Concerts sell out, students cry fiasco

BCA may later release 1,000 tickets for M.I.A.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

“Buy one ticket!” Nicholas Carter ’11 yelled at the line in front of him in lower Faunce House Tuesday afternoon.

Brown Concert Agency members had been walking through the Post Office, breaking the news to hundreds of students waiting for Spring Weekend tickets that they were likely to walk away empty-handed, and Carter worried he would be among them.

After record-breaking sales on Monday – when almost two-thirds of the tickets for each concert sold in just four hours – hundreds vowed to arrive early. But many were shocked when tickets sold out at 1:30 p.m., leaving students dejected and BCA members reeling at the unprecedented two-day surge.

“To give you an idea, last year, the first six days were a record for us. We sold 1,453 packages,” said Elliot Colbert ’09, the BCA board member in charge of ticketing. “Yesterday, we sold 1,506.” And though demand was high in 2007, he said, sales continued for weeks before tickets for both shows sold out. This year, it took seven-and-a-half hours.

When sales began Tuesday, at 10 a.m., two separate lines already wound to the back of the Post Office.

Lamya Khoury ’08 joined one at 11 a.m. but failed to get a ticket. “I’m more upset than angry,” she said. Though she’s been a fan of rapper M.I.A. for years and was excited to see her at Brown, Khoury is now facing the prospect of “all my friends out at Spring Weekend going crazy while I’m sitting alone in my room listening to my Spring Weekend playlist,” she said.

Many students were unhappy with the BCA’s sales policies. “There’s no way tickets should sell out in two days,” Lucinda Ng ’11 said. “My friend bought eight tickets yesterday. That’s not okay.”

“They should have paced it out better,” Khoury agreed.

BCA members scrambled to deal with the demand. When it became clear that tickets would sell out, the agency scrapped a limited public sale online and released the reserved tickets to students instead.

Administrative Chair Cash McCracken ’08 had to make the final announcement. “We are completely sold out to capacity for both shows,” he told the crowd.

“For both?!” cried a woman in line.

McCracken reminded the assembled students that the BCA can only sell tickets up to the 3,500-person capacity of Meehan Auditorium, the rain venue for both shows. On April 9, up to 1,000 more tickets for Saturday’s show will be released if the weather forecast is good.

“We’ll camp out,” Carter said. His friend Daniel Wiener ’11 suggested that he’d be willing to pay up to $15 above the sales price for a pair of tickets.

In the meantime, agency members will be left trying to account for the record demand.

McCracken pointed to the success of last year’s shows, which included rock band The Flaming Lips and hip-hop group The Roots. “Last year’s concerts set records for us for the number of people who came and the excitement level in general,” he said. “I think because people were so excited and had such a good time at the concert, people were really looking forward to these concerts and had an eye out to buying tickets.”

Colbert credited this year’s slate, which will feature rapper Lupe Fiasco and indie darlings Vampire Weekend on Friday, April 11, and M.I.A., mashup artist Girl Talk and progressive jam band Umphrey’s McGee on Saturday, April 12.

“We knew we were excited about our lineup this year,” Colbert said, “but we could never have imagined how excited the rest of campus would be.”

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