Whatever your opinions were on Phish‘s exclusive Sirius XM concert at The Met Philly earlier this month, we can all agree on one thing: tickets were hard to get. We’re not talking about Charleston-“hard,” where people were reportedly offering up to three hundred dollars for a ticket outside the venue. We’re talking even-harder-than-floors-for-MSG-New-Year’s-Eve “hard.”
As most fans are aware, no tickets were sold for this event. Instead, SiriusXM subscribers were prompted to enter a series of email raffles or call into SiriusXM Phish Radio to attempt to get through to program hosts Ari Fink and Jonathan Schwartz for their on-air “Met Drops”—a task that quickly proved easier said than done as nonstop calls tied up SiriusXM phone lines and eager callers even began spilling over to other Sirius stations’ numbers with their hopeful outreach. Due to the inherent exclusivity of this massive underplay, the vast majority of ticket seekers were ultimately unsuccessful in their pre-show Met Philly endeavors.
That didn’t stop several hundred ticketless hopefuls from showing up anyway in search of one of the coveted “golden tickets.” Fans hung around the ticket winners’ line at The Met attempting to trade four NYE floor tickets or as much as $1,000 cash for a ticket into the 3,500-capacity venue. As these ambitious fans milled around North Broad Street on that chilly Tuesday afternoon, it was difficult not to feel for them. These people were clearly committed to finding their way inside for the smallest Phish show in two decades, and it looked as though most (if not all) of them would go home disappointed.
However, as the show began, reports of ticketless fans finding their way in began to flood social media. After all the stress, fuss, and fraught fist-shaking, all of the fans who showed up got in—for free.
In a blog post on phish.net entitled “Miracle at the Met,” fan Tommy Whittaker (a.k.a. @Quidley), detailed his role in the process by which close to three hundred ticketless fans found their way inside. As more and more people arrived, an “unofficial” list of each person in line and the order in which they arrived was formed, in order to keep everything fair.
When Whittaker arrived around 2 p.m., he was given number 132. As he explains, despite his skepticism at his low station on the totem pole, he stepped into a very important position outside The Met: the custodian of “the line.” Notes Whittaker about his arrival at The Met on the afternoon of December 3rd,
From the point I signed up until around 5:30 pm, I heard many random rumors and varied accounts as to how/when/if this would happen. Pre-show anxiety was at an all-time high for all involved, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and get the information straight from the Sirius people.
Bryan Kirk, the proprietor of ubiquitous lot gear vendor The Overhead View, was another patient fan who decided to take the chance and see if he could catch a miracle at The Met, getting number 92 in line not long before Whittaker showed up. The waiting was no less stressful for him.
“Everyone was doing math and trying to figure out how many people would get in,” Kirk tells Live For Live Music. “As the day went on, info started to leak…40 tickets held back, 60 unconfirmed emails, maybe more who didn’t get there by 5. I was starting to get excited that I might actually get in.”
Whittaker was hearing the same rumors as he patiently waited for a possible miracle. But for Whitaker, the anticipation was unbearable, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Whittaker ended up face-to-face with the man who would decide the fate of the ticketless Philly Phish fans. Unfortunately, in the rush of information and hopes, Whittaker never got the person’s name, and refers to him only as “The Sirius Miracle Man“, who told him some very good news: the rumors were true. He explains,
Around 6 pm, I spoke with who I thought was the person in charge of the fate of the 283 phans who braved the cold Philly day to get a Sirius miracle. I regret to say that things happened so fast, I never caught the name of the Sirius employee, who so kindly relayed the most important information of our day: the rumors were true. Many thanks to you, whatever your name may be.
At this point, I realized I had been waiting my whole Phish career for this moment and was ready for the task. As I walked across the street from the Met, I noticed that everyone was on the edge of their seats anxiously awaiting the news I was about to relay from the Sirius Miracle Man. I informed the newly appointed line committee of the news I had received, toasted with a heady beer, and went right to work.
[List originator] JD handed me “the list”, and we proceeded to get everyone in line. As I went to the crowd, all I could say, is “I’m Sirius, if you want a chance to get in the Met, you must follow exact orders. There will be a uniform single file line, that is to be orderly and fair, in the order you signed up. Also, equally Sirius, there will be no bum rushing, cutting, pushing, or disorderly conduct, or this thing will be shut down, Siriusly!”
As show time approached, The Sirius Miracle Man would systematically come to Whittaker and ask for the next ten people on the list. As he walked them across the street to the venue, he told Whittaker to prepare the next ten to cross the street into the show. This, by the transitive property, also made Whittaker a sort of Miracle Man.
Kirk was one of the lucky fans on the receiving end of Whittaker and The Sirius Miracle Man’s organizational initiative. “As the line inches forward, we all were getting excited, it really was going to happen!” Kirk explains. “The excitement builds, you get a tick, making all of our dreads lift! We all bounced across the street, not quite believing it was happening… And in! Last row, who cares! We all made it in!”
Meanwhile, Whittaker cherished the miracle moment with each lucky fan as he led them to their Met Philly destiny, barely giving a passing through to his own fate. Notes Whittaker,
I was able to personally hug/fist bump/high five everyone from #1-180 before the Sirius Miracle Man paused. I was nervous. Everyone in line was nervous. Time stopped. We were not getting in! He let the anticipation linger for a brief moment, then he looked at me and my fellow line keeper, gave us our wristbands, and said ‘get the hell in that show, you’re going to miss the first song – I’ll take care of the rest of the people!’
Tommy Whittaker, the man who was willing to give up his own place in line so that others may experience the joy he’d felt 159 times before, was able to make it into The Met for the opening notes of “Tweezer”, along with the other 282 members of the storied “list.” And they all lived happily ever after…