Your Ultimate Concert Guide

Everything you Need for the Best Concert-Going Experience in 2017



Last Updated on August 17, 2017 - Seeing your favorite artist in concert can be magical.  Going to a live show is a lot of fun and something you can brag about to friends.

You probably think going to a concert is as easy as do-re-me.  All you have to do is show up, listen, and maybe, if the lead singer asks, clap your hands to the beat.

It can definitely be that easy, but if you want to enjoy your concert experience to the fullest, if you want to be as comfortable as possible then you need to read our Ultimate Guide to Attending a Concert.

Using Our Guide

Our guide is as simple to follow as the chord progressions of an AC/DC song. We’ve broken our guide into sections and each section employs easy to follow bullet points. 

You can read our guide from start to finish or skip around to sections that interest you the most.

If you do skip around we recommend you start with the How To Get The Best Seats In The House section.

 


Scattered throughout this guide, are the following interpositions…

Table of Contents

What To Expect at a Concert
Be Prepared
What To Wear
What To Bring
Attending a Concert Alone
Attending Concerts With Your Kids
Attending A Concert Pregnant
Indoors vs. Outdoors Concerts
Venue Sizes
Taking A Date To A Concert
Music Festivals
Tailgating 
Drugs and Alcohol at Concerts
Drug-Related Deaths at Concerts
Violence At Concerts
Buying Merchandise
Different Types of Seats
How To Get The Best Seats
When are Tickets Cheapest to Buy?
Why are Tickets so Expensive?
Meeting The Band
The Right Attitude
Parking at a Concert
Top Venues Overview

"Behind the Concert” sections enumerate facts and events from the history of live music.  From Woodstock to Taylor Swift’s “1989 World Tour,” these little history lessons support and corroborate the information in our guide.


A Roadie’s Take On… These sections contain useful and practical advice from Keith, former roadie for Mott The Hoople and a music fan who can remember attending more than 500 concerts (he may have actually attended more than 2,000).  While his advice is right on, we recommend taking his memories and recollections with a grain of salt.


Tweets From A Music Snob

Franklin is such a huge music snob that he wears Beatles and Rolling Stones t-shirts ironically.  Franklin frequently tweets about music concerts.  We don’t necessarily suggest you follow his advice but it’s important that you know how he thinks.  After all, there’s at least one music snob at every concert.

Clickit to ReTweet!

 

What To Expect At A Concert

Before purchasing concert tickets, there are a few things you need to know about the experience.  If you know what to expect, and you’re prepared for it, you will have a much better time.

Concerts are expensive.  That includes concert tickets as well as parking, food, beverages, and merchandize sold at the venue.

Parking can be difficult.  Depending on the venue, you might not be able to park very close or even for free—that’s another expense.  You could be in for a long walk before and after the show.

There will be long lines.  A lot of concerts will have you waiting in line to enter the venue (security).  Then once inside, you may find long lines to buy refreshments, to buy merchandize, and to use the bathroom.

Musicians are not known for their punctuality.  Besides waiting for the show to begin, and waiting through an opening act you may or may not enjoy, you might also have to wait hours for the main act to take the stage.

 

Behind the Concert - The most notorious late-arriving band of all-time is Guns N’ Roses.  This was from a fan back in 2011: "Although the music was great… They made everyone wait for over two hours before coming on stage, that was rediculous [sic]!"  

Apparently, GNR’s lead singer Axl Rose wants to put on the best show possible so he won’t take the stage until his mind and voice are 100 percent ready.  He has a lengthy pre-concert routine that he absolutely won’t abandon.  Also, being hours late plays into their bad boy image.”

 

A Roadie’s Take On… “Bands Being Late”
“Dudes, don’t always blame the band.  There are many reasons why artists can be tardy.  Sometimes there are technical or logistical issues beyond their control.  Sometimes traffic prevents the band from getting to the arena on time. 

Promoters are notorious for delaying shows to either sell more tickets or more beer.  Some artists won’t take the stage until after they’re paid. 

Once, Ronnie James Dio refused to perform until someone promised to record Falcon Crest.”

 

Drugs and alcohol use.  Like it or not, the use of drugs and alcohol is rampant at popular music concerts.  Obviously, you can avoid consuming drugs and alcohol but you can’t avoid concert-goers who consume them. 

Volume.  All concerts are loud, even concerts by acts that don’t necessarily play “loud” music.  You can wear ear plugs to help block out some of the sound, but it still might be uncomfortable. 

Behind the Concert - In 1976, The Who set a world record by rocking out at 126 dB at 100 feet from the stage. Though no longer the loudest band of all-time, their triple-digit decibel levels are still the most famous. ( tweet this).

 

Crowds.  Every once in a while you’ll hear about an artist performing in front of a dozen or so people, but those shows are few and far between.  Concerts attract a lot of people.  So you’ll want to count on there being a sea of humanity at your show. 

Concerts are unkind to personal space.  Expect an evening of being jostled, bumped, and having your feet stepped on.  That doesn’t mean your fellow attendees can do whatever they want, but if you have a major thing about people invading your personal space you should probably stay home.

Behind the Concert - According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest crowd to ever gather for an outdoor concert occurred in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. More than 4 million gathered to see Rod Stewart perform (Clickit to Tweet tweet this).

