Figuring Out Observatory's When We Were Young "Tiered" Tickets System
Micah Wright

Figuring Out Observatory's When We Were Young "Tiered" Tickets System

The Observatory's nostalgia-driven rock festival When We Were Young lit the internet ablaze last week when it announced tickets for its latest festival headlined by Morrissey were going on sale Friday, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. But the killer lineup of late '90s and early '00s emo and post hardcore bands headlined by the King of Gloom caused plenty of tears from fans who tried to scoop up early bird tickets for $150 each and were sadly denied. The festival, which will include two outdoor stages as well as two indoor stages (the Observatory's main stage and the smaller Constellation Room), is expected to sell out.

Tiers for fears
Tiers for fears

Within five minutes of the tickets going on sale, multiple fans have reported that the early bird tickets ran out, replaced by "Tier 2" and "Tier 3" tickets that were $175 and $200 respectively and included an approximately $30 service fee for each ticket. This tiered ticketing system, the Observatory says, was also implemented for last year's Beach Goth festival and this weekend's R&B blowout Soulquarius. However, the confusion over the tiered tickets, which was not something advertised prior to the tickets going on sale, caused frustrated fans to take to Observatory's social media to demand refunds.

To make matters worse, the Tier 1 tickets that were unavailable at the time many people purchased their tickets were made available again minutes later through the site after some people had already bought the more expensive tickets. Currently tickets are being sold on the site for $175 each with a $25 service fee. While it is a relatively new practice for the Observatory, this type of system is used by many different festivals around the country as a way of dealing with high demand from consumers, but obviously not without some flaws.

We recently reached out to the Observatory to figure out this new system and why it was implemented and more importantly why tickets for the original price listed were made unavailable for a brief time only to be re-added to the site later.

"When someone buys a ticket or is in the process of buying tickets and then something happens with their credit card, either it’s declined or doesn’t go through, then those tickets get kicked back into the system at their original price," says Owen Ela of Noise Group, the parent company that operates the venue. "“We don’t use it for all our festivals but it was implemented for Beach Goth and Soulquarius. Other people may call it Early Bird pricing, we just call it Tiers. As far as addressing it, it’s something we can answer for people who email us directly.”

In an effort to deal with the public's concerns over the tiered ticketing system, Ela asks that fans who have concerns or discrepancies over the amount they were charged contact he and fellow Noise Group representative Mark Waters help answer any questions they may have. They can be reached at or


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >