The Chemex is quite the interesting coffee vessel. It’s been my introduction to the pour over world of coffee, and I’ve loved it since day one. Fun fact, it was invented in 1941 by chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. Though he died in 1962, his legacy lives on in his “synthesis of logic and madness”. Thanks, Pete. We all owe you one.
Whether it’s your first show or your 100th (I’ve lost count at this point), there’s something new to learn at every concert experience. My first concert I went to was a Panic! At The Disco show in support of their album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out — still one of my favorites to this day — and that was back in 2005. Nearly 15 years of attending shows, and there’s a million things I wish I would have known back then that I know now.
Hopefully you found this post early on in your concert-going adventures and will utilize these tips for many years to come. Make sure to read my post on wearing ear plugs at shows since I go in depth into one of the more important tips that I’ll share with you here today. The ear plug tip is also one that’s going to give you a return on investment throughout your whole life. You’re welcome.
If you’re new here and looking for new music to discover, check out my posts on my favorite albums of 2019 so far and what albums I’m looking forward to for the rest of the year.
So grab a drink, hold those tickets close to your chest (who prints tickets out these days?), and sit tight as we go through some necessary tips for attending a concert.
Purchasing products through the links on this page may result in a commission to myself but do not affect pricing.
1. Buy Tickets From A Credible Source
This seems like a no-brainer right from the start, but I’ve witnessed many people get ripped off from scalpers and websites claiming to be the real deal. What I suggest to ensure you’re getting tickets from a reputable source is by accessing the ticket site from the band’s Facebook page. Whether you like FB or not, a band will have a credible link on their profile page to get tickets. If you’d rather not go through Facebook — a move which I totally get and respect — then access the tickets through the venue website itself.
I repeat, don’t just do a random Google search to look for tickets. Be smart and avoid getting ripped off.
2. When Should I Arrive At The Concert?
Some people believe you should show up as early as possible to see all of the bands and ‘get your money’s worth’. I say screw that and feel free to show up later if you know you won’t care about the opening bands. I get the idea of supporting local artists (who are usually the openers), but at the same time, if I’m not into your music then I’m just not into your music, and I shouldn’t feel obligated to see every band play that night.
Standing around for multiple hours at a time can get very tiring, and I’m all about finding ways to limit that timeframe.
Even if you’re worried about getting to the very front row, it can be done if you arrive a bit later. I haven’t shown up to a venue before doors opened in quite a while, and I haven’t once felt like I was missing out.
3. Research the Venue
I’ve seen a trend lately where venues are stripping away your ability to leave the venue and come back to the show, limiting your options for food/water/fresh air. They also don’t actively advertise this online anywhere, so it may be good to call ahead or drive by the venue before so that you know what to expect in regards to re-entry.
4. Stay Hydrated
You’re going to sweat at a concert, whether you want to or not. You don’t want to be that person who passes out in the middle of a crowd because they didn’t drink enough water. Pay special close attention to this rule if you’re one to dash to the front of the crowd to get a front row view of your favorite band on stage.
If you’re front row for a band, especially the headliner, that means you most likely arrived pretty early and won’t want to leave and give up that precious real estate you found yourself, so either buy bottled water before heading up (bye, bye monies), or drink plenty of fluids before the show. There are exceptions to the rule, like security guards or band members chucking water into the crowd or having a friend who can easily navigate the dense wall of human bodies behind you to get a bottle of water, but I wouldn’t depend on them.
Festivals are an entirely different beast where this tip goes into hyper drive. You’re going to be out in the heat all day. Most of these festivals offer free water stations, so it’s on you to ensure you know where they are located and make sure to stop by and refill every once in a while. Make it even easier on yourself by buying a fancy collapsible water bottle to carry around with you.
5. What Did You Say?
This isn’t your Sunday morning church sermon. The show is going to be LOUD. Like insanely dangerous for your ears loud, especially at a metal show. I highly recommend purchasing some ear plugs before the show to protect yourself. If that’s something you’re not into, I implore you to read my post about ear plugs to get more educated and comfortable with the thought. It could save you lots of pain the next morning and in the future. Buy ear plugs here.
Ugh, one of the most stressful parts about going to a venue in a city as large as Denver. Parking is a B!^@*. I have been to venues in smaller towns where parking is a breeze, but if you live in a large metro area, make sure you’re ready to pay for parking or spend about half an hour looking for a free space. Solution? Ride share over to the venue. (Honestly, if you can ride share, it’s so worth being stress-free before the show.)
If you live within said metro area, you’re probably already an expert on navigating parking/traffic, and good on you for that, but not all of us are so fortunate.
