Worth it: Tallying up the costs of the live show experience
Photo credit and copyrights to Shane Collins & Gonzo Okanagan
Let’s face it. The costs of existing right here in B.C. are becoming unsustainable. From rent to food to fuel, we’re paying more and more and more for everyday expenditures. For many of us these days, we really have to prioritize how we spend our money.
So, is seeing live music one of your priorities? It’s always been something that I have personally set cash aside for in the past, so when TURNSTILE announced they’d be playing the RICKSHAW THEATER, I had very little hesitation in dropping the $39 a ticket. I bought them nearly six months ago on presale. Back then, TURNSTILE was blowing up the spot with their latest album, GLOW ON. I wrote a little article on it. One of my first for GONZO OKANAGAN. However, back then, COVID-19 was still sitting on our doorsteps like some fat unwelcome intruder and forest fires and floods had wreaked havoc on the highways that lead to the lower mainland. In all honesty, I wasn’t even sure if the show would happen.
Fast forward to APRIL 29, 2022 and not only was the show still a go, but the highways had been repaired and COVID still loiters around, but at least its fat ass is off our collective step.
So we filled up the SUV and hit the road, ready for whatever comes our way. It takes nearly $100 to fill up. That’s the first slap of reality across my face but f*ck it. It’ll be worth it.
I’m not sure about you, dear reader, but it has been a long time since I’ve traveled the Coquihalla highway. I hadn’t seen the devastation of the 2021 fires along the route and to see how the landscape has been forever altered. Forests, once lush and thick, have been turned into a barren landscape by either the fires or the logging of entire mountain sides. Landslides scar the mountains wherever you turn. It seems mother earth is also paying a high price these days.
Vancouver is still as beautiful as I remember it. Its gleaming city scape set against the white capped mountains were on full display beneath a blue and open sky as we rolled into town. Gas prices were up to $2.08/ litre.
One of the best things about a road trip is seeing old friends and my buddies Travis and Brian came out for the show as well. It’s big hugs and old tales right away. We checked into the hotel. After a quick change of clothing, we decided to head to the THE MOOSE for some affordable grub. Their menu used to be a list of $5.95 items. My how times have changed. It’s still affordable to most other places in the area, but my hopes have been dashed at saving a few bucks. Sitting there with my girlfriend, Brian and Travis, the moment becomes clear that it’s worth all of it just to be here, before a show in Vancouver, sitting with long time friends, talking music and getting prepared to see TURNSTILE.
After a $75 dinner with a few bevies, it was time to walk from Granville and Drake all the way to East Hastings, to the jewel of the downtown scene, the RICKSHAW THEATER. Blazen in orange and red letters, its neon sign welcomes us like a diamond sparkling amongst the detritus of a tough reality for so many people who walk and reside amongst these streets. I watch them shoot heroin into their bellies, sleep on the concrete, smoke dirty glass pipes and as I approach the theater, I look up the boulevard and see that there are literally hundreds of them along the street.
The theater is as I remember it. The small foyer smells like old books, where a bar is awaiting my hard earned dollars. $5 a beer!! Excitement rushes over me in a flood of frugality. I bought two, checked the coat, ($4.00) and headed into the theater. If you haven’t been before, the RICKSHAW THEATER is a small venue but in a way, it’s also a big venue. It has hosted some amazing acts in its day. I imagine it must be a real thrill to play here.
When we entered, CEREMONY was taking the stage. One of the guitarists came out in a woman’s dress. Their bassist laid down some fat bass lines and the lead singer, this guy just caressed that microphone and ripped into the music. Mellow yet intense lyrics layden with the wild eyes of some maniac possessed, CEREMONY was the perfect sound and vibe to get things going.
My beers didn’t last long, though. By the time their set was over, I was ready for at least two more. While we’re waiting in line, I run into an old friend of mine, Dennis Maile. Dennis and I went to high school together and he has been frontman and bassist of multiple bands. I get a big hug from the lug and we catch up. His brother, ASHLEY MAILE is one of my photography classmates and personal heroes. Ashley died nearly a decade ago and, as we catch up, I tell Dennis I’m following in the footsteps of his big brother. Or at least trying to.
ASHLEY became one of heavy metal’s go-to photographers and he became so in demand, he had to move to London, England so he could work with some of the biggest acts on the planet. Dennis is one of these fountains of music knowledge that goes so much deeper than anything I can comprehend. We talk about music and life as CITIZEN takes the stage. I walk with Dennis to the upper balcony. One of the many things I love about this theater is that as general admission ticket holders, we have access to the upper balcony for a high-rollers view of the show.
After a while, I head back downstairs, meet up with KC and she is stoked for TURNSTILE. I order two more beers. This is her first real punk rock show. And as the stage is reassembled, the lights soon dim and TURNSTILE takes the stage. The airy, dreamy synth opening to their smash hit, MYSTERY comes of the speakers and like gas on a fire, the fever of the fans of this particular band light the f*ck up.
I leave KC on the sidelines and run into the crowd. The guitar riff is a left hook from Tyson. We’re knocked back and then, the music explodes. It’s a ballistic haze of adrenaline and euphoria as the lead singer, BRENDAN YATES, lifts the microphone into the air so the crowd can sing its catchy chorus. “AND IT’S BEEN SO LONG. IS ALL THE MYSTERY GONE? AND IT’S BEEN SO LONG. ALL THE MYSTERY!”
You know, I might gripe on the financial reality of seeing this show but as these guys take the stage, the money is so far away from my mind it takes all this time in between to reflect on it. The entire show is like riding a hurricane of sound. At one point, I decided to go for a crowd surf and when I got up on top of everyone, I saw a surge of momentum come from the back of the theater to the front and I was launched over the front railing and smashed into the corner of the stage. A white flash of pain blinded me momentarily as I was helped up off the ground. Luckily, I didn’t break my ribs. I just bruised them. Badly.
All in all, the road trip was a success. It cost me over $600 for the weekend, but for me, it was worth it. From seeing TURNSTILE live, to seeing my girlfriend crowd surf, (safely) for her first ever punk rock show to reuniting with old friends, the costs of the show have become obligatory. Yes. Gas is WAY too expensive and as I write this, gas here in Kelowna is at a whopping $1.95 per litre. Ticket prices will vary depending on who you see and where and food, booze, hotel, band merchandise and all the extra goodies you dig your wallet out for have all risen in cost and will most likely keep rising so you have to ask yourself, is the show worth it?
For me, the ribs are bruised but not broken. Worth it. The show is there in my mind when I close my eyes. Worth it. Seeing the laughing, smiling faces of my friends from long ago before, during and after the show. Worth it.
I’m broke now and will have to do my best to save up enough scratch to afford whatever shows will inevitably come down the line, however the privilege to see these artists is not lost on me and I know that it can be taken away with one announcement from our health officials here in B.C. so until that day comes, I’ll work a little harder, dig a little deeper and I’ll lie, cheat and steal if need be because seeing these shows live, quite frankly, is worth it.
In the words of TURNSTILE, “You really gotta see it live to get it. You really gotta see it live.”