I still remember the first rock concert I ever went to (okay, that’s not saying much, but bear with me). My parents took me to WinterJam in 2012 to see Skillet, one of my favorite bands at the time. Now, WinterJam probably isn’t what you’d consider a “traditional” concert experience, but it was awesome nonetheless. Since then, I’ve gone to a lot of other concerts and festivals to see my favorite artists, and I’ve always had a wonderful time.
When I first started going to concerts (WinterJam notwithstanding), I was definitely a bit overwhelmed. While concerts are awesome, they can be confusing for people who’ve never been to one before. I’m certainly no expert, but with concert festival season coming upon us, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned from going to concerts.
1) Know what is and isn’t allowed in the venue
Some concert venues are stricter than others, so it’s always good to know what you can and can’t bring before you get there. For example, a venue may not allow concert attendees to bring professional grade camera equipment without a media pass, or outside food might not be permitted. You don’t want to arrive and have to throw out all of the snacks you bought, so always check the website for the venue or festival ahead of time.
2) Bring a bag
With that in mind, bring a small bag if you can. You can keep a water bottle, your money, and anything else you might need in it. It’s also helpful if you plan to buy a lot of t-shirts or other merchandise from the artists at the concert – that way, you’re not having to actually carry that stuff with you. I almost always bring a drawstring backpack with me when I can, and it’s often come in hand.
3) Bring a water bottle
Whether the concert is indoors or outdoors, chances are, you’re gonna get thirsty at some point. You don’t want to lose your prime spot in the pit though, so it helps to have your own water bottle. This is especially important if you’re going to an outdoor festival, since you’re likely going to be in the hot sun most of the day. Take care of yourself!
4) Know what the venue is like
Is the show going to be standing room only, or will there be seating? If it’s an outdoor festival, how many stages are there? Is there a place to set up chairs or blankets at any of the stages? These types of things aren’t always obvious when you’re looking at the venue’s website, but do your best to learn what you can ahead of time so you’ll be prepared.
5) Wear sturdy shoes
I know flip-flops really make your summer concert outfit work, but you’re probably going to want something that will support you a little more. Regardless of whether you’re standing or sitting during the show, you will likely be standing in line before the show. You may even want to forego shoes like Converse or Vans and pick something with a thicker sole if you’re going to be standing outside.
6) Don’t use your phone/camera the whole time
I get it, in the age of social media, we all want to snap a few photos or video for our Snapchat story to prove that we actually were there. That’s fine. However, I really recommend not having your phone or camera on for the entire show. Not only is it rather inconsiderate of the people around you (especially if you’re all standing close to each other), but I’ve found it takes away from the concert experience. Take a few shots here and there, but don’t forget to enjoy the music too! Besides, there will probably be photos and video online later.
7) Bring a friend
Let’s get real for a second, readers: Concerts can get pretty rowdy sometimes. I personally have never felt unsafe at a concert, but bringing someone else with you can be a good safety precaution (and it’ll give you someone to talk to when there’s a break between sets). I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life, if you’re unfamiliar with the artist(s) performing or the venue itself, it doesn’t hurt to bring someone else with you. When I saw Memphis May Fire last year, I didn’t know much about the location or what the audience would be like, so I invited my brother to come with me. There’s safety in numbers, especially if you’re younger.
8) Bring cash
If you plan on buying anything at the show, bring cash. More and more vendors are starting to accept credit and debit cards, but cash tends to be easier, more widely accepted, and it can keep you from overspending. If you limit yourself to the cash you brought with you, you probably won’t spend $60 on CDs.
9) Know what you want to buy ahead of time
This can also help prevent overspending! For example, when I went to City Rockfest recently, I knew I wanted to get an As We Ascend t-shirt, and a CD from Spoken, and maybe a Disciple t-shirt if any of them caught my eye. Since I knew there were things I specifically wanted, it kept me from spending my cash on the things that were less-important to me.
10) Don’t forget about autographs!
Not all artists will have an autograph line after the show, but it doesn’t hurt to bring something along! I like to collect CDs, so I usually bring some with me to get autographed if I have the chance. Other people prefer to get their t-shirts signed, or even their ticket to the show. Trust me, you don’t want to have the opportunity and miss it because you didn’t bring anything.
And there you have it! Of course, every concert experience is a little different, but hopefully this helps fill in the gaps if you’re new to concert-going.