Category Archives: touring

Anaheim House Of Blues in 2001 – were you there?

Today marks a kind of special day for me in Duran history. I almost forgot it…but thanks to the spreadsheet that Amanda has painstakingly amassed, I was properly reminded.

On this date in 2001, Duran Duran played at the Anaheim House of Blues. Just a normal date, on a normal day, right? Yes, except that at  this show, my fandom was reawakened.

In 2001, I was a young mom of two very little kids. My son Gavin was barely two, and Heather was four. At the time, Duran Duran was about the furthest thing from my mind. My days were spent doing laundry, trying to make sure my kids didn’t kill one another (you think I’m joking, but I assure you I am not).

At the time, Walt and I had annual passes to Disneyland and California Adventure, and we spent many a weekend taking the kids to the parks. On one of those weekends, we were strolling through Downtown Disney, and Walt happened to notice that the marquee for the House of Blues announced an upcoming show for Duran Duran. He asked if I wanted to go and I laughed. That’s right, I laughed. I hadn’t really listened to Duran Duran in years. I still had all of their albums, and fond memories, but I was in the throes of Mommyhood. I didn’t love Medazzaland, and admittedly, I hadn’t even bought Pop Trash.  Walt looked at me pretty insistently, saying I needed a night out (which meant getting a sitter, and that seemed like so much work!), so I told him to go ahead and get them. I really wasn’t excited, but I figured I might as well go.

Yes, telling this story makes me laugh…and kind of embarrasses me at the same time. It was like I was a completely different person back then!

I really was.

The night of the show arrived, and we got to Downtown Disney early enough to grab dinner. That’s right, I didn’t insist on getting there at 5am to grab a good spot. We walked by the line of people waiting to get in — it wasn’t very long — and Walt asked if I wanted to go wait. I said “No way, I want to eat dinner! I don’t need to be up front!!”

Insanity, I tell you.

We got dinner, went in about twenty minutes before the show started, and I decided I didn’t want to stand on the floor. I ended up being by the stairs in the back. Plenty close enough for me, because I wasn’t a huge fan. I’d given that up years before, right? Before long the show started and Simon, Nick and Warren took the stage.  I remember thinking to myself how, after all these years, I was finally in what I could consider to be the same room with Simon and Nick. Not the same arena, but the same breathing space. I was only a matter of feet from them. Yeah, Warren was there too, but I convinced myself that if I just ignored that part of the stage, it wouldn’t matter. (Sorry Warren fans. I was reliving the Fab Five as a Fab Twosome) John and Roger’s absence were noted, and I wondered wistfully what it would have been like with them there, but I didn’t dwell on those thoughts. I just lived and breathed the music that night.

I don’t remember much after that. I screamed, nearly cried and lost my mind.  Something happened during that show. Something deep, meaningful and visceral.  I remembered who I was before children, before getting married, before becoming whatever I was right then. I was reintroduced to the girl I once knew, and I really liked her.

That show was pivotal for me in so many ways. I can’t really talk about some of the things I’ve felt since then, or how that single show really woke me back up. I’m just thankful and filled with gratitude that I went. My life went from being pretty grey to complete Technicolor after that night. My husband didn’t realize what he’d done by insisting that I go with him to that show until it was far too late. I would imagine if he could, he’d go back and change that plan, in a lot of ways. On the other hand, that show saved me. I can’t even explain how or why—even for me, some things are just too private to blog about—but that show saved me.

I have a long, long way to go. But, I’ve reclaimed much along the way. I suppose in some way, I’m trusting the process (and what a process it is!). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am lucky. Yeah, I tease and joke about the band, and they drive me crazy at times—but I’m lucky I have this fandom.

I don’t know how many people think they grow out of something like this fandom, only to be reintroduced much later and jump back in with both feet. I did, and I’m not leaving. The Anaheim House of Blues on March 28, 2001 was a special night, I hope to never forget it.

-R

Don’t fake it when it comes to making money

One comment I’ve heard over and over about the band is that they probably laugh all the way to the bank. Yeah, some of us feel as though the shows are of good value at $300-400 (and sometimes more) for those great VIP seats, but I see plenty of comments otherwise, too.  Even I’ve had my “OK seriously guys, how much more cash do you need??” moments.

