Why Should Consumers Settle For Crappy Concert Sound?

Back during our comments outage, reader Chris wrote to us about an incredibly disappointing concert that he attended. The show wasn’t terrible because the artists weren’t any good: even if you don’t like country music, you have to grant that Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw are hard-working, talented, and very attractive entertainers. No, Chris’s problem was that up in his seats on the upper level of the arena, the Angel Stadium of Anaheim, the sound quality was terrible, song lyrics impossible to decipher, and even spoken words in between songs impossible to understand.

He writes:

Last Saturday, I wen to the Kenny Chesney/Tim McGraw concert in Anaheim, California. My family and I sat in the upper level high above the stage to the left. The audio quality was horrible up there. For thousands of us, the audio was muddy and you couldn’t understand the lyrics to songs or to what the singers would say between songs. With the amount of speakers and sophistication of the shows and high celebrity status of the singers, you would think that the audio quality would be at least decent for everyone. It wasn’t and I’m having trouble finding a contact person within the two bands to ask about the audio set-up and if there was a known problem or the crews didn’t bother to check around the stadium before the show to ensure decent audio quality.

When someone buys something at a store or gets a service, they can go back to the merchant and ask for a refund or a credit. But when you go to a large concert, the product delivered to the customer is a bit intangible. How does one communicate with the people providing the service to tell them that the delivered product was subpar? I’ve tried finding the bands’ management people but I’ve had no luck. How else can I find out who to talk to about a poor product within such a large scale operation? I’m sure there are other Consumerist readers who have felt the same way about concerts.

An LA Times review of the concert points out that it’s not the sound quality that drew many of the fans in the Anaheim Stadium that night, so maybe other purchasers of upper-level seats weren’t about to complain. Maybe.

[W]hen some of the biggest ovations of the evening are generated by projected images of the show’s star without his shirt, you know that it’s more than catchy turns of phrase and hummable melodies that pull nearly 45,000 people to the show.

Why bother going to a concert if you can’t understand anything, though? Should less expensive tickets come with a warning that you won’t be able to hear a darn thing, or is it understood that you need to buy the $300 primo seats if you want to understand every word in a big venue like a major-league baseball stadium?

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