 

Moshing.  Also known as “slam dancing,” moshing usually occurs at punk, hardcore, and heavy metal concerts.  No one will force you to mosh, but just standing around the “mosh pit” may lead to accidentally getting struck by a “dancer.” 

Screaming.  You’re likely to hear screaming at every concert.  It’s how people show their support.  At One Direction and Five Seconds of Summer concerts expect fans, who are usually teenage girls, to scream incessantly and at a painfully high pitch.

Heat.  Temperatures at concerts tend to run on the hot side.  The size of the venue doesn’t matter nor does the time of year, or whether or not the show is indoors or outside.  When that many people get together in a small space the mercury tends to rise.

NOTE: We’ll discuss what to wear and other ways to handle the heat later in this guide.

 

Behind the Concert - In 2012, singer Charlie Simpson set a world record by performing in -30 degree Fahrenheit.  Simpson rocked the coldest inhabited place on the planet, Oymyakon, Siberia.  He performed for 15 minutes and actually played his guitar without gloves (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).

 

How To Know If You’ll Be Sitting or Standing During The Concert?

Most of the time, your concert ticket corresponds to a particular seat, but will you be using that seat during the performance?  In other words, will you be standing or sitting while the band plays?

It all depends on the show and where you’re sitting. 

If you’re seeing an artist known for their high energy you should expect to stand.  If you’re seeing a more mellow band or artist with an older fan base you should expect to sit.

If you’re on the floor and/or close to the stage you also expect to stand.

If you’re in the nosebleed seats, or nosebleed adjacent, chances are likely you’ll be seated for most of the performance.

Keep in mind this is all based on the expectation that you’re courteous to the people behind you and actually care if they can see the stage. 

Bottom line, no matter what kind of show you’re attending, you should expect the following…

…You’ll be forced to stand at concerts you want to sit through and you’ll be asked to remain seated at concerts where you want to stand.

Clickit to Tweet


Be Prepared

The "What To Expect At A Concert" section above was not meant to sour you on live music.  The section is meant as a reminder that there are several things to consider before heading off to the venue and buying a tour t-shirt.

That doesn’t mean you can’t go to a show on a whim, but if you take the time and spend the necessary energy to prepare, you’re just about guaranteed to have a great time.

Get to know the artist’s music.  In the days leading up to your concert, familiarize, or re-familiarize, yourself with the artist’s music.  Your concert experience will be far more enjoyable if you know most or all the songs in an artist’s discography. 

Know the location of the venue.  Smartphones give us the capability to navigate on the fly, but it’s still a good idea to know how to get to the venue beforehand.  If you’ve been there before look for an alternate route.  While researching directions look for places to park.

Have a plan.  You and your friends should discuss more than just what time you’re leaving for the show.  The last thing you want is to fight with your buddies at the venue. 

The following questions should be answered before you leave for the concert…

…Where are you going to sit? (If your don’t have assigned seats)

…Are you going to watch the opening act(s)?

…When are you going to buy merchandise, if at all?

…Are you staying for the entire show or leaving before the encore?

...Who is driving home? I.e. who is the designated driver?

Should You Look Up An Artist’s Setlist Before Attending Their Concert?

Should you know an artist’s setlist (i.e. the songs they’re going to play live) before seeing them in concert?  You can search the internet for setlists.  Remember that some artists, like jam bands, use a different setlist every night.

Reviewing past setlists for a particular tour will provide insight on whether or not the artist is playing all their big hits, deep cuts, and/or a bunch of tracks from their latest album.

Knowing the order of songs will allow you to pick times to leave the concert and use the bathroom, grab a beverage, and/or buy some merchandize.               

On the other hand, not knowing the setlist means you’ll be surprised when the artist plays your favorite song.

Behind the Concert - Madonna’s setlist hardly changed during the 88 shows of her 2012 “MDNA Tour.” 

Throughout the U.S. leg of her “1989 World Tour,” Taylor Swift kept the front and back ends of her setlist the same, but frequently altered the middle third of her set. 

Meanwhile, Phish has never used the same setlist twice ( tweet this).



What To Wear

Your concert preparation continues with your wardrobe.  Wearing the right clothes can mean the difference between enjoying your favorite band in comfort or in misery.

Dress cool.  We don’t mean wear the latest fashions (which you can certainly do) but wear clothes that will help keep your body temperature low.  A concert is not the place to break out your new sweater or wear your favorite down jacket.

Bring a light coat.  If you feel that you must bring a coat make sure it’s lightweight, preferably something you can tie around your waist. 

A Roadie’s Take On… “Wearing Coats To Concerts”
“Dude, if it’s winter and there’s no way you can line up outside without wearing a heavy coat, then buy one at a thrift store.  Wear it while you wait to get into the venue and then once inside throw it away, or give it to a roadie.  I did that once for a Kansas concert in Boston.  Or was it a Boston concert in Kansas?”

                                                                                     

Don’t wear high heels.  If there’s only one thing you take away from this guide we hope it’s “don’t wear high heel shoes to a concert.”  They are a bad idea and will prevent you and your feet from enjoying the show.

Don’t wear open toe shoes.  Even if you’re attending an outdoor concert under the scorching summer sun, it’s best not to show off your toesies.  At a concert, you run a very high risk of getting your feet stepped on.  It’s best to protect your little piggies.

Wear comfortable shoes.  If you haven’t figured it out already, you should always wear comfortable shoes.  You’re going to do a lot of walking and possibly a lot of standing and dancing.  It’s best that your feet are as comfortable as possible.

