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How Fred Again.. Instantly Sold 100,000 Tickets (And Counting) By Being ‘In The Now’

4 March 2024 | 11:06 am | Christie Eliezer

“What he has done is absolutely unprecedented in Australia,” says TEG Live's Tim McGregor.

Fred again..

Fred again.. (Source: Supplied)

More Fred Again.. More Fred Again..

How do you sell 100,000 arena tickets in an hour in Australia, and have over one million fans queued online, when your music is underground and there was no marketing except for a vague hint on Instagram? Just ask Fred again..

The award-winning producer and DJ wrote on Instagram, “We’re getting on a flight now and when we land, we’re gonna play some shows”, with a photo of a jar of Vegemite and a flight number associated with Qantas.

“What he has done is absolutely unprecedented in Australia,” declares Tim McGregor, Managing Director of TEG Live. “There’s no question about it. No one has done something this audacious where you literally arrive in the country and the shows are on the next week.

“It really goes to show you how the power music has on an incredibly passionate fanbase, which he reaches through unconventional ways. [It] makes logical sense in the way he connects to his fans to keep them engaged and passionate.

“It’s extraordinary to see. Certainly the level of demand and interest in these shows has been off the charts. It’s great to be part of it. He’s an absolute superstar who lets the music do the talking.”

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Three Divisions

Astral People, as well as three divisions of TEG Group – TEG Live, Laneway Presents and Handsome Tours – are behind this week’s visit. It starts with three Melbourne shows (over March 4-6) at the 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena. He then heads to the Gold Coast, where the venue for the March 9 show will be revealed later this week. Then the DJ returns to Sydney for three dates (March 12-14) at the 22,000-seat Qudos Bank Arena.

The figure of 100,000 tickets sold will grow depending on what he and his team decide on a whim. In Sydney last Tuesday (February 27), for instance, a secret show – held at the 5,700-seat Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House – was announced with a photo of the Harbour Bridge that morning. Over 125,000 went on the waiting list. It set a record for the venue’s biggest sales demand.

Two days later, at about 5pm, 200 fans got a message from Fred again..’s What’sApp account: “Hi! Doin a random party tonight and we’ve randomly selected a few numbers to send ticket link to, so if you’re getting this message that’s u! If u wanna come!” The show was at Club 77 in Darlinghurst.

The day after, when all arena tickets were snapped up, Fred again.. took to Instagram to apologise to fans who missed out. “I just wanna say I really didn’t anticipate that this would be a sitch where we’d be leaving so many people disappointed with tickets,” he wrote. “Like in my mind we were coming all this way and doing this ambitious shows to play to like people yknow! I didn’t think we’d be leaving like 90 percent of people disappointed, so obviously THANK YOU, but like it genuinely makes me sad seeing all your messages today.”

Upon arriving in Melbourne, he hit Revolver Upstairs in South Yarra for a 9am set to over 300.

The ticket overdrive is not confined to Australia. The ‘Tickets Gone’ sign flashed after four minutes at New York’s 20,000-seat Madison Square Garden, where he played with his best friends Skrillex and Four Tet. The three also played Times Square from inside a school bus. The Brit sold out five dates at London’s 10,250-seat Alexandra Palace, and six at the 8,000-seat Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

For TEG, the Fred again.. overdrive is yet another example of the strength of the top end of the Australian touring market. It comes in the wake of huge sales for Taylor Swift, P!nk and Coldplay. TEG’s own Coolangatta show for DJ FISHER moved 30,000.

McGregor says some tours haven’t worked if their timing or ticket prices aren’t right. “But at the end of the day, if you have music that connects with an audience, you can set your own rules, which is what Fred is doing.”

Sticky Wit’ It

In January 2023, when Fred again.. made his live debut here at the Laneway festival for TEG Live and Laneway Presents, he was still under the mainstream’s radar. But the darling of Gen Z was already on his way to being the year’s most played artist on triple j, and sticky with it on social media and streaming.

