The Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ Mellon Arena (Review)


You may have read my earlier posts about the seats for Star Wars: In Concert, and how complaining about them eventually translated into two free seats for yesterday afternoon’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra show.

Our seats were in the EI-2 section, row L.  We were ridiculously close to the stage and not so far up & to the side that we couldn’t appreciate the view.  I need to write to Mr. Scalzott again for providing the free tickets and hospitality of the arena.

I’ve got to say, this was an excellent show… and I’d love to go back if I can afford to next time they’re in town.  The TSO really knows how to put on an event.  The Star Wars: In Concert crew could learn a lesson from them in lighting, lasers, fog machines,  floating remote stages, hydraulics, and pyrotechnics.  Actually, they could learn a few lessons.  I can imagine a hybrid of the two that would be absolutely ridiculous.  Maybe I need to write to the TSO, John Williams, and George Lucas.  Ha ha ha.

A few things surprised me about the show…  I had no idea that there were vocals & power-ballady type songs, and that there  was a cohesive story for the most part.  I feel like it kept it entertaining for all types of people.  The narrator & vocalists were awesome.  Sadly my prior knowledge of the TSO consisted of an mp3 with an incorrect ID3 tag, mislabeling “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” for “Carol of the Bells” (which it arguably is… along with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”).

I had no idea that Alex Skolnick or the other guys from Savatage were associated with this.  Skolnick wrote articles for just about every guitar magazine that I ever picked up back when I was learning to play & read tab.  They made the show like a metal concert at times… I thought one guy in the front was going to have a heart attack and die when he threw metal with both hands as Alex was molesting the fretboard in front of him.  When the show reached it’s second half, they introduced some stuff from the new album, Night Castle.  I swear they snuck some Sabbath & Metallica riffs in there.  There was even an old-school 80’s-rock drum solo… and I think I loved the fact that old ladies were watching the solo in abject horror as much as I liked the spectacle itself.  They also had a girl playing the electric violin… I saw it more than I heard it… but it was visually pretty cool element, like the spinning keyboard.

I didn’t know that it had heavy religious overtones.  I mean, I knew it was a holiday concert… and I’m certainly not opposed to religious ideals.  I just didn’t know, and found it surprising… especially with tightly clothed women dancing like strippers in front of fire.  I think it’s cool that they can integrate the stuff, maybe some overzealous idiot out there got the message to loosen up a bit.  While they played a medley that included the melody of “Canon in D”, the girls were dancing scantily-clad on the stage… and I asked my wife Bethany if we had to call t “Canon in Double-D”.

Like I mentioned before, it being entertaining to everybody…  I mean everybody.  There were all kinds of people there… classes, ages, stereotypes, whatever group  you want to name, they were there (except maybe race… it was all crackers up in there).  I did see an extraordinarily high amount of mullets though.  I’m talking prize-winning specimens like the comb-over on top/hair down to my ass & the trimmed up top/pony tail in the back.

I can’t say anything negative about the show itself, the seats, or the arena… except (you knew it was coming) that I found the parking rate to be amusing.  By looking on the Arena website, it listed parking in the lot where we parked as $7, but it does note “Event parking rates differ for each Mellon Arena event. Check your event’s information page on this website for specific parking rates”.  The funny part is that it said nothing about parking on the event page other than the fact that no pre-sold parking would be available.  Parking was $15… more than double the normal rate, which is fine, but there was no prior indication.  I paid in mostly $1’s and even some quarters.

I hope the TSO and the Mellon Arena don’t mind if I share some crappy quality cell phone photos…












Mellon Arena & the Trans-Siberian Orchesrta!


Well, you’ve read my Mellon Arena related Ticket Sales FAIL and Customer Service WIN blog posts, right? This is a nice conclusion to that.  Well, maybe not a conclusion, but the next in the series.  Derek was nice enough to comp us two tickets to one of the upcoming Trans-Siberian Orchestra events.  How awesome is that? I feel better getting two seats than four, and to me it’s more of a comprable show that a circus or the Harlem Globetrotters.

Here are the latest exchanges…

From: Eric Carroll me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 11:16 PM
To: Derek Scalzott
Subject: Re: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Derek,

Wow.  Thank you for the well-thought-out and explanatory reply.  It’s rare to have a cutomer-service oriented reply be so frank and sincere.  I can imagine that the tasks faced when putting on each new event are quite complicated, as the arena can be used for such a varying degree of events.