It’s hard. I love Duran Duran. YOU love Duran Duran. We want shows. We want to have great seats. We also need to eat, pay bills, send children to college, drive cars, and so on. While I know that there are plenty of other acts out there wanting $400 just to get in the door to the venue, much less sit near the front, I also know that it’s painful to buy more than a show at a time to see Duran Duran unless I don’t care where I sit.

Let me be clear: I CARE.  I care too much, as my husband might say.

It’s easy to throw an “off the cuff” comment out on Twitter or Facebook about how we’re paying for their retirement, or that we’ve paid for their kids’ boarding school. Naturally, most of those comments are made in jest. For instance, I realize it takes more than my dollars to buy a Picasso or an Aston Martin.  I often wondered what kind of mansions they all must own or the lives they must lead when they’re not on stage. Even as an adult, I didn’t start really considering their costs to actually operate until around the All You Need is Now tour.

It can’t be cheap.  Think about all of the people they’ve had work with the band. Those people don’t work for free. Timbaland, Mark Ronson, even Nile….all of them are in or have been in demand over the years. Collaborations, even with Janelle Monae or Lindsey Lohan, couldn’t have been for free. All of that studio time, the mixing, the engineering, mastering, etc… it all costs.

Then there’s the touring. Ah yes, the touring. When I was in England, I was surprised by how austere the touring was there compared to here. Many times, the band could (and did) travel from their home to where ever they were going to be. Here in the states, they use a private jet. That isn’t cheap at all even if the band gets a good deal. Here, they stay in pretty nice hotels, even if they put the crew up somewhere less expensive. Speaking of the crew – they pay all of those people, right? Everyone from the guy who has to take care of all that cabling (my worst freaking nightmare!) to the techs and beyond gets paid. Lighting, sound, audio/visual, and everyone in between get a pay check.  There’s also Dom, Anna, Erin and Simon W. to consider…. I’m fairly certain none of them donate their appearances for free!

Those things I’ve mentioned are merely a drop in the bucket. The minutia of touring, right down to the copying and printing that needs to be done, all takes money. Every last paper clip, button to be sewn, guitar string and costume, all takes money.

So, when I see that last year’s Paper Gods tour (2016 in case you’re unsure) grossed 16.1 million here in the states .I’m surprised, for a few reasons, actually.

First of all, according to Pollstar, who compiled a list of last year’s 200 top grossing tours (Duran Duran ranks at 74), the average ticket price to a DD show was $68. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my average ticket price was “slightly higher”…like about $300 a show, give or take.  As I said earlier on Twitter, the average ticket price for someone who doesn’t know much more than Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf was probably $68. For a die-hard fan? $300 if you want near the front.  I alternatively laugh and then cry…

Secondly, the band played 44 shows in 40 cities. That’s a lot. They grossed (that means before their costs), on average about $400,000 a show.  Not as much as I might have thought, really. (The band should not see this as an invitation to raise prices!) When you consider that figure is before anything else is paid – it becomes clear that no, this band isn’t really laughing all the way to the bank after all.

While I still feel fleeced from time to time – in a kind of a “Hey, congratulations Big Fan – you love us so much that you’re going to pay way more than others on average to sit near us” sort of way, it’s kind of the way things go. Demand. Demand, demand, demand. We want them, we’re going to pay for them. Welcome to Economics 101.  I can’t blame them for making a living, particularly when I do the math myself and realize they’re not making as much off of these shows as we might think. 16.2 million before paying all of the bills for things we know, and then the stuff we don’t even realize might not leave a lot….and I am sure they had to share some of that with Chic, too!! Sure, they’re making money. It’s their job in the same way that wrangling children and making copies is mine. I just happen to enjoy the fruits of labor an awful lot!

-R

 

Lost Souls Diamonds and Gold

One of my favorite scenes in Duran’s Sing Blue Silver documentary is when John Taylor is woken up to do an interview.  During that interview, he comments about how the tour (he is referring to the 1984 one) was “never an assured tour”.  I always took this to mean that the band didn’t really know how the tour was going to go.  Would the fans show up?  How would they react?  No matter how many times I see that scene, I find myself shaking my head.  How could they not know?  Of course, the fans would show up and love it!  Duh!