No big handbags.  The last thing you want to do at a concert is lug around a huge handbag.  Then, after lugging it all over the venue, you have to hold it for the entire show or set it on floor where it can be damaged or stolen.  Before going to show, put your essentials in a cute crossbody bag.

Check out the venue's website or call to determine what you can bring into the venue. This information can help you decide what to wear, bring along and/or what to pack.

Typical Outfits
Below are suggestions for what you might wear to a typical concert or music festival. 

The garments suggested for the outdoor concert and music festival assume that those events are being held on a hot summer day/night.

Indoor Concert

Sneakers
Jeans
T-Shirt
Light jacket you can tie around waist
Crossbody handbag (If applicable)
Outdoor Concert
Comfortable shoes
Shorts that don’t chafe
Long sleeve shirt you can wear over a…
T-shirt
Sunglasses
Hat
Crossbody handbag or small backpack
Music Festival
Comfortable shoes you can wear all day
Shorts that don’t chafe
Sweatshirt with zipper
T-shirt
Sunglasses
Hat
Crossbody handbag or small backpack

Outfit Suggestions By Genres
In this section, we’ve grouped our sartorial suggestions by genre.  Unless specified, the following garments are for both men and women. 

Rock
Combat boots
Chuck Taylors
Ripped jeans
Leather jacket
Flannel shirts
Rock T-Shirts

EDM
Shoes you can dance in
Neon colored clothes
Bright and busy shirts
Tank tops (women)
Fanny packs (women)
Disco shorts (women)

Country Music
Cowboy hats
Cowboy boots
Jeans
Plaid shirts
Anything denim
Big belt buckles
Cut-offs (women)
Sun dresses (women)

Hip Hop
Baggy Jeans
Hoodies
Gold chains
Gold watches
Nike shoes
Sports jerseys
Baseball caps
Bandannas

Pop
Dark fitted jeans (men)
Dress shirts (men)
Fitted-T (men)
Dark runners (men)
Boat shoes (men)
Comfortable boots (women)
Skirts (women)
Accessories (women)

 




What To Bring

Now that you’re dressed, it’s time to discuss what to bring. 

In discussing what to bring to a concert, there’s one really important thing you need to remember:
DON’T FORGET THE TICKETS!

Fully charged phone.  Chances are good you’re going to bring your smartphone to your concert.  Just make sure it’s fully charged.  This will not only ensure you won’t run out of juice when taking a selfie during the performance of your favorite song but it will also ensure you can use your phone after the show when it might be necessary to call someone for a ride.

Camera with fresh batteries.  If you don’t have a phone with a camera, or you’re really into photography, you might want to bring a standalone camera.  Most of these cameras use batteries like they’re going out of style so make sure you bring extras.

 

 A Roadie’s Take On… “Photographing Concerts”
“I once took 1,300 pictures at a REO Speedwagon concert.  Not only did it ruin the show but all my photos of Neal Doughty turned out blurry.  Take a few pictures, a few seconds of video of your favorite song, and then put the camera away. 

Concerts are all about memories. 

The only photos that really matter are the ones you take with your mind.  Those photos don’t need developing and your girlfriend or boyfriend can't burn them in a fit of rage.” 

 

Cash.  Nowadays, almost everyone accepts plastic, even merchandize vendors, but everyone accepts cash and it’s quicker.  You’ll want your transactions to go quickly when you’re paying to park and buying your swag.  Also, it’s easier to tip (bartender/server) if you have cash.
>>Identification.  Just because you think you look 30 doesn’t mean the bartender won’t ask to see your identification.  Avoid waiting in line for twenty minutes only to be denied beer because you left your ID at home.

Ear plugs.  If you’re worried about the concert being too loud get yourself a pair of ear plugs.  They’re cheap and you can get some that are hardly noticeable when shoved into your ear.  We did a search on Amazon and the first ear plugs that popped up were a batch of 50 for $9.

Sharpie.  If you plan on getting autographs you’ll want to bring your own sharpie.  Musicians don’t carry around writing utensils.

Phone numbers.  If you lose your cell phone, or its battery goes dead, and you have to borrow one to call for a ride, your numbers won’t be in the stranger’s contact list.  This suggestion might sound a bit ridiculous but it could mean the difference between getting a lift home and sleeping on a bench outside the venue. 

As little as possible!  You’re going to a concert.  You’re not climbing a mountain.  You don’t need to, nor should you, bring a lot of stuff. 

This list expands a bit if you’re attending an outdoor concert and expands greatly if you’re attending a music festival.  But when you’re attending a single indoor concert you’ll want to be as light and mobile as possible.

Remember, everything listed above (with the possible exception of the standalone camera) can fit in your pockets.


Attending Concerts By Yourself

Concerts are social events.  Since they are, we usually picture ourselves attending one with a friend or a group of friends.  Conversely, we might think that we can’t go to a concert if our friends are unable to attend.

That’s not true.  It’s perfectly acceptable to attend a concert all by your lonesome.

Why go to a concert by yourself?

…Your friends are unable to attend. Country’s hottest act is coming to town and all your buddies have to work.  That doesn’t mean you should miss the show too.

…You can get a better seat as a single than as a group.  For some acts you want to sit as close to the stage as possible.  That’s easier to do if you need just one ticket instead of two or more.

