COVID-19 has wrecked the live-music industry. But there is a positive note to that: Scuzzy scalpers have been hit hard, too. Still, while big promoters are selling tickets to the few concerts that exist at prices that fans can actually imagine paying, the schemers have been scheming and are now ready to siphon your money into their grubby hands, affordability be damned.
For example, scalpers think this week's five Nathaniel Rateliff and Kevin Morby Red Rocks shows, fundraisers for Rateliff foundation the Marigold Project, are worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
No doubt, it's a powerful — though somber and short — concert. It's a treat to hear live music at Red Rocks with just 175 fellow fans, where nobody's bumping into you, barfing on you, or standing in your way. The setting is as gorgeous as ever, and the sound is better than usual.
But how much is that spectacular experience worth? With people missing concerts badly six months after the state shut down over COVID-19, scalpers are betting that some fans are willing to spend big.
The cheapest ticket you can buy on Stubhub for tonight's Rateliff show is currently $379, but there are also tickets going for upwards of $1,395. For September 18, tickets are running from $564 to $6,510; for September 19, they start at $464 and go up to $6,510; for September 21, closing night, they start at $1,767 and go up to $6,510.
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To be clear, these high-price tickets don't get you a spot at Rateliff's feet: They're just general admission.
Of course, there's no guarantee that people will pay $6,510 to go to a show, but those sky-high tickets could scare some customers into buying the cheaper (but far from reasonable) ones quickly instead of waiting for the price to go down, as it often does right before a concert.
"I’m done with live music," wrote one Rateliff fan on Facebook. "Prices are out of control."
But remember, those prices are for tickets on the secondary market. When tickets first went on sale, they went for $75 each plus fees. Despite the clear demand for live music, promoters are honorably keeping rates around where they were before the pandemic.