I had the worst concert acoustics ever; who's responsible?

Months after buying the tickets, I took my wife with great excitement to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium on Monday for the U2 concert. We had nosebleed seats but I hardly even cared (I even enjoyed the view of the massive stage below me).

My enthusiasm quickly dimmed as soon as the music started, though. The acoustics were so bad it was almost unbelievable. Bass reverb created a constant rumble like a freight train, and the vocals echoed a dozen times before reaching our ears; we could hardly even make out the melodies, and certainly wouldn’t have if we didn’t know the songs so well.

The concert was completely ruined by the acoustics (especially annoying since those on the lower levels had a blast). There went $90 per ticket, plus $30 parking, plus several $8 beers drunk in the hopes that they would make the music sound better. We left before the encore, along with most of the people in the upper decks (they were over half empty by the time we took off).

It’s been a couple days but I haven’t cooled off from this; it’s amazing to think that either the stadium staff, or the U2 staff, or both didn’t notice this serious problem and take steps to address it. I’m riled up to the point that I’d like to raise a serious stink and, if not get my money back, at least make damn sure that the proper authorities know.

The question is, who are the proper authorities? I paid my $200 to Ticketmaster, do I call and gripe to them? Wouldn’t they just shove me off to the stadium or the band? Is there some kind of ticket fine-print that says “We make no claims that the audio won’t be absolutely horrible”?

Advice? I’m feeling mighty annoyed, and so are several thousand other Dallas-area U2 fans.

In this case, without having been there, I would suggest the promoter. They are the ones that decided to sell the nosebleed seats. The system that U2 carries is provided by Clair Brothers, one of the top tour system providers in the world. They have top notch people, and I would be willing to bet that they were aware of the issues with those seats, even if they didn’t go up there and listen, just because of their experience. I would also be willing to bet that there just wasn’t anything they could do about it due to the laws of physics and the design of the stage. Stadiums and arenas are among some of the hardest places to do concert sound well due to the primary use of the space. The acoustics are designed to amplify the sound of the crowd, which is done through the use of lots of hard, reflective surfaces. Especially in this stadium, the roof and the glass walls at either end of the stadium do a great job of reflecting sound all over the place. It is always a compromise between getting great sound with good intelligibility and what the primary purpose of the arena/stadium is.

On another note, there are actually 3 of those stages in the world. There is one being performed on, one being set up, and one being torn down. They leapfrog each other across whatever country they are touring at the moment.

Thanks for the note. I absolutely walked into that big football stadium expecting something less than stellar acoustics. But there’s a difference between what I might have reasonably expected and what I heard. If you can’t even tell what song the band is playing until they hit the chorus—and it’s a song you’ve heard a thousand times—then there’s a real problem.

And to that we can add U2 themselves, who apparently prefer to play large venues with (in this case) no consideration for the sound. Sure, you could say it was a matter of making sure all their fans got to see them, but they could have done a week’s worth of shows in a smaller venue and achieved the same thing, no?

Actually I’m disinclined to blame the band; I’ve been to arena rock concerts at massive venues before and had nowhere near the sound quality I got on Monday. I’m sure their massive spaceship-looking stage is more than enough for virtually every other location they play.

Is there a newspaper review, Yelp page, blog, something online that points to a lot of people having the same experience? If so, include this in your correspondence with the promoter; it may help your cause. If not, start one, put up a notice on CraigsList, etc. The fact is that as long as they can fill those seats they will. They don’t care about your concert experience, they care about getting the money.

$90 for nosebleeds? That’s incredible. I wonder how many of Dallas’s 80,000 seats were available for this concert. I assume at least half weren’t, depending on the orientation of the stage, but then you have all the seats they can put on the floor level. 40,000 tickets sold? At a couple hundred for lower-level and floor level, U2 will be able to pay off third-world debt by themselves at the end of this tour.

There are 3 stages but I am pretty sure there is only 1 set of sound equipment. The local paper here in Raleigh mentioned that a lot of stuff did not arrive until after the previous concert in Va. The sound for me was fine, I was on the lower level. I agree it’s hard to get good sound everywhere in a big stadium.

This concert is designed to be an in-the-round system. Meaning that they sell seats all the way around the stage. For more info on the sound system and its design, check out this link. The stage is placed at one end, but there are monster arrays of speakers on each side of the stage.

One other thing to note, and the OP may be able to comment on this, from what I heard they had to raise the stadium’s monster scoreboard in order to accomodate the stage. The stage itself tops out at around 90’, so right at the bottom of the scoreboard.

The general consensus from the 3 or 4 concerts since the Cowboys Stadium opened for business is that the acoustics suck the big one.

I don’t doubt you but has the local music critic mentioned this? Word needs to get out so no one buys tickets for shows there. I live in Seattle, I’ll never see a concert in Dallas but this bugs the hell out of me.

Well, it’s a big town, so we have more than one music reviewer :D, but here some reactions:





I’m sure I could find more, but I sprained my Googler.

I saw the U2 show in Chicago, and we were about as high up and far back as you could get, and everything sounded great. (Couldn’t see worth a damn, though!) So count me in with the folks saying “it’s the stadium.”

Actually, the Cowboys stadium has perfect acoustics for it’s primary purpose - football games. It was deliberately designed to be loud, so when the Cowboys fans yell, they can hear each other yelling. It’s all hard, reverberant surfaces, and up near the roof, you’re in a “bass trap” formed by the angled seating and the roof. Short of hanging speakers all over the place from the roof, aimed at each set of seats as close as possible to the listeners (economically unfeasible) there’s not a whole lot the touring sound company can do. Clair does amazing work, and if they provided shitty sound, it’s got to be the venue.

Might I suggest that your entertainment dollar might be better spent finding smaller bands playing smaller venues? For $90, you could attend 9 or more shows by talented bands in decent venues with excellent sound - and you might be able to discover the next U2. They won’t have a giant pod, but that’s what movies are for.

Floor tickets are only $55.00–best deal in music, IMHO.

As for Dallas, they shouldn’t have sold any tickets for the upper levels and should have had the roof and end zone doors open. Other stadiums haven’t had the same problem and the production they’re doing can only be performed in stadiums.