I also now understand that instead of dealing with the ushers, I should have asked to speak/deal with management.  They seemed to give us a “you can do this, but you can’t tell anyone that I said it was OK to do this” kind of vibe, if that makes any sense.  I wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble or get more than what I felt we had paid for…  I just wanted to enjoy the show.

I would kindly accept your offer of tickets to an upcoming event.  I don’t feel that four tickets are necessary as we had only purchased two seats to the last event, but at the same time I will not look the proverbial gift-horse in the mouth.

The prospect of a circus or the Globetrotters is very cool, but I was wondering if it would be too late and or at all possible to get tickets for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra?  I noticed it in the upcoming events when looking at the Star Wars: In Concert.  I understand completely if this event doesn’t fall within the previously noted constraints, and would like to know when the next circus is coming to the arena?

Thank you again for your time and generosity.  I will be sure to spread the word that Mellon Arena is a champion of customer service.  My last Pens game was the one vs. the Bruins with the tying goal at .04 seconds to go, and the time before that was Crosby’s last hat trick… so trust me, I have a ton of recent great memories associated with Mellon Arena!

I look forward to our continued dialogue.

-Eric

See?  I can write complimentary emails too!

From: Derek Scalzott DScalzott@mellonarena.com
To: Eric Carroll me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Wed, December 2, 2009 10:53:45 AM
Subject: RE: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Eric,

I have approval to offer (2) two Trans-Siberian Orchestra tickets to our 3:00 p.m. afternoon show on Wednesday, December 16th.  We have no tickets available for the evening show.

Otherwise, we can do (4) four to Harlem Globetrotters on December 26th or (4) four to the Shrine Circus, which will be here in early April.

Please let me know what you prefer and provide your mailing address and a contact phone number in case there are any mailing issues and we’ll take care of it from there.

Thanks,
Derek Scalzott
Event Coordinator
Mellon Arena
66 Mario Lemieux Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
email: dscalzott@mellonarena.com
phone: 412.642.2189
fax: 412.642.1905

Score!

From: Eric Carroll me@myemailaddre.ss
To: Derek Scalzott DScalzott@mellonarena.com
Sent: Wed, December 2, 2009 9:20:43 PM
Subject: Re: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Hello again Derek,

We’ll take the two tickets to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra!  (Wow!)  We’ll have to take a half-day at work, but it will certainly be worth it!  Thank you once again for your explanation and generosity.

Here is all of my contact info:

____ _______
___ _____________ __
Pittsburgh, PA  _____-____
(___) ___-____

I really appreciate the time and effort that you’ve put into reassuring me that Mellon Arena cares about its patrons!

-Eric

Well, there you have it.  Looks like we get a free afternoon full of entertainment… now we only have to pay for parking (don’t tell me I can take the T)…  and $10 for nachos n’ Coke!

Again, there’s no mention of how or where my media-copied message was obtained, and why it was responded to in lieu of the original.  Ominous!

Mellon Arena – Customer Service WIN.


I guess saying something does get you somewhere (other than the satisfaction of venting) sometimes.  I’m sure you read my email to Mellon Arena about the tickets we had purchased for Star Wars: In Concert… and if not, read it now!

Interestingly, in frustration, I copied my email to a few news outlets… and it had an every so slightly different subject line.  The reply that I got from Mr. Scalzott (Mellon Arena Event Coordinator) had the same subject line as the email that I sent to the news outlets… so he had to obtain the message from someone other than me.

  • To Mellon Arena Directly: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert
  • To The News Outlets: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

At any rate, a positive reply is a positive reply… so I’m happy with the outcome.  And, hopefully it’s as interesting/entertaining to you as it is to me.

There’s actually a few exchanges here, so provided you’ve read the 1st one, these should all make sense.  I’ll start with the initial reply:

From: Derek Scalzott  DScalzott@mellonarena.com
To: me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 2:52:23 PM
Subject: RE: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Hi, Eric –

I would like to take the time to discuss your seating situation over the phone.  Is there a number at which I may reach you?