Yet, this past weekend, that quote floated through my brain quite often.  After all, I, too, felt that way before this past little mini-tour of ours at Agua Caliente.  I didn’t know how it was going to go, which was weird and felt very odd.  In the days leading up to going, I found myself struggling to get excited in the same way that I normally do.  Yes, I looked forward to it but it wasn’t the usual jumping out of my skin in excitement.  Was I losing my Duranie touch?  Looking back, I think it had more to do with me.

Life hasn’t felt very friendly lately.  I lost a lot of motivation for many things and to be honest, my friendship with Rhonda felt strained.  I couldn’t pinpoint anything specific but we were distant from each other due to lack of time, lack of effort, and lack of understanding.  I knew this going into the tour.  In fact, I told some people that I fully expected this to be my last one  This wouldn’t be because I wouldn’t have fun or because my love for Duran would end.  I just thought that maybe it had run its course or it would seem like too much effort.

As the weekend began, I told myself to have no expectations other than having fun.  The weekend didn’t have to be perfect (whatever that even means) to be great, I figured.  If you read or watched our blogs last weekend and beyond, you are well aware that the weekend definitely exceeded my expectations.  The shows were so much fun.  While, yes, I grumbled and complained about the lack of Planet Earth, I didn’t let that tick me off (too much).  I figured that it gave me permission to give them a hard time back, right???  I sang.  I danced.  I screamed.  It was glorious.  Yes, I wished that we had at least 18 songs and, yes, I wish that Sunrise or Careless Memories or Planet Earth was on the setlist.  Instead of complaining or wishing for something else, I appreciated the heck out of Only in Dreams and Is There Something I Should Know?.

Then, there was everything surrounding the shows.  I loved having drinks with friends, seeing people I only see at Duran functions and being reminded that everyone connected to Duran makes a community, a family of sorts.  I got to know people better and I got to meet people for the first time.  And, yes, I was reminded of why Rhonda and I tour so well together as we were the last ones standing on both nights.  Perhaps, there is also a lot less vodka in the resort after we had been there (along with our fellow vodka drinking friends!).

Of course, Rhonda and I had a chance to talk as well, which was much appreciated and needed.  I feel confident that the conversation reminded us both to be supportive of each other even if we don’t always understand the other’s choices.  Since then, things have felt very normal, which is so nice.  So much has not felt normal for me for a long time.  I have been focusing on fighting to keep the normal as I feared that many changes, significant and negative ones, would be coming down the pike.  While I don’t regret that and embrace that part of myself that must fight back, I must also remember what is part of my normal, what I am working to keep.  My normal means that Duran Duran and fandom plays a significant part.  It includes touring when and where I can.  Having fun is necessary to keep going during the less than fun times.

The weekend, the mini-tour, reminded me that I can wear more than one hat at a time.  In fact, it is required.  I remembered how much fun touring is and why my friendship with Rhonda matters as much as it does.  It gave me motivation to keep working on a dream, in one way, shape or form.  I don’t know that I can say that the weekend was perfect or the best tour, but it really was damn good.  Even better, it didn’t even end before I started to plan for the next one.  That is the ideal way to be, isn’t it?  Lost souls diamonds and gold, indeed.

-A

San Francisco, here we come!

This week has FLOWN by.  I don’t know where Monday and Tuesday really went, but it’s already Thursday.  I said goodbye to friends on Saturday night and Sunday, came home and by Tuesday afternoon had tickets for summer.

The planning happened in the blink of an eye, particularly since I hemmed and hawed about going most of the drive home from Palm Springs. I said I wouldn’t do more shows this year. Somehow, all of that flew out the window somewhere between Riverside and Rancho Santa Margarita, where I live. (Yes, I live in a town with an alcoholic drink in the name. I KNOW.)

We agreed that due to my current working situation – buying tickets is impossible. Working at a school is great until you need to be online to buy something. The wi-fi is sketchy, and many websites are blocked, which makes the presale process difficult. I absolutely adore the kids I work with, until I want to eat lunch or get a phone call. That’s when every child in the school wants to come and visit Miss Rhonda in the office for a band-aid or needs a hug. So Amanda stepped up to take the hit for both of us.

