Dear PoPville – Are Ticket Prices Too Expensive for the new Howard Theatre?

Dear PoPville,

Some friends and I were discussing going to see Wanda Sykes in April at the new Howard Theater. Then I got online today to get tickets and noticed that the cheapest were $95 plus $12 in fees. Needless to say, I didn’t get tickets. Seriously?!?!? Over $100 for a ticket to see a comedian!!!

My question is: are people willing to pay those prices for an event at the new Howard Theater?

Hoping that all their shows are not that expensive.

You can get Wale tickets for $35. You can find the full calender of upcoming shows here. As for comedians – Jerry Seinfeld tickets are going for $89 + $15 in fees for an upcoming show in Los Angeles. Do you guys think $95 is too expensive for the cheapest seats to see Wanda Sykes at the new Howard Theatre?

52 Comment

    • $100 tickets to anything are too expensive. The economy is still in the tank and the federal wage freeze/pay cut continues.

      • I bought tickets to the Bad Brains show via TicketMaster and they tacked on 12 dollars in extra fees to tickets that already cost 39 dollars. The phone rep told me I could avoid those fees by buying at the theater, but the ticket booth isn’t even open yet?!? At least its Bad Brains, any other show meh…

  • Unless they misspelled Paul McCartney, then yes.

  • binpetworth

    Hell to the yes.

    Unless the ticket price includes backstage passes and your own private roast with Wanda.

  • You’re talking about simple supply and demand. Demand to attend one of first shows in a newly renovated historical DC landmark will understandably be very high. Make the show with a well known headliner and demand goes up some more. Consider the limited supply, and you have the price of the ticket.

    Your willingness to pay may not meet the ticket price for any number of personal reasons or tastes, but nobody should be surprised at the cost to attend…

    • Well said. This is an expensive town. People seem to get up in arms when something that they want to go to isn’t a cheap as they want it to be. If there are more people willing to pay a premium to attend, why shouldn’t the price reflect that.

      This isn’t just a comedian show, this is the OPENING show – there is a certain amount of status that goes into that so you are probably going to be getting a more who’s who scene there than you would at wother shows.

      • Wait, they chose Wanda Sykes for the opening show? So Howard Theater is just going to petty much be a moribund side-show for 2nd rate comedians and acts, kinda like Arlington Cinema and Draft House but without the beer and 3X the price?

    • Please. If I supply $100, I demand a happy ending.

    • I agree despite the fact I think these prices are high. Even if tickets were $20, they would all be snapped up by scalpers and resold on Stub Hub for $95.

  • I don’t believe it is the venue but more the Artist.

    $ 95 sounds about right to me for Wanda Sikes

    - home town girl, superstar of stage, screen, and TV

    • She’s been in the DC area for shows twice in the past year. The top ticket price was $75, and that was strange because all of the other tickets were $45.

  • That works out to what, like $30+ per laff? Ouch.

  • Jim Gaffigan tickets were going for a similar premium down at the Warner Theater. That’s not to excuse it, but apparently that’s what they think the market will bear. It makes you wonder again why the Lincoln Theater is moribund when the Howard and other venues can charge prices like this.

  • squish

    Come hell or high water, I will see Boyz II Men at the Howard Theater, no matter what the cost.

  • Agreed with Frankie James.

    The artists on the Howard Theater calendar who’ve played recently at the 9:30 Club — Meshell Ndegeocello, Tinariwen — have ticket prices that look similar to the prices when they played at the 9:30 Club.

  • The ticket price might be the only laugh you get out of that show.

  • For any old comedian yes…but Wanda Sykes is pretty famous and probably commands a high speaking fee.

  • The Sykes shows are special, grand opening style events – so the prices are going to be high. Bad Brains tix were $27+fees – which is on par with 9:30 prices.

    Also, the Howard (and the NY based booking company) are going for more mature acts and an older crowd – that usually comes with a higher price. Look at older, established acts when they come to 9:30, tickets are usually over $40 or $50.

    At least the Howard acts look very interesting (IMHO) – better than the Live Nation sh*tshow that is The Fillmore. Terrible, washed up artists for top dollar.

    • Concur on two points: (1) These are inflated prices that reflect the “venue opening” premium. The few spot-checks I did on other shows seem to be in-line with my expectations for the same acts at any venue. (2) The Fillmore is a pretty dismal execution of a good concept. Went for the first time this weekend. It is impossible to see the stage from the mezzanine wings and risers. I was thinking even the worst high school drama coach knows better than to manage sight-lines that poorly.

