A Guide To Your First Concert

     So you’re going to your first concert? This is so exciting! I remember my first concert like it was yesterday…Sabrina Carpenter’s EVOLution Tour in 2016. I didn’t even have my driver’s license at the time, so I had to drag my parents along with me. Super cool. I also had no idea what an encore was, so I ended up sitting on the sidewalk outside the venue, listening to a very muffled version of “Shadows”. Well, I’m here to help you not make the same mistakes. You’ll be strolling into your first concert looking like a pro. Are you ready? You’d better be taking notes.

Step 1: Buying Tickets.

Concerts can be expensive, believe me I know, but DO NOT go searching through websites for cheaper tickets. Unfortunately, getting scammed is super common when it comes to concert tickets, and you don’t want to find yourself all dressed up in front of the venue unable to get in. WORST. FEELING. EVER. Here’s how to avoid that: Buy your tickets directly through the venue or the artist’s website, and to be on the safe side, avoid buying resale tickets. If you’re looking to go to a concert and don’t want to have to cut off an arm and a leg to get there, try finding tickets for smaller artists that you enjoy. I know we all love Mr. Harry Styles, but the money you spend on one nosebleed seat could get you right in front of the stage at 8 smaller shows. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Step 2: Concert Buddies

Don’t get me wrong, you can totally go to a concert by yourself, but it’s always fun having a concert buddy or two! Sometimes, if there’s a concert I want to go to, I’ll buy two tickets and ask a friends later. Make sure your concert buddies can handle the long nights, loud music, and hours of waiting. I have a few friends who have learned that they really aren’t into concerts, so make sure your concert buddies are excited and prepared. If you don’t have any friends who are into concerts, no worries! I have met so many friends in the crowd at concerts. You can have just as much fun going by yourself!

Step 3: What to Wear/Bring

When it comes to concert fits, I love to go all out, but remember that you will be standing for 6+ hours, and those six inch boots won’t be feeling so hot after hour 4. My advice? Wear your best outfit and your comfiest shoes. Also keep in mind that they will be trampled, so your pristine white sneakers might not be the move. As for what to bring, this is different for everyone, but make sure you have your phone (fully charged), ID, credit/debit card, cash (for emergencies), and maybe a few items to freshen up. Having a purse can be annoying when you’re jumping around, but you do NOT want to put your valuables in your pockets. I had my iPhone 13 and ID stolen out of my back pocket this summer…worst night ever. To avoid all of this, I suggest fanny packs! Good thing they’re back in style. I always wear it as a crossbody so I can have my belongings close to me without having to worry. 

NOTE: Make sure to check the venue beforehand to see if they have a clear bag policy and any prohibited items.

Step 4: Deciding When to Arrive

There’s a lot of factors to this, and it all depends on your preference, how big the artist is that you’re seeing, and what kind of ticket you have. If you’re going to a festival, you’ll want to watch out for peak entry times and give yourself time to make it through the line and inside before whatever set you’re trying to make it to. If you’re going to a huge stadium shows for an artist like Harry Styles, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, etc, there will typically be people camping out the night before. I don’t go that hard, so I’ll just stick to advising you about smaller shows. First, if you have VIP tickets, make sure to keep up with the emails in order to know what time to be there. Most of the time, VIP tickets will give you early access to the barricade, so there’s honestly no reason to stress. If you have a normal GA ticket (like I always do), it all depends on what kind of experience you want. If you want to be close to the stage/ on the barricade, you totally can! Make sure to get there AT LEAST 1 hour before doors open. 2-3 hours early would be safer (again, depending on what artist you’re seeing). If you don’t really care where you are, don’t want to see the opener, or just feel like you will be able to sneak through the crowd to get closer to the stage, then congrats! You can just relax. Your ticket will typically tell you what time doors open, and you can get there whenever you want!

Step 5: Getting to the Venue

     Always map out your trip before you go, accounting for traffic and any other delays you might experience. Give yourself plenty of time for stops and finding your way around the venue. Next is parking. Sometimes big shows will have the option to buy a parking pass when you purchase your ticket. If not, first look up the venue and see if they have information about parking on their website. If not, look up the venue on the map and see if there are any parking garages or lots nearby. Be safe! Don’t park anywhere that doesn’t look legit. You don’t want to come out of a show at midnight and find that your car is towed and you’re stranded in the middle of the city. Also make sure to hide any valuable or other belonging from view to prevent people from breaking into your car. It sucks, but it happens.

Step 6: Getting Inside

     Pro tip: ALWAYS screenshot your ticket beforehand. There have been so many times when my phone has lost service the second I get to the venue, and if that happens, you might not be able to load your ticket. If you didn’t screenshot your ticket and you can’t retrieve it on your phone, don’t panic! Go to the box office and tell them your name. They should have a list of everyone who bought tickets. 

     If you paid attention to the bag policy and other rules of the venue, you should get in pretty quickly. If you’re 21 and the venue has a bar, they will check IDs and give you a wristband so you can easily grab drinks from the bar. (Remember to stay safe and hydrated!)

Step 7: Enjoy the Show!

     You did it! You’re in! Here’s a few tips now that you’re here. 1) Don’t ignore the opener(s). I have discovered a lot of my favorite bands/artists by listening to openers at shows I go to. 2) Be courteous to those around you. If you feel a little farther from the stage than you’d like, keep in mind that the whole crowd will squish together as soon as the headliner takes the stage, and you will most likely be pushed 5-10 feet closer. Don’t shove people or act rude just to get a better view. 3) Don’t film the whole show. I know you’ll be tempted to pull out your phone and document every second, but the video will never be able to fully capture the experience, and if you spend the whole show trying, you’ll miss it. My rule of thumb is I pick a few of my favorite songs that I really want to record and I film the first verse through the chorus. Then I put my phone away. No one wants to watch a concert through a screen. You can do that at home. 🙂 4) Don’t leave before the encore! If you cheer loud enough and act patient, the headliner will come back on stage and play a song or two. If your favorite artist didn’t play a song you really love, stick around, they might play it during the encore!

And that’s about it! You’ve survived your first concert! Last tip: prepare yourself, because post-concert depression is real.

-Local Concert Buddy

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