Now, I have to tell you that I didn’t even look at my watch that morning until probably 10:25 or so – well after tickets went on sale. I wondered how Amanda had fared, because normally she texts me. I figured that she knew I wouldn’t be able to answer her and would call later, but something told me I should just check. So I texted her:

Did you survive or did Ticketmaster finally do you in?!?

I was in the middle of recess, which I describe as managing chaos. I simply have to keep my eyes on 120 students. Sounds easy, right? Sometimes it is. Most days, it is not.  So, it wasn’t until about fifteen minutes later that I checked my phone and saw that Amanda had replied.

I am fighting Ticketmaster.

Oh nooooooooo

She explains that she had trouble with Live Nation – the site (while on her laptop) thought she was a bot. I’m sorry I’m not sharing all of those texts, but they are sprinkled with vulgarity and threats of all kinds (although we didn’t say much about the band, so that’s a plus!!). So then she tried on her phone, and amazingly enough, that worked. But Ticketmaster was another story for a variety of reasons I don’t even want to get into. She tried the online customer service chat, then she tried calling – I can’t even tell that story the way Amanda does, but basically it took her thirteen minutes to even get to a real person, and when she finally did get through, it sounded (to me) as though the person couldn’t hear her and HUNG UP. 

As I read her texts, I couldn’t help but take turns laughing, (I am pretty sure Amanda wasn’t laughing but damn!) and then being infuriated right along with her. I have to say – the entire episode sounded like something I’d watch on a sitcom! It was so bad I couldn’t believe it. Every form of imaginable technology seemed to fail her that day.

But we have tickets. They’re GA, and waiting all day is going to suck, but we have tickets, and we’re going to make it a party.

I’m excited. I haven’t been to a concert in San Francisco before, and I hear the Fox Theater in Oakland is gorgeous. We’re looking at places to stay, and I’m THRILLED this is only four months from now….and those four months are going to be jam-packed: I have college visits, my wedding anniversary, my youngest and Amanda share a birthday, Mothers Day, my sister’s birthday, Gavin’s graduation, Fathers Day, Gavin’s birthday, Fourth of July, and then I leave with Amanda, so time will absolutely fly.

Thank goodness!

I hope the band doesn’t forget how to play Careless Memories by then. I saw they added it to their set list tonight in Houston….

Hope to see many of you in the GA line this summer!

-R

 

 

Turnabout is fair play when it comes to the set list

Sorry I’m so late with today’s post. Our morning was wild here, and the afternoon is not faring much easier, as far as time goes!

I think I’m still coming to terms with my weekend, which was amazing. Anytime I can spend the day out by the pool and see my favorite band at night is great, but there were some additional “happenings” that make this particular weekend even better than normal. Those are the things that make me smile when my day might be going rougher than I’d hoped, and help me sleep at night. Or not sleep, I guess.  I’m just gonna leave that thought right there.

In any case, one of the funnier themes of the weekend was that Amanda had no interest in following rules. I probably need to be more clear about that.  For example, I would never dream of, say, telling the band what to play.

Ok, that’s a flat-out lie. The one thing we didn’t do this weekend was tweet out our own super-special set lists! Normally I’m all about telling the band what I think and what to play. This weekend though, I really didn’t care. They could have gotten up there and played just about anything. I believe my expectations for the weekend were summed up like this, “All they have to do is show up, Amanda.”

So when they broke into Only in Dreams on the first night, it took me WAY longer than I care to admit for my brain to sort out what it was I was hearing. Then they followed up with Is There Something I Should Know.

OH MY GOD.

That is my favorite. My all-time favorite song. Ever. I nearly had kittens. It’s not as though I have never heard it before, but to have them play it without expecting it was even better.  But then I knew something was missing. I kept waiting, and no, Planet Earth never showed. I can remember standing there beside Amanda thinking “Holy shit. She really IS going to have kittens!! And she blogs tomorrow, too!!”

So, she was really disappointed. No, the band can’t play their entire catalog, but Planet Earth has been a staple. I can’t remember the last time they didn’t play it, actually. I know she loves it, but I also recognize that sometimes, they have to do something to mix it up. Even so, I didn’t know what Amanda would do.

