Want Radiohead Tickets? Get Ready to Barter

A robust black market has sprung up for what is one of the most coveted concert tickets of the year for thousands of New Yorkers: Radiohead’s two shows at the Roseland Ballroom in Midtown Manhattan.

Radiohead at Roseland
Kevin Mazur | Wire Image | Getty Images
Radiohead at Roseland

While it is hardly unique that Radiohead tickets are being resold, the lengths some fans are willing to go to score tickets is striking.

With standing room for about 3,500 fans, the Roseland is a drastically smaller venue than the arenas and outdoor festivals normally visited by the beloved indie band, whose most recognized single is “Creep.”

Both the Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 shows sold out within minutes of going on sale on Monday. Tickets were limited to two per buyer and were will-call only in an attempt to make things more difficult for scalpers, as guests have to go in with the original purchaser.

But soon after tickets sold out, they showed up on Craigslist with asking prices ranging from the rare face value of $65 to $80 to the much more common range of $400 to $500. Some tickets were even listed at $2,000 and beyond. On eBay, the prices ranged from $405 to $2,500.

Speaking of creeps, those in possession of extra tickets realized their power, and not everyone took the high road. A number of ticket holders decided to use their extra ticket as a way to find a date. One man offered a “free” ticket, and posted an ad saying, “if you're hot and you want it, it's yours.send pics. best looking wins.” [sic]

A 22 year-old male has an extra ticket he’s willing to give to his “future wife ONLY.”

“Of course I am being silly,” his ad says, “but I just moved here and I want to fall in love. I try every day!”

The man who posted the ad says he got about 15 responses at press time, which included a professional model who linked her portfolio. The frontrunner in his contest is a mathematical economics major at Brown (who in the opinion of your reporter sounds like a very nice young lady).

Gothamist posted about a reseller who requested offers for “priceless heirlooms” in exchange for his extra ticket.He got the following enticing offer, among many others: “Use of house in VT for the winter/free dental work (including root canals, crowns, wisdom teeth extraction)."

Another ticket seller was looking for a talented writer to help with his business school applications. (“I shall dictate you should type and edit. I will also buy the coffees and meals to keep you writing for the next 3-5 days.”)

Radiohead at Roseland
Photo: Jonathan Caro
Radiohead at Roseland

Goods and services that desperate ticket-seekers are offering include sex (a spectrum of specific acts is represented in Craigslist ads, probably not for the first time).

Other offers include tickets to the film premiere of Martin Scorcese’s George Harrison documentary and an 1850s black powder pistol from the British navy claimed to be worth in excess of $1,000.

One devoted fan is offering his or her prized possession, which is a Gretsch drumhead signed by the members of Radiohead. Someone who works at an eyeglass store is offering “a couple nice pairs of Oakleys,” and someone who might not have a job is willing to wait in line for 10 hours before the show. One would-be concertgoer is putting all of his skills on the table in his ad, accompanied by a headshot: “tutor of calculus, physics and finance, a male model + a tennis instructor + willing to pay/barter lessons.”

One ticket seeker offered to build a website for any merciful seller (and will pay $200 and buy him or her drinks all night). No one had taken him up on it at press time, but he did correspond with one seller who had received offers of $200 to $600 within minutes of posting an ad.

If the scene outside last night’s concert is any indication, the truly dedicated fans who strike out today online will be working the line this afternoon and evening at the Roseland, hoping to make a deal for those final few spare tickets.

To end this on a positive note, one ticket seller received over 1,000 responses to his ad on Craigslist. Among the highlights of what was offered in barter: a lifetime supply of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (from someone who had named a flavor), two summer weeks in a vacation house on Cape Cod, dinner for 9 personally cooked by a well known chef, free high-end catering, and a vintage Vespa scooter. In the end, the seller (who is "sort of a foodie") didn't choose any of these, sharing some of the same sentiment that prompted Radiohead to try to minimize scalping with their will call policy. The recipient of the extra ticket was someone who couldn't think of a reason they deserved these tickets more than other superfans, but said "they couldn't offer me anything but the face value of the ticket. Because in their eyes this was more of a priceless experience and that all they had to really offer was their company."

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com.