by Dan Gibson
When the Rodriguez concert coming to Tucson on April 19 sold out nearly instantly, I have to say I was a little shocked. Sure, that show is a great get for Tucson following the documentary Searching for Sugar Man and a lot of press about the formerly-lost Detroit musician, but there are shows with great stories coming through town all the time that don't get close to capacity. But still, there's something really moving about his story and he's an interesting songwriter, so there you go.
So, when shows sell out, especially as quickly as the Rodriguez show did, the people involved - the promoter, the band's management, etc - are usually interested in finding out if they can find a way to see if they can sell more tickets. This is partially a financial concern, sure, but also just a desire to have more people see the show. Clearly there's demand, so why not allow more people to see a musician they're interested in, right?
That's where the Rialto comes in with Rodriguez. Clearly, if any show should be moved to a larger venue, it's this one. However, by some weird bit of evil synergy, that night, all of the larger venues are book (well, not the TCC Arena, but let's not get crazy). Centennial, the Fox, the Music Hall, even the Reid Park bandshell are taken. So, they made arrangements for a stage outside of HUB and Playground. Sure, the people who bought reserved seat tickets would be inconvenienced a bit by the relocation, but often when this sort of thing happens, the original seats are just cancelled and a new sale (often with higher prices) is announced. These things happen, it's a bummer, but they do happen.
One email goes out to ticket-goers from the Rialto explaining what's happening: the original tickets (which were wildly underpriced at $23, as far as I'm concerned) would be valid, but for general admission now. Some seats would be available, first come, first served, but if you wanted a guaranteed seat, ticketholders would need to cough up an extra $17, which is should be noted is still a very good deal for this sort of show. Not ideal, but more people get to go, the artist (who was broke for years, remember) gets more money and the original ticketholders have two options, both of which still mean they get to go to the show.
Yeah, that didn't go over well, people started to villanize the non-profit Rialto (an advertiser and many of the staff I'd consider friends, for what it's worth), so another email goes out, explaining the situation and apologizing for the confusion and inconvenience. That should fix it, right? No, especially when the Star chimes in with this headline:
Yes, the show is moving and Rodriguez has fans, but no one is getting hit with a ticket increase - unless, that is, they want to pay more for a seat. I get it, you bought a ticket expecting a seat at that price, but things change. Frankly, Rodriguez's people could pack up the whole show, cite "scheduling conflicts" and play for more money elsewhere. It has happened before and will happen again. The Rialto, which is hardly an institution fueled by caviar and largesse, is trying to make the best of an alternately great and challenging situation, but yet, the Star characterizes things in the worst way possible: EVIL VENUE SCREWS CONSUMERS, which is, again, not true.
[NOTE: The Star changed the headline to "Rodriguez fans meet seating obstacles after venue change," although, and this might only matter to me, they didn't note the previous headline on the page anywhere.]
Some people will be inconvenienced, but in the end, you get what you were paying for: an experience with a musician you care about. Other people get to have that too, who didn't think they would. Also, the Rialto gets some money to book more shows, take more risks, get bands who usually skip town to come to Tucson. Rodriguez also makes more money, which shouldn't be overlooked either. Seriously, stop complaining for a second and be appreciative. You might not get exactly what you want, but what you have left is still pretty great.