The Worst Concert Rip-Offs We've Ever Seen
On this day in 1978, the rapidly disintegrating Sex Pistols finally fell apart for good. Conveniently enough, they did it onstage at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom, on the final night of the ill-fated U.S. tour that also lurched its way through San Antonio and Dallas.
That night, Johnny Rotten signed off with the line, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Good night." So in that spirit, Rocks Off decided to ask our staff the most ripped-off they've ever felt after a concert. Thanks to Pete Vonder Haar for the idea.
Chris Gray: It feels blasphemous to even think about, let alone type, but I think I'm going to have to go with The Rolling Stones on this one. I've seen the Stones three times. The first time, San Antonio in 1994, was a literal Road to Damascus experience. I went in a virginal 19-year-old classical musician, wet behind the ears and almost totally ignorant of the devilish pleasures of rock and roll, and left ready to slam a fifth of Jack and spike up a speedball. More or less.
The second time I wasn't so lucky.
This was 1997 at the Texas Motor Speedway outside Fort Worth. It was an atrocious concert venue. The stage was set up in the infield, just far enough away from the bleachers for the sound to almost completely dissipate before reaching the crowd. But it wasn't all the racetrack's fault, either. The Stones were touring on their biggest dog since Dirty Work, Bridges to Babylon, and they played like it: Listless, out of sorts, and flat. It put me off the band for months, if not years.
I hadn't even fully recovered when the third time rolled around, Austin's Zilker Park in 2006. I just went because I could walk to Zilker from my apartment, and a bunch of friends were going. And, naturally, the Stones were incredible. Better than San Antonio - maybe - but either way, they restored my faith and then some, and I've been a faithful worshipper in the church of Mick & Keef (and Charlie) ever since.
Neph Basedow: Sadly, this one's easy for me. When I saved up months of allowances as a seventeen-year-old to get to Chicago to see the Smashing Pumpkins' Farewell Show at the Metro, I didn't know that just a few years later, Billy Corgan would spin into a deluded mid-life crisis and reunite some impostor version of the band with faux members. Although I wholeheartedly feel the true Pumpkins disbanded that evening in December 2000, I've never felt more cheated years after a show.
My close-second, although it was an amazing show, would have to be last year, when I bought tickets the very-second they went on sale to see what we'd been led to believe would be Pavement's first show since their reunion, in Central Park. I had those tickets for a year in advance, and in the months leading up to the fall show, they slowly announced shows before the CP gig, including headlining slots at summer's Pitchfork and Sasquatch Festivals.
John Seaborn Gray: Actually, I think I'm lucky enough to have never been to a really bad show. At Willie Nelson's picnic in 2003, Billy Bob Thornton's pre-Boxmasters band was miserable, but the rest of the concert was great. You remember, you were there.
Craig Hlavaty: I suppose I felt cheated at the last John Mayer show I covered in March 2010. Not because I was at a John Mayer show, because being a male fan of his is its own reward and I wanted to see him live again. No, I felt cheated because I spent weeks getting a campaign together on Twitter and Facebook to get Mayer to sing "Hlavaty Is A Wonderland" instead of "Your Body Is A Wonderland."
He never did sing my version of "Wonderland" and that was a kick in the balls more painful than the one I felt months before when I related to a few songs on Heartbreak Warfare.