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Friday, August 3, 2012

Seeing David Byrne and St. Vincent This Fall Will Be Really Expensive. Here Are Four Smarter Ways to Spend Your Live Music Money

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Really exciting. And really expensive.
  • Really exciting. And really expensive.

Everyone has their own most anticipated album of the fall, but it's safe to say there's lots interest in Love This Giant, the David Byrne/St. Vincent collaboration. When an official announcement came this summer (LP due out in September) with a downloadable single ("Who") that didn't suck, the stakes were only raised. Just this week, the duo teased its second single, "Weekend in the Dust," which is equally catchy.

Byrne and St. Vincent put together a joint 24-city tour, planning to both play from the album and have each musician perform "a bunch of songs that we suspect people will know." The San Francisco date -- Monday, October 15, at the Orpheum Theater -- is 73 days away. Currently, tickets remain oddly available. And not just here, but in many of the cities involved. With the reigning queen of indie and the dean of the genre involved, what gives? Looking at it through the lens of San Francisco's music scene, this show just isn't that great of a buy, economically speaking.

One ticket to the Byrne/St. Vincent show in the primary seating area would run you $129 plus $19 in processing fees (and who's going to a show solo, outside of music writers?). The cheapest purchase puts you up in a third-level balcony for $82.50. One of San Francisco's greatest strengths is the frequency and affordability of music. So in a city where you can catch an act like Purity Ring at Bottom of the Hill (on Sept. 3) for less than 10 percent of the price, it doesn't add up.

While you may be wavering over whether or not to grab some of the limited view seating remaining, take a moment to consider other options in town that month. Byrne and St. Vincent are by no means the most egregious ticket in town (anyone want to hear that new Madonna album for nearly $400?), but these four combinations would all be make more efficient use of your hard-earned concert dollars:

*All figures based on a single ticket, best seating available purchase per show

Option one:

Grizzly Bear ($42.85 at The Fox, 10/9) and Dinosaur Jr. ($44.50 at The Fillmore, 10/10)

Total cost: $87.35 (59 percent of Byrne/St. Vincent)

Total savings: $60.65

If the idea of combining a modern and classic act appeals to you, back-to-back nights from Grizzly Bear and Dinosaur Jr. should deliver. Like the Byrne/St. Vincent effort, both acts are releasing new music they'll presumably showcase on tour this fall (Grizzly Bear's Sleeping Ute in September; Dinosaur Jr.'s I Bet on Sky also that month). Sure, there's a bit more discrepancy in style between these two acts than with Byrne/St. Vincent, but what you lack in driving, hard rock on night one will more than be made up by J. Mascis' amp stack on night two. Add in an opening appearance from Shearwater (supporting Dinosaur Jr.), and there's no denying the value here.

Option two:

Justin Bieber with Carly Rae Jepsen ($103.85 at the Oakland Coliseum, 10/6)

Total cost: $103.85 (70 percent of Byrne/St. Vincent)

Total savings: $44.15

It's weird that a Byrne/St. Vincent outprices Bieber, right? This is not an argument that Bieber/Jepsen will be a better concent experience than Byrne/St. Vincent. But, if able to purchase a ticket at face value, there's no debate about which has more worth. Bieber tickets have long been what scalpers' dreams are made of, and that's not changing in October. Front section tickets on StubHub have gone for (on average) nearly $600, which is 600 percent of their face price. And the average asking price for this area on StubHub now? Nearly $1300. That could buy you a seat to Madonna ($381.40, Oct. 6 at HP Pavilion), Bob Dylan ($125.50, Oct. 17 at the Civic Center), Peter Gabriel ($152, Oct. 2 at HP Pavilion) and Carrie Underwood ($79.75, Oct. 14 at HP Pavilion) without breaking a sweat.

Option three:

Treasure Island Music Festival ($88.45 at Treasure Island, 10/11)

Total cost: $88.45 (60 percent of Byrne/St. Vincent)

Total savings: $59.55

A two-day Treasure Island pass will run you just north of the Byrne/St. Vincent ticket ($149.45), but Treasure Island's genre split philosophy is conducive to a one-day outing anyway. This year, the smart money is on the indie-oriented Sunday ticket. You'll get rare performances by The XX and Divine Fits (both with fall albums on the way), major crowd pleasers such as The Gossip, Best Coast, and M83, and under-the-radar groups such as Hospitality and The Neighbourhood. It's roughly half the cost of Byrne/St. Vincent and it becomes an even crazier deal if you consider how much tickets for all those individual tours would be.

Option four:

The Soft Pack ($20 at Slim's, 10/18) and Dan Deacon ($20 at GAMH, 10/23)

Total cost: $40 (27 percent of Byrne/St. Vincent)

Total savings: $108

David Byrne built his reputation on shows like this -- can't miss experiences, loud music in smaller, intimate spaces. To start, The Soft Pack will help you remember what rock is when they tour in support of their new album this fall. Tickets for the show (with Crocodiles) have recently gone on sale, and they may cost less than the band's upcoming LP. And despite the reputation that precedes Dan Deacon's live performances, his show remains a criminally cheap ticket. Each show ticket is also upgradeable to include dinner at $45.95. Even at that rate, both shows would come in at about 62 percent of the Byrne/St. Vincent gig.

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