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15 Tips on Being the Ultimate Concert Goer
Philadelphia’s own Wells Fargo Center; all set and ready to go for the artRAVE-Photo credit Carla Richardson
15. Arrive to the Venue as early as you Possibly Can:
Though you may consider yourself to be a highly punctual person, arriving to a concert venue 10 to 15 minutes prior to the start of the concert, (the one that’s printed on the ticket not the time you think the main act is going to take the stage), is still seen as cutting it close. At most concerts there are tables set up around the venue. These tables, normally sponsored by the radio stations promoting the artist you’re about to see, are designed to house giveaways and opportunities for you to hand over your information to the station in charge for future contact. While this may not seem appealing to you, take advantage of this opportunity. You may be under the impression that you’re unlikely to win any of these promotional events or that you really don’t want your email inbox filled with information regarding a radio station you already listen to on a frequent basis. But trust me when I say that most people also attending your event are under the same impression that you are, thus increasing your chances of winning. And if you don’t like your prize, unless it’s a free vacation, you always have the option of selling it on eBay.
14. Respect the Opening Act(s)
It’s common knowledge, or common rumor rather, that no one cares about the opening acts. To be fair, most openers are not well known or previously well promoted artists and are therefore presenting unheard material to the assembled audience. What needs to be understood about these artists is that by serving as the opening act for a more established artist they are being given the chance to have their music heard by an audience that might not have otherwise gotten the chance to hear their stuff. Did you pay hard earned money to hear material you could find on YouTube or Spotify? No, you did not. You paid to see someone who you already know and love, live in the flesh, putting on the greatest show of their career. But that band or solo performer wasn’t always successful. And, if you’ve really been following their career long enough, you probably know far in the back of your mind that they once served as an opener for someone else. So don’t show up late to the venue to avoid the opener(s) and don’t be a jerk and talk through their entire performance. Watch, listen, cheer, and scream for these newcomers. You never know. You may just become a fan.
Lady Starlight-One of Two artRAVE openers
13. Take Care of Any Non-Concert Related Business Before or After the Show
Everyone has gathered in the same place, at the same time for one purpose and one purpose only; to watch their favorite artists perform the music that they love. Though this tip may seem like a
no-brainer you’d be surprised how many people think the lights going down is an indication that they should probably head over to the concession stand for some overpriced nachos and a plastic cup of shitty beer. Even if you’re sitting in the nosebleed section and your favorite performer doesn’t even know you’re there, the people around you do. If you’re only getting food or merch, please try to do so when there’s the likelihood that those around you will be moving about as well. Even if you use your manners, asking the people next to you to move while their favorite song is playing is still considered rude. Please only disrupt those around you if there is an actual emergency that needs to be addressed.
12. Don’t be Afraid to Make Friends
In modern American society it has become customary to keep to oneself when thrust into the presence of a large crowd or gathering. Some of us, who call ourselves extroverts, might delight in being amongst our fellow man and see nothing wrong in sharing in some polite smiles and conversation. For those of us who are either introverted or just aren’t big for socializing with strangers, keep in mind that everyone there, even concerts that contain the presence of parents, legal guardians, or older siblings, have gathered for the same reason you have; to see (insert artists or band name here) in person. It doesn’t matter whether it’s their first time or their eighth time seeing this artist. They are just excited, nervous, and all together jumping out of their skin as overjoyed as you are. Since you already have a common interest among you don’t feel the need to shut yourself out by avoiding eye contact until you’re safely under the umbrella of colored lights and confetti. Say, ‘Hello’, get to talking; sing some of your favorite songs. It’s true that not every fan base behaves like a community. However, by opening yourself up and reaching out a hand to someone you don’t know, you may just make a connection that lasts longer than the encore.
11. Stay in your Seat or Spot (if the venue you’re in is standing room only). Do Not Take Someone Else’s Place!
At a concert I attended back in the summer of 2012, (before my concert going escapades reached their climax), I had purchased seats located behind the stage. The ticket site had warned me that the seats were ‘rear view’ but I didn’t think that my vision would be obstructed to the degree that it actually was. Soon after the opener went onstage, the friend that I was with thought that it would be a good idea to try to move us down closer. He grabbed my hand and proceeded to drag me through the adjoining sections, his eyes locked on the perfect pair of seats located in the middle of the arena. Soon after we sat down in our new seats, a nice woman informed us that we were in fact sitting in her seats. She was very polite and kindly asked us to move. We were then forced to head back to our nosebleed seats, forced to watch the entire concert on a tiny little screen hung below our section.
