Already, there has been some criticism from animal rights groups regarding experiments involving chimpanzees being trained to negotiate performance fees for Gov’t Mule, Duran Duran and the Go-Go’s. Although none of the simians has suffered any apparent harm, it is the opinion of groups such PETA, as well as many chapters of the Society For The Prevention Of Some Cruelty To Animals, that constant exposure to promoters and venue managers might in fact reduce the chances of successfully returning the animals to the wild.
“There’s no denying the fact that training an ape to route a tour for Strapping Young Lad, or book a date in Omaha for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is definitely an improvement over traditional methods,” says Dr. J. Frederick Muggs, chief anthropologist at the Greystoke Institute, whose book, Watch Out For That Tree!, documented the failed government experiments of the 1950s when scientists attempted to train gorillas to drive tour buses for Little Richard and Chuck Berry. “However, the more one trains a chimp to handle various duties associated with the concert industry, the less likely that chimp will be able to return to the jungle. You should see the tantrums they throw if someone even hints at taking away their cell phones or BMWs.”
But apes are only some of the animals the concert industry is considering for specific tasks, such as handling merch sales for Le Tigre, or catering shows by Guttermouth and Evan Dando. For example, promoters are optimistic about experiments where dogs were trained to sniff out Yanni fans, as well as assume the traditional “pointer” stance when encountering fans of Mudvayne and Luka Bloom, saying that such capabilities will help them tailor their advertising campaigns to target specific consumers.
Can animals be trained to handle certain functions of the concert industry? Will there come a day when orangutans taking tickets at Motley Crue shows, or dolphins operating concession stands at shows by Sting and Snoop Dogg will be as common as warm-up acts, sound checks and Axl Rose no-shows? Furthermore, will the savings occurred by replacing humans with animals on certain, concert-related jobs be passed on to the consumer in the form of lower prices and reduced service charges?
“There’s no doubt that training animals to work in the concert industry will definitely have an impact on the overall cost of presenting shows by Wilco, or the daily operating expenses occurred whenever Papa Roach or Rascal Flatts go on tour. But ticket prices and service charges are entirely different animals,” says Dr. Muggs. “However, there has been some progress in training elephants to work as roadies, which might result in lowering some ticket prices and certain service charges.”
“It’s simple,” says Dr. Muggs. “Prices are sure to drop once you have a labor force that works only for peanuts.”