Here you are again, arriving at the front of a long, but thankfully fast-moving line, to see a show you've been looking forward to for weeks. You've scooped your phone, wallet, and keys out of the security bin and been patted down, and all you need now is your ticket. Simple, you think, remembering you got an email with "Your Tickets" in the subject line. You load that up and prepare to sail into your concert experience. You're already mulling which over-priced IPA you're going to get at the bar.
Not so fucking fast, deadbeat, because when you open that ticket email, instead of a simple PDF with a bar code, the email commands you to download a proprietary app—likely DICE, or maybe AXS, Bandsintown, whatever. You feel a stab of panic and embarrassment in your gut and wither under the ticket-checker's judgemental gaze. "Step aside," they command. Time to search the App Store for the app, then log in or even sign up, and hurriedly give it access to all of the data it wants, right there in the rush of the shuffling queue, and find your ticket. Fuck, is that already the headliner on stage? When that's all done, now you've got another damn app on your phone, and that fucking DICE Logo is staring up at you defiantly from your phone screen, making fun of you. Speaking of that little logo… There's nothing more noxious than creating a byzantine, cash-and-data-sucking blockade between New Yorkers and the kind of spiritual and cultural nourishment we need and deserve, and then hiding it all behind a cutesy mascot. (I don't trust it, I don't like it, I want to kill it.)
Making matters worse is the "for your own good" language that companies like DICE use. They never admit to just trying to install a chokepoint between you and the services you've always enjoyed seamlessly. Collecting your data? Well, that's just to "enhance your experience." Selling your data? Why, we'd never do that... without your consent. But we might, you know, share your data with our trusted third party partners, but only as necessary! And if someone might want to buy our company, our huge swathes of data might be a very attractive asset we could use to line our pockets, hypothetically. But ultimately our app is really just an altruistic venture to stop scalpers. Who could object to that?
Tickets are barcodes. We were doing just fine with PDFs. Gatekeeping a barcode by forcing you to download an app and sign-in is the height of tech fuckery. It used to be that in exchange for your data, you at least got free stuff—but concert tickets are more expensive now than ever, and if you're going to the kind of show that uses these apps, you're almost always paying at least $30. I don't need or want to scroll through concert recommendations like TikTok (hello, Hell Gate has our own nightlife recommendation column), and it's almost surely the case that the only shows these apps will suggest are those whose booking agencies have deals with the appmaker—not exactly a healthy development for New York's independent nightlife industries. I get that we shouldn't go back to paper tickets, but just send me the fucking barcode, right? :-) Just send me the PDF? Just let me into the show I paid for? Just let me see the MUSIC! I will kill that horrible little DICE man, I will kick them in their crotch-area, which looks angular, but fuck it, let’s go.