Are VIP Tickets Worth the Price? Wrong Question
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Put out of your mind the notion that outdoor music festivals are places where we can all come together as one. Sure, there are moments of transcendence when everyone seems to be riding the same wave, but most other times, we're all individuals with wallets and pursesand we all come together, accordingly, to test the value of our tickets.
Even if you have a tidy choice between enjoying VIP admission benefits and general admission benefitsas you will with many festivalsyou're going to fight for space no matter what. And, the value of the overall experience is not about the benefits you paid for, but the spaces you claim.
Los Angeles's Fuck Yeah Fest (FYF) started as a dingy Echo Park bar hop ten years ago. Now, FYF is a mature music festival: multi-day, multi-stage, operating across 32-acres in L.A. State Historic Park next to Chinatown, and, if not featuring multi-platinum selling acts, then the festival is featuring acts that have street cred (and, basically, Pitchfork Media's stamp of approval): Yeah Yeah Yeahs, My Bloody Valentine, The Breeders, Dan Deacon, Kurt Vile, Beach House, Eleanor Friedbergerall told, 56 different acts.
The FYF crowd has also grown in the number of attendeesand grown along a very large age spectrum. In 2003, you would have found a hundred sweaty 20-somethings roaming the darkness. This past August 24-25, there were a handful of infants and a handful of AARP card-carriers holding down the margins. In between? More than 20,000 Gen Xers and Gen Yers: Mollys, Mayas, Deans, and Dans (I met about ten each) many wearing Minotaur hoof boots, some bouncing in velvet crop-tops, others brandishing vintage Brownie cameras, and a few swaying in candy colored hula hoops.
All of these people chose either a general admission tickets ($120) or a VIP admission tickets ($199), which grossed FYF organizers (by my estimation) something in the neighborhood of $3 million.
General admission gave me access to some pretty basic thingsall four stages, a couple of biergartens ($7-8 per beer), a food truck village ($5-$15 per item), a merch tent (totes, $10; sweatshirts, $40), and an array of truly foul port-o-potties (the price of your dignity). VIP admission, on the other hand, gave me access to a cordoned-off area adjacent to three out of four stages, actual liquor, phone-charging stations, dedicated food trucks and tented areas with couches and ottomans, not to mention promotional quirks like an Airstream, or as I was told in soft tones, "a chill out zone so you can, like, relax."
Of course, two price pointsand two sets of benefitselicited an us-versus-them clamor from time to time. I witnessed at least three dozen non-VIP'ers sulk away angrily after feigning confusion about their ticket's worth to the VIP bouncer and being asked to step back.