Fast forward to the following evening. We had a friend at the front and were talking to her during the show when Amanda saw a list taped down at Simon’s spot. Appropriately titled, “Palm Springs Agua Caliente”,  she could read the set list from where she was standing, and I could see she wasn’t happy about what it said. On the other hand, I won’t look at the set lists before the show.  I like being surprised, and I don’t want to know when it’s going to be over.

I liken this to Christmas presents. My sister used to go on a full-on hunt for the gifts when we were little. She would find everything and either be satisfied, or annoyed and disappointment at  what “Santa” was going to bring. One Christmas, I succumbed to her urging.  Using a swivel desk-chair to reach the door to our attic, I tried to find a set of skis I had almost NO chance of getting (and didn’t!) only to fall and sprain my arm because A. I am klutzy and B. I was using a stupid SWIVEL CHAIR. Not my smartest or proudest moment. Robin STILL teases me about that Christmas present hunt to this day. (I love younger siblings.) I learned my lesson. I prefer to be surprised.

Amanda looks up at me and says “It hasn’t changed.”  I wasn’t surprised. This band (sorry guys), hasn’t necessarily been the greatest about changing up the set list from night-to-night lately.  I didn’t know what to say, but Amanda was already digging through her purse, mumbling something about leaving a note.

A note?

WHAT? “Noooooo Amanda, you can’t!” I exclaim, half laughing.  “What if they see it?!?”

The trouble is, I know when Amanda is determined, and she was. My protests weren’t going to stop the inevitable. She was going to leave that note, and there wasn’t a thing I was going to be able to do about it except laugh along with her. She found an envelope (our ticket envelope, no less) and wrote out “PLANET EARTH!!!” in big letters with a Sharpie.  Great, but where to leave it? I figured she’d throw it up there, and within two seconds of the band getting on stage we’d never see the likes of it again. Easy.

Oh, Amanda had that figured out already. She was going to tuck it in with the existing set list. Amanda kind of climbed up and halfway laid on the stage so that she was able to work the note in and secure it. She hopped down, and shared a laugh with us(mine was somewhat more of a nervous laugh), we knew we were on our way. To hell, I’m sure.

a harmless suggestion, right?? Photo courtesy of Janet McCabe

I felt the blood drain from my face, and went to my seat. Surely they wouldn’t know, because (thank goodness) they don’t know our handwriting!!

Of course, now that I’ve typed this, it’s not secret.

(GOOD THING THEY DON’T READ THE BLOG, RIGHT?!?)

The band comes out for the show. I’m not really sure if Simon ever saw the addition to the set list, but I won’t lie – I giggled at the thought. No, they didn’t play Planet Earth, but I could swear I saw him look down at the note, and then look down at the two of us (three if you count our friend Suzie!) and narrow his eyes more than once. I immediately mouthed “I didn’t do it!” and pointed at Amanda.

Hey, if you can’t throw your best friend under her own damn bus….

and then White Lines began. Now – I love this song and by then, I felt strongly that we were going to experience “The Spit Zone” more than ever before. I was going to enjoy that guitar solo no matter what (and I did, thanks to Dom), but I was worried. I knew we were in front, and from the amount of smack we’ve given that band and particularly Simon over the years, he could let us have it. Again.  Simon went back for his long drink of water, and came back with a mouthful – the kind of mouthful that was going to drench someone, really. I saw Nick smirking out of the corner of my eye and thought to myself, “Here we go!”  I just looked down and felt the fire-hose worth of water spray onto the back of my head and arm. GAH. I looked up and just laughed because at that point, what else could I do?

I have a feeling we had that coming.

Turnabout is fair play. Until next time, anyway. -R

 

That’s why they’ve done it again. Presales again!

I realized at about 7:45 tonight that I hadn’t blogged for tomorrow, which is funny because tomorrow around 10am, this whole “tour planning” thing starts all over. Presales again.

I have a little story for you, my friends. It’s about the time I went to a show and before leaving the hotel on Sunday morning, I was already plotting for another tour.

