Imagine two scenarios: in the first, you’re surrounded by friends at a concert. You’re all jumping, dancing, and singing. You can feel the music in your soul. You feel amazing, the world’s problems have melted away, and you’re pretty sure the performer just locked eyes with you.
In the second, you’ve been vomiting in a smelly porta potty for the past twenty minutes. Your throat is dry and your phone has long been dead. One of your flip flops has broken in half and you’re freezing cold. You can’t believe you spent triple the original price on your ticket.
These are both possible scenarios, depending on how prepared you are for any given concert.
Experienced concert-goers learn some tricks along the way that make the first scenario far more likely. Here are 10 such tricks to turn your concert experience from a flop to a bop:
1. Dress for the occasion
If the concert is outside, you should consider that it may be wet or muddy. Don’t wear your nice new Air Force Ones, as people may likely be stepping on them throughout the night.
If you plan on being on your feet for a long time, make sure your shoes of choice are comfortable. Simply put, combat boots are generally a better option than crocs. Though not always necessary, clothing with zipper pockets gives peace of mind that your phone or wallet will not fall out or be easily stolen while you are dancing.
Dress for the weather, too. Keep in mind that it can be much colder at night, and that cute but skimpy outfit you have planned may not be the move when the sun sets.
2. Arrive early
If the concert you are attending is general admission, the earlier you get there, the better your chances are of being close to the performers. Pay attention to when doors open, and consider getting there even sooner than that. After all, you may make friends in line.
Don’t show up an hour after doors open and be disappointed when you can barely see what’s going on. Plus, you should always show some love to the opening acts.
3. Bring the essentials
Fully charge your phone. Bring cash just in case the venue doesn’t take card or your card begins having unexpected problems. It’s always nice to take pictures and videos on your phone, and you might want to take an Uber or find your friends.
Don’t forget your ID if you want to drink. A Sharpie for autographs couldn’t hurt either. Be aware that security may confiscate marijuana or vaping devices at the gates or during the show.
4. Wait around
If you don’t have anywhere else to be, magic sometimes happens after a concert ends.
If the artist is “small” enough, often they will come out afterwards to hang out with fans. They might chat, sign autographs and take pictures. Also, pay attention to the people tearing down the stage afterwards. If you see them take a taped down piece of paper off the stage, that’s the setlist — which they will often give away to a fan if asked. It makes for an amazing — and free — souvenir.
5. Stay off your phone
It’s more than okay to take a few pictures or videos to look back on, but don’t spend 90% of the concert on your phone.
Not only is it distracting to the people around you, but it takes you out of the moment. Do you really need 30 different videos, or will you thank yourself for living in the moment instead?
6. Be kind to your body.
Dancing is strenuous, and crowds produce heat. Stay hydrated to mitigate the risk of heat stroke. If you are drinking alcohol, know your limits and err on the side of caution. You can’t enjoy the band you love if you’re throwing up at the back of the venue, and you can’t make amazing memories if you are blacked out.
Eat beforehand so that you’ll get drunk slower. You’ll save a lot of money on overpriced concert food too. Time your bathroom breaks so you don’t miss anything important. The walk to a bathroom can take longer than you’d expect.
7. Buy tickets as early as possible
Tickets are cheapest the second they drop from the venue or the artist themselves. As tickets sell, the venue raises the “tier” of the tickets, meaning they will get pricier.
Once they are sold out, you are at the whims of scalpers who try to upcharge for tickets as much as possible, or outright scam you.
8. Buddy system and the crowd
Attending a concert alone can be an awesome experience, but it’s not the safest option. Bring a friend or a group. It’s not only safer, but can also be more fun.
Also, be aware that the closer to the stage you go, the denser the crowd will be. Some like being up front near the action, but others like having more personal space. Talk with your group about what you’re all comfortable with. (Keep in mind, getting to the front could mean the opportunity to high-five the performers.)
9. Know the venue
A massive arena is going to make for a completely different experience than a smaller venue. Unless you are spending hundreds, an arena concert can mean you will be so far away the performer will look like an action figure. Smaller venues are more intimate, often making for a better experience.
10. Have fun!
Most importantly, you need to have fun! Dance like no one is watching and sing like no one can hear. Don’t be afraid to take initiative and get the crowd engaged. Talk to those around you. After all, you already have something in common if you’re at the same concert.
Be respectful too — don’t ruin the experience for others by pushing past people or throwing things on stage.
The arts desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org