Thank you,

Derek Scalzott
Event Coordinator
Mellon Arena
66 Mario Lemieux Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
email: dscalzott@mellonarena.com
phone: 412.642.2189
fax: 412.642.1905

The phone?  Ah!  My secondary response…

From: Eric Carroll  me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 4:07 PM
To: Derek Scalzott  DScalzott@mellonarena.com
Subject: Re: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Hello Derek,

Thank you for taking the time to read my message & initiate a response.  I’m not much one for phone conversations, and I’m not sure if I really have anything else to say other than what I’ve already written.  I just felt the need to express my disappointment, and that it was echoed by several other concert-goers around me.  I understand that viewpoints and seating have become an issue over the years, and that it will be (hopefully) fixed by the creation of the new building.  I’m sure that you & your staff have nothing but the best intentions when hosting an event… but sometimes things like this seem large enough to not be overlooked.

I would look forward to any comments that you may have on the matter.

Thank you,
-Eric

…And we have a coherent, intelligent, apologetic and gracious reply:

From: Derek Scalzott  DScalzott@mellonarena.com
To: me@myemailaddre.ss
Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 4:57:12 PM
Subject: RE: Horrible seats for Star Wars: In Concert @ Mellon Arena

Eric,

First, I thank you for taking the time to express your disappointment and, furthermore, to articulate it so clearly.  Sometimes, though it is unfortunate for both us and the occasional guest in your shoes, it takes a patron’s voice to point out an oversight on our end.

I’d like to first attempt to explain part of our procedure in order to clue you in on what happened for your own reference, elaborate on what I would have hoped to have had happen, and, then, explore our next step.

During a normal concert, one more typical than this Star Wars production, our box office works to pinpoint every seat in the house that is anything less than full-view.  Normally, a limited-view seat is one that has an obstructed view of the stage itself.  The same was done for this Star Wars show, but because the screen played an integral role in the production, the box office had to dilligently account for both the stage and screen in deciphering full-view seats from limited-view seats.  However, certain areas including your section were mistakenly labeled full-view because the stage itself was completely visible.

In an attempt to best serve our guests, we hold back a small number of tickets so that we can remedy any seating issues like this one.  Ideally, your situation would have been brought to the attention of management on the spot.  I only wish now that we would have had the opportunity to relocate you upon your discovery of the frustrating seat location.  I understand that patrons often question confronting event staff with problems, but I would certainly encourage you to feel free to voice your concerns in any building in the future!  It only helps us to make your stay better, which is our goal in the end!

Regardless, I understand that the show has come and gone and that the experience cannot be reclaimed.  Unfortunately, I am unable to refund your money for the Star Wars tickets since it has been passed along to their organization.  However, I wish to try and compensate you by inviting you back to another non-hockey event at Mellon Arena compliments of us (we do not control Pittsburgh Penguins tickets).  I am happy to offer (4) four tickets to Harlem Globetrotters, Sesame Street Live, Shrine Circus, or Disney On Ice, for example.  Please let me know if you have any interest and we will look forward to better serving you on your next visit.

Again, Eric, I apologize for the less-than-desired experience and I hope to have the opportunity to provide a better experience in the future.

Sincerely,
Derek Scalzott
Event Coordinator
Mellon Arena
66 Mario Lemieux Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
email: dscalzott@mellonarena.com
phone: 412.642.2189
fax: 412.642.1905

Well, I think you’ll agree that’s an awesome reply, no?  Not only does he acknowledge the problem, but explains where & how the error occurred, and how I could have perhaps handled the situation on the spot.

Sadly by the time we realized that our view was so bad, I didn’t think we had the time to remedy the situation before missing out on any of the music.  This will be a lesson to me though in how these things work.  Address the issue immediately, get immediate results.  It’s interesting to me that no money for a show can be refunded once it’s passed on to George Lucas and friends.  Ha ha ha.  Not that I was looking for monetary compensation.

Offering us 4 tickets to an upcoming event (albeit not for a hockey game which would be sweet) is over-compensating.  I didn’t do this for a refund or free stuff. I did it because I just felt that someone needed to know.  Not that I’d insult the man by turning him down…  but I don’t think the circus is coming any time soon, and it’s about the only thing on that list I’d be interested in.  The Globetrotters might be cool…  I saw those guys when I was a little kid.  Remember how they were all over Scooby-Doo back in the day?

Oh well, I’ll send off a reply and let you know what happens!