[Jandek] New York ticket situation thoughts

Jim Reed jim.r at connectsavannah.com
Fri Aug 12 09:21:54 PDT 2005

Hey all,
First off, let me say that I was able to procure tickets through Ticketweb,
and I'm genuinely sorry to hear that countless people who are generally
considered to "deserve a seat" were not able to.

That said, I must admit that I worked diligently to get these. I phoned
Anthology about 10 times over a 48 hour period, left a couple of messages,
and spoke to an actual person three times (each time receiving a bit more

Every time that I got through to someone, they seemed to act exactly as I'd
imagined they would. They were polite but curt, with more than a touch of a
stiff standoffishness that seemed not only patterned after the archetypical
Corwood-esque responses we've all come to know and love.

However, after doing my best to chat and keep them on the phone just long
enough to soften their resolve, the guard came down a little bit (one time
the guy actually whispered to me in a conspiratorial fashion, as though he
was afraid someone was listening to him), and I was left with the impression
that while they had some idea of the weirdness and demand surrounding this
event, they were rather unprepared for the amount of calls and general
out-freakage they would be besieged with.

When one looks at this series of shows from the perspective of an actual
promoter and/or professional, touring musician (of which I am both), it is
obvious that these gigs are being handled quite unlike most shows of this
fashion, and certainly unlike ones with such an intense amount of
international scrutiny.

First off, it's quite interesting to note, that while a few other bands have
played in this NYC space, it's a place primarily geared around experimental
and avant-garde film. That's probably meant to foster a refined atmosphere
more befitting a  recital than a standard concert. (I appreciate this
greatly, as I'm worried that American crowds will not be able to resist the
temptation to heckle, pester or otherwise disturb the man while he tries to
do his thing. Perhaps this vibe will help to mitigate that.)

When one does the math, the Corwood Industries rep isn't really making jack
on these - especally the NYC show with two support acts (unless they are
playing for free just to be on the bill). I mean, do the math:

200 tix at $26 each is $5,200.

Now, take out about $800 - $1,000 for the venue rental (unless the Anthology
is actually co-sponsoring the event, which it appears they're not).

Then take out another $200 - $300 for the security which I can only assume
they'll have to provide to keep sundry nutbags from trying to get to the
featured artist before, during and after the show.

Then take out the cost of professionally-made physical tickets (let's say

Then the cost of a PA system commensurate with what they'll need (which I'll
bet this theater does not normally house), and an engineer to run it. That
could easily run as much as $800.

If he requires a piano, to have one rented, hauled upstairs and then tuned,
might cost as much as $500.

Then there's the matter of getting the Corwood rep to NYC from Louisiana
(train travel might account for the lag between shows). Let's say $200.

Then he has to stay somewhere. True, he could have friends who'll let him
crash, but why do I assume he'll want a cozy hotel room far from the madding
crowds? Try $150 a night for a couple nights (who doesn't at least look
around NYC?

Even after backing off these estimates a little bit, the net is now down to
$2,300, and the opening acts have yet to be paid, and the promoter (who's
obviously handling ALL OF THE DETAILS) hasn't either.

I would not be surprised if, at the end of the day, our man walks away with
between $1,000 and $1,800 for his work.

With that in mind, it's interesting that he's insisting on keeping ticket
prices so low. They could have been $100 each and it still would have sold
out in approximately the same amount of time.

His current Modus Operandi seems to actually be designed to serve his true,
hardcore fans as best he can - while acknowledging that in this day and age,
offering tickets to anything is merely the first step to scalping, eBay,

Note that online sales are only held at Will Call, and you must present the
actual Credit Card used to receive them. That could be because of the
worries and costs associated with sending mail overseas, or it could be a
classy way to virtually eliminate scalping. If I wanted to hawk my tickets
on eBay, I'd have to make arrangements with someone to meet me in line for
the show and then I'd hand them a piece of paper they knew I paid about $30
for after fees, and they'd hand me some exorbitant fee. It would be hard -
at least for me - to look someone in the eye on that transaction and not
feel like a shmuck.

There's never any way to guarantee that only the most sincere of your
followers and admirers will wind up with a seat at one of your shows, but it
seems like our man and his promoter/partner are actually doing their best in
a strange situation to make things as fair and equitable as they can for
everyone, without intentionally leaving anyone out in the cold.

Now, if he continues to perform sporadic live shows, and wants to make more
of a logical attempt that his most ardent, "pre-documentary" fans (not that
there's anything less worthy about those who recently found his music - or
that I buy into  a hierarchy of Jandek fans - that's just an acknowledgment
that some of us have been waiting MUCH longer for this day) my suggestion is

Set aside about 1/3 of the tickets for each future gig, and offer those
online a day or two in advance of the regular sale date. In order to get
these seats (which should not be only in the front rows, but staggered
throughout the venue), buyers must use a special password that will only be
sent to the members of this Mailing List approximately 24 hours in advance.
Limit the number of tickets that can be purchased by one individual using
this password, and there you have it.

Whatever "password seats" do not get sold are dumped back into the general

This is a modified version of what Bob Dylan has been doing at select shows
for about 2 years now. It's not a perfect solution, but then again, it's
unreasonable to think that there could or should be such a thing. What it
does accomplish, is it shows quite clearly that the artist has put real
thought and effort into giving some sort of preferential treatment to those
who spend the most amount of time pondering and appreciating their work.

Those on this list who know other hardcore Jandek fans who either choose not
to, or are unable to use this list could feel free to share the password
with them, and them alone, so as not to spoil the intent of the experiment.

That's what this whole "tour" seems like to me. An experiment. It's as if
the shows are a new version of a "release date," and the live performances
are a new way for him to make "albums", whether or not they are
professionally taped and released by Corwood at some point.

I feel like the new paradigm that our man is entering into (for however long
it may last) is one where he's letting the world in on how exactly he
creates his art, but not why, and only on his own terms. We're now allowed
(albeit haltingly) to watch as he does whatever it is he does, but we are
still denied specifics.

He's also denying himself specifics. By using "pickup bands", he's doing
exactly what Dylan did when he went to Nashville in 1966 to record Blonde on
Blonde. He's "embracing chaos." He's surrounding himself with (hopefully)
sympathetic souls, and hoping for the best - knowing though, that the worst
may come.

We as observers are welcome to watch things coagulate or disintegrate, with
no guarantee of anything more then his presence in the same room as us for
an hour or so.

On a related note, my extra ticket is currently spoken for, but even though
I am travelling from Savannah, GA for this event, and am broke as a no-dick
dog (as Miles might say), if my companion winds up having to bail on me,
I'll post a message to this list and happily offer it for face value to the
first respondent. 

It seems Jandek is going to perform first. If there is in fact a
get-together of some sort after the entire show, I'd love to attend if

- Jim

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