Pedro Delgadillo had no idea who the people outside Radio City Music Hall were lining up to see Tuesday night. He was just disappointed that he couldn’t sell his New York Yankees hats and British Union Jack beanies. New York Police officers told him to pack up his hat stand to make room for pedestrians on the already overcrowded sidewalk.
“I wish we knew this lady was coming in,” Delgadillo said. “We could have set up shop earlier.” The U.S. Army veteran and two of his fellow salesmen pushed the stand against their rented Budget truck parked on the curb and covered it in white tarp. Police told them they could re-open the stand once the show was over.
“This lady” was Adele, and her Tuesday concert at Radio City Music Hall was the English singer and songwriter’s first in this country since 2011. Adele’s new song “Hello,” has sold over a million digital copies since its October release, and the song’s music video was viewed 27.7 million times on YouTube in its first 24 hours online. With Adele’s popularity marked by such large numbers, Degadillo, the neighboring ticket scalpers and Salvation Army bell ringers stood to make a fortune Tuesday night.
But they didn’t.
“I worked my way up here by being dependable,” said a Salvation Army bell ringer, who gave his name as Anthony P., about his post by the curb almost directly under the Music Hall’s marquee. “This is six days a week, seven hours a day. Everybody’s not cut out for doing what I do, standing around all day and with the weather too.”
Anthony P. was stationed at Bryant Park and 42nd Street during his past four holiday seasons as a Salvation Army worker. But while working at the Music Hall on Tuesday, the Bronx resident noticed concertgoers were not dropping as much loose change or as many dollar bills into his padlocked red kettle as they usually do at winter holiday events like the Rockettes’ Christmas show. “These people come out here to see a concert,” he said. “They ain’t here for no holiday spirit.”
Ticket scalpers had the most to gain from Tuesday’s concert. Concert tickets had been given away in a raffle that started in late October, so legitimate scalpers could turn a huge profit by marking up the price for the dozens of fans—and the illegitimate scalpers could too, as some fans found out.
Couples with counterfeit tickets were stuck outside. “We thought we were lucky,” said a woman who would identify herself only as Julia, a New Jersey woman who works at a pharmaceutical company. She said she bought two tickets for $200 each from a man who called himself Jensen Green, whom her husband Rob had found on Craigslist. “We met the guy in the Upper West Side,” she said. “He was well-dressed. He said he was a college student going to college for psychology. I’m so upset—it’s a lot of money.”
“All a scam, I think it’s terrible that they [the Music Hall staff] let someone do that,” said a woman from Connecticut as she watched a half-dozen scalpers pace through the crowd in front of the marquee with their hoods up and their hands in their pockets. “So now we’ll have fast food for dinner because we blew our wad.”
But the scalpers were also due for a letdown. Shortly before 8:30 p.m. the line of people standing across 6th Avenue—who had been waiting for the Music Hall staff to award tickets from concertgoers who had cancelled—suddenly rushed across the street after an announcement that they would all be let in for free.
Within 10 minutes, not one person remained in line. And the scalpers were left standing outside a free concert, with $75 fake tickets in their pockets.