To Seat Or Not To Seat

VIP/reserved seating may be a boon to festival organizers, but when the primo seats in front of a stage sit empty, it sure can kill a show’s buzz.

Take a recent Shelby Lynne performance at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif.

When Lynne took to the Tundra Mane Stage on the afternoon of May 2nd, she met a sea of empty seats reserved for those who could afford forking out upward of $585 for three days of VIP seating.

She was clearly annoyed.

"I love singing to empty seats," Lynne said during the opening of her set, before telling the audience what she really thought.

"F*** these seats – you sit where you want to," she said. "It’s a festival. You’re supposed to be listening to the music. I’m supposed to be looking into your eyeball, man!"

Fan reactions were mixed.

"I think she’s right; it is a festival," one fan told Riverside’s Press Enterprise. "It should be one price."

Others weren’t so happy with Lynne’s comments.

"If you don’t like it, don’t be here," another told the paper as she left the set early.

The evening performances had better VIP attendance, and Eagles, which closed the festival, was packed. Fans willing to pay the Gold Circle pricing get the advantage of seeing the headliners up close, but Lynne’s sentiments do bring up a good question.

While other big country music shows including RodeoHouston and the CMA Music Festival offer various levels of VIP/reserved seating by the stage, big summer rock festivals such as Lollapalooza and Coachella do not.

Should Stagecoach continue offering reserved seats, on par with the traditional country music festival experience, or follow in the footsteps of summer rock festivals by keeping it GA?

Maybe the Los Angeles Times had the best take on the matter:

"Surely the regular folk could be allowed in early in the day, then the section could be cleared and turned over to ticket holders when they show up around sundown," the paper said.