has been sticking to the simple old gig-at-a-venue formula and managed to survive more than a decade, how do they keep increasingly fussy fans happy? Should they stick with the old ways or move on to the new? Luckily, anniversary tours are a safe bet to forego these mind-boggling predicaments while keeping both band and fans in good spirits. And this month there is a choice of jubilees with the potential to raise some enthusiasm: after skipping Berlin when promoting their previous back-to-the-roots album Strange Little Birds in 2016, Garbage celebrate the 20th anniversary of their biggest success to date, 1998’s Version 2.0 this month (see our online interview with frontwoman Shirley Manson). Even better: in 2014, German Hamburger Schule pioneers Blumfeld came out of retirement to mark the 20th anniversary of their iconic album L’etat et moi with a tour that almost immediately sold out. So, one might get cynical and smell a marketing ploy behind their second out-of-retirement endeavour, the 2018 Love Riots Revue Tour. But what the hell, if ABBA can break their promise to never come back why not a bunch of old gents from Hamburg? With Suede’s 30th anniversary coming up in 2019, their September gig will naturally focus on their eighth studio album Blue Hour. However, if they continue their solid album streak, Brett Anderson and his band have nothing to worry about. Yet, I’m going to make a bet: if they don’t play “Beautiful Ones” last, Columbiahalle will be in for a riot.
U2 Sep 1, 20:00 Mercedes Benz Arena, Friedrichshain | Lollapalooza Berlin 2018 Sep 8, 9, 12:00 Olympiastadion, Charlottenburg | Garbage Sep 18, 20:00 Huxley’s Neue Welt, Neukölln (sold out)| Blumfeld Sep 22, 30, 20:00 Festsaal Kreuzberg, Treptow (sold out) | Suede Sep 29, 20:00 Columbiahalle, Kreuzberg