photo credit: Eddy Lambert
Joe Walsh ripped off an old line the other day when he said he doesn’t really remember playing the Forum in the ‘70s but was told he had a good time.
But an Eagle can be forgiven for not having a memory like an elephant.
I, however, am very pachyderm-like when it comes to the Forum. The first concert I ever saw there was Dec. 4, 1987. It was Depeche Mode. A few months later, I lived out a teenage dream and saw my main musical crush, Sting, in a seat that cost $144 dollars. (Babysitting money went a long way in 1988.)
The shows continued: An AIDS research benefit with the B-52’s and They Might Be Giants for which I had fourth-row seats – the wristband process at Music Plus was democracy at its finest! - Phil Collins; Aerosmith; hell, I even went to Bell Biv DeVoe in 1991. And liked it.
I also went to a Zamboni-load of Kings hockey games, all courtesy of my friend Andrea, whose dad had what were known as Senate Seats at the Forum, meaning he was able to go to anything at the venue and sit in those two seats. Luckily for Andrea and me, her dad was a busy business guy and her older siblings were away at college.
So the Forum has always held a fond place in my heart. Except for a date-gone-bad at the Marilyn Manson/Hole show in 1999, a Soundgarden show a summer or two ago and Prince’s oh-my-God-it’s-12:30 am-and-I-have-to-go-to-work-in-five-and-a-half-hours-and-he’s-still-playing show in 2011, I haven’t seen the inside of the Forum since the early ‘90s. Years ago, when I heard a church bought it, I thought well, at least the building isn’t being torn down. Now the church folks are out and the folks behind the legendary concert venue Madison Square Garden are in.
I’m glad they saved the Forum. But the makeover goal is as uncomfortable to me as when Chris Cornell had to strain his vocals to reach those of us in the nosebleeds. I want to keep my plastic seats – yellow on one side of the Forum, orange on the other. I do not want my concert seat cushy and velvety. I will probably be standing up for the show most of the night, anyway. Not because I want to per se – I am hurtling toward a milestone age – but because the hipsters in front of me see sitting down at a show akin to giving out Westboro Baptist Church leaflets at a Lady Gaga show. I get it. I was 19 once.
And I do not care if there are luxury boxes. The few times I sat in one at Staples it was because layer upon layer of our corporate clients declined tickets and I guess I was the only one free to hang out downtown until 11 p.m. on a school night.
My main conflict with the Forum refurbishment is I’m afraid all the bells and whistles will translate to higher ticket prices and I could not be more disgusted with the state of concert-going these days. The comment about babysitting money going a long way 25 years ago wasn’t really a joke. A teenager with a steady source of (under-the-table) income and plenty of time to hang out at Ticketron retail outlets to wait until tickets went on sale could actually see their favorite band. Thank goodness I’m not as hip as I used to be on music, because I could never afford all the shows I’d want to see.
Now there’s the base (often high) price of tickets, then a service fee, a facility fee, a handling/processing fee, delivery fee. Some places (I'm talking to you, Staples' exclusive ticket-selling service) even charge if you want a hard ticket. Well guess what, I have a scrapbook with almost every ticket stub of every show I've seen since 1985 and I do NOT want a printout of my concert ticket like I'd get for my airline e-ticket. And I'm not alone.
I even went to the Wiltern the other day to buy tickets for a show and had to pay a $5 per ticket BOX OFFICE fee. For what? The convenience of driving to mid-city on a Saturday evening and parking at a loading only spot down the street so I could run over to the venue in hopes of saving a substantial amount of cheddar per ticket? I do not know why this issue is not at the forefront of the grass roots movement. There’s a virtual monopoly on concert ticket sales and nobody except Pearl Jam seems to care.
But back to the Forum. I’m interested to see how it’ll do come next year competing with its sister, Staples. That venue has a couple of advantages – better acoustics and wonderful proximity to public transportation for people who don’t want to pay even more money to see a show.
But for me, the Forum has a magnitude and nostalgia in Los Angeles that can’t be beat. So I hope a band I want to see will make the trek to Inglewood. I’m sure I’ll have a great time and unlike Joe Walsh, I’ll remember every minute.