In the last week or so, some of my faith that Facebook can be a force for good has been restored by becoming a member of a group called the ALL IS LOVE: AF GANG. It’s a community of fans of the punk rock band Idles, and as the name suggests, the group is largely a collection of posts where people are being incredibly friendly and supportive towards each other, and bonding over their appreciation of the band.
Idles’ second album, ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’, surprisingly reached the top five when it was released last month, with songs on it dealing with subjects like toxic masculinity and the positive effects of immigration. It’s a record that has been described by NME as ‘positivity punk’, and its fans appear to have taken the message of tolerance, mindfulness and love to heart.
However, members of the group showed on Monday night that their love is not unconditional and they are the wrong people to get on the wrong side of, when a member of the group noticed two tickets for the band’s gig in Manchester tomorrow night listed with a starting price of £100.
The seller claimed to be selling due to illness, but it seems that they also felt like comforting themselves by starting the bidding at almost three times the £18 face value of each ticket. With the gig sold out, it effectively means that the only way a fan without a ticket can see the gig is to pay a crazy price, just because somebody else with no interest in the band got there first.
Members of the group reacted to this piece of profiteering in various ways. One noted that event ticket resales are against eBay’s policies and screenshotted himself reporting the item to the auction website.
Others decided to have a bit of fun first though, with one making a maximum ‘bid’ of £500 and posting it on the Facebook group with the caption ‘oops’.
These mock bids drove the price of the tickets as high as £661, no doubt getting the seller very excited, before eBay decided to act on the earlier report and take down the listing for violating its policies.
Suspecting that the would-be seller would only go and list the tickets elsewhere for an inflated price, some members have since suggested reporting the barcode numbers as stolen. Another took the time to contact the seller directly, pointing out that Idles are working with the fair ticket trading website Twickets should they wish to recuperate the costs, and accusing them of profiteering. In a final humiliation, the seller was even called a ‘Tory’.
Touting, at least as far as music tickets is concerned, is not actually illegal. Indeed, speaking of Tories, the current Home Secretary Sajid Javid described touts as ‘classic entrepreneurs’ in 2011, and three years later was named Culture Secretary. Very few in the entertainment industry seem to agree with Javid though, with comedian Stewart Lee criticising his attitude in a 2015 Guardian column, and several musicians (perhaps most notably Iron Maiden) taking action against the secondary market of ticket sales.
For me, this episode shows that the positive side of social media is still there, and that a group of people who believe strongly in one thing can come together to put things right.
As Idles themselves tell us, it’s all about unity!