super moon view from the standing section at Jones beach for fleetwood mac, june 22, 2013

What I Learned from Spending Way Too Much Money to See Fleetwood Mac

A concert review and life lesson

I’d never spent so much money on a concert ticket before. For a festival, yes, but not just one band, one night. But after having slept on two chances to see them at Madison Square Garden in April and feeling so much envy as I followed every gushing live-tweet and Instagram, my friend Eric and I decided to just do it, and so we splurged on Fleetwood Mac tickets at Jones Beach.

I’m not an impulsive big-ticket-item spender. But I’ve realized that if months go by and I still want something and I have the means, I’ve got to go for it. Life is short, and experiences — whether it’s travel or music or a meal — are nearly always worth it. Last night we got quite the experience for a price that cost more in trust than money.

Even though there were still some tickets left on Ticketmaster, they weren’t as good as what we found on StubHub — which I’ve never used before, but it’s not like I hadn’t heard of it and figured everybody’s using it, why not me. I’ve bought tickets through Craigslist in the past. This seemed like an evolution in the system of reselling tickets. I could buy them through PayPal and download right away, what could go wrong?

I chose the pair in Orchestra F, row MM because they were central, and I liked that it sort of formed the initials of Fleetwood Mac (albeit with a stutter), for a total of $244 per ticket after service charges. Boom, done. I could have booked a cheap flight somewhere for that. I’m a freelancer, I can’t really afford this sort of thing. But again, I couldn’t bear the thought of missing out again. And this was Jones Beach. The theater had been hit by Hurricane Sandy and was back in business. I’ve seen several great concerts there before, under the stars and overlooking the water. The weather was beautiful, and it was the night of the super moon. Life is short. Forget the money. Just enjoy the experience and feel grateful to be there.

Traffic was slow on arrival, so by the time we were approaching the stadium gates, the first notes of “Second Hand News” — the first song on Rumours — came out over the speakers. Lindsey Buckingham’s vocals and guitar sounded so crisp and clear, I had to remind myself it was not a recording — that was actually Fleetwood Mac, playing live, and within minutes we would be in that audience, looking directly at him, and Stevie, and Mick, and John. I can’t remember the last time I rushed up to a ticket taker with so much enthusiasm. Go right ahead, check my bag, frisk me, whatever you’ve got to do, just let me in there.

The scanner made a horrible sound, a red X appearing on the screen. Once, twice, the same thing for both of our e-tickets. But I bought these on StubHub. We’re pointed the way to the box office. Those tickets have already been refunded, the teller says. Do you mean to say someone took our money and then applied for a refund? You mean we got scammed? She nods. Can you do anything, I ask. “We only deal with Ticketmaster. We don’t deal with scalpers, and StubHub is a scalper.” Wait, did I really buy tickets from a scalper? I know it sounds naive, but the thought hadn’t even occurred to me. I thought StubHub was more legit than that. Does this happen often? Again, she nods.

We step out of the line, and I’m fuming and feeling like the biggest fool on the planet — how could I have let this happen? Why did I ever spend so much money? How could I have let Eric down? Now what? Then the band starts playing “The Chain.” Good lord, it’s “The” fucking “Chain”?!

Hands shaking I have half a mind to tweet out the person’s name from the tickets and curse them out as brutally as I can in 140 characters. I want to know who would do this and how can I make them suffer. All I really do is look up the number for StubHub, reach customer service, and wait. Now the band is playing “Dreams”… my absolute favorite. This is absolute torture.

While I’m on hold Eric tries to charm a security guy into maybe taking pity on us (of course he didn’t but what did we have to lose). The band is playing some new song I don’t know… good, I think to myself, that’ll buy us some time till I can figure out what to do. Please don’t play any more of my favorite songs in the meantime, please, oh please.

I’m still waiting… and now they’re playing “Rhiannon.” Whoever did this to us is awful and evil, and I hope has the worst karma coming to them.

Finally, StubHub assures me we’ll be refunded the full amount, and if there are tickets still available we should buy them and submit the receipt so they can refund us the cost of those too. I feel a bit better as we purchase two standing-only general admission tickets (for a total of $211, thank you, StubHub).

We head back through the front gate for more bag searching and frisking, only this time with genuine tickets in hand. We’re both dying for a beer, but Jones Beach is a dry venue. The band is playing “Not That Funny”… definition of irony. I hear myself laughing like a crazy person.

I spend $10 on a soft pretzel and bottled water before we finally go in search of the standing section. “Tusk” is playing as we march triumphantly through the tunnel under the stadium and out into the open arena.

At last we arrive, determined to enjoy the greatest two-thirds of a concert ever. And wouldn’t you know, Fleetwood Mac was totally worth it.