When I was a kid, I used to listen to Garth Brooks albums and come up with storylines for each and every single one of his songs song. Once, when I was eight years old, I wrote a whole short
story based on the music of No Fences. Knowing nothing about sex, love or beer, in retrospect, my story made no sense in relation to what the songs were actually about. For example, my
plotline for “Friends in Low Places” was about a group of friends who read comic books in a basement. Regardless, it was clear from early on that Brooks would always be a huge influence
for my creativity as a story-teller. And this Thursday, thanks to a once in a lifetime concert at the 100th annual Calgary Stampede, I’m finally going to be able to see Garth Brooks in concert.
Typing that sentence alone sends shivers of excitement down my spine. Yet, in this world were people brag about anything on social media, an interesting thing has happened. For fear of people thinking I was rubbing it in, I’ve seemingly been forced into hiding about having a coveted
ticket to the show.

If you haven’t heard, tickets for this concert went fast, like under a minute fast. And while working
in the media does often allow me to receive free tickets to concerts, Garth Brooks was not one
of those times. To get my chance to see the best-selling solo artist of the 20th century perform,
I, just like everyone else, went up against the entertainment industry’s super villain known as
Ticketmaster. I battled the ticket giant with three laptops, two phones and zero patience. When
the dust had settled, I had shockingly emerged victorious, albeit with only one ticket. I instantly
felt bad for my friend who was also trying to get tickets, so I half-heartedly offered it to her, luckily
she saw right through me and passed, generously saying that I could go guilt-free. Turns out,
she’d be the only one to be happy for me. Since then, I and everyone else who has a ticket, have
had to live a quiet existence. For months, every time I mention the concert, I’ve been met with the
virtual equivalent of having paint thrown on a fur coat. Instead of cheers of support, like the ones
foodies get for posting photos of a pasta dish from a restaurant opening, Garth Brooks concert-
goers cannot tweet about our excitement for the concert, nor can we Instagram photos our tickets
or update our Facebook status with the ever-effective countdown.

It’s not like I don’t emphasize with those not lucky enough to get tickets. Minutes after the concert
sold out, I started a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/events/282091941871982/)
trying to convince organizers to add a second Garth Brooks show. Sadly, Brooks had already
booked another event that coincided with the suggested second date.

The disdain for those of us going to the Saddledome for the concert this Thursday has caused me
to self-diagnose myself with Garth Guilt. It’s a rare disorder that causes me to question whether
I’ll even be able to have fun at the concert, knowing that hundreds of thousands of people tried
to get tickets and were done in by stealthy scalpers and sneaky software. Before social media,
this malady didn’t even exist. If I was going to a Spice Girls or The Moffats concert, only my close
friends would know. But now, it would be weird for anyone to go to a concert experience like a
Garth Brooks concert and not post at least one photo from it, right? For some reason, if we don’t
post about it online, it’s like it never really happened.

Or maybe, it’s better if I don’t post about the concert all. That way, instead of trying to think of
witty tweets or playing with photo filters, I’ll actually be paying attention to the concert. Perhaps,
my clearly made-up disease will turn out to be a good thing and make me a better concert-goer?
I mean, I did spend much of my childhood writing about Garth, why would I want to look away,
even for a second?

Mike Morrison


  1. I agree with your friends. Go and have the chance of a lifetime. Dance & Sing your heart out. We will all live the concert vicariously thru you. (as I do all things in Calgary)
    Just ignore the negative people. You are one of the lucky chosen few to experience this concert. Live your life without guilt! Go and have fun!

  2. I think your point about “hundreds of thousands” is important. Since the Saddledome seats well under 20000 for a concert, no way everyone was going to be happy. Obviously there were some shenanigans going on behind the scene, but certainly you had nothing to do with those, nor could you have done anything about it. If it was me, I’d just go enjoy and not worry about what other people say. So should you.

  3. Enjoy the concert, but definitely take the advice in your last paragraph. Don’t tweet or take bad photos with your mobile phone. Just sit back and take it all in.

  4. Mike! enjoy the concert Guilt free and don’t miss a second of it by distractions. Then write us a blog and post a few pics sharing your experience.
    EN – JOY

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