…You’re the only one you know who likes the band.  You have a penchant for industrial polka dubstep.  Don’t miss the big festival because your friends don’t share your musical tastes.

...Just like traveling alone offers unique opportunities and experiences, so does atending a concert alone. You're more likely to meet new people and make new friends if you're alone.

Tips for attending a concert by yourself…

Tell someone where you’re going and where you’ll be sitting.  Attending concerts is relatively safe, but it’s still a good idea to let someone know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing.

Check in with your contact before the show starts, during intermission, and/or after the show.  Of course, you’ll want to let them know you made it home alright too.

Apart from checking in, stay off your phone!  Live in the moment.  If the band hasn’t taken the stage, then people watch.  Don’t waste your concert experience with your face in your phone.

If you need to go to the bathroom or get refreshments dueing the show, you may forfeit your seat/spot if you leave. So bear this in mind and plan accordingly. Consider asking those around you to save your seat if you do have to temporarily leave, but just don't expect them to come through for you.

Be social and talk to people.  The great thing about a concert is everyone has at least one thing in common: they all like the same music and musician(s).  Strike up a conversation with the people next to you.  Who knows?  You might meet your new best friends.


Attending Concerts With Your Kids

A Roadie’s Take On… “Attending Concerts With Your Kids”
“It’s righteous to go to concerts with your kids.  A family that rocks together stays together.  My oldest son was born at a concert and a week later my oldest daughter was too!  Their moms were so proud.”

 

It’s a rite of passage for both you and your offspring.  They’re old enough to attend a concert and you’re old enough to have a kid who’s old enough to attend a concert.

By concert, we mean a bona fide popular music artist and not artists that cater to young children like Yo Gabba Gabba, Trout Fishing in America, or Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.  Those shows don’t count.

Before getting concert tickets, know what you’re getting into…

…What type of music will be performed at the show? Is the artist hard rock, hip hop, or pop?  Maybe your son or daughter is into country or folk music?

…What type of crowd is going to be there?  Will it be a little on the rough side or will it be a bunch of young people.  Will you be the only parent chaperoning or one of many?

…Who is coming with you and your kid(s)?  Are they bringing a friend or friends along or will it just be you and your kid(s)?

…Where is the concert being held?  Is it an arena, amphitheater, or outdoor venue?  Will you have a lengthy commute?  Do you know where to park?

Before going to the concert, talk to you kid(s)…

…Let them know what to expect.  That includes the volume, the crowds, and the excessive heat.

…Make sure they understand there will be a lot of standing, walking, and waiting.  The more they know about what to expect the more fun they’ll have.

…Explain the effects of alcohol and how it makes some people act like complete idiots.  Let them know that that strange aroma wafting through the venue is marijuana.

A Roadie’s Take On…“Contact High”
“Science says it’s impossible to get a contact high because exhaled smoke is devoid of all that psychoactive stuff.  Stoners disagree. 

That’s probably because when stoners smell pot their minds think they’re actually smoking it and therefore they feel like they’re getting stoned.  It’s sorta like a Pavlov’s dog thing.”


Get to know the artist’s music...

…Even if it’s some teeny bopper band (the kind you despised when you were young) you’ll still have a better time at the concert if you’re familiar with the artist’s music.

…Listening to the artist’s music may be something you can do with your kid(s) in the weeks leading up to their concert.

Decide where you want to sit…

…If tickets are hard to get you might not have this option.  Of course, you’ll always have this option if you use the secondary ticket market.  At some shows, you’ll need to decide between standing in the pit and sitting in the grandstands.

Behind the Concert - The Vans Warped Tour is designed for young fans of punk, hardcore, and heavy metal music.  To create an acceptable event for young people, organizers offer free tickets to parents accompanying minors who have purchased tickets. 

Organizers also provide “Reverse Daycare.” 

This is an area where parents can go, hang out, and have a beverage while their offspring enjoy The Offspring (which could have happened in 2005, the one year the band The Offspring played the Vans Warped Tour)

 

How are you and your kid(s) going to tackle bathroom breaks?

If you’ve been to the bathroom at a concert before you know it’s like Hannibal crossing the Alps.  It’s even more problematic if you and your children use different bathrooms.  Are you going to use the bathroom before you take your seats, during the opening act, or when the artist plays your kid’s least favorite song?

Are you going to stay for any encore(s)?

If the artist plays your child’s favorite song in the main body of the concert, you might want to consider leaving the venue before the encore.  While it seems sacrilegious to leave a concert earlier, it could mean the difference between getting home around your child’s bedtime and getting home well after your bedtime.

How are you going to dress? 

We recommend that you wear something cool (as in temperature) and comfortable.  There’s no need to break out your old Foghat t-shirt (the one that’s two sizes too small), but we do suggest you skip the mom jeans and the cardigans. 

You’re going to have fun. 

Don’t worry about what others are thinking or the opinion of our resident music snob.  Everyone either wishes they had, or are glad they had, parents thoughtful enough to take them to a concert.  Your kid may not understand it now, but someday they’ll really appreciate the fact that you took them to their first show.

Driving Your Kids To A Show

If you’re letting your underage son or daughter attend a concert all by themselves here are a few things you should consider…

…Still tell them what to expect.  The fact that you’re not going with them is even more reason to fill them in on the ins and outs of attending a concert, especially the drug and alcohol part.

