Most of the really good concert tickets are bought up by scalpers. They weasel their way into the process somehow and snatch up all the front-row ducats. I believe scalpers use many of the same methods as identity thieves, but I can’t prove that. Scalpers should be tarred and feathered — after they hand over all their tickets, that is.
But fortunately, concert-goers outnumber scalpers by at least a 2-to-1 margin. If we band together in a common cause, we can foil these slimy opportunists and take back our rightful places in the choice seats at the hot shows. And there’s no time like the present to get in line and begin.
This summer is loaded with high-profile concert tours featuring a wide variety of acts that will certainly keep the scalpers in a state of high alert. Nostalgia rock, hip-hop, country, alternative, it’s all here. But we’ll meet the scalpers in force, take back our live-music freedom and send them back to their old jobs as telemarketers for pyramid schemes.
The biggest act among rock’s old guard is on display in the coming months. The Rolling Stones will give the finger to Father Time yet again and prance upon stages across North America beginning on August 21, when they open at Boston’s Fenway Park. The tour closes on December 1 in Houston. The Stones don’t party like they once did on the road — now a big night consists of band members sitting around and comparing liver spots — but on stage they’re as rambunctious as ever.
Also available in the “memory lane” category are Santana, Bob Dylan, Duran Duran, Brian Wilson, The Allman Brothers Band, the Eagles, Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp & John Fogerty, Journey, James Taylor and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. “The Bob Dylan Show” tour, like last summer, will play at many minor league baseball parks. Who would have imagined that “Lay Lady Lay” was about a Baseball Annie?
If you prefer your rock-n-roll nouveau style, try not to miss Coldplay. The British quartet finishes a European jaunt in mid July, then jets across the pond to begin a North American leg, in conjunction with the release of its new album, “X&Y.” No word yet on whether Chris Martin’s wife Gwyneth Paltrow, and daughter Apple, will be on the entire journey. That would involve one high-salaried au pair.
Also on the alternative slate is Green Day. Still riding the “American Idiot” wave, the trio of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool will wing into the states after a string of European dates and kick off its U.S. stint August 10 in Rosemont, Ill. But fans, beware. About 100 over-eager enthusiasts got scammed recently when they purchased bogus tix for a show in New Hampshire. Remember, “Green” has two “E’s.”
And make sure to add Modest Mouse, The White Stripes and Maroon 5 to your wish list. If you’re really lucky, you can catch Maroon 5 opening for the Stones in places like Hartford, Conn., and Detroit.
Hip-hop devotees will make pilgrimages to one particularly star-studded rhyme-fest in July and August. That’s the third annual “Anger Management” tour pairing Eminem and 50 Cent, and also featuring Lil’ Jon and The East Side Boyz, G-Unit, D-12, Obie Trice and Stat Quo. It’s Eminem’s first tour since the release of his “Encore” album last year. There’s also the Black Eyed Peas tour starting in June, for those who like hip-hop’s edges smoothed out by other musical influences.
Interested in single females? No, I’m not talking about their marital status. Some of the finest solo songbirds will also be chirping this summer across the map, including Alanis Morissette, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff, Michelle Shocked and Rita Coolidge. These ladies indulge in musical styles ranging from light as lace to heavy as studded leather, so gauge your mood and choose accordingly.
Heavy metal fans will enjoy smacking their heads onto concrete during “Ozzfest 2005.” This edition will again headline Black Sabbath and include Iron Maiden, Mudvayne, Rob Zombie, Mastodon and Shadows Fall, among others. If you attend and find that you still have the ability to talk a semi-straight line without collapsing into a post-metal fetal position, you might want to go see Motley Crue, which begins the American leg of its reunion tour in late July. The event is nicknamed, “Better Live Than Dead.” We’ll be the judge of that.
Country music fans will probably have the Kenny Chesney & Gretchen Wilson collaboration at the top of their summer to-see lists. Their tour kicks off June 4 in Landover, Md., and is set to conclude August 28 in Louisville, Ky. Other twangers on the road this summer include Toby Keith, Cowboy Troy (appearing at some shows with Big & Rich, at others with Brooks & Dunn), Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw. And don’t try to hide your jug underneath your shirt. Security is on to that old trick.
There are enough acts and enough tickets to satisfy every music fan’s desires, as long as nobody gets greedy. If you discover a scalper in the ticket line in front of you, remind him of that fact. If that doesn’t work, then yell, “This guy’s a scalper!” to the rest of the people who have been waiting in line for hours and then get out of the way.
Michael Ventre lives in Los Angeles and is a regular contributor to MSNBC.com.