It would be a safe assumption to make that during my late teens and early 20s I spent more time than is perhaps considered normal waiting outside of stage doors after gigs, waiting for a glimpse at (or, on more occasions than most, a photo with) the artists I had just watched play a gig.
There was a period of time where my success rate in ‘stalking’ these stars literally sat at 100 per cent. I would go to a gig and I would wait patiently after it, often for more than three hours, for my moment with these exceptional artists. There were even times an act so special to me were visiting Australian for only a promotional tour, with no actual live gigs booked, that I would trek to anywhere from radio stations across Melbourne (Take That) to hotel car parks in Prahran (Girls Aloud) just to get that little window with these megastars.
Meeting the Arctic Monkeys and having Alex Turner tell me he fucking loved my Girls Aloud tee-shirt sits highly up there, as does being centimetres away from Blondie’s Deborah Harry as she climbed into her car and my best friend copped a feel of her hair. Moloko’s Róisín Murphy casually finishing her cigarette off with me as she then proceeded to give me a hug and a kiss for waiting around for her was fabulous, as was having Scissor Sister Ana Matronic applaud my “Albino Cher” tee-shirt – that ranks pretty highly, especially as she then announced to us all that the Albino era of Cher’s career was her absolute favourite. This was years and, really, a lifetime ago, and to this day my friends and I often talk of Albino Cher and her obvious influence on modern pop culture.
The cold weather, sometimes freezing, and always uncomfortable surroundings as I waited never put me off. I had a steely determination in regard to these meet and greets, and although I was always certain I would meet whoever it was I planned on ‘camping out’ for, there was still an exciting and undeniable rush in the lead up. It’s a good feeling, especially when the artist in question treats you like a human being, so it is of no surprise to see that, in the last five or so years, the ‘meet and greet’ experience has now become a marketing and revenue generator. And boy, what a revenue generator it is.
Some may blame Lady Gaga for the meet and greet revolution, and although I believe she may have had a major influence over it, it is still people like 20-year-old-Me that has driven this ‘movement’ into the adrenaline downer we see today. Back in 2008, Gaga started her career by freely handing out meet and greet opportunities to almost everybody that attended her early gigs; and, shortly after, it was an act expected of others.
Now in 2014, that very experience can cost you thousands of dollars. Miley Cyrus’ current US tour offers a near 2k meet and greet opportunity; Gaga herself has a 1.5k meet and greet ticket on offer for her upcoming ARTPOP Ball shows in Australia; and the phenomenon now extends to RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants performing shows across our country. For anywhere between 40 and 50 dollars you will receive less than 15 seconds ‘air time’ with your chosen Drag Star, a photo taken by a ‘professional photographer’ (that you won’t receive for anywhere between 24 to 72 hours), and a ‘glass of champagne’ upon arrival. I don’t know about you but I almost prefer the waiting around in cold, dark alleyways.
No meet and greet situation is as baffling or hilarious as the most recent Avril Lavigne shows in Brazil. The pop star (who should have been put out to pasture over a decade ago) charged her ‘Super Fans’ $400 a ticket for a great view of her show and a meet and greet opportunity after. With each patron instructed not to touch or make any physical contact with Lavigne during their interaction, you can only imagine how awkward all of the photos that were taken look. The event caused such a commotion via social media like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook that the Avril meet & greet has already turned into a popular meme – one that doesn’t look to be going anywhere at time of print.
So why, if she has no interest in making any physical contact with her fans, would Avril Lavigne even ‘okay’ a meet and greet scenario to then take to every single date of her current World Tour? It all boils down to money – and truckloads of it. Because the meet and greet has now become such a trend, with artists like Rihanna, Katy Perry and even Britney Spears jumping on board, it is now – sadly – used purely to generate even more revenue for a seemingly greedy artist. The opportunity may have a monetary price attached to it now, one that could definitely be viewed as Extremely Excessive, but I would still prefer to pay 1.5k for a Gaga or Rihanna meet and greet and know I will have an incredible interaction with physical contact, over a $400 ticket for Avril Cunting Lavigne where I will basically be required to stand at least 40-feet away from her just for the money shot to be taken.
But seriously, why on earth would you even want to meet Avril Lavigne anyway?!
Written by Adem Ali