…Assuming you’re picking up your offspring and their party after the concert, establish an easy to remember pick-up location and set a firm time.  Also discuss a plan if the concert goes long or the pick-up location falls through.

…Make sure your son’s or daughter’s cellphone is fully charged and they know your number by memory in case they have to contact you using a different phone.


Attending A Concert If You’re Pregnant

What luck!

You and yours finally got pregnant and wouldn’t you know it.  Your favorite band announces plans to come to your town. 

So can you go to the concert in your condition?  Is it okay to attend the show if you have a bun in the oven?

It depends on the concert.  If you’re preggers you should probably skip concerts by Linkin Park and Korn.  Seeing concerts by Shania Twain or Yanni should be fine.

It depends on where you’re at in your pregnancy.  If you’re eight and a half months pregnant then you should probably NOT attend a concert.  If your pregnancy has yet to eclipse the four month-mark, then you’ll probably be fine at just about any show.

Loud sounds can be bad for your baby.  Around the 27-week mark, your baby will have a set of working ears.  For those tiny ears to be damaged they’ll need to be subjected to prolonged loud sounds.

-90 to 100 decibels for 8 hours (or half a Phish concert)

... That’s equivalent to standing next to a chain saw or lawn mower

-150 decibels for any length of time      

... That’s equivalent to a jet engine or standing directly next to an amp

... Prolonged exposure to the above decibel levels can cause hearing loss, low birth weight, and premature delivery.

Bass sounds are the worse.  Amniotic fluid dampens high pitch sounds but actually amplifies low pitch sounds.  So your baby will be more affected by the bass then by the lead singer’s high pitch shrills.

Be mindful of the crowd.  If you’re beyond four months pregnant you’ll want to stay far away from the mosh pit, and for that matter, the floor.  Get yourself a nice assigned seat out of the way of the pushing throng of concert-goers that don’t have a life growing in their belly.

A couple of concerts at most.  Attending the concert of your favorite band while you’re with child should be fine.  Attending concerts on a regular basis while pregnant is probably not a good idea. 

Consult a doctor.  We’re not doctors.  We only play one on the internet.  If you have any doubts or concerns consult your doctor.  Your baby is infinitely more important than seeing any band in concert.

Behind the Concert - Actress January Jones almost went into labor at a New Kids on The Block concert (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this). In 2015, the pregnant actress was attending a NKOTB tour stop when she became too excited.

 The actress explained, “I was jumping around and screaming, and then I started having contractions.  So my sister said, 'If you have a baby at a New Kids on the Block concert, I will kill you!'  So I had to sit down every other song."



Indoors vs. Outdoors Concerts

There are a lot of similarities between indoor and outdoor concerts.  Both attract big crowds.  Both are very loud.  Both are subject to the tardiness of mercurial rock stars.

There are also several differences…

The sun’s rays.  In addition to the heat, attendees of outdoor summer concerts must also contend with the sun’s rays.  Be sure to pack some sunscreen and bring a hat.

Be prepared for the elements.  Besides the sweltering heat, outdoor concerts can also be humid, windy, wet, and/or cold.  When attending a concert outside make sure you know the weather forecast and make sure you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature dishes out.

Wear layers.  Wearing layers is the best way to prepare for dynamic weather.  A light rain jacket can be removed and tied around the waist if skies clear.  In the same vein, you can put on the sweatshirt you tied around your waist if the wind picks up or the mercury drops.

Stay hydrated.  It’s even more important under the summer’s sun that you stay hydrated.  Don’t just drink water once you get to the venue.  Start hydrating a few days before your outdoor concert or festival.

Know the venue.  Some outdoor venues allow you to bring in food and/or chairs.  It all depends on the venue/event so make sure you visit their Website before attending.

Be prepared for portable bathrooms.  There’s really not much you can do if there are portable bathrooms except use them or hold it.  If you know your outdoor concert will be serviced by movable toilets, consider bringing along some hand sanitizer.   

Arrive earlier than normal.  Some outdoor venues have little to no assigned seating.  So to get a good seat you’ll need to get there as early as possible.  Outdoor venues usually have fewer entrances and longer security checks.  Both factors mean it will take you longer to gain admittance.

Behind the Concert - On Aug. 15, 1965, The Beatles played Shea Stadium in New York City.  It was the largest Beatles concert at the time and the first significant concert at a stadium. 

The band played quite a distance away from the audience and to a cacophony of deafening screams.  More than 40 years later, in 2008, Paul McCartney played the last concert at Shea (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).

 


Venue Sizes

No two venues are identical, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create broad classifications based on their relative size.  The following chart will help you know what to expect when attending a concert at a small, medium, large, or extra-large venue.

>>SMALL
Types: Clubs, Halls, Bars, Taverns
Capacity: 1 to 999
Examples: Bowery Ballroom, The Troubadour, El Rey Theatre, U Street Music Hall

Concerts at small venues/clubs are intimate affairs—it’s like going to bar with a live band.  These venues are easy to get in and get out of and tickets are generally very inexpensive.  Expect an awesome show but one that’s less about production and more about the music.

