The Guardian, aware that we are living in a country down to its last thruppence ha’penny, is thinking about the finances of the poor gig going kid. Look, they have a video and everything to tell you how to save money:
As you can see the secret of cutting the cost of gig tickets is to go to gigs that took place nineteen years ago. If you fancy seeing the Manic’s in Hull in 1994, or Mansun at the Kilburn National, well – you’ll be quids in. I am sure this is excellent advice, otherwise why would you advertise the piece which such out of date tickets. Of course back then I too had my own methods of getting into gigs for free, which I can shamefully reveal now…
I had the good fortune to win a ticket to a Kingmaker gig on Mark Goodier’s Evening Session in the summer of 1993. I say good fortune, it felt like it at the time, but Kingmaker bashing notwithstanding, I dutifully waited on the line for the ticket details. Of course there were no physical tickets, I was added to the guest list and told to present myself as such.
Next day I got to the newly minted Forum*, where I gave my name and was let in without anyone even looking up. “Ho”, I thought, “that doesn’t seem at all that secure.” And it wasn’t. Many people think that the secret of the guest list is that they don’t think you can read upside down. But you don’t need to be able to read upside down. When Mark Goodier, with all appropriate DJ sincerity said “The lucky winner of the Kingmaker tickets is Pete Baran of Borehamwood”, he told the world, or at least two of the world (it was a plus one), how to get into the gig. And so subsequently to a sold out Suede gig I went two weeks later as Nigel Smith of Ruislip.
Sorry Nigel, if you are reading this. I really wanted to go to the gig. But I reckon you got in too, because I think that the following conversation would have happened:
“Hi I’m Nigel Smith, Radio One competition winner”
“You’re already in.”
“But I’m not, I’m here. Look its me, I have ID.” (Fishes out a shonky Brunel University NUS Card).
“Well it says you came in. You’re name has been crossed out.”
Nigel looks like he is about to cry. His girlfriend looks like she is about to dump him.
“Oh, go in, someone must have tried it on.”
And in he got. To possibly shimmy to Metal Mickey next to me unknowingly.
Rule one of pretending to be a competition winner, get there early. Beyond that it was plain sailing, though I did occasionally wonder if the Nigel conversation was really happening or if I was just assuaging my guilt. So I turned my attention to upside-down guest-listing (actually a lot harder than it looks), or “UK Managering”. UK Managering was my favourite, as no-one would ever get hurt. In the early nineties, all US bands thanked their UK Tour Manager on their record sleeves and rightly so as being big in the UK was the way to break the world. There is no way their UK Manager would not be on the guest list at a gig in London, so away you go. And this worked well for Dinosaur Jr, The Breeders and then I stopped doing it. Cos it was wrong, cos it was stealing from the bands, cos I got caught.
I should have known better than to pretend to be Elliott Smith’s UK Manager.
*Sad to say my only real piece of student activism that I instigated at University was to try to stop Kentish Town’s Town & Country Club being sold off to Vince Power. Ah the futility of teenaged rebellion.