Deadheads Threaten to sue ‘Greedy’ Shapiro, who won’t Explain Himself

2015/06/11 Check out the update on this situation – refunds coming?

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Shapiro seems to have his chips cashed in.

According to a column on the Washington Post, Fare Thee Well promotor Peter Shapiro is in some hot water within the Grateful Dead community over what some are calling an act of pure greed; a money grab, if you will, in dealing with the ticketing debacle over the living members of the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary celebration in Chicago and Santa Clara.

On June 27 and 28 in Santa Clara, Calif., and July 3 through 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann — the Dead’s Core Four — will be joined by Bruce Hornsby, Jeff Chimenti and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio to celebrate a half-century of Grateful Dead music.

And ever since it was announced GDTS would conduct an old fashioned mail order like when Jerry Garcia still fronted the band, the entire ticketing situation has been nothing short of disappointing. Many fans have said they were shut out of getting face value tickets while the secondary ticket market thrives with mark-ups of more 300 percent.

If that isn’t enough to make Deadheads who want to bid the band farewell one last time swell with anger, sadness and confusion, independent Grateful Dead journalist Dean Sottile laid out a post on his blog breaking down just how Shapiro might be bilking fans for every penny. In the lengthy post, Sottile explains that seating charts for Chicago were changed after the public on sale, as were certain prices of tickets. It even gives examples of 300 level seat tickets that arrived to fans’ homes with a price tag of $199.50, more than double the price the day of the on sale. Essentially, some prices were changed without any notification. This is bad business.

Sottile, rightfully, argues that this is pure greed on the part of the promoter, who obviously saw an opportunity to stuff more fans in the venue, thus lining more pockets.

Some Facebook fan groups have exploded with disdain over these practices, with some people even threatening to bring a lawsuit against Shapiro for these, uh, unorthodox business practices. When the Post reached out to Shapiro, he didn’t exactly explain the changes or give much in the way of an explanation, which makes this dubious situation even more awkward.

Deception is very rarely a universally heralded way of going about things. If your girlfriend asks where you are on a Friday, you tell her the truth because it’s the honest thing to do, and it will avoid a big fight and keep things level. It’s the same principle here: Shapiro should come right out and explain his decisions. Who knows? Maybe there is a reasonable response to all of this. If not, or if he remains vague, Shapiro is risking alienating a fan base that travels better than any other and routinely purchases tickets to his shows. He runs the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, N.Y., as well as the three Brooklyn Bowl locations. He has a contract with Lesh to have him play his east coast shows at the Cap, and these are usually sold-out happenings.

According to the statements Shapiro made to the Post, it’s clear that either we the fans do not understand the situation, or Shapiro is being mightily shady. For each passing day he goes without an explanation, Shapiro will continue to be vilified for putting together what is supposed to be one of the biggest music events in the last 20 years.

I want to celebrate these concerts in the best possible way. I think the melding of the Dead with Phish to say goodbye to the most dedicated fan base in music history is a wonderful and thoughtful way to go out. This, however, is leaving a very sour taste in my mouth.

I’ll be honest — I am pretty confused by all of this. Everyone has an opinion on the topic, but for me, I need to hear an explanation from Shapiro himself.

Because if these five shows happen and we never hear from Shapiro just why the ticketing situation was so shaded and ensconced in a mysterious veil, most Deadheads are going to question him and his practices moving forward.

Yet, all of this could be fixed with some transparency. Come on, Shapiro. Don’t let our goodbye be overshadowed by what has become an unnecessary ticketing scandal.