I’ve been a music fan since the beginning. I don’t remember not loving music. My mom has this great story about me when I was around 2 years old sitting in my car seat and singing along to the backing vocals on The Zombies “Time of the Season” – the “aaaah” part, which I did complete with a tongue click to emulate the sound I was hearing. At age 8, I played house with my then-BFF Lisa and pretended the boys we liked were Beach Boys off on tour. At age 13, I developed my first serious musician crush on the one and only Zac Hanson. At 19 I was a front-row pro at Phantom Planet shows, and by 20 I had discovered the joys of local music.
And today? Today I turn 30 years old, which means I’ve basically been a music fan for 30 years. And in that time I’ve had a lot of fun, made a lot of mistakes, traveled a lot of miles for a lot of shows and learned how to be not just a music fan – I’ve learned how to be a good groupie.
So to celebrate my 30th birthday, I want to pass a little bit of my knowledge on to you. Some of these things you might have learned – some you might still need to learn. Regardless, I hope you find some truth to these.
30 lessons I learned to become The Good Groupie
- Love the music you love. No apologies.
- Everyone is allowed a guilty pleasure or two. (Spice Girls FOREVER.)
- It’s okay to be a music snob from time to time – just don’t let it become you.
- Everything sounds better in headphones.
- Give everything a fair listen – sometimes top 40 stuff is just as awesome as that indie band no one else has heard of before.
- Also give local music a shot. There are some incredible bands working hard to make it right in your own city.
- Branch out from the typical sounds you love from time to time – that’s where you’ll grow as a music fan and find an incredible band you never expected to love.
- Pay for your music! It’s the best way to support the bands you love.
- Know your history of rock. You can’t understand the bands you love now if you don’t understand what came before them.
- You’re not going to like every single “legendary” band, and that’s okay.
- You’re also not going to like every band that everyone else in the world worships. That’s okay too. (For me, it’s Wilco and The National – good music, but I just don’t get the cult-love.)
- Great albums are rare. Cherish the ones you find and connect with.
- Chucks are always acceptable concert footwear, no matter the outfit. (And heels are always a bad choice.)
- A great concert purse is priceless.
- Service fees on tickets are a necessary evil. Better to accept it and move on than constantly whine about it.
- Don’t waste all your money at shows on overpriced booze – spend some on band merch too.
- You can never own too many band T-shirts.
- But don’t wear a band’s T-shirt to their own concert. Just…don’t.
- There’s a certain art to building the perfect playlist you will probably never master – but it sure is fun trying.
- You are not entitled to a front row spot – it is something you have to earn.
- Music festivals are (mostly) overrated.
- Don’t spend the whole show taking photos – put your camera or phone away, close your eyes and just enjoy the live music.
- Get there early for the openers – you’ll discover awesome bands this way.
- Chase the bands you love – the ones whose lyrics changed your life. Follow them around the country for a summer or just for a couple tour dates. The experience will change your life.
- When someone calls you crazy for doing that…it means you’re doing it right.
- Shows are always better with a friend who “gets it.”
- Be nice to your fellow music fans at shows – you’re all there because you love the same band.
- Nothing in the world is better than when the perfect song plays at the perfect moment.
- Jimi Hendrix was right – music really is a religion.
- Let the lyrics be the heart breakers, not the lead singers.
What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned as a music fan?
As always, you can leave a comment or Tweet them to me.