  • She ain’t that funny, IMO.

  • Tix to Bad Brains are around $30. Fair price, in my book.

  • I wonder if they will be selling standing room only or seat tickets, and if so will they just be folding chairs or what. I know the design calls for a large standing room area, more than the stationary seats. I’d be pissed if I paid 100+ and had to stand or sit in a crappy folding chair like a high school gym show.

  • i think they are perfectly reasonable…and even cheap for shows in a city like DC. Bad Brains is playing in march or april and those tickets are only $20-25. Also, there are a few artists coming under $20 which would be unheard of, even in smaller towns like Richmond.

    • Also, reeeeally hoping my ex doesn’t show up to the Bad Brains show…It’s her favorite band ever (that she hasn’t live) but being as I have seen 1000+ bands I am not going to miss this show. It’s something I may not get a chance to see again, Bad Brains in DC. I really don’t feel like being kicked out for dumping beers on people.

    • Def. worth it, since Bad Brains haven’t played live in decades.

  • Can anybody find a seating map of the place? Can’t seem to find box seats, not sure if they are all sold out already (crazy at that price in just one day on sale) or if they won’t be ready for the concert.

  • For some people overly expensive = appealing. I’m not one of them.

  • $100 for Wanda is ridonk. But $35 for Wale is a STEAL. I might just have to go to that one.

  • I think tix are overall a bit high. I think at the prices they are charging, they will have trouble selling out some of those shows. Smarter to build momentum / buzz / excitement by charging more reasonable prices, encouraging fast sell-outs and excitement about the venue. I would have considered Chuck Berry, Chaka Khan, or Taj Majal, but in each case, only at about half the prices being charged (starting at 95, 75, 50 respectively, plus the inevitable shaft fees). Perhaps I’m wrong — if the market will bear the prices, then the prices are fine — but I’ve seen a LOT of great shows featuring fairly big-name artists at 9:30 for a fraction of those prices. Why would I want to spend as much for one show for those folks, none of whom are exactly Prince or Arcade Fire or someone at that level, when I can go to 3-4 really good shows at 9:30 for the same price? Seems like they are being a BIT overly ambitious with pricing, but if they sell out for most of these, they will have the last laugh.

  • It’s either this kind of market prices, or in a few years the city has to step in an rescue the Howard like it’s had to do with the Lincoln.

  • Whatever it takes to make the theatre profitable… I am very concerned that it is not going to get the crowds it needs initially, setting off a death spiral of reduced expectations, less interesting acts, etc.

    • This theatre program is being run by professionals with a real track record with booking in big cities. If anything, Blue Note Entertainment should save the Lincoln from the city, not the other way around.

      • I know – it’s awesome that it’s a real company not some b.s. “nonprofit.” Still makes me nervous, though – that’s gotta be an expensive renovation to pay for, and they are being very optimistic about their ability to fill it so frequently with some shows being relatively obscure (how about a cover of a Genesis rock opera from 1975? On a weeknight? You think that’s going to pack the house?)…

        Fingers crossed!

  • I really like Wanda, but thought the same thing when I went to try and get tickets. The Wale show sounds much more reasonable. At least have a few rows under $50.

  • you couldn’t pay me 100 bucks to sit through her performance… what’s worse than a has been comedian? one that wasn’t funny when she thought she was

  • As a regular concert-goer of shows featuring national headliners my experience tells me that the price points for certain announced shows at the Howard are consistent with what the market will bear. Considering that a great plurality of POP readers are of the budget conscious set you should rest assured that there will be plenty of opportunities for you to experience a show at the new Howard Theater that will feature performers and ticket prices akin to the 9:30 Club or, perhaps, the Black Cat. What you’ll have in common with the concert-goers who might spend more to see their favorite national performer is the opportunity to see a live show in a state-of-the-art venue with a level of intimacy that will make you forget about the world outside on Florida Avenue! I recently had a random opportunity to take sneak peak inside (BTW, I have exactly zero affiliation with the theater or its operations) and I was floored by the intimacy of the layout. This will definitely be a fan’s venue! And, yes, I’ve already started a new interest-bearing account to save for the day when Prince comes through the Howard Theater!

    POP, you should create the template now: ‘PoPville: Would you spend $_00.00 dollars to see Prince at the Howard Theater?’ Yes, please!!

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