Evite just launched what it is calling "version 2.0" (wow, that's a long time between releases!) which includes an expanded public directory of local events. The idea being that you can use the site for your own events, and then can open those events up to the public. This is clearly influenced by Upcoming.org, the collaborative event calendar, but in the end, fails the consumer in the same ways.
The basic problem with the collaborative model for events is that it lacks comprehensiveness. Most events will simply never get listed unless there is huge take-up and participation by large groups of people in each metro area. Even with large user groups, the listings will never be as comprehensive as a local newspaper guide or an online edited system like Evite sister-site Citysearch. Which is a shame, because the usefulness of a well-designed event site would easily outstrip the paper equivalent.
There's no reason it has to be like this. Either site could attack the comprehensiveness problem with technology, or by partnering with event sponsors and venues.
What do I mean by technology? How about a spidering program for events -- like Nick Denton's failed Kinja experiment but for events instead of blogging? OK, it would be very difficult to do, but certainly possible. And a database-driven event site would be astronomically more useful than anything out there.
Don't want to build a spider? OK, then why not let sponsors and venues automatically feed you their events and listings using RSS, XML, or manual entry systems? But this approach goes against Evite's business model, of charging for listings (at least at Citysearch). Right now, the vast majority of listing on Evite are actually listed by Ticketmaster, another company owned by the same parent company. Upcoming, on the the other hand, has a no-self-promotion policy which ensures the site's lack of comprehensiveness.
And so far we're only talking about the failure of these sites in terms of comprehensiveness. In order to get the most of the array of choices you need filtering. Why is it that Netflix knows which movies I want to see, but neither Evite or Citysearch knows what events I'm interested in? Why do they still insist of measuring my event area in terms of a radius of X miles? Have they ever been to Manhattan -- a 5 mile radius puts me in Hackensack.
The local event space is ripe. Someone should pick it.