Picture the end of a Duran show, the final chord from Rio hanging in the air, confetti still swirling it’s way to the floor of the stage. There’s that moment when you know in your head it’s over, but you take one last longing look at the stage and smile, because damn it – the band is good.

That was me on Saturday night. I had ZERO complaints about the show, other than it being over.  I turned, told Amanda that the vodka and empty barstools weren’t waiting, and made a run for the door (true story).  Typically, I hate that bittersweet feeling I get when my final show is over, because of course it’s a let down, and the night seems to drag on after that. I wasn’t about to let that happen this time, because as far as I knew, it was my last show for this year. I wanted to savor time with friends and, well – not think about tomorrow.

I hightailed it to the Waters Cafe bar in the hotel, and found our other friend who kindly saved us seats. It wasn’t long before most other fans I knew trickled in, and before I had even finished my first drink, a friend of ours (Amanda’s and mine) wandered over with an interesting bit of news.  Someone she knew had commented on one of her posts about a show. She even named a venue. In July?? WHAT?

All of us sat staring at one another. Was it possible? The band was coming back to California? Again?? SERIOUSLY? It was the kind of thing you had to just tuck away in the back of your mind for later and hope for the best.  As the night wore on, we heard this rumor swirling around some more, and the next morning I woke up to what seemed like a very alert Amanda.

“HOLY SHIT!” (Amanda has a mouth like a truck driver when not in front of her class, apparently.)

I sat up straight. I’m not gonna lie, it had been a long night, we had drank (and closed up) every bar in the hotel. I wasn’t ready for the morning ahead.  I didn’t know whether to start packing, or duck and cover.

“What?!?” I could feel my heart pounding. In my head.

“Those motherfuckers just announced more dates, Rhonda. What we heard last night was true!”  Amanda started reciting the information straight from the email. I could barely follow along and desperately needed caffeine. And Advil (Ibuprofen for those of you not from America. It is my friend.)

As always, I immediately began cursing and planning, almost simultaneously. Then, as is typical, the negative thoughts began swirling around. I had no money for a presale, much less a presale that was going to start in….48 HOURS??  Presales again?

This band. Let me count the ways in which they make me want to run screaming at times, and let’s not confuse this with the fan girling we discussed yesterday. Very, VERY different, indeed.

First off, why back in the US? Money. Of course it is money. And demand. And promoters and bookers. It is the business, and it is what drives the band. Yes, I’m aware they’ve played here a lot this year. I’m also aware that the rest of the world has had very little. I don’t work for Duran Duran, and I don’t know what to tell the rest of you. Don’t confuse my excitement with a lack of empathy for everyone else, though. It does seem thoroughly unfair, but this business is not fair.

Second, why summer? Why San Francisco and Oakland and Canada??  Who knooooooooooowwwwssss.  Surely not I.  But the presales again?

SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE. GET IT TOGETHER.

DDHQ – I’m looking at you.  If there was one thing you all could do to improve the relationship with all of us – the fans – it would be to figure the touring thing out. I just don’t believe that it is necessary to push fans to the brink every single time a tour announcement is made. I just don’t. The worst part of it is, no matter how I feel about it, we’ll still buy the tickets. And that’s why you keep doing it. 48 hours is not a lot of time to figure out how, when and where.  Joyful and thankful as I really am to have more shows to attend, I’m also keenly aware of the stress this kind of thing adds to everyday life.

Our ride home on Sunday was spent figuring it all out. I also spent a little time digesting Saturday night, both before and after the show. A lot goes down in a weekend when you’re at Duran shows, you know?  Crazy stuff. (there’s that word again!)  I also needed to reconnect with Amanda. The weekend had gone by very fast, and to be painfully honest, the past year has been rather tough on our friendship. We needed more time, and now it looks like we’ll get some in July. We need it.

So now I’m home, and like many, I become a silent observer to the rest of the shows.  Well, not quite that silent, but I think you get the point.  We’ll do the presales again tomorrow (today as you read this) and then wait for July to arrive. In the meantime, real life takes over.

-R

 

Highlights and More from Night One of Spring 2017 Tour!