>>MEDIUM
Types: Theatres, Pavilions, Small Amphitheaters
Capacity: 1,000 to 9,999
Examples: Starlight Theatre, The Fillmore, The Chicago Theatre, nTelos Wireless Pavilion

This is just about the perfect size for a concert.  There’s still an intimate feel, but the stage is large enough for your traditional concert lighting package.  Better yet, getting in and out is tolerable.  These types of venues are where you wish you could see The Rolling Stones, U2, and Paul McCartney.

>>LARGE
Types: Arenas, Large Amphitheaters
Capacity: 10,000 – 29,999
Examples: Toyota Center, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wells Fargo Center, PNC Bank Arts Center

Arenas and large amphitheaters are the big time.  If you can sell out Staples Center or the Shoreline Amphitheatre then you’ve made it.  Concerts of this size have pretty much lost all intimacy and attract huge, unyielding crowds.  Arena shows allow artists like Katy Perry to put on big productions and bands like KISS to use state-of-the art pyrotechnics.

>>EXTRA LARGE
Types: Football and baseball stadiums
Capacity: 30,000+
Examples: Gillette Stadium, CenturyLink Field, Fenway Park, TCF Bank Stadium

Concerts at football and baseball stadiums are basically all-day affairs spent with tens of thousands of your closet friends.  For most spectators, you’ll be watching the show on a large view screen.  The stages are gigantic and the performances are epic.  You attend a show at a stadium because you love the artist and want to be able to brag that you were there. 


Taking A Date To A Concert

Live music is for lovers. 

Okay, that’s a little bit of a hyperbole, but concerts can make for a great date and a great date night.  That is if you follow our romantic advice…

Choose appropriate band, venue.  You know your date and your relationship better than we do, but not every concert and every venue makes for a romantic evening. 

Seeing Slipknot in concert is a lot of fun but it might be a poor choice if your date likes the Imagine Dragons.  A theater or amphitheater might be appropriate for a romantic evening whereas a stadium might be a bit overwhelming for a burgeoning liaison. 

Make sure you purchase tickets in advance.  Don’t show up ten minutes before the show and buy tickets from a desperate scalper even if you’ve done it a million times before. 

Show your date that he or she is special by spending the time and money to buy tickets long before show time.  If tickets are all sold out after your date says “yes,” there’s always the secondary ticket market.  Concerts are almost never sold out on the secondary ticket market (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).

Have a plan.  You don’t need to create a spreadsheet or a PowerPoint presentation, but you should have a loose plan in your head about how your date will unfold.  This plan should address when you’re going to arrive, where you’re going to park, and when you’re going to leave.  Be flexible, but have a plan to fall back on.

Be chivalrous.  If you’re the one who organized the date then it should be you who sits behind the tall person or next to the drunk.  Furthermore, offer to buy refreshments and be understanding if your date wants to leave early. 

You need to care more about your date then the concert.  If you can’t do that (or you don’t want to) you might want to reconsider your musical dalliance. 

Behind the Concert - Ed Sheeran concerts have produced two successful wedding proposals (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).  At a show in Manchester, Jake Roche of Rixton proposed to Jesy Nelson of Little Mix.  Then at a concert in Dublin, Kodaline’s bassist Jason Boland proposed to Etaoin Corr, a music agent.  Apparently, Ed Sheeran concerts really are for lovers.




Music Festivals

Hitherto, we’ve been talking about a single concert, performed on a single day or night.  In this section we’re going to discuss attending a music festival. 

Music festivals usually last all-day, or several days, and feature multiple bands.  Some festivals even employ multiple stages.

All the aforementioned advice is applicable to music festivals, but due to the event’s extended length there are a few other things you should be aware of…

Planning is critical.  Go ahead and call us crazy for recommending that you plan for a concert but please heed our advice when we say YOU MUST PLAN YOUR MUSIC FESTIVAL EXCURSION. 

Some festivals are nothing more than an all-day concert with multiple bands, but others, like Coachella and Bonnaroo, are multi-day affairs with major logistical concerns.  For those festivals, you absolutely need to visit their Website.

Besides tickets, you’ll also need transportation, lodging, and food.  A lot of major music festivals take place in the middle of nowhere with little to no hotels and fast food restaurants around.

Who’s driving?  Are you camping or sleeping in the car? 

Are you bringing food or eating out over the entire course of the festival? 

Be prepared for multiple types of weather.  The weather can change a lot over the course of a three-day festival. 

Do you have warmer clothes for the evening?  Do you have rain wear?  Do you have sunscreen?  What if it gets muddy?

Pace Yourself.  Music festivals are marathons.  Don’t cheer yourself out during the first hour of a three-day event.  This advice also goes for drinking, eating, and *cough* other things.

What Festies Should Bring to a Music Festival

Earplugs

Solar charger for phone

Tent, sleeping bag, camping stove (pots & pans)

Air mattress (don't forget batteries and sheets!)

Lantern, flashlight, headlamp

Drug testing kit

Music player/radio

Folding table and chairs

Tarp

Tablecloth

Coolers and ice

Sun hats or baseball caps

Bathing suit

Paper towels and trash bags

Toiletries

Baby wipes

Camelbak

Sunscreen

Frisbees, playing cards

 

LEARN MORE: Popular U.S. Festivals


Behind the Concert - The first big time music festival was The Newport Jazz Festival (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).  It started in 1954.  It was so successful that it spawned the Newport Folk Festival in 1959.  The 1965 version is famous for Bob Dylan going electric. 