Use of his songs on TikTok had jumped by then to 107,120 – from 18,539 on April 30, 2022. His playlist reach on Spotify was up to 177,438,724, from 58,427,818.

Laneway 2023 drew 100,000 punters over six cities. Additional sideshows in Sydney and Melbourne, through Handsome Tours, sold out between 3.4 seconds and five seconds, as did the pop-up sets. The one at the 1,600-seat Enmore Theatre in Sydney had 6,000 on the waitlist. The morning after the Enmore show, the DJ announced another show at the 5,000-seat Hordern Pavilion. Those tickets went in minutes.

Of the Laneway shows, McGregor recalled, “It was amazing to see the audience react. It was quite special. He had the sunset slot and it was a fantastic, uplifting experience. That’s the impact he’s had on audiences.”

Obviously Gen Z likes to dance. But a Fred again.. show is more than just EDM fare. It’s got ballads and vulnerability, with themes of grief, loneliness and depression. The 29-year old’s approach to his live audience is to put them “in the now”. Various setlists are pulled together to tell a story, with random videos from his cameras being screened.

“But for the last ten minutes of the show,” Fred said, “the camera will turn around and start filming the crowd. That’s a really important moment to me because it feels like that's when we've caught up to the present tense.”

Canny Use

Fred again..’s canny use of social media has been a great asset to his rise and rise. It goes past his stories going viral and user-generated content. He’s a leader of direct fan engagement, speaking to them via Discord, WhatsApp and Instagram, and creating genuine adoration.

He once invited fans to come on a bike ride with him to celebrate the launch of a new album. He asks them for suggestions on where to eat and what to do when arriving in a new city. He comments on fan posts, and throws out USB sticks with demos and remixes into the audience, for them to enjoy exclusively or share online.

Most effective is the way he’s used the secrecy and code practice of EDM’s illegal warehouse raves. The way he drops hints as to what he’s up to creates a manic excitement, fuelled by FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) panic.

Last year in Sydney and Melbourne, venues had branded sweat towels placed in discreet places. The water-spouting whale image on his social media found its way to chalk stencils on footpaths and screens and light projections.

There’s a noteworthiness about the artist’s life. He was born Frederick John Philip Gibson on July 19, 1993 in South London. The family was rich, aristocratic and socially connected. One of them was married to James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Listening to ambient music every day, he was creating classical piano pieces with his aunt’s tape recorder at age eight.

At 16 he came under the radar of a neighbor, distinguished producer and one time Roxy Music member Brian Eno. At 18, he was co-producing Eno’s two 2014 collaborations with Underworld’s Karl Hyde.

Gibson emerged as a producer, responsible for seven UK chart toppers. According to The Tab, almost 30 percent of the number one singles in the UK charts in 2019 were produced by him. He worked with Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, FKA twigs, Roots Manuva, BTS, Charli XCX, Clean Bandit, George Ezra, Flowdan, J Hus and Stefflon Don.

He the became youngest person to win the BRITS’ Best Producer category in 2020 and landed two Grammys for Best Dance/Electronic Album (for Actual Life 3, which reached #8 in Australia) and Best Dance/Electronic Recording for Rumble with Skrillex and Flowdan.

It was his solo Actual Life trilogy, with dance tracks mixed with samples of everyday people talking, that struck a chord with a locked-in generation starved of social interaction. Fans tattoo his lyrics on their bodies. The affection they feel for him is augmented by his own bubbly personality and his genuine desire to make a change in their lives.

He once talked about how vulnerability was an important element of his creative journey: “I think everything else stems from vulnerability. I found it incredibly hard when I was making the first and the second [albums] and in different ways the third. It was a very hard thing for me, but I think it’s essential.”

Just before the 2022 BRIT awards, for which he was up for Best Dance Act (he lost to Becky Hill, and again in 2023), he told Mixmag, ‘‘I don’t wanna be disrespectful, but I so don’t care [about winning]! I care a lot more about making the good stuff’’.