Anyone buying tickets to Smashing Pumpkins' January 1996 performance at the 9:30 Club had to provide their name and address in order to get one of these vouchers. The info on the voucher was compared to the name and address on a photo ID at the entrance of the club. (Courtesy of the 9:30 Club)

On Tuesday afternoon, the Black Cat made a surprise announcement: The Foo Fighters were playing a show at the club, and tickets were going on sale in less than four hours.

An hour and 12 minutes later, the club tweeted this:

And then just 15 minutes after that:

Those who were left standing in a two-block line with hundreds of other disappointed fans – and those who couldn't leave work to go stand in line for tickets – took to social media to express their disappointment and outrage.

Tonight's Foo Fighters gig is a watershed for Washington concerts: The first time information about a major band's "secret show" was disseminated instantly through Twitter and Facebook. The last time a "secret" D.C. gig of this magnitude took place in October 2006, when Beck played the Black Cat's back stage. At that point, Twitter was a seven-month-old niche product, and Facebook had only been available to non-students for a month. Word about Beck spread on blogs -- including this one -- and via text messages, leading to a long line outside the club hours before tickets went on sale (9 p.m.) or Beck hit the stage (midnight).

Before that, word about secret shows got out by an old-fashioned medium: radio. When Tony Bennett performed back at the old 9:30 Club in October 1994, he announced it that morning on WHFS. A capacity crowd showed up before the doors opened at 9 p.m. – these were the days when the club held no more than 200 people – and were admitted for free. (Quite a steal, when Bennett's show the next night at the larger Warner Theatre was sold out.)

In June of 1998, the first day of the Tibetan Freedom Concert at RFK Stadium was cut short when lightning struck the stadium. The headliners, including R.E.M., Radiohead and Beck, were shunted to shorter sets the next day. Then, out of the blue, there was an announcement on WHFS: Radiohead would perform for free that night at the 9:30 Club, and anyone with a ticket for that day's shortened concert could attend, while space remained. It was an incredible show -- featuring special guest Michael Stipe -- for a capacity crowd that included then-new couple Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.

One of the complaints about the ticket sale process for the Foo Fighters show was that making people wait in line in the middle of the afternoon disadvantaged people who couldn't get out of work, which is true. We also learned that people would rather bash their computer's Refresh button than actually wait in line.


Hundreds of people waited in line overnight to buy Bob Dylan tickets at the 9:30 Club's box office in November 1997. (Photo courtesy of the 9:30 Club)

But making people wait in line outside a venue is a time-honored pre-Internet tradition: For the 9:30 Club's January 1996 opening party, which featured two nights headlined by the Smashing Pumpkins, tickets were only sold in-person at the old 9:30 Club and at Arlington's long-gone Go! Compact Discs. Patrons had to show an ID, and their name and address were put onto a voucher. They then had to show a photo ID with the same name and address to get into the club. (Remember, these were the days when the Pumpkins were regularly headlining arenas.)

Ticket security was a little less strict when Bob Dylan performed two concerts at the 9:30 Club in December of 1997. The ticket sale occurred three weeks before the show and no addresses were needed. Though the sale was hardly secret, there was a catch: The club only sold tickets through its box office instead of Ticketmaster. Hundreds of people camped out on Ninth Street NW in hopes of scoring them, with lines extending up to 2,000 tickets sold in 95 minutes, according to a 1997 Post story.

Perhaps the future of secret shows in D.C. will look more like the Salad Days shows at the Black Cat in December 2012, which were headlined by Dag Nasty and Scream. The venue put 200 tickets for each night on sale through TicketAlternative.com, and sold the rest at the club on a first-come, first-serve basis. "We had a giant line the whole night and we were selling them in the Red Room," remembers Black Cat booker Candice Jones. Both shows sold out. But there were probably still some people who complained.