He received boos from folk fans who believed he had sold out (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).  The first rock festival was the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.  The event saw sets by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ravi Shankar, and Otis Redding.


 


Tailgating

Although it’s more popular before sporting events, tailgating precedes a lot of concerts as well. 

For small shows, a group of friends will usually have a “prefunc” which is short for pre-function.  These small parties usually involve drinks at an establishment or someone’s dwelling. 

Occasionally, a prefunc will be nothing more than chugging beers in someone’s car before entering the concert venue proper.

Tailgating is basically a party in a parking lot, before an event, and held in and around attendees’ cars.  At sporting events, you’ll find tons of food and beverages.  At concerts, you’ll generally find just a lot of alcohol.

- Not all venues allow tailgating.  Know your venue’s restrictions before planning a tailgate party.

- Since most shows are at night, and only a couple hours long, tailgating before a concert is more about drinking then eating.

- You’re more likely to tailgate before seeing Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, or Dave Matthews Band than you are before seeing Marc Anthony, Lady Gaga, or Maroon 5.

- Tailgating can help save money.  Bringing your own alcohol and drinking it in the parking lot is considerably cheaper than purchasing alcohol inside the venue.

- Traditionally, tailgating is a communal affair.  You should welcome other concert-goers and be generous with your wares. 

A Roadie’s Take On… “On Tailgating”
“When tailgating, always drink your alcohol out of an opaque cup.  That way you can fill it with the good stuff.  Then if someone wants to bum a brewski you can give them a can of Schlitz or PBR and say that’s what you’re drinking.  It’s totally gnarly.”

What You’ll Need For A Tailgate Party
The following is a generic list for a generic tailgate party.  Use it as a template and make alterations based on your tastes and preferences. 

NOTE: Before launching any tailgate party you need to know if your venue permits such revelry.  You can find such information on their website.

Two Coolers
You’ll want one for food and one for beverages.

Ice
Don’t skimp on the ice.  You’ll need lots of the stuff.

Your Favorite Alcoholic Beverages
It is a party after all.

Your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Besides your standard sodas, you might want to throw in some energy drinks and/or coffee.

Bottled Water
Whether it’s an indoor concert or an all-day festival you must stay hydrated.

Gas or Charcoal Grill
Some venues allow grills and some don’t. So make sure you know the rules before pulling into the parking lot.

Grill Accoutrements
Is your propane tank full?  Do you have briquettes and lighter fluid?

Metal Container
If you’re using charcoal, you’ll want a metal container with a lid in which to dump your smoldering briquettes.

Cooking Utensils
You’ll need a spatula to flip those burgers or tongs to turn those hot dogs.

Something To Barbeque
Good tailgating fare includes chicken, hamburgers, steak tips, hot dogs, and kabobs.

Buns
Do you want your hotdog and hamburger buns toasted?

Condiments
We’re talking about ketchup, mustard, and relish as well as salt and pepper.

Your Favorite Snacks
You’ve got to eat something while waiting for your meat to cook.

Chairs
You’ll definitely want a place to sit other than your bumper.

Something To Play Music
You can’t tailgate before a concert without tunes.

Cups
It’s time to break out those red Solo cups.

Black Sharpie
So you can write your name on your red Solo cup.

Plates/Dining Utensils
Obviously you’ll want to use paper plates and plastic utensils.

Napkins/Paper Towels
You’ve got a little something on the corner of your mouth.

Hand Wipes/Hand Sanitizer
You’ll want clean hands for the concert.

Bottle Opener
Also bring something to open a bottle of wine.

Trash bags
You’ll be amazed by how much garbage you’ll create during one tailgate party.

Table
A table is great for preparation and dining.

Canopy or Tarp
A small and portable canopy will provide some much needed shade.

Behind The Concert
Jimmy Buffett concerts are famous for their tailgating soirees.  Those Parrot Heads love to party before seeing J.B. and the Coral Reefer Band—heck, Parrot Heads just love to party.

Despite their carousing reputation, Parrot Heads are much more than single-minded party animals.  The organization Parrot Heads In Paradise, which was founded in 1994, has more than 220 chapters and more than 26,500 members. 

As of 2015, those members have raised nearly $40 million and donated more than 3.4 million volunteer hours!

When Parrot Heads aren’t tailgating in Margaritaville they are making a positive impact in their community.



Drugs and Alcohol At Concerts

Like it or not, drugs and alcohol are as much a part of the concert experience as stage lighting, over-priced t-shirts, and women throwing their underwear onto the stage.

Drugs

In 2013, during the first three nights of Phish’s four-night stand at Madison Square Garden, which culminated in a New Year’s Eve concert, New York’s finest arrested or issued summonses to 228 people.

Some of those arrests were for ticket scalping and public urination but most were related to drugs. 

Remember, those 228 people were just the ones who were caught!  Imagine how many attendees sold, bought, and used drugs without getting arrested!?! 

There’s no good data on the subject but MDMA, ecstasy, and marijuana appear to be the most popular drugs at concerts.  

MDMA is popular at raves.  It’s also been linked to the deaths of several concert goers many of whom were teenagers. 

General strategies to combat drug use at concerts include adequate pathways for medical personnel, well-trained security staff, plentiful water stations, and strict screening for drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Zero Tolerance vs. Harm Reduction

Drugs are so prevalent at concerts that promoters and organizers must work hard and take extreme measures to deal with their consumption.  Promoters and organizers generally take one of two approaches.  The two approaches are “zero tolerance” and “harm reduction.”

