I was nine years old when I attended my first concert. And I don’t talk about it a lot because it was just about the uncoolest concert I’ve ever been to in my life: Amy Grant at The Summit, aka the building now known as Lakewood Church, here in Houston. Hey, I was nine years old and it was for a friend’s birthday.
But seriously. The uncoolest.
Luckily, that was just the beginning of my live music experiences. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts, shows and festivals since 1993 – and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make every concert the best concert ever.
I call them the three be’s. They’re my secrets to making sure I have a blast every time I take in live music. Follow these, and you’ll always have fun seeing your favorite bands.
Secret #1: Be early
Most concerts I go to are general admission, which means I’m going to be standing all night and, depending on the fan base, I may have to defend my spot a little if I choose to get into the crowd.
The best way to annoy your fellow music fans at an absolutely packed show? Try to push past them to get to the front because “this is my favorite band”.
Look, we’re all at this show because we love the band playing. And at a GA show, you are not entitled to a particular spot just because it’s GA, just because it’s your favorite band or just because your friends are up front, so let’s make things super simple: if you want to be front row for your all-time favorite band…you’re gonna have to put in a little work.
Get there early. Stand in line before doors open. Use the restroom and grab your drink the very second you enter the venue, then claim your spot up front on the barricade and, most importantly, stay there. I did this for every Phantom Planet show I ever attended, and you know what? I was front row every single time.
The bonus? By getting there early, I was almost always surrounded by super fans just like me, meaning there was always an opportunity to make new friends, discuss our favorite songs and write up a dream set list for the evening. Plus, once inside, we banded together to make sure everyone kept their hard-earned front row spots.
Secret #2: Be kind
I want you to take a second a think about why you go see the bands you love live. Seriously – think about the last time your favorite band and what motivated you to buy the concert ticket.
I bet I can guess: it’s because you love the music, right? Whether it’s lyrics that are the soundtrack to your life or a killer guitarist or drummer you can’t get enough of…you go see bands because you love their music.
Here’s a crazy idea: all those people around you at a show? They’re there for the same reason. Maybe they came for one of the opener bands or maybe they just wanted to check out your fave band live…but they are there for the same basic reason you are – because they love music.
It’s super easy to get angry in crowds – follow me on Twitter and you’re sure to see me ranting sooner or later about the lack of concert etiquette in Houston. People push and shove to find a spot. Giant purse girl is busy bumping into your right side while drunk frat guy is yelling in your ear and sloshing his beer everywhere to your left. And then tall dude with girlfriend comes and stands in the open space right in front of you that you purposely left open for some breathing room.
It’s frustrating, I get it. You paid to be there, it should be an enjoyable experience.
But in those moments, I’d encourage you to be the bigger person. Take a step back from getting annoyed and opt for kindness. Don’t let these annoying concert-goers get to you. If you’re up for taking to strangers, start a conversation with your concert neighbors rather than complaining to them about their behavior. I’ve always found they befriending these people almost always tones down their bad behavior – after all, you’re both there because you love music so you have a insta-conversation starter.
Not a fan of talking to strangers? Relocate – esp. if it isn’t a crowded show. Sure, it was your spot to start, but is it better to defend your spot and be miserable or move away from badly behaved concert-goers and enjoy yourself?
Secret #3: Be there
Sorry, but I’m going to yell this one at you: PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE.
As a blogger, I get it – I feel like I need to document a decent amount of a show too so I have photos for Instagram and blog posts when I get home. But you know what? I can achieve that without sticking my phone in someone’s face the entire night.
And I don’t know about you, but I always find that if I’m busy taking photos or recording a video…I’m more focused on that than the fact that my favorite band is playing my favorite song.
So do yourself a favor: snap a photo or two but then put away your phone. Be in the moment. Enjoy the show. I promise you’ll remember it a lot better if you’re actually watching the performance and singing along than if you’re documenting it for later. (And seriously, how often do you go back and watch all those crappy videos on your iPhone with terrible sound anyway?)
That’s it – those are my secrets to making every concert experience a memorable one. And just to make sure you’re covered, here are three more concert survival tips from one of my favorite music fans and vloggers, Safety Tess:
BTW, make sure to follow Tess on YouTube and Twitter if you enjoy her video. I love her sense of humor, and she always has me legit laughing-out-loud while watching her videos. Plus, her Jukebox Selects series is killer. She’s definitely a Good Groupie you guys need to know.
What’s your #1 tip for making a concert great?
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