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What Limp Bizkit looks like now (Photo: Supplied)
What Limp Bizkit looks like now (Photo: Supplied)

OPINIONPop CultureNovember 1, 2023

How the hell did Limp Bizkit sell out Spark Arena?

What Limp Bizkit looks like now (Photo: Supplied)
What Limp Bizkit looks like now (Photo: Supplied)

And does anybody have a spare ticket for one of New Zealand’s last remaining music reviewers?

This story was originally published on Chris Schulz’s Boiler Room Substack.

On Friday night, while happily enjoying Home Brew’s exuberant and alcohol-soaked Powerstation show, I had a random thought. It wasn’t a good one, but once it came to me I couldn’t shake it off.

My train of thought went like this: “We have no music critics … no one else is going to do it … wouldn’t it be funny if I covered the Limp Bizkit show?”

I had been thinking about the American nu-metal group’s Auckland performance – at Spark Arena on November 26 – ever since I received an email containing a pre-sale link to buy tickets.

It sent me on a wild journey looking for New Zealand’s most expensive shows. At $190, Limp Bizkit’s ticket prices were up there, much more than the $144 it cost to see them headline Storm the Gates, a 2018 West Auckland music festival that also included Sublime with Rome, Suicidal Tendancies and Hed (PE).

At that price, in 2023, I didn’t think many people would buy one. I certainly wasn’t going to. Not at that price. Not for a Limp Bizkit show. Not when there’s a cost of living crisis. Not when Fred Durst would be there.

But critics must criticise, I guess. So, after my brain snapped at Home Brew’s excellent show, I jumped online and did something I’ve never done before: I typed ‘Limp Bizkit’ into a ticket search engine. This is the page that greeted me.

It was sold out. Every single ticket has already been snapped up.

At that point, I did what everyone else who is desperately searching for sold out concert tickets does and turned to Trade Me. There, two tickets were going for even more than what Ticketmaster was charging before the show sold out.

First of all: wow.

Limp Bizkit will head to Australia after their New Zealand show to headline the Good Things festival alongside Fall Out Boy and Devo. Tickets for that festival are already sold out in Brisbane, and look likely to do the same in Melbourne and Sydney.

A promoter has taken a gamble by booking Limp Bizkit for an extensive down under series of shows and it has paid off big time.

But there still remains a level of WTF-ness to this tour that I am struggling to explain. The last time Limp Bizkit performed here, they were in the much smaller venue Trusts Arena and they had a full line-up of other artists on the bill.

I wasn’t there, but you can go find the reviews. Limp Bizkit were… how do I put this… awful.

“Downright sloppy,” said The 13th Floor’s Kate Powell. “Durst attempted to turn the show into a karaoke/request evening … the sound and lighting were disorientatingly bad … the turntableist completely [drowned] everyone out … with just 9 ½ songs in 90 minutes, it was a long meandering set that lacked purpose or punch.”

Since then, it’s hard to work out what Limp Bizkit have done to push themselves into the rarefied air of a band that can sell out Spark Arena. They released a new album called Still Sucks in 2021 that caused barely a ripple. The single ‘Dad Vibes’ didn’t cause a stir either.

Durst refused to participate in Trainwreck, Netflix’s Woodstock ‘99 doco (I wrote about that here and it remains Boiler Room’s most popular read). As a result, the group came across very badly. Footage of the band performing ‘Break Stuff’ as surging crowd members do exactly that is among the doc’s most compelling moments.

Yet, despite all of that, Durst and co clearly have many fans in New Zealand, enough of them to fill Spark Arena. It’s a “free-flow” show, which means the venue won’t be at its full 12,000-seat capacity. But it will be close.

I can only put it down to this: we’re in concert cuckoo land. Everything’s been turned upside down and inside out. Nothing makes any sense at all anymore. The extraordinarily messy post-Covid concert landscape has created a marketplace where anything is possible and only an idiot (like me) would make an assumption that Limp Bizkit cannot sell out Auckland’s biggest indoor stadium with $190 tickets.

I offer the following examples as further proof:

  • Rapper 50 Cent is charging up to $424.90 to see his “final” performance at Spark Arena on December 14. Those are among New Zealand’s most expensive concert tickets – more than Pink and The Weeknd – yet 50 Cent is far from his prime.
  • The Weeknd is so popular he gets to play two Eden Park shows this December. In 2017, he filled Spark Arena, but he had help from Nav and French Montana. Thus, in six years, his popularity has gone up 800%, despite The Idol.
  • They have the same number of band members and will perform in the same venue, yet Limp Bizkit tickets cost $30 more than Queens of the Stone Age tickets – in my mind a far more relevant band who released one of the year’s best albums.
  • We have more than 60 music festivals coming this summer. Yes: 60. Six-zero.

I reached out to Australian promoters Destroy All Lines to ask the wizard who booked Limp Bizkit to help explain the band’s popularity in 2023. In the meantime, a plea: does anyone have a spare Limp Bizkit concert ticket they’re willing to sell to me at a reasonable price?

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