I was home at my folks over the holidays. I always seem to retreat there the end of the year. I find peace and comfort around my parents and my old home. My short term memory gets to check out for a bit and I can relax my mind from what’s going on or all the things we’re clicking on these days. When at home, I always seem to roam around parts not visited in recent times; the attic, sections of the basement, back corners of closets that have been filled with my folks’ stuff since after I occupied my room.
In those journeys, I always find something that makes me quickly say, “Oh, cool!” I’ve found old cassettes, posters, hats, keychains, notebooks, books, Celtics game programs, break up letters from old girlfriends, pictures, and music magazines. This time, I came across something that's very much missing for most people’s lives today. Something very small, very memorable. Something you stuck in your wallet. No, not those. I’m talking about concert tickets!
Being a music nut, I’ve done a pretty good job of securing a lot of the ripped tickets from the shows I’ve been to over the years, but apparently a few never made if out of my bedroom and attic. Shuffling through last week, I found old stubs from seeing acts like Faith No More, Fishbone, 38 Special, Boston, Huey Lewis and the News, Motorhead, Van Halen, Dio and Run DMC to name a few.
As I scan over each ticket, I notice old venue names like Great Woods, EM Lowes, Worcester Centrum, Axis, Bill’s, and Avalon. I’m immediately transported to those places back in those days. Back when the Avalon, in Boston, was where House of Blues is now. (Add Axis next door and two upper levels and you have the current HOB). The prices weren’t too bad back then. $40 to sit in the orchestra pit to see Al Green or Beck and the Flaming Lips at the Orpheum or Parliament/Funkadelic at, what is now, the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston?! Sometimes the ticket price would be $0 because I had received a comp ticket. From the late '80s to late '90s, between working for a record label, music retail management, college radio and writing reviews, I was lucky enough to see quite a few shows at the compliments of whoever.
As I was flipping through this deck of music cards, a smile crossed my face. The memories and the pride of being such a fan of all this stuff erupted quite a bit of happiness in me. I know, it’s a bit geeky to save concert ticket stubs, but the same could be said about Christmas and birthday cards or baseball cards or business cards or shoes or any Patriots Super Bowl stuff. We hold onto things because they bring us these brief moments of joy. A quick return to glory and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Those moments should be welcomed anytime.
In fact, as I glared at the tickets I thought of the world today. The swipe and click, “give it to me now” generation. People living so fast they don’t take the seconds to enjoy or hold something sacred. The precious anticipation time to break the shrink wrap on a new CD or album. The time to wait for the record store to open so they can buy that brand new release from their favorite artist. Those moments allow us to savor, appreciate and fully enjoy the gifts about to be granted to us!
What’s the concert ticket thing like today? I have to think a majority of folks order online, right?. Ok, understood. Look at what you get back though; a full 8.5" x 11" page print out of your receipt/ticket on grotesque white copier paper with a bar code on it as long as your arm. That’s certainly not what I want to crawl into the attic at my folks house to find underneath a Monopoly game.
I want those small, perforated tickets that look unique and each tell a story of their own. All of them about the same size so they’re easy to flip through and organize like a 1988 Topps complete set. (Baseball card reference there, sorry). If we have nice things like this, things that make us value each show even before we go (or long after) it might make the overall experience and memories stronger. When you’re given something easy to ignore and take for granted, that’s most likely what you’ll do and that’s a shame. Although the music industry and most things connected to it are in an absolute mess, we need to hold onto the good things. We need to preserve the things that make it special and life-changing. We can’t swipe and scroll through all of our music experiences. End result, “Okay, what’s next?”
It shouldn’t be, “What’s next?” It should be, “That was amazing and I hope to never forget it”. Well, with a pile of those ticket stubs stacked in your old sock drawer just waiting for you, you never will forget.