I referenced a dense wall of human bodies just a bit ago. If that triggered any ounce of anxiety or worry deep inside your core, the ‘floor’ may not be for you. You will be very close to other humans and occasionally be forced to sway/move with the crowd. Be prepared to smell these people too. Sorry, but it’s a reality. Make sure to practice proper hygiene so you don’t add to the problem.
Also, know your audience. If this is a metal show, beware of mosh pits and crowd surfers!
You usually have some sort of warning sign that a mosh pit is near you or about to be, but crowd surfers can seemingly appear out of nowhere and either land on top of you or kick you with their flailing legs. Just be aware of your surroundings!
Now, this can be easily remedied if you’re at a show with assigned seating along with the ‘pit’ or ‘floor’ section; just buy seated tickets.
However, there will be times where the whole venue is only General Admission, aka no seating. Some venues will have balconies with great vantage points, but you have to get there early to claim them. If you don’t happen to snag one of those spots, it may take some quick scouting on your part to find a place to stand that’s far enough back to avoid the huge crowd but also close enough to rock out to your favorite band.
This skill specifically develops over the years.
This is a question I get asked about a lot. When should I buy merch during the show? You don’t want to chance missing out on your favorite song because you were stuck in the merch line, do you? But you also don’t want to wait until the end of the show, because not only do you have to deal with other fans who waited until the end of the show to buy something, but you’re also encountering tired, sweaty, drunk people caravanning out of the venue.
So when should you buy? Well first off, let me tell you the worst time to buy: in between bands. This is obviously the best chance for everybody to take care of their business (financially or otherwise), so the lines are going to be long.
So, we’re left with a few options. One, you could head straight towards the merch table as soon as you arrive, ensuring that you only miss the opening band and dawn your new badass tee for the whole night. Two, you can go check out the merch table while another band is playing. This is no problem if you do it during a band you’re not a huge fan of or have never heard of before.
The third option is only ideal if you’ve seen the band before: just go during their set. This is when the line is going to be the shortest. It’s a small sacrifice but may be worth the reduced amount of time standing in line bored.
Of course, there’s always the option of buying your merch online if you don’t need it right this second, but a lot of times bands will have exclusive tour merch not available online, and there’s nothing better than supporting the band and the merch dudes in the flesh to ensure they get the money you’re spending for their hard work.
9. Meet Band Members! Don’t Be Shy
It’s easy to get star struck, but one of my favorite things to do at shows is meet the folks that make up my favorite groups. But how do you go about doing this?
Well, some bands offer VIP packages for their shows that include meet and greets, but they can be costly sometimes. If a band is smaller, they are usually walking around throughout the night or even working their own merch table. Many of them even announce at the end of their set that they will be hanging back by the merch table and invite you to come talk/meet. These guys and gals are people just like you and me, and most of them have wonderful, inspiring stories to share with you. Totally worth it. Extra pro tip: bring a Sharpie. Better to be prepared than everyone looking around awkwardly looking for something to sign stuff with!
10. Quick Festival Tips
If you’re at a festival, expect to do a lot of walking around and sitting/standing in the heat. Due to the timing of sets that you actually want to watch, you’re bound to find yourself bored and in the sun. Check out the various tents that are set up in the area. A lot of them have free stuff for you to have or giveaways to enter. Definitely a great time killer when it’s needed.
Also be aware that food is pricey at festivals, but since they’re usually all day events, you may feel that you’re forced to spend your hard-earned dollars on a hotdog and Coke, but you’re more than welcome to bring your own food into most festivals, at least in my experience. Liquid-wise, you’ll have to stick with water if you want to stay frugal. This is where those fancy collapsible water bottles come in handy!
11. Be Friendly, Meet People
Know that it’s okay if you’re going to a show alone. Plenty of people do it! But also engage with your fellow fans. You’re all there for the same purpose, to enjoy some kickass tunes. A lot of the people I talk to on a regular basis are people I’ve met at shows because we’re obviously like-minded people. Even if people look intimidating, engage with them! It’s not their fault they look angry all the time.
Maybe it is, I don’t know.
The point is, find a buddy and have a good time.
Concerts are an amazing experience. Music is one of the few things that is enjoyed universally, so whatever I can do to help someone enjoy that passion even further I’m going to do it. I hope you’ve learned something valuable from this list of tips for attending concerts.
I am going to a show tonight, and you bet your bum that I’m going to be implementing most, if not all, of these tips listed here today. Can’t wait to rage to one of my favorite metalcore bands, Oh, Sleeper, in downtown Denver.
Which tips would you add to this list? What new knowledge did you come away with after reading?