Read About They Might Be Giants’ Tour Success, Featuring Commentary From Frank Riley and Dave Rowan
By Ryan Borba
It’s going to be hard to top Taylor Swift on Pollstar’s Global Concert Pulse chart as the North American touring juggernaut continues to put up staggering numbers taking her to nearly $12 million grossed per market.
Swift just wrapped up three shows at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., each grossing around $22 million for promoter Messina Touring Group, an AEG Presents partner.
While a few major artists (such as U2, The Rolling Stones) can do similar numbers over two or three shows, it is rare to see such demand, at such a ticket price ($50-$500 primary tickets) and with three additional shows immediately so close – with 223 miles between the two stadiums, or just over four hours via car according to Google Maps.
The $22.03 million grossed from the July 20-22 MetLife Stadium run is enough by itself to put Swift at No. 19 on Pollstar’s Mid-Year Top 100 North American Tours of 2018, right behind Post Malone’s already-impressive 31-date amphitheatre tour.
Right now she’s grossing an average of $11.73 million per market (mostly two-night runs) and a staggering 93,306 tickets on 13 reports submitted to Pollstar.
While the Top 5 tours on the Global Concert Pulse Chart remain unchanged, filled out by the mighty Rolling Stones ($9.16 million), Beyoncé/Jay-Z ($5.84 million), Bruno Mars ($4.88 million) and U2 ($3.61 million), new additions this week include Foo Fighters at No. 14 with an average gross of $1.84 million on 11 boxoffice reports.
Additions at the club level include everything from influential indie mainstays They Might Be Giants to post-hardcore metal band Dance Gavin Dance, both averaging around $28,000 grossed per show.
They Might Be Giants at the end of April wrapped up an impressive 50-date club tour selling out venues like their home market House of Blues in Boston (1,928 tickets, $54,558 gross) First Avenue in Minneapolis (1,550, $39,439) and Crystal Ballroom in Portland, which sold another 1,500 tickets and grossed more than $36,000.
The band has been at it for more than 35 years and is as big and maybe even bigger than ever. High Road Touring’s Frank Riley has been there from the beginning, starting his relationship with the duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell in the early ‘80s.
“When I first started representing the Giants you know what they were? They were a duo, and you know what they played with? A boombox,” Riley told Pollstar, laughing. “It wasn’t a backing track. It was a boombox, and they mic’d the boombox.”
The band’s latest album, January’s I Like Fun, along with fresh content from the band’s children’s albums and writing music for “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical,”has seen added interest in the band from younger generations adding to its core fanbase that is still heavily engaged.
“They sold more tickets on this tour than I can recall, and they sold very quickly,” High Road’s Dave Rowan added. “We moved up in some rooms and in other rooms opened up capacity.
“They’ve always been very steady and had a very devoted base, and people have continued to care about them young and old, but what was remarkable in this particular instance was not the cross section of people, but it was so enthusiastic — top to bottom, and that was wonderful and to their credit very well deserved.”
They Might Be Giants has even more dates coming up in September, with another 30 dates with stops split between Europe and North America, including dates in tertiary Canadian markets like Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.
“We haven’t been to Canada for over 10 years, at least a decade,” Rowan said, “and we’re playing certain markets for the first time — 30 years in, which is remarkable.”
Other standout reports include 1,807 tickets sold to The Pageant in St. Louis, which grossed $48,135 Feb. 9, 1,200 tickets at The 9:30 Club in D.C. ($36,000) and another 1,048 tickets sold to the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee March 16, which grossed $30,444.
“God bless They Might Be Giants,” added Riley, known for repping bands like the Violent Femmes and Husker Du. “There’s absolutely nothing that’s been given to They Might Be Giants. They’ve earned every single bit of what they’ve got, and I mean that sincerely.”
Post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance, fresh off of chart success after its latest album Artificial Selection peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200, saw a spike in ticket sales as the album came out just one week into the tour, according to Matt Pike of the newly launched 33 & West booking agency.
“We did almost 3,000 tickets in San Antonio, Texas, which is the biggest headline show the band’s ever done,” Pike told Pollstar. “To be exact we did 2,987 tickets, and I was joking with the promoter, ‘Why didn’t you just tell me? I’d have bought the 13 tickets to get to 3K.’” That show was May 26 at the Alamo City Music Hall, grossing $76,082.
Pike mentioned instant sellouts at venues including the Observatory in Santa Ana, Calif, Santa Cruz, Calif., and Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J., which sold 2,050 tickets and grossed $44,000.
“It was 23 sellouts in 26 dates, and two of the three shows that didn’t sell out were moved up to accommodate the crowds,” said Pike, who also represents hardcore legends Converge, which just wrapped a tour with Oakland metal veterans Neurosis.
Dance Gavin Dance has just announced a support run with contemporaries Underoath, repped by Nick Storch at Artist Group International, that sees them taking in venues including Knitting Factory Spokane, two nights at Ogden Theatre in Denver, Agora Theatre in Cleveland and Electric Factory in Philadelphia.
“You take the opportunity when one comes along to tour with a band like Underoath,” Pike said. “The tour in the fall is definitely an ambitious run. We’re putting our money where our mouth is, and we’re glad to do it with them.”