General Admission Tickets Are For Suckers

Dan Gibson | June 3, 2008 10:30 am

If you’ve ever purchased tickets to one of the big summer festivals, I’m sure you’ve looked at the V.I.P. packages available and thought there’s no way they’re worth the generally insane prices. But for the readership of Forbes, they’re really the only option.

Forbes is nice enough to detail how its readers can soak up the festival experience without experiencing the actual festival itself.

To get the most out of any festival, consider purchasing a VIP pass. Though they cost as much as three-times the regular admission, a VIP pass will guarantee a higher level of service. At Bonnaroo, where VIP admission is $1,169.50 for a pair, the special treatment includes preferred parking, seats closer to the concert stage, nicer shower and restroom facilities and VIP-only events. Regularly priced passes start at $209.50.

At other festivals, VIP treatment comes for a smaller price. Fans of ’80s hair-band acts like Bret Michaels (lead singer of Poison), Warrant and Tesla can get VIP passes to the Rocklahoma festival (July 9-13) in Pryor, Okla., for $400. The pass entitles ticket-holders to up-close seats and meals and beverages.

With or without a VIP pass, many of these festivals offer cool extras. At Rocklahoma, $2,000 will get you an hours-long session with a festival musician. The evening ends with a 10-minute set before a roaring rock ‘n’ roll crowd. Mark Nuessle, president and general manager of Catch the Fever Music Festivals, which organizes the event, says the sessions haven’t been advertised, but half of the slots are already sold.

All Points West organizer Ken Tessler says he may add additional components once the event date nears but is currently planning an interactive art exhibit and will host an eco-village where audience members can learn about environmental issues. At Pemberton, local outdoors companies will take concert-goers horseback riding, whitewater rafting and hiking for an additional price.

How can you pass up those bargains? Besides the fact that you might be the only person at Bonnaroo who takes a shower, those entry-level portable toilets are a drag, and the price difference is barely more than $800 a person. All Points West will likely not have the same celebrity be-seen quotient as its sister festival Coachella, but that eco-village sounds promising.

It’s easy to understand the economics behind offering the V.I.P. ticket, since most are likely sold to corporate outfits who want to impress their clients and higher-ups, but it certainly gives people within that bubble a vastly different experience than one might get hanging out with the riff raff. Then again, can you really put a prize on a one-on-one experience with one of the members of Trixter?

Sensational Summertime Music Festivals [Forbes]