Bullshit on Parade: Why Are You Really Angry About Rage Against the Machine Ticket Prices?

If you’ve spent any time around any of your social media feeds the last few days you’ve undoubtedly had some conversation, redundant meme, or article chucked at your face about how Rage Against the Machine have reunited and tickets to their already-sold-out tour are economically way out of reach. Much as the definition of humor and/or knocking the shit out of a dead horse is for those who either don’t like the band or fancy themselves a bit of an ol’ wacky person, because RATM are now RAGING WITH THE MACHINE, GET IT? I’ll get to all of these fine creative souls in a bit, but first let’s do some fact-checking and try to figure out why the fuck this became an issue in the first place, shall we?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say many of the shows the people who visit this website attend don’t go through a third-party company like Ticketmaster or Live Nation or anyone that charges exorbitant “services fees,” right? It’s definitely more inside the mainstream system and over the years has allowed for a flourishing scalping culture, much of which allegedly came from within the companies themselves. To mitigate this kind of scenario, Rage Against the Machine claimed to have scalped their own tickets, selling the highest priced ones for charity and guitarist Tom Morello has been very publicly vocal regarding fans bringing up the astronomical prices they’re seeing when they try to go through Ticketmaster only to find the nosebleeds going for upwards of $400, claiming that any instance of this that isn’t the band doing their charity thing needs to be brought to his attention so RATM can sue.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I have a degree in economics (or anything, really) but I do understand frustration and biting off more than you can chew. According to Morello, tickets for this shouldn’t run more than $125 unless you’re buying one of the charity seats and the band has claimed numerous times this is only 10% of the available seats per show. So, all that other shit people are blaming the band for? It’s (ironically) the systems put in place by companies like Ticketmaster that is cultivating this behavior and price-gouging. I realize that in 2020 it’s difficult to imagine that a corporate entity involved in music doesn’t give a fat baby’s dick about the fanbase or how said corporate entity’s behavior impacts fans and can cause those fans to turn on the artists themselves. I guess that’s sort of the rock ‘n’ roll theme, isn’t it? Remember Kurt Cobain’s “Corporate Rock Still Sucks” shirt? At least irony is still firmly entrenched these days.

Does this mean the band itself is blameless? No, not by a longshot. Ticketmaster and companies like them have a very-easy-to-Google history of clashing with artists. Pearl Jam is a pretty good example of an act who, a few decades ago, decided to cut ties with this sort of business model and proved that larger bands can—at least temporarily—exist outside of the system. Others, mostly indie bands no here cares about, have followed suit. You would think that for a band whose primary thing is anti-capitalism that they would have gone the extra few steps if they wanted to present themselves as philosophically pure. I guess that it’s on brand for them to buy some of their own tickets to resell for charity, taking that control on where some of the money goes. But it’s obviously backfired in the eyes of their fanbase and there’s probably better ways to be altruistic, especially at that level. But that’s their decision and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t mean shit in my life and most of yours. And that’s why I started writing this.

The number of people who believe they’re the very first person to come up with that raging with the machine joke you’re probably still chuckling about from a few paragraphs ago is fucking astounding. I’m sure they post Misfits songs on Halloween. Some of their memes suck so bad it took me an extra half hour to write up to this point so as to avoid using the word “machine” or anything close to it to describe a corporate system that doesn’t give a shit about you. When something like this happens, you often get a massive reaction online of shit that’s as funny the 50th time you see it scrolling through your newsfeed as it was the first: Which is to say as funny as stepping in dogshit. I’d petition the Senate to make reposting a meme that was as funny as a positive pregnancy test as a felony, but we’ve all figured out that politicians care as much about us as Ticketmaster does.

Speaking of not caring—and this is the crux of this piece—the amount of time and effort some people who claim to dislike this band, from a mild boredom all the way to questioning their right to exist, have spent talking about them is staggering. The memes are asinine enough but I can’t imagine having the spare time to sit and ruminate on a situation involving a band that has no bearing, no relevance, not a single thread of importance in your life and then going online to whatever hellhole social media site you’ve chosen to erode your existence on and then start lengthy conversations about how much you hate this band and “fuck them” for having such high ticket prices. Why care what their prices are? You’ve already stated what object you think anyone who likes the band should shove sideways up their ass, so bitching about the ticket prices is a waste of your time. It’s like showing empathy towards the owner of the car you just threw a brick at.

And the people saying they don’t care because they’d never go see them anyway? Nobody will ever think you’re cool for not going to a show, you’re going to need to try to get that bit of sweet validation elsewhere.

Let’s not forget about the subset of people who post pictures of washed up bands stating, “THEIR TICKET PRICES ARE UNDER arbitrary dollar amount AND THEY STILL ROCK!” or some similar grouping of words that will make anyone who reads it slightly dumber, like a carnival witch’s curse.

Of course, some of these old thrash bands have cheap tickets; do you want to take a guess why? Again, not an economics degree in my household, but I’m pretty sure IT’S BECAUSE THEY HAVE A SMALL FANBASE AND NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT THEM. Comparing a shitty speed metal band who were gifted 45 seconds of a video on Beavis and Butthead 25 years ago to a band with literally millions of records sold shows you have no concept of relativity, which is a matching set with your lack of understand of subjectivity. Sure, they’re both bands but bologna and filet mignon are both meats, see what I’m getting at?

I don’t begrudge fans having an instantly negative reaction to something they were excited for but once the dust settles and the band comes up with a solution or tries to smooth over it with some passage from Mao there’s no real reason to allow this to consume your life so much. There’s going to be something worse to help shorten your life via some stress that is just around the corner.