I apologize for the lateness of the blog today (as well as the lack of a question of the day).  Wi-fi has not been super cooperative for us as we have been out by the pool most of the day, enjoying drinks and Duran trivia (let the record show that our friend, Lori, and I beat Rhonda and our friend, Suzie!!).

Today’s blog is a little vlog that captures the good, the bad and the ugly of last night’s show.  Just kidding…it is more about the highlights, lowlights and hopes for tonight’s show.

Without further ado, here are our thoughts about last night’s show, the first Duran show of their Spring 2017 Paper Gods Tour.  This show took place at the Agua Caliente casino and resort and definitely features some excitement (a new song!!) and some disappointment (have I mentioned that Planet Earth is my favorite Duran song of ALL TIME?!? and it wasn’t played!!!).

-A

…And We’ll Remember

Twelve years ago today I drove to Chicago to join my new Duranie friends for a weekend of fun and Duran Duran.  While I had met many of these new friends months prior in New Orleans, the weekend in 2005 was the first time I would attending a Duran show with any of them.  When those Astronaut tour dates were posted, we made plans quickly, including deciding to gather in Chicago to not only see the show, but to buy those more expensive VIP tickets.  I purchased those tickets for myself, Rhonda and another friend of ours.  In reality, I had no real idea if I could trust them to pay me back, but they did.  I had no clue if I could really hang out with them for an entire weekend or whether or not Rhonda and I would share a hotel room without a problem.  I took a leap of faith.

By 5 am on March 20th, 2005, I knew that it Rhonda and I were able to not only go to shows together but could travel “on tour” well together.  During that weekend, I laughed more than I had for an entire year, I swear.  I had so much fun that I wondered if it shouldn’t be illegal.  I almost questioned my grip on reality because it exceeded every expectation I had.  The joy I felt was pure and fulfilled me in a way that I wasn’t even aware that I lacked.  To say that the weekend changed my life would be an understatement.  Everything changed after that.

When I look back at the 12 years that have transpired between then and now, I almost cannot believe it and I certainly wouldn’t have believed it then.  Rhonda and I have shared so much.  We have traveled to the UK twice together.  We have seen shows ranging from Glasgow, Scotland, to Toronto, Canada, to New York City, New York to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Chicago, Illinois, to San Diego, California and more.  Beyond those shows, we started this blog here.  The Daily Duranie became way more than just a simple, little blog about Duran Duran.  It became about fandom and about us and about our fan community.  The blog has become a part of us and who are are, both as individuals and as a pair.  I think ending the blog would feel like cutting off an arm or at least a finger.  I would miss it.

Beyond the shows and the blogging, we also organized many fan meet-ups and a weekend long convention.  We have written two full manuscripts and have come up with many more ideas.  The love that we had and have for a band blossomed, bloomed into real action on our parts.  We have criticized widely for our approach, our questioning, our criticism.  We have also been praised by our dedication (or insanity).  We have been accused of being too negative by some and thanked for keeping the fandom going.

Rhonda and I met in New Orleans in September of 2004.  While that weekend included some amazingly fun activities as well as an acknowledgement that we were kindred spirits when it comes to Duran Duran, it didn’t create the domino affect like that the weekend in Chicago in March of 2005 did.  A convention is a one weekend off event.  It is not something that can be easily replicated.  Shows, though?  They happen more often.  Tours provide us the opportunity to relive that first weekend over and over, at least to some extent.  That first touring weekend started a snowball of fandom that has grown even as it has changed.  It solidified the beginnings of a friendship that has meant the world to me.

Now, on the anniversary of that date, I wonder what will come next.  Will the snowball of fandom continue to get bigger?  Will it stay the same in size while totally changing shape?  What about Rhonda and myself?  In many ways, our friendship has been tested a lot.  We have faced rejection, been ignored, the receivers of some insulting and hateful comments over the years.  Beyond that, we recognize that our “real” lives are often pulling us in opposite directions while we continue to work together and to be friends.  I don’t know exactly how we will navigate the next twelve years, I just know that I hope we can continue to do it together.  After all, we aren’t done with Duran Duran yet.

-A

Presales and the die hard fan: Is the process really meant to be fair?

A couple weeks ago, Amanda blogged about the new presale system that Depeche Mode is using for their upcoming tour. In full disclosure, I am not a huge Depeche Mode fan in 2017. I owned all of their albums up until the late 90s or so, but I got bored. I’m not here to get into a debate over their music, so we’ll just say that I always take notice when they come out with something new, but I’m not quite as driven as many others.  So, when their new tour was announced, along with a vague explanation of this new presale system where your place in line is at least partially determined by how hard you work to promote Depeche Mode and their tour, I knew there was no way I was getting involved.  I just don’t love them that much. I’m not sure I love any band that much, outside of Duran Duran.

Oddly, considering the tone of this post, I have always been a big supporter of fan marketing. That means that an artist shares the responsibility of marketing with  his/her/their fan base, and then rewards them for their efforts. Depeche Mode isn’t necessarily wrong to use a similar method for this tour. I think the idea of rewarding fans who go the extra mile is a great idea…and that has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve written a blog for the past six years. It just makes good sense. But how to make it all work? The devil is in the details. Or, in other words, something that sounds good on paper doesn’t always work out in real life. Or online.

For the past two weeks or so, I’ve seen a lot of my friends post or tweet something about registering for Depeche Mode tickets using their link so that they can move up farther in line.  I saw the same posts from the same people tens, if not hundreds of times. I don’t know if just posting helped them, or if they really needed people registering off of their link for it to count. I also saw, with some regularity, posts from other friends who were complaining about how far they’d dropped in line. Very few of them seemed to move up, and staying in the lower digits at least seemed pretty difficult to me from the outside looking in. I don’t know how much effort it took to remain in those spaces (and if anyone has insight on that, feel free to drop me a line or share your tale in the comments!), but I do know that if I’d been involved, I would have obsessed over my number in line, which is never good (for me, anyway).

The frenzy of posts seemed to grow until this weekend, where it seemed CRAZY, until last night when the same friends got their emails telling them their presale times for this morning. I woke up this morning to many negative-leaning posts about the presale process.

It was about this time when I started being thankful for paying my $35.00 a year membership to DDM, and only having to work within the DD presale process. Yes, Ticketmaster has not always been kind to me, but to be fair—the main reason I have had any kind of trouble has been because I didn’t want to pay for top tier Duran Duran tickets,  so I have gone with a lesser VIP package, and then been appalled where those packages have ended up being, seat-wise. I don’t know what that’s about with me, but I’ve just learned that if I’m going to go, I have to suck it up and pay the big prices to be up front, or just be satisfied I’m in the building. There’s no in between for me, I really am that high maintenance, and that is MY problem. But back to Depeche Mode…

As I observed friends getting more and more impatient over the Depeche Mode presale, I realized that there just isn’t any one way to make this process fair for everyone. There’s always going to be someone who feels screwed, no matter what is done.

Let’s face it, a successful tour means sold-out shows, and if there are sold-out shows, it means that sure enough, somebody, somewhere, will end up without the tickets they want. Demand exceeded supply. Hence the sad posts from fans without tickets, angry posts from those who ended up with back row, and frustrated posts from those who think $300 for one mediocre seat in the rear of the venue is a little out of hand. And trust me, it is, I agree…but we pay it because we desperately want to be there. The venue, management and a host of other people who make their living from concerts all know this. It is the name of the game. Business. 

I saw a lot of disappointed posts this morning, and a lot of people saying they bought some tickets but weren’t at all happy about what it took to get them. I thought a lot about the things I’m willing to do to go to a DD show these days. For me personally, I’m not sure where the line is drawn. Some days, like today, I’m thinking that I do enough as it is. I just want to buy the damn ticket. I would be really upset if they went to a similar system as Depeche Mode, and I’m not sure I’d bother.  On other days, I might say that if I had to participate with all of that posting and tweeting in order to do a presale and get a decent spot – I suppose I might. I’m not sure. Right now, I’m feeling tired. I don’t feel young, and I’m just not sure it’s all worth it, but that could easily change overnight. I don’t want to begin jumping through more hoops in order to see Duran Duran, but when push comes to shove would I really be willing to stop seeing them live, or would I be willing to forgo a good spot in line for presales?  Would you?

I hope I don’t have to find out any time soon.

-R