Your Easy Guide to Purchasing Houston Concert Tickets...In 1983

domebyks2.jpg
Photo by K. Shilcutt
I went to see Paul McCartney at Minute Maid last year. A friend bought the tickets, and I asked if he'd mail mine so I could hold it in my hand and marvel at this new, treasured souvenir. He said he would just e-mail it to me as a PDF once he'd received a confirmation in his inbox.

Rewind:

Last Night: Sir Paul McCartney at Minute Maid Park

Paul McCartney: What Becomes a Legend Most?


Attending a concert in Houston 30 years ago was, as Chuck D. once said, the best and worst of times (yes, that Chuck D). Epitomizing it all was the first and necessary step of securing a ticket, a practice far more involved than it currently is. It could be an inconvenient pain in the ass, but more often than not, it was a memorable event, and one that today's concertgoers are largely being deprived of.

In the early 1980s, you couldn't log on to buy a seat for a show; there was nothing to log on to and nothing to log on with. A person wishing to see the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" tour actually wound up spending the night together with strangers and friends, in line somewhere, waiting to purchase seats.

Here's how it worked. The night before tickets went on sale, you had to actually go somewhere -- a record or department store or the venue itself -- to stand in line to purchase tickets. The bigger the band, the earlier you had to get there. It was a first-come first-serve proposition. (The revolutionary idea of the ticket-sale wristband had not yet been conceived.)

lineticket-thumb-0410.jpg
What a "ticket" for Paul McCartney's show here last year looked like.
The best place to do this was at the Astrodome. You'd loiter around on Kirby, waiting for security guards to open the gates. The folks in the best shape were the luckiest, since a sprint across the parking lot toward the front of the line was required. This would all occur several hours before the box office would actually open for business.

Depending on the circumstances, this could be a wretched exercise. For one, you were out in the open and subject to Houston's weather, which meant you could be bathed in either sweat or rain.

If you were unable to spend the whole night out, you had to locate someone who could and ask them to do you a solid, and these folks weren't always upstanding or dependable.

Once, I asked a friend why our seats were so awful. He said he'd been on a date and made it to second base. It meant more to him to try to stretch it out to third than to get to the Astrodome parking lot to purchase seats that might be only a few aisles closer to the stage. By the time he arrived -- having been mowed down rounding second -- scores of people were ahead of him.

Once, my brother and some friends were planning to see Iron Maiden. They went to the Dome to buy their tickets, but once they arrived, the line was already so long they knew they were doomed to stare at the back of Eddie's skull all night from crappy seats behind the stage.

As they were mumbling their disappointment, a guy in line said he had a friend named "Sleepy" (Warning Sign No. 1) who was up toward the front of the line. He'd be happy to take their money to him. Just wait here (Warning Sign No. 2), he said. Obviously, they never got their tickets and never saw either the guy or their money again.

A word about money: You did need some to purchase a concert ticket 30 years ago. That hasn't changed. In 1982, Dad funded my new habit by purchasing my tickets to see AC/DC, The Police and Asia. In 1983, I got a job delivering pizza for Mr. Gatti's and, just like that, I was on my own.

"You got a paycheck now, mijo, so you can buy your own tickets," he said. "Now, if you want to go see James Brown or Jimmy Edwards, I'll buy you a ticket for that."

My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
MusicTzu
MusicTzu

The Quiet Riot show was $5 because it was a benefit after Hurricane Alicia . But yes tickets were a little cheaper back in the 80's and spent a few Saturday mornings running across the Dome Parking lot to get a decent ticket.

johnya
johnya

Yes I remember those days. Stood, slept and got high in line many times in Philly and Houston in the 70’s and 80’s but now at my age I’m so glad we buy on line now, if not I would have to put my teenage kids in line.  


southernpilot
southernpilot

In the early 80's there was a place at Greenway Plaza, underground that we went to, to buy tickets. The lobby area, ( I think there is a food court there now ) was open 24/7 and we camped out at the little box office windows where the tickets were sold. This was a pretty cool place to camp out because it was protected from the weather and had bathrooms. Security wouldn't kick you out if you behaved.

Gisela Villarreal
Gisela Villarreal

This article took me back to the day when I was 5 or 6 and my mom took me to the Fiesta on wayside to buy tickets to take me to Disney on Ice. The one time I was excited she dragged me to the grocery store. Now she asks me to go online and buy tickets to take my nieces. My, how times have changed. Thanks for being back those nice memories.

tbonemartinez
tbonemartinez

My daddy said I was conceived at the Quiet Riot/Axe show. He also took a pound of herb in a shoebox and sold out before Quiet Riot took the stage.

Anna M. Stone
Anna M. Stone

I use to sell tickets. And yes lots of fun memories.

Brian Arthur
Brian Arthur

I spent the night at a record store in Willowbrook in 1988 to see the Grateful Dead, I got there at 8pm, and there was only one person waiting, so I was second in line. At about 5am a representative from Pace said they were instituting a new program to prevent camping. Everyone would be issued a ticket and there would be a drawing. The winning ticket holder would be first in line, and every one in front of him would go to the back of the line (which had about 200 people in it by then). Well after smoking the Pace guy out with the front of the line, he agreed that this proposed system was incredibly unfair and so he rigged it so that the first person in line "drew" the winning ticket. Still, after waiting all night and being second in line, I did not get floor seats (like the guy at the front of the line). The only other time I waited all night for tickets was for The Black Crows in 1992, again at Willowbrook. It was freezing cold, but they were giving away free tickets (because security had beat up some people at a previous Houston show) so we waited all night along with about 500 other freezing people. My friends liked the band, but I didn't care about them one way or another, so it wasn't worth it. Especially since the sound at the show was loud and bad.

BidmyGlasses
BidmyGlasses

Oh yes. We miss it. People couldn't cheat the online system and then scalp tickets (well, not as much as nowadays, at least!)

Michele Lopez
Michele Lopez

Stood in line for Depeche Mode tickets...got there at 2 am and i was 12th in line...will never forget that. Had a blast!

Chuck Ivy
Chuck Ivy

Never camped out at the box office itself, but did wake up early to line up at the TicketMaster booth at Sound Warehouse a fair number of times.

Dallas Hölmes
Dallas Hölmes

hell, its part of the concert going experience that i miss...

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Houston Event Tickets
Loading...