Though this incident didn’t come attached with an altercation it easily could have. To ensure a pleasant concert going experience for everyone please stay in the seat that goes in accordance with the tickets you purchased. As much as we would all like to be on the floor, right by the stage with the perfect sightline, it’s impossible to always get what you want. Just remember that you’re there to enjoy a great night of live music. If you love the performer enough, any seat can easily turn into the best seat in the house.
10. Do Not Spend the Entire Concert on Your Phone: Learn How to Live in the Moment
At the artRAVE, I delegated the task of photo and video taking to my friend, Carla. While I’m thankful I know have some of the greatest musical memories of my life saved on both Facebook and my laptop’s hard drive, I wish that I had opted not to bring my camera along. While documenting a concert through the use of a digital camera or the camera app that you have on your phone may seem like a good idea, it actually prohibits you from receiving the true benefits of the concert experience. Though it doesn’t happen to all people, when you’re busy taking photos or video of a specific event your attention tends to land on getting the best shot of the performer or the best recording of your favorite song. You’re not really watching the concert itself; you’re viewing the show through the eyes of the camera, not your own. It may seem logical to use a recording device to capture and preserve your memories, however, the most powerful tool we human beings possess are our brains. So for your own sake, and the sake of your favorite artists, put away your cameras and phones. Watch, listen, and enjoy the concert for what it truly is.
9. Only Purchase Tickets to See Artists that you Absolutely Love
When I was in 8th grade, my friends introduced me to the music of Ben Folds. Though I enjoyed what I heard I never really became a die-hard fan. Fast forward 7 years to the midst of my concert ticket buying spree. I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed one day to see that The Barenaked Ladies had invited Ben Folds Five to open for them on their summer concert tour. Knowing that my friends would die at the chance to see Ben Folds again, I invited them to come along with me. The performance was great but I did feel a little out of place as I had not taken the time to listen to BFF’s latest album prior to attending the show.
Though it may seem like a no-brainer not to dump a good portion of your hard earned money on tickets for an artist or band that you’re barely familiar with, it’s important to repeat this information. You may find yourself one day looking to impress a love interest or a new coworker or boss with tickets to their favorite artists or band. It’ll make you happy to see them happy, but, to the rest of the concert attendees, you’ll appear to be an uninformed poser just tagging along for the ride. So do yourself, and your wallet, a favor. Only go to concerts you legitimately care about.
8. Know Your Alcohol Limit
Despite the over-inflated price at most concert venues, it’s common for attendees to still purchase alcoholic beverages. There is nothing wrong with this practice as long as you don’t overindulge. If you know you have a habit of getting belligerent when you drink too much please keep your consumption to a minimum. Nothing ruins a concert going experience quite like a drunk asshole.
7. Just Because You Don’t Have Floor Seats, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have a Good Time
I had over 3,000 dollars to go through during my concert buying extravaganza my intention was not to spend it all in one place. Therefore, I only ever allotted myself up to 300 dollars for each show. Since I ended up paying for my ticket as well as the ticket, (or tickets as the case ended up being), for the friends that I encouraged to come along with me I could never really afford anything better than 200 level seats. Some arenas are lucky enough to have a 300 level section thus making the 200 level serve as the mezzanine or middle section of the arena. Philadelphia’s arena, however, only has a 100 level and a 200 hundred level. As much as I would like to pretend that I’ve enjoyed
every 200 level seating experience that I’ve had, I can’t. Have I mentioned that it doesn’t matter where you sit? Yes, I have. I have also said that as long as you’re sharing the same air with your favorite artist or band that that’s all that should matter to you regardless of how far away from the stage you are. I wholeheartedly believe in those statements. But that doesn’t make sitting up near the ceiling any more of a treat.
