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Music

It’s the summer of concerts — and some fans don’t care how much they cost

Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen have taken over Europe. Taylor Swift reigns over the United States. And country legends Willie Nelson, Shania Twain, and Luke Combs are selling out shows at home and abroad. That means even if your social media feeds are already dominated by pictures of stadium stages and festival fields, you can expect much more concert content from your friends, family and nemeses through the fall.

It seems like everyone is going to see live music right now - and that’s despite sticker shock for concert tickets and travel. The summer of concert travel is coinciding with high travel prices “across the board,” said Duncan Greenfield-Turk, managing director and chief travel designer for Global Travel Moments. It won’t be cheap. But fans are making it work.

Like Bodie Lowe and Cassidy Crawford, both 25, who are known as the “resident Swifties” at the public relations firm where they work in Austin. When Swift announced the Eras Tour, a 60-plus stop homage to her greatest hits, the question wasn’t if they’d go, but how many times?

“We were like ‘we’re going all out,’” Crawford said. “We have real jobs now. We have credit cards.”

The co-workers scored two third-row tickets for Swift’s stop in Houston for about $550 each. Then Lowe bought a $600 VIP floor ticket (which includes a bunch of merch) for an L.A. tour date he’ll catch with college friends. Crawford will see 13 shows, from opening night in Arizona, to Dallas, to four in L.A. (she says the average cost of those tickets was $260).

Since the tour was announced in November 2022, Crawford anticipated prices would be outrageous. She went into her ticket hunt knowing she could buy some with savings and pay off others over time. Instead of getting price-gouged on StubHub and SeatGeek, Crawford bought her tickets by tracking Twitter accounts like @ErasTourResell for tickets being resold at face value, or finding a friend with a “verified fan” Ticketmaster account who had access to presales. For concert accommodations, Crawford’s staying with friends and family or sharing hotel rooms, taking public transportation where she can. She tracked airfare prices and bought flights as early as possible.

And in this don’t-take-life-for-granted, post-pandemic era, all of that money and effort is worth it. “I think it was just so obvious that it was now or never,” Crawford said.

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These concert travelers feel the same.

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Beyoncé in Paris for just $103 a ticket

Keyarna Pittman, 44, first discovered concerts are significantly cheaper in Europe on a trip to London in 2018, when she found tickets to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On The Run II tour for $125 a piece (in North America, they averaged $403). So when “Renaissance” dates were released, Pittman immediately signed up for the chance to buy tickets in Paris, then locked in hotel reservations and plane tickets in case prices surged when tickets actually went on sale.

Her plan worked. Pittman and her husband, Wayne, 51, got concert tickets for about $103 per person. With their airfare to Paris from Virginia’s Dulles International Airport (including a 10-hour stop in Casablanca on the way there and an overnight layover in Istanbul on the way home), hotels and the concert, the trip came out to about $1,000 each.

The couple saw celebrities such as Kris Jenner and Pharrell walk by to the VIP area. Better yet, Beyoncé's daughter Blue Ivy came on stage for her first surprise performance of the tour. “Everybody was screaming,” said Pittman, an interior designer and travel agent. “You just feel like the love in the room from everybody, all cultures, everything. It was just amazing.”

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Three weeks, $30,000 to see the Boss. Twice.

Not everyone goes to Europe to save on concert tickets. Last summer, Greenfield-Turk arranged an eight-day trip for a family of four from the East Coast to the U.K. to see two Harry Styles concerts, which added up to roughly $50,000. It would have been even more to plan the same trip this summer. “With the pricing of gigs at the moment . . . and adding on all the transportation . . . things are getting more costly at the moment,” he said.

But money wasn’t an issue for a client of Susie McMahon, owner of Luxurious Journeys. The travel planner recently coordinated a trip for a father and his 19-year-old son to see Springsteen in Barcelona and Dublin (plus a Springsteen-free stop in Lisbon) that was close to $30,000, excluding concert tickets.

The three-week adventure included a mix of four- and five-star hotels such as El Palace in Barcelona, where during their stay, former president Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, director Steven Spielberg and Springsteen had dinner together.

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Over $20,000 in Vegas for Taylor

As the founder of a luxury travel agency in Fort Worth, Kaleigh Kirkpatrick usually plans trips around big sports bucket-list events like the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby. But lately, she’s been fielding concert requests, like the family of three who wanted to see Taylor Swift in Las Vegas.

Between first-class airfare from Dallas to Vegas, rooms at the Wynn resort and dinners at hotel restaurants - think Hakkasan at the MGM Grand and Picasso in the Bellagio - plus a private SUV on standby for pickup and drop-off at $200 per hour, Kirkpatrick said the three-day trip totaled well over $20,000. And that’s not factoring in the concert tickets, which, even in the nosebleeds are going for more than $1,000. “This client obviously is not [in a] nosebleed,” Kirkpatrick said.

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Using miles and points to see Springsteen in Italy

Two years ago, Mary Willett, 65, and T.J. Kozikowski, 60, had a dream getaway to Italy canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The New Jersey residents, both huge Bruce Springsteen fans, decided to revive their original trip plan when they saw the Boss was touring Europe. They couldn’t get tickets in Rome but could snag a pair in Ferrara. They planned a trip around the show with stays in Venice, Bologna, Tuscany and the capital.

The couple used credit card points to book airfare and Marriott points for a hotel when they weren’t staying in Airbnbs (about $100 per night), so they were able to save significantly on key parts of the trip. But there was one hurdle: With rental car prices outrageously high, how would they get from Bologna to Ferrara for the concert?

Willett crowdsourced the answer from Springsteen superfans. “I belong to a Facebook group called ‘Spring Nuts,’ and they helped a lot,” Willett said. “I found a bus called Bus for Fun that left from Bologna directly to the concert in Ferrara.” Two round-trip tickets set them back less than $40 total.

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Mexico to Minneapolis for a daughter’s first concert

John Peter Larson and his wife, Nicole, are pulling out all the stops for their daughter Carolina’s first concert. For starters, the expats in Mérida, Mexico, are not just taking their 16-year-old to see Taylor Swift in Minneapolis, their hometown. They’re also bringing five of her friends on the week-long adventure, plus getting custom-made outfits to commemorate different Swift albums.

With concert tickets at $350 a piece, the tailored ‘fits (about $50 each) plus airfare from the Yucatán for the family (the friends will pay their way), a trip to the Mall of America and meals out, the vacation won’t be cheap, but it will be memorable.

To round out the tourist activities, “We’re going to do a day where the girls are going to go and volunteer in a commissary kitchen and help cook food,” said Larson, the co-founder of Delicacies Jewelry.

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A Deadhead with deep pockets

After playing more than 2,400 concerts, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead are on their last tour this summer. Mari Hawkins, a luxury travel adviser with the Travel Leaders Network, got a last-minute request from a 54-year-old client in New York to go see them. Not just once, but in four different cities: San Francisco; Chicago; Boulder, Colo.; and George, Wash.

Hawkins had no problem finding hotels for half of the trip, even with only a few weeks’ notice. She could easily book rooms for the client and travel companions (a different friend or family member would join him for different shows) at the Four Seasons in San Francisco, and in Chicago at the Gwen. But “it was really hard to book outside of big cities,” Hawkins said. In Colorado, she had to pull strings to get him rooms at the Best Western.

The bill for just business-class flights (including ones back to New York between shows), hotels and ground transportation: about $10,000.

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