Inevitably, when reaching for a ticket printout in my back pocket moments before a live concert, a friend will reminisce on the glory days of the ticket stub. As the world of music becomes more and more automated, ticket stubs–like record stores, tangible album artwork, and bands making a living off their music–are slowly fading into oblivion.
As everything in life seems to be getting smaller, why are concert tickets getting bigger?
Well, come to think of it, maybe it’s my fault. Many box offices will still give you a good ‘ol fashion 2″ by 5″ ticket if you visit them in person, but if you want to cut out the middle man, the internet has made it very easy to print out tickets via your home computer. Not only that, but say if you’re traveling out of town for a concert and you forget your ticket (which I’ve seen happen before), fortunately you can go back to your e-mail and just print out another one. The internet age with sites like eBay and Stub Hub have has also made it a lot easier to sell tickets. Back in the day, it would have been impossible to sell your Stones tickets to someone in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the day of the show, but with one click on your PayPal account, all of that can be done in milliseconds.
It’s all worth it though, right?
My answer is usually “yes,” until I return home from a concert. While growing up, I would tape every ticket stub from every concert I attended on my bedroom wall. Not only did my collection make for a cool-looking collage, but it was also a living timeline of my musical growth and education. And on top of everything else, my wall-of-stubs was a great conversation starter: You were at Lollapalooza ’94? So was I!
(right: The page-sized ticket isn’t nearly as easy to collect as the traditionally sized concert ticket.)
Collecting stubs is a habit I never grew out of until concert tickets became available on 8.5″ by 11″ pieces of paper. I’ve tried saving some of these new-age ticket stubs, but I’m telling you–it’s just not the same. Technically it’s not even a stub, because with a digital barcode on the printout, nothing has to be ripped, just scanned. Even if I decided to get creative, by printing out the tickets on a brightly colored, glossy piece of cardstock, it still wouldn’t be the same. You know it and I know it.
As with every new convenience of the modern-day world, progress comes with a price. My old ticket stubs now rest in a memory box crinkled and aged by time, concert sweat, mosh pits of yesteryear, and the casualties that come with being stuck in a back pocket for four-and-a-half hours. As for my newer ticket stubs, I mean printouts, I’m sure they’re somewhere in my e-mail inbox. Let me log on to my account and see if I can find them.