It’s depressing taking someone to their first concert, looking into their wide and excited eyes as the doors finally open, seeing them eagerly hand their ticket over for scanning, going with them to get merch and noticing how they take in the large array of t-shirts, key chains, hats, and various other accoutrements available for sale, all to have that radiant happiness crushed when they realize that to get the seats you’ve purchased they have to take a ride on the escalator of doom. Which is then accompanied by walking in a circle to find the appropriate entrance. Which is then followed by an endless array of ascending steps. By the time you and your friend arrive in your seats you’re probably tired. You’re afraid that your friend is judging you. You’re concerned that they might be developing a fear of heights, that they may be irritated that you dragged them all the way out to the arena just so they could watch their favorite artist on a tiny little screen. They could have easily gotten a better view by watching that concert DVD they have at home. You’re nervous that with all these thoughts running through your friend’s head that they’re going to want to leave before the concert even begins. That’s where you, the best friend and knowledgeable concert goer need to step in to save the day.
When the lights go down for the opening act, lead as an example by standing up. Unless you're asked to sit down by the concert goers seated behind you, remain standing. Dance, stand and sway, or simply just throw up your hands in a fist position or show your horns. Do something. Prove to your friend and those sitting around you that having seats in the higher reaches of arena heaven does not mean that the artists on stage don’t see you. They can’t see your individual faces or your well coordinated outfits or your signs of love and encouragement. But they still know you’re there. They don’t just appreciate your money. If they’re a good, well-meaning artist whose main goal in life is to entertain you, to bring a smile to your face and make you feel welcomed, make you feel like you mean something in this world, that your art, your creativity, your own unique sense of thinking, of dressing, of being, of living is worthwhile and deserves to be recognized, then they’ll be able to tell that you’re there.
Even if they don’t acknowledge your section, even if they don’t give a shout out to those of you sitting up in God’s country, the performers know you’re in attendance. They know you’re here for them and only them. They will, that is, if you don’t remain silent. Yell, sing along to the songs, shout the lyrics, and dance as if your life depended on it. The band or artist has come to entertain you. However, it’s your responsibility and yours alone, to make the concert experience work for you. No amount of good music, gung ho performing, well-designed laser lights, or handpicked confetti is going to make you have a good time. If you’re not open to the experience, if you come into that arena with baggage, if you let yourself get bogged down by the crappy parking space you got, or the condition of the bathrooms, or, most importantly, if you allow yourself to get annoyed by the poor location of your seats you are not going to have a good time. Just because the artist that you came to see can make you feel better whenever you’ve had a bad day at work or school does not give you the right to come to their concert in a bad mood. Negativity only breeds more negativity. If you allow your mind to relax no matter what happened to you earlier that day or where your seats are you will end up having the greatest time of your life.
In closing, we can’t all have floor seats. We can’t all afford to be right up near our favorite artists; standing within reach of their hands. Some of us have to sit in the nosebleeds. And if you let that experience get to you, you will not enjoy the bulk of the evening’s festivities. So do yourself a favor and just dance. I can assure you that after just one verse you’ll be feeling a hell of a lot better.
6. Treat the Concert Experience as a Celebration; Don’t be Afraid to Get Dressed Up
This tip is contingent upon the artist you’re going to see. However, a concert is a little more important than going to a movie. Though you shouldn’t be concerned about impressing others you should still feel the need to put some effort into what you’re wearing. Whether you’ve seen this artist before or not showing up in your work clothes is practically an insult to the artist themselves. This singer or band has spent months of prep getting ready for this tour. They’ve spent hours in studios, rehearsal halls, and soundstages making sure every aspect of the concert you’re about to witness is to your liking. Millions of dollars have been spent on the lighting design, the architecture of the stage, and for pop shows, dancers have been hired, choreographers have been working their asses off, and countless costumes have been designed and hand stitched. All of this work has been poured into this one tour and you arrive dressed in a band tee and jeans? If that’s your style, you’re allowed to rock that look to your heart’s content. But don’t just roll out of bed, throw something on, and head out to the show. Stop a minute to look into the mirror on your way out the door. A concert is more than just a chance to see your favorite artist perform on stage. It’s a celebration of their life’s work. Take ownership of who you are and celebrate along with them.
Mary Jane Holland!
