Coldplay Gouging Their Own Fans With $14 Beers, $6 Waters

One of many beer stands throughout the Rose Bowl, where Coldplay played back-to-back concerts last weekend.

What’s the most you’d pay for a beer at a concert?

During back-to-back, sold out performances by Coldplay at the Rose Bowl last week, beers were priced at an astounding $14, with a $1 discount for domestic brews.  A small plastic cup containing an ice-heavy ‘Margarita On the Rocks’ was also $14, with a medium-sized bottle of water selling for $6 (with no tap water alternative or water fountains you’d want to use).

I know these details, because we bought all three of those.  Why?  Because after driving, Ubering, and waiting for two hours to get in, everyone wanted to enjoy the show with a brew.  So we bent over, and said ‘thank you sir, may I have another!’

And yes, fans in line were openly bitching at how expensive everything was, especially since fans were strictly prohibited from bringing anything inside the Bowl (part of new, stepped-up security, which we’ll discuss later).   It’s just like the airport, but this time, there’s a face that’s screwing you: the band you’re listening to.

Eavesdropping in line, people were also complaining that the beers weren’t even actual tallboys.  Two forty-something fans discussing whether this was a 16 oz. or a 24 oz. can. They were tall, yes, but somehow a step smaller than a full-sized, tallboy can.  Funny, you can’t find this fake-me-out size in the supermarket.  Another scam that you didn’t realize until you paid $56 for the first round.

And what kind of beer was this?  Nothing was on the sign.  It turned out that ‘imported’ actually meant ‘Tecate’.  Not to rip on Tecate, but when I see ‘imported,’ I’m usually thinking Heineken, Beck’s, or something German.  Nobody was happy, especially dads who had brought their 4+ person families to the show, and had already dropped $400 on tickets, parking, and other unexpected expenses (like t-shirts).  Now, they were about to be called cheap for not wanting to drop $50, $100, or more on snacks and beverages.

And that’s how much it adds up to.  While we were tying to find out $80 crappy seats, I saw a guy with a large box of nachos, fries, drinks, and other junk food.  He told me he paid more than $100 for it all.   All of which raises the question:

Are bands like Coldplay burning their fanbases by straight-up gouging them at shows?

Hey Coldplay: just because they’ll pay that amount, doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.  Even worse, they may decide to skip your next tour, for this exact reason.

Now, before you protest that this isn’t Coldplay’s fault, that it’s the same, jacked-up prices at every show, you might want to rethink that assumption.  Consider this: if Chris Martin demanded that every fan have $4 beers and $2 nachos, then every last Coldplay show would have $4 beers and $2 nachos.  But Martin, like everyone else in the band, wants a big, fat check from their performance.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t even show up (sorry Coldplay fans, don’t take it personally).

And playing a full-blown show at the Rose Bowl, where Coldplay performed last weekend in Pasadena for two nights, is a damn expensive proposition.  There weren’t fireworks at the end — there were fireworks at the beginning, and middle, and end.  There were multiple stages, including a long, extended catwalk, and all sorts of video montages and presentations.

They even gave every attendee a wristband with multi-colored lights inside, with every last one synchronized remotely to create blinking effects (that was pretty cool).  The crew on a tour this size is so big, they even run credits at the end of the show, just like a major motion picture.

But does any of that justify $14 beers, $14 margaritas, and $6 water bottles?

Maybe that’s not such a good idea.  Sure, Coldplay is actually one of only a handful of bands that can fill a full-blown stadium like the Rose Bowl for two consecutive nights.  But Americans aren’t as rich as they used to be, they’re noticing the price and thinking about the grand total while sitting in traffic, trying to leave the stadium.

You may never see a lot of those people again, Chris.



26 Responses

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Right! Willing buyer, willing seller. I get it. YET, you’ll still buy that beer, because it’s the only option, and it’s really nice to watch a show with a beer. It’s a dirty trick.

  1. steven corn

    That’s even more than Dodger Stadium. And Dodger Stadium has 80 home games per year. Way more concerts than the Rose Bowl I think.

    Cost = (quality/demand) x convenience + processing fees

  2. PS

    just fyi, In the UK, Heineken is pretty low down the ‘food chain’ in terms of perceived quality.

  3. Egbert Bogshed

    In years gone by, would people not have reacted violently, rushed the stall, chugged the drinks, fought security and got thrown out . . ? What’s happened to music fans these days . . .

