If you scored a ticket to Friday's Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert, consider yourself lucky. Since the show was announced in December, Macklemore stock has soared, and like the lucky few who owned Apple stock in the early days, Anchorage hip-hop fans who bought in early have seen their investment explode.
There were glimmers of this even when the UAA Concert Board announced Friday's Macklemore and Ryan Lewis show, and when tickets for the Egan Center concert went on sale Feb. 1, Concert Board coordinator Zac Clark said general admission sold out in about two hours.
But on the resale market this week, the ticket price on Craigslist ranged anywhere from $100 to $300 a pop, $200 on StubHub. (Tickets through UAA originally sold for $30, $20 for students.)
Timing couldn't have been better for local ticket buyers. Just weeks after tickets went on sale, Macklemore hit a break-out moment. On Jan. 23, "Thrift Shop," an irreverent look at consumerism that celebrates bargain hunting and hand-me-downs ("I wear your granddad's clothes / I look incredible"), topped the iTunes charts. Around the same time, it became the second independently released song ever to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lisa Loeb's "Stay (I Miss You)" was the first nearly 20 years ago.
While Anchorage gets its fair share of touring artists whose most well-known hits are several years behind them (see: Seven Mary Three, Marcy Playground, Brian McKnight, Rusted Root), visits from ascendant pop stars are a bit rarer. Another example of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' rising stock: When the concert was announced in December, the press release said that the video for "Thrift Shop" was about to top 25 million YouTube views. The site now says the video has been streamed more than 190 million times.
But before "Thrift Shop," rapper Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty) and producer Ryan Lewis (aka Ryan Lewis) were noted for their introspective brand of hip-hop. There's the socially conscious "Same Love," the previous single that champions gay marriage and challenges attitudes toward homosexuality within hip-hop culture. Then there's the pre-"Heist" track "Otherside" in which Macklemore confesses his battles with addiction and the struggle to stay sober.
That struggle is a recurring theme on "The Heist" along with a mix of other cautionary tales, meditations on spirituality and playful nostalgia. There's also "Jimmy Iovine," a takedown of major label record deals that underscores the fact that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis topped both iTunes and Billboard charts without one.
And when your show sells out in two hours, it's hard to argue with that business model. On the heels of "Thrift Shop's" success, the current tour visits college campuses across the country and includes festival appearances in the U.S. and abroad.
Of the dates listed through mid-August on the duo's website, about a dozen are already sold out.
In Anchorage, the entrepreneurs are cashing in. Lorrie Grace McCann posted her tickets on Tuesday after she and some friends noticed the resale prices. She had two tickets listed for $160 apiece. She said years ago when she was living in New York, she sold a couple of $200 tickets to see Lady Gaga (already a steep price) for $1,800 (enough to pay the rent and credit card bill that month).
Arnold Omalley's Craigslist ad offered his two tickets to the best offer. He said he had about 10 emails offering $80 to $150. He turned down each: It'll take at least $200 for him to feel OK missing the concert.
"I'm not really expecting to sell my tickets," Omalley said in an email. "I'm asking way too much for them, but if someone wants to pay the price for them, I'm planning to take a weekend vacation out of town."
Not everyone is OK with Omalley's opportunism. "I've also received one email from a very aggressive person saying I'm the scum of the earth for trying to sell the ticket for more than face value," he said.
"My Macklemore sale is a little bit experiment, a little bit curiosity, and, I'll admit, a little bit greed," McCann also said in an email.
She was offered $240 but turned it down. She's a big fan and wants to see the show herself, plus she was conflicted over the ethics of profiting from her tickets.
The next person offered $320, which was too much for her to turn down. She quoted a Macklemore lyric on her blog (theurbanalaskan.com) as justification: "Make the money / Don't let the money make you."
A note on the opener: Spencer Shroyer, the DJ formerly known as Encyclopedia Brown, is the former Play editor and an occasional Daily News correspondent. His opening gig Friday is the first under a new moniker, DJ Spencer Lee.
By Matt Sullivan