5. Respect Your Fellow Concert Goers
A major theme throughout this article has been respect. It’s important to show respect to the artist you’ve ventured out to see but it’s also important to respect your fellow concert attendees. For example, if you’re on the floor and some amongst you feel the need to form a mosh pit while you have little to no interest in joining in, please graciously do your best to get out the way of those who are in fact interested. There’s no harm in moshing or dancing or whatever you feel like doing at a concert as long as it does not affect those around you. Everyone is there to have a good time. Don’t spoil the fun by only thinking of yourself.
4. Respect the Security Staff
Yes, it was necessary to make this a separate tip from the previous one. The security staff at concerts do not work directly for the artist; they are employed by the venue and, therefore, are required to work a myriad of events. From my experience, the workers are mostly disgruntled, souls who, in addition to barking at you for accidentally going through the wrong doors, confiscating your umbrellas and other items that may be deemed unfit to bring in to the arena or stadium, and generally threatening to put a damper on the whole concert experience want nothing better than to be spending their night at home.
Though they may not enjoy attending the concert as much as you and your friends do, don’t take any of what they say or do personally. Their goal, whether they want to or not, is to protect the artist or band. You may feel like you’re being directed like a member of a herd of cattle, however, compliance with the rules is necessary to ensure the safety of both the performer(s) and those in attendance. Just smile and listen to the security staff’s barked instructions. You might not like what you’re hearing, but it’s for your own good.
3. Keep Aware of Your Belongings
Though this goes without saying for going out to any public place, make sure you keep an eye on any purses or bags. Everyone might be at the arena, amphitheater, or stadium for the same reason you are but that doesn’t mean that each concert attendee is a decent person. If you can, bring as little as possible with you to avoid losing any items during the course of the event. Also, leave large items in your car’s glove compartment. Most arena parking lots have excellent security. By leaving your items in your vehicles you are less likely to have them stolen by someone else.
2. Waiting at the Stage Door for Your Favorite Artist is a Totally Acceptable Habit to Get Into
Though I have only done this once before for a band I wasn’t completely crazy for, I highly recommend this practice for every concert attendee. Most big name artists aren’t the kind to fraternize with their fans after their shows. They love them during the performance but afterwards all they’re really craving is their hotel room for a well deserved sleep. However, on the off-chance that the artist of your affection is as kind a soul as the image they project onstage it would behoove you to wait for them to exit the concert venue. Meeting your favorite artist, regardless of how long you’ve followed their career or how many times you may have met them previously, is a worthwhile experience that you should never pass up.
1. Don’t be a Dick in the Parking Lot
From my experience, it seems that as soon as the lights come up almost everyone in attendance seems to forget the amazing experience they just encountered. They immediately turn back into the people they were before the concert started; crabby, arrogant, unimaginative, everyday average Joes, desperate to exit the venue as quickly as possible. I’ve decided to take this opportunity, as an avid concert goer, to beg you not to fall into this trap. You just saw your favorite band or artist. You just danced or moshed or yelled like crazy for over an hour and a half. You just let every insecurity, every worry, every concern, every problem you have going on in your life go for just a short period of time. You let the music, the lights, the stage, everything enter your body all at once. Though you might not believe in God, you have to admit that you just had the closest thing to a religious
experience you’ll ever have in your life. And you’re going to throw all that energy, all that love and excitement, happiness and freedom out the window because reality decided to rear its ugly head?! No matter where you were sitting, you and everyone else in that entire audience just made something together. I’m not trying to make a sex analogy here. What I’m trying to say is that unknowingly, but collectively, you and everyone else at that concert created an entity; a living, breathing embodiment of the love you share for that band or artist.
You’ve never met before. Never have seen each other’s faces and yet you threw everything out the window for one night. Honor what you’ve made. Respect the experience you just had together. Exit the venue in an orderly fashion, hold doors open for others when necessary, and, most importantly, once you locate your car, allow others to pass in front of you. You’re all trying to get home. By cutting each other off, cursing each other out, and threatening to cause an accident with your humongous SUVs, you’re essentially saying ‘Fuck you!’ to the concert you just attended. Be patient and wait your turn. It’s impossible to relive your favorite memories from the evening if you’re too busy recovering from the screaming match you just had with the people in the car next to you.
I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed concert going advice. If you find any of these tips helpful or entertaining, please leave a comment below! In addition, if you’d like to leave some corrective criticism regarding my writing style or the subject matter I chose to discuss, please feel encouraged to leave a comment as well. Happy concert going to all!