The Asheville Civic Center’s executive director called Xpress on Monday with new information about the error that led to Phish-fan disappointment Friday. Sherman Bass said he asked Ticketmaster staff to search their system and find the reason for the selling of tickets for an upcoming Phish concert that should’ve been reserved for those camped out in front of the Asheville venue. The 400 tickets slated for the campers were sold out within minutes, and out of the 180 people camped out, only about 16 of them got tickets (with a 4-ticket limit).
Here’s the rundown of what happened, according to Bass and the new information provided by Ticketmaster: Civic Center staff called the show’s promoter, LiveNation, on Friday morning to let them know about all the people camping for tickets. LiveNation agreed to hold back 400 tickets for the campers. Civic Center staff put a hold on the tickets via Ticketmaster’s system of online orders, live phone orders and orders at Ticketmaster outlets. But they forgot one other method of holding the tickets — the automated phone system.
No Civic Center show has ever experienced such high demand, Bass said.
“The best thing I could compare it to would be Widespread Panic or the [Warren Haynes] Christmas Jam,” he said. “This didn’t happen on either of those shows. We had lines of people waiting for tickets and we were able to accommodate them. … Nothing happened that would alert us to the fact that we had to do the automated phone system too.”
Meanwhile, fans continue to debate the lightning-fast ticket sales and subsequent inflated price of tickets being resold online. Fan message boards are rife with speculation on the link between Ticketmaster and Ticketsnow.com, an online scalping site that Ticketmaster bought last year.
— Rebecca Sulock, arts and entertainment editor