<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=275610486160139&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Some Free Advice For Rahm And The City Of Chicago

First, we all know what free advice is worth.  Second, I couldn’t resist adding my two cents to what is likely to become one of the more interesting concert scenes of the coming summer.

This is of course, the upcoming Grateful Dead/The Dead/The Other Ones concert at Soldier Field in Chicago over the 2015 4th of July Holiday.

My own history with The Dead.

I’m what you might call a Dead Head.  These are people who have spent way too much time listening to and going to Grateful Dead concerts.  And for those who are really possessed like me it includes shows that have happened after 1995 when Jerry Garcia died.

I not only think The Dead is the most important musical act in my life; I’ve been a huge fan of their various business models they’ve started.  For example, here are some things they pioneered way before anyone else thought about them:

Allowing people to tape and share their shows. – This allowed a rabid fan base to develop of those who traded music they taped.  (The beginning of giving away something to get a fan base.)

Have a focus on the concertgoer’s experience.  They provided a tapers section for those who wanted to tape shows, an area outside the concert venue where impromptu vendors could set up shop and make sure that their most rabid fans could get tickets before they went on sale to the general public by having a private inside sale.

Realizing it’s all about concert revenue and not record sales.  The Dead have over 100 commercially available recordings of live music and only a few studio records.

The Problem.

The problem that’s developing or at least one I believe is developing is the way Dead Heads are trying to get tickets.

The three concerts that are scheduled for Soldier Field are over subscribed.  Because this is supposed to be the last time the band plays together the band decided to go old school.  Instead of using the Internet for providing tickets they went back to a method they used in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. 

They sent out a message that mail order tickets were how Dead Heads could get their tickets before the general public.  The response was a little more than anyone could have imagined.  The Dead received over 60,000 envelopes asking for about 360,000 tickets.  The problem is the total run only has about 200,000 tickets available.

No one really knows how many orders have been filled.  I personally haven’t met anyone yet who has gotten a ticket this way.  At the same time, I know lots of folks who have booked hotels and bought plane tickets before they even had a ticket!  And they still plan to go to Chicago whether they have a ticket or not.  They’ve decided to hope for a miracle and a ticket will somehow appear that lets them in.

Rahm might want to start planning now.

And, that’s the problem that Rahm and the City of Chicago face.  There are going to be lots and lots of people who want to see the show and haven’t been able to get tickets.

This is a doubled edged sword.  If the City Fathers handle this well, it could be a boon to the Chicago economy.  One that makes a Super Bowl look like a small gathering.

If it’s not handled well, the City might wonder why they ever allowed this concert come to town.  It really is up to the powers that be in Chicago which outcome they get.

My 3 pronged Solution.

Let’s face it, there’s going to be many disappointed people wandering around Chicago during the 4th of July holiday.  Whether they behave or not depends on if the City decides to adopt the thought process of The Dead and their fans.

I believe there are 3 simple things the City could do that would go a long way towards having a wonderful event.  One that could even overcome the bad vibes that was caused by the 1968 Democratic Convention……An event that many Dead Heads remember too well.

My recommendations:

Allow concert goers to camp in the Soldier Field parking lot.  If the City provides a clean and safe camping spot like this there is a good chance they won’t have people camping all over the city, providing the City more problems than they need.


Make sure the concert is played on Jumbotrons with a great sound system free in a large public park.  My recommendation would be for Grant Park.  It’s big enough to handle 100,000 people and would provide a place for those who couldn’t get tickets to still see the show with their brethren.  Unfortunately, Grant Park doesn’t work because of the Food and Wine Festival going on at the same time.  Still, the City needs to find a large gathering place for those who can’t get into the shows.


Allow vendors to set up in both Grant Park and the Soldier Field parking lot.  To Dead Heads these vendor sections are known as Shakedown Street.  To the rest of the world it looks like chaos.   It’s also a tradition that many City’s have a hard time with.  Don’t try to license the vendors or even get a fee.  Just think of them as a cost of having all of these visitors to your city.

This should be fun to watch.

I’m going to look forward to see how Chicago handles the huge crowd that’s going to converge on their city this summer.  If they try to make the crowd bend to their rules, it might be not have a great ending.  If instead, they decide to find out and follow the rules of their visitors, this could be a great event that shows municipal flexibility and common sense.

What do you think is going to happen?

Get our newsletter

Topics: op ed

Posts by Tag

See all

Subscribe Here!