  4. PETER

    When has it been in a bands contract to decide the price of beer or beverage? There are real issues worth discussing.
    Maybe you don’t out much ?

  5. Jim

    The bands do not control stadium. Irresponsible sensationalizing by the reporter. Do your research. The beers in Chicago were the same price as every event at the stadium.

    • Smith

      Can’t agree with Jim more. If Coldplay demanded $4 beers and $2 waters the venues would laugh at them. It could never happen.

  6. Bill Wirtz

    The venue and/or catering vendor sets food & beverage prices and collects most if not all corresponding revenue, no?

      • Paul Resnikoff

        Technically, you guys are correct: venue operators control the pricing on stuff like beers. But that doesn’t mean that Coldplay has to accept that structure, especially since they oftentimes get blamed for these things.

        Think about it: Coldplay has the power to FILL an entire Rose Bow stadium. for two nights! And more than likely, they are demanding a huge percentage of ticket receipts (if not over 100%). THAT, more than anything, is prompting these increases and gouging.

        And yes, if Coldplay demanded $4 beers as a condition, they’d get it.

        • Smith

          They would only get that condition if they rented the venues and did all the work (hiring staff etc) themselves.

        • David

          My son and I went to a Coldplay concert just two nights ago… prices were as described. Notably, I asked for a bottled water and the vendor told me that while they could sell me the water, they were not allowed to give me the actual plastic bottle. They had to pour it into a separate cup. I was fine with that, and had them add ice (the show was in hot Arizona!). The vendor specified that that was one of the bands stipulations, that plastic bottles not be given out. So yes, the band does have some control over the vendors.

        • jim

          no, they wouldn’t. No artist has any input as to what the concert venues can and will charge. nor do they get a cut of concessions. venues pay the bands to come and play at their arena, and dependent on the deal, give them a percentage of the ticket sales. bands do not set ticket prices, they do not set beer prices, hell. half the time, they dont even get a say in what the T-shirts cost. their options are to take the deals they are given, or not be able to put on large scale productions and play large venues. This is why Pearl Jam lost their battle with ticket master, why bands like Springsteen and U2 and acts bigger than coldplay have the same situation at their shows. it’s not how the industry works.

  7. Patrick

    I’m not a Coldplay fan, and I agree that those prices for beer and water are ridiculous. But it’s also pretty ridiculous to blame this on Coldplay. They could take a lower fee and demand lower ticket prices like some acts, but I really don’t think they have anything to do with determining or controlling beer prices. It makes sense to complain about it, but it makes little sense to blame it on the act. The promoter and/or the venue, but not the act.

  8. Paul Lanning

    Same sort of ripoff when I took Maureen to Billy Joel at MSG last month. It diminishes the fun.

  9. GGG

    Still shitty, but it’s not really a black and white thing here.

    Coldplay spent $400k per show the last couple tours with those wristbands alone that sync to the music. Now, if they spend anywhere close to that this tour, that’s a HUGE overhead cost to put on the fantastic show they put on, and they already willingly take huge cuts to make the experience better for you. So, if you want an incredible show, you’re going to have to accept that between the overhead, the band making money, the probably 50+ person crew needed for that rig, etc, the cost is going to have to be made up somewhere.

    Do you want $200 nosebleed tickets for everyone or do you want the promoters to sell $14 beer to some people to recoup the advance? Even if you are the dude buying $14 beers, you’re still coming out ahead between those choices.

  10. Mike

    Yet another inaccurate and irresponsible headline. Please attempt to go back to writing about relevant digital music trends and issues. Let’s just all say you made your point and can finally join the rest of the country in our grievances towards Livenation.

  11. Paul Lanning

    Kids’ toy wristbands, fireworks, lightshows, bullshit…I prefer MUSIC.

    • GGG

      You realize you can have both, right?

      Or do you hate Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, and literally any other act that has used beyond basic lighting rigs?

  12. Tait

    Serves you right for going to a fucking Coldplay concert in the first place. Man you must really be sick of life.

    Seriously? Coldplay? Seriously?

    That’s not music you tools, it’s fucking wallpaper. You paid hundreds of dollars for the shame of paying dozens of dollars for watered-down beer, which you drank whilst listening to watered-down not-music.

    Your complaining is almost as annoying as every insipid lyric Chris Martin ever crayoned.