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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Iron and Wine Concert Underscores the Problems with Utah Venues

We went to the Iron & Wine concert at Saltair on Friday.

I know what you're thinking: Saltair seems a rather unfitting venue for a band such as Iron & Wine. And you're right, the show really would have been better suited for Kingsbury or Abravanel Hall.

For one thing, even though the tickets claimed that this was a general admission seated event, the great employees of Saltair neglected to put out any seats, even though they kept us outside for a half hour after doors were supposed to open, and thus had plenty of time to put out the chairs. (That half hour might have only been 10 minutes, but it was cold and snowy, and so it felt like a half hour anyway.) I know that they had chairs, and that other people expected to get chairs too, because a small group of people on the first level asked an employee to get them some chairs, and they set out a dozen or so near the staircase. Good for those people; they were smart to insist upon their seats, because listening to rather undanceable music on your feet really starts to wear you out after 3 hours.

Ian and I opted to buy the $5 temp membership to go up to the bar level upstairs. If you are lucky enough to get a rail space (which we were, thankfully), you actually get a pretty good view from up there.

However, I have a problem with the fact that you have to buy the membership to go to the bar area. At all other venues I've been to, the ticket or door price is enough if there is a show going on. All you have to do is be 21 and you can go in the bar section for no extra fee. Even Club Sound, the shittiest venue in Salt Lake, lets you get into the bar section for free. So I have a real problem with having to buy a bar membership AND a door ticket at Saltair.

A guy behind me in line asked the lady selling the memberships why they weren't included in the ticket price, and she said that Saltair is owned by a separate company from the bar, which is owned by Club Suede. Apparently, Saltair couldn't get their own liquor license (not sure why that is), and so Suede comes out there to operate the bar. But that still doesn't explain why the door charge doesn't cover it. What difference should it make?

While we're on the subject of ridiculous charges, let's talk about the parking fee at Saltair. You HAVE to pay 5 bucks to park in Saltair's muddy and unkempt lot. There are no other parking options. You are not allowed to park outside of Saltair's property by the frontage road, because they will tow you.

Alright, so it might be fair to charge a parking fee for a well-kept lot (although I think $5 is too much). At Usana Amphitheater, the parking fee is added to the ticket price, which is lame, in that you have to pay to park even if you ride with someone else, but they at least keep the lot clean, and they have a couple dozen parking monkeys on hand to try to organize the madness that ensues following the shows (however unsuccessfully). On the other hand, most businesses validate your parking if they are doing business off of your parking there.

But Saltair just has a pot-hole-filled lot with two or three pot-head attendants who probably skim off the top.

All these things aside, the sound for Iron & Wine was uncharacteristically descent for a Saltair show. The balance was pretty good, though Sam's vocals could have been higher (and for that matter, his female back-up vocalist could have been higher as well), but all in all the performance was good. A little too Grateful Dead or Phish-esque at times with the end song jams, but it still attained the level of professional performance that I expect from a traveling band.

The opening act's sound was awful, and I noticed that there were different sound people manning the two sets, and so I assume that the opening act was relegated to the service of the in-house sound guy, who for all we know could be the same shitty sound guy who works at Club Sound.

The overall verdict is that we need to be more discriminating about which shows we see at Saltair. Bands like Iron & Wine are not suited for that venue, and based on my disappointment at some shows that were suited for the venue, like Coheed & Cambria, I think I will only go to shows that I absolutely need to see and that happen to be at Saltair. Like if Bjork or Mew or Alanis Morissette came and foolishly played at Saltair, I would faithfully attend. But no more dropping $30 bucks ($20 ticket + $5 parking + $5 bar charge) for a band that I would most likely have a better time listening to on CD or DVD.

Problems with Utah Shows/Venues/Tickets:

Hidden "service" charges on ticket prices
Charge the fee if you must, but just tell us the total price up front, you effing liars.

Shitty Sound / Sound Guys
You guys are in the business of providing live musical experiences, so let's get some people who know what the hell they're doing at those sound boards, alright? Otherwise we might as well all go home.

Making people wait longer than expected to get in
When you publish the door time on your tickets, guess what? That's the time people expect to be let in. So either stop being so optimistic with how early you will be able to let people in, or get your act together and get the damn venue ready to open at the stated time. Unprofessional!

Charging excess parking / bar / drink fees
If we have no choice but to park in your lot, then you really have no right to charge us to do so, especially if you don't keep up the lot. And no more of this double charging people who want to both go to the show and have a drink in the bar section.


Venue Ratings

Club Sound - THE shittiest venue in Salt Lake.

In the Venue - Most of my experiences on the larger half of Venue/Sound have been good. But I've got my eye on them.

Saltair - Would be awesome if it were well managed, got rid of the stupid parking and bar fees, and hired knowledgeable sound guys.

Energy Solutions - Effing expensive, but at least the sound is generally good.

E-Center - See Energy Solutions. Practically a carbon copy.

Usana - A very nice venue for a chill outdoor concert experience, even if expensive.

Avalon - This place would be awesome if they'd clean it up a bit. Come on, put a little of that revenue back into your business so it doesn't look like a pawn shop from the street, eh?

Urban Lounge - Would be cool if they worked on the atmosphere a little, and stopped cranking the volume so high that my ears ring even with ear plugs. Besides that, the layout is really cool, and the beers are large.

Club Velour - How I love this venue. If only it were in Salt Lake instead of Provo! And if only they would let people in at the appointed door time! I only go to this place if the show is worth the long drive.

No Brow Coffee - I've only been here for Chanticleer shows, but it is well-suited for small acoustic performances.


Have a venue or gripe that needs to be added to these lists? Post a comment!

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4 comments:

feed the world with PEZ said...

What I found amusing is that during that concert "Sam" asked the crowd if we really had to pay for parking. Appalled, he made the remark that we should protest... So if a musician that performs at venues all over the world thinks that the Saltair owners are being greedy, then may be we should protest. After all it seems to me that in a way its some form of extortion. "Come to our show only $20!"... "Sweet, only 20 bucks, hell I'll buy two"... "Oh by the way you have to pay 5 bucks to park your car you have no other choice." It sort of reminds me of a program that I watched recently that talked about Niagra Falls. They used to let people in to see the falls for free, but when you wanted to leave, they charged you a hefty fee to get out... It might not be that quit as bad but I stinks of the same breed of weasel.

Sra said...

Oh really? I didn't hear Sam say that, but I'm glad he did, because we all need to start speaking out about these injustices.

That Niagara Falls thing is outrageous. It's like almost anything that is advertised as free -- there's almost always a catch. Bastards.

Weasels really are stinky.

Sra said...

Oh really? I didn't hear Sam say that, but I'm glad he did, because we all need to start speaking out about these injustices.

That Niagara Falls thing is outrageous. It's like almost anything that is advertised as free -- there's almost always a catch. Bastards.

Weasels really are stinky.

feed the world with PEZ said...

What I found amusing is that during that concert "Sam" asked the crowd if we really had to pay for parking. Appalled, he made the remark that we should protest... So if a musician that performs at venues all over the world thinks that the Saltair owners are being greedy, then may be we should protest. After all it seems to me that in a way its some form of extortion. "Come to our show only $20!"... "Sweet, only 20 bucks, hell I'll buy two"... "Oh by the way you have to pay 5 bucks to park your car you have no other choice." It sort of reminds me of a program that I watched recently that talked about Niagra Falls. They used to let people in to see the falls for free, but when you wanted to leave, they charged you a hefty fee to get out... It might not be that quit as bad but I stinks of the same breed of weasel.

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