Zero tolerance is rather obvious.  If you’re caught with drugs you’re tossed out of the venue.  Usually, promoters employing a zero tolerance approach also double their screening measures so they can catch drugs before they enter the venue.

Harm reduction is quite controversial.  This approach assumes people are going to use drugs no matter what.  So instead of trying to prevent drug use, you make it as safe as possible.

- Organizers provide kits so users can test their MDNA to ensure that it’s actually MDNA. These kits, however, have been shown to give inaccurate results. 

- Organizers provide qualified medical personnel to help attendees who overdose on drugs.  Medical attention is given with no questions asked.

- DanceSafe is an organization that promotes harm reduction.  They’re frequently seen at concerts and raves educating attendees and passing out water.

- It is not easy to tell if harm reduction actually works, or, like its opponents claim, just promotes drug use.

“Having peer-driven harm reduction changes a person’s whole perspective and confidence about staying safe… we need to focus on education and prevention.  Drug use can’t be pushed under the rug any longer." - Missi Wooldridge, executive director of DanceSafe

Hydration

- Generally, it’s not the drug that kills the concert-goer, it’s the dehydration the drug causes.  This is especially true of MDNA. 

- Furthering the risk of dehydration are the hot conditions usually found at concerts and raves.  If the concert or festival is held outside on a hot summer day, then dehydration is even more of a concern.

- Some young people believe that all they have to do to avoid overdosing on MDNA and ecstasy is drink a lot of water.  Drinking a lot of water helps but it’s no guarantee.

- The only guaranteed way not to overdose is not to take the drugs in the first place.

Alcohol

In many ways, alcohol is more dangerous than drugs.  Alcohol is legal, socially acceptable, and sold at concert venues.   

In the second decade of the 21st century, country music experienced a real problem with alcohol. 

Thanks to the subgenre of “bro country,” and the popularity of Taylor Swift, the audience for country music suddenly became significantly younger.  On top of that, drinking beer and partying became favorite subjects for bro country songs.

In July of 2014, 46 people were treated for alcohol-related illnesses at a Keith Urban concert.

Also in July of 2014, a 22-year-old man was found dead in a dumpster.  He disappeared during a Jason Aldean concert.  When he went missing, he was reportedly “extremely intoxicated.”  He’s believed to have fallen down a trash chute.

In late July of 2015, police officers handed out 226 alcohol citations to underage attendees at the five-day Country Thunder music festival in Kenosha, Wisconsin (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).

"I felt like everybody had a beer in their hand.” – a 21-year-old attendee at the Jason Aldean concert where the man was found dead in a dumpster.

Suggestions For Drinking At Concerts

Eat before you drink as a full stomach will impede the absorption of alcohol.

Drink slowly. Drink water between alcoholic beverages.

If you’re going to drink at a concert then go with friends you trust.

Trust your judgement and don’t give into peer pressure.

Never accept a drink from a stranger.

Never accompany a stranger to another location.

If you find yourself getting into a verbal altercation with an intoxicated concert-goer, walk away.  It will not end well.

Never get into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.

Before going to a concert assign a designated driver.


LEARN MORE: A Report on Drug-Related Deaths at Concerts

A Roadie’s Take On… “Drinking At Concerts”
“Dude, you’re spending a lot of time, energy, and hard earn money on attending a concert.  Do you really want to waste it because you were too blitzed to enjoy it, or because you were escorted out of the venue by security, or even worse, because you were arrested by the fuzz? 

If you want to have a really bitchin’ time, then get high off the music.”

 

 


Violence At Concerts

Unfortunately, when you have thousands of people packed into a small area bouts of fisticuffs are bound to break out.  Even so, this type of violence is actually quite rare at concerts. 

Also rare, but in many ways far more serious, are stampedes.  Certainly not what you think of when you hear the term “violence at concerts” but it’s violence nonetheless.

Tragedies
The most famous example of criminal violence at a live music show occurred at the Altamont Free Concert on Dec. 6, 1969.  A concert goer was stabbed by a member of the Hell’s Angels.  The murder was caught on film

The most famous example of fans getting crushed to death occurred at a Who concert in Cincinnati on Dec. 3, 1979.  Eleven people were crushed to death when thousands rushed the stadium trying to gain entry.

Safety & Security
The previously mentioned tragedies have helped today’s concerts become safer and more secure.  Yet, bad things happen at even the best organized events.

And you’ll definitely read about those bad things as they make for salacious headlines. 

Nonetheless, going to a concert is still relatively safe.  You face far more dangers on your car ride home.

Problem Promoters
Many of the concert tragedies you read about do involve a disregard for human life but that disregard usually starts with the promoter, not with the band.

For example, Altamont was doomed from the moment organizers hired the Hells Angels as security. 

The Who concert in Cincinnati was plagued by poor management and festival seating—a type of seating no longer used en masse at major concerts.

Spectator Aggression
Today, concerts are big bucks and generally the artist’s main source of income.   Artists and promoters aren’t going to jeopardize their golden goose by skimping on security or creating a dangerous environment for concert goers.

Yet, no matter how conscientious and prepared the artist and promoter is, bad things are still going to happen at concerts.

Six Common Types of “spectator aggression”
1. Verbal — Taunting, chanting, and yelling obscenities
2. