So you find out your favourite band are playing in your hometown? Wahey! But it's sold out. Booooo. It's happened to everyone, hasn't it? So what can you do when that rock-solid gig you so want to desperately see has ran out of tickets? Fear not! For there is a series of tips you can use to try and blag your way into gigs.
1. Check every ticket seller. Just because Ticketmaster has run out of them doesn't mean that every ticket is gone. If you rely on one ticket provider for your tickets, then it's fairly academic that you'll neglect the others but DON'T. In the UK, Ticketweb is a prime example of a ticket provider which many forget exists and turns out to have tickets for sold out events weeks or months later. Also, if the ticket provider has more than one branch within reach, try them all as they might have some kicking about in a branch you probably wouldn't bother going to.
2. Does the band that you have in mind have a weird name which could be easily misspelled? It may sound stupid, but try every possible spelling. A fine example of this would be The Descendents whose recent gig in London was "sold out" for weeks, until people realised that there was actually a massive bunch of tickets left under the name of "The Descendants".
3. Are you a student? If so, your university will most probably have a student newspaper. Student journalism is an excellent way of attaining gig tickets because music is a primary feature in these newspapers. Students are by and large music nuts and as a result student newspapers tend to cover music and other arts in total depth as they're a massive concern to the average layabout. Student newspapers who review gigs will always give you guest passes to the gig, provided they can get them, and most of the time they are able to get guest lists to pretty much any gig going.
4. Similarly, if you run a zine, promoters will be more than happy to give you guest lists provided you can back it up. You won't get any straight away, but work at your zine and in time you'll gain enough clout to barter for guest passes for big gigs in return for gushing articles, interviews and, of course, a review. I know a friend who runs an awesome Scottish metal zine who's built up a professional zine to the point where he was given free festival tickets in exchange for coverage. The bigger your audience, the bigger your gigs you can get.
5. Make a fuckton of friends, and influential friends at that. Be nice to everybody and chat to anybody with vaguely long hair and your friend network will expand. after a while, you'll have friends who know promoters or band members or friends who work in the gig venue and generally people with enough clout to get you some guest passes who will be able to help out with some briefs, provided you've built up a proper relationship with them and haven't just made it blatantly obvious that the only reason you're pals with them is because you want free tickets.
6. Is there any support bands to this gig? In particular, is there any local support bands to this gig? Local bands are ALWAYS looking for the hard sell and will a lot of the time have tickets that most people will not know are available. In particular, they'll be desperate to sell their tickets to make the promoter happy and make some money themselves. Touring support bands, however, can also be of help sometimes if you're pally with them, though this isn't as effective as local ones.
7. As mentioned before, underground media are always looking for free tickets and promoters are always looking for coverage. That means zines, websites, radio shows, the lot will most probably have free tickets up for grabs right up until the day of the gig. Check any metal podcasts, or review sites who might have contests for tickets (particularly upstarting festivals) as well as more mainstream local papers who will take any old shit to give out as prizes. While you might not give the Greenock telegraph the time of day most of the year, they do tend to have gig tickets for bands playing locally (even if they are grindcore or suicidal black metal).
8. Check the ticket office or the venue a couple of days in advance for returns from people who are unwell, not able to travel to the gig or just can't be bothered. There are many people out there who'll just hand it in and get their money back, particularly if it's been postponed.
9. If you've exhausted your contacts, you don't run a form of media and every ticket vendor is genuinely out of stock, you can try a tout. They may have a bad reputation because of all the money-grabbing bastards selling Glastonbury tickets for a million, zillion pounds, but most sensible touts are simply out for a small profit on each ticket over the face value. So yeah, you might need to £15/20 more but it all depends on how much you love the band really. Check eBay, Gumtree and (particularly in the UK) Scarlet Mist for people who just can't make the gig and want to shift their tickets to some other person desperate to see them. Put calls out on Facebook or Twitter for people who've got spare tickets and remember to only use sites you trust.
10. One other way is to simply sneak in. Yes, it's illegal and you might get the shit kicked out of you, but are you willing to take the risk? In countries with smoking bans, outdoor smoking bits can be a godsend, as they're easy to sneak into and you don't require a ticket to get back in (not getting caught is a different matter entirely though). Similarly, if someone's been kicked out and still has their ticket stub, ask for their ticket stub and sneak in the smoking bit. You might need to pay them a bit but you'll probably still save money
So there you go! A ten step guide to blagging sold-out gig tickets! Some of them are more "legal" than others, but most of them are fairly great ways of finding that mostly sought-after ticket!