The Curious Case of the Dismemberment Plan
Right after I moved to Washington in 2007, the Dismemberment Plan got the band back together. They did a one-off show for charity, which sold out within minutes of the tickets going on sale. So they added another show, which also sold out immediately. When they were together, the band never sold out shows like this; now that they were gone, they sold tickets like, well, rock stars. Then they went back to being broken up and having day jobs.
In 2011, the band did a little tour to support the re-release of one of its albums. I didn’t get a ticket in 2007, but by 2011, I was married to one of the band’s greatest fans. He scored himself tickets for both D.C. shows, and one for me, despite the difficulties -- the shows had again sold out, almost instantly. The venue was packed, and I regretted not having the foresight to two-fist my drinks, because once you’d gotten into the middle of the crowd, fighting your way back to the bar was hopeless. But it was a great show -- Travis Morrison is a terrific front man -- and at the time, of course, I thought it was my last chance to see the Dismemberment Plan.
At least, until this past Sunday -- they don’t seem to be very good at this “breaking up” thing. The band just released a new album, which I can unreservedly recommend. To support the album, they’re playing shows again. I dressed carefully to prepare for the crush: good, sturdy shoes that could withstand stompy feet and lots of layers that I could strip off if it got hot. Which did me no good at all, because the 9:30 Club was pleasantly roomy. Don’t get me wrong -- a very respectable crowd was there. But it wasn’t packed. Like the old people we are, we went up to the balcony, where we had plenty of space to sit or stand as we pleased.
The Official Blog Spouse, who saw them a bunch of times before they broke up (he once saw them play a yoga studio in Kentucky), said it was more representative of their, er, pre-dismemberment crowds: good, but not Elvis-level jamming of the concert halls. Apparently, as long as they aren't producing albums, people are avid to see them live on the rare occasions when they do play out. As soon as it looks like they might once again become a going concern, people are no longer absolutely obsessed with getting their hands on tickets. The more music they produce, the less valuable their tickets are.
To them, I mean. I much preferred the less crowded show, and not just because it was easy for me to get a drink (it was, after all, a Sunday night). There was also plenty of space to move around, yet the pit was filled, so those who wanted to thrash around in unison had all the company they could want. I’d guess that the decision to do another album created quite a lot of surplus value for consumers of their shows but probably cost the producers of said show some ticket revenue. Hopefully they’re being compensated in other ways, not least by the joy of the band's adoring fans.