The impending extinction of concert ticket keepsakes

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

A couple of years back, a buddy and I made a trip to New York to see a Yankees game. When we popped up out of the subway near the stadium, I asked him for my ticket. That’s when it got complicated.

I learned that the Yankees no longer believed in paper tickets. I had to download the Ticketmaster app and then engage in a weird dance of ask-permission-grant-access with my friend’s phone which held two digital tickets. It was a clunky process and rather non-intuitive, but I eventually got my ticket to display correctly on my iPhone and I was able to show the barcode to the guy at the gate. Frankly, it was a bit of an ordeal, but if the Yankees were doing it, then it was obvious that I’d seen the future.

“Cool,” I thought. But I was also annoyed because it meant that I wouldn’t have a souvenir ticket stub from my Yankee experience.

Ever since my first concert — KISS with guests Cheap Trick at the Winnipeg Arena on July 21, 1978 — I’d kept the stub from every show I’d ever attended. I began by carefully taping them to the wall in my bedroom, eventually creating a timeline of my live music experience. By the time I moved out, there were dozens of stubs in a series of vertical rows: KISS, Rush, Elvis Costello, Aerosmith, The Eagles, Goddo, more Rush, Van Halen, Nazareth, Cheap Trick, Trooper, Supertramp, still more Rush, and a series of festival tickets.

People would marvel at my wall. “Have you really been to all these shows?” they’d ask. To which I’d reply. “Yep. I’m a concert-goin’ freak.”

Each stub was a story in itself. In those days in Winnipeg, you bought tickets at Attractions Box Office (ABO), Celebrity Box Office (CBO), the box office at the venue (Winnipeg Arena, Playhouse Theatre, the Convention Centre, etc.), or from a cool record store like Autumn Stone. All purchases required trips through time and space — no online selling back then! — and were almost always bought with cash. They needed to be stored somewhere safe until the day of the show. In the weeks leading up to the show, you might take them out of the envelope and gaze at them in anticipation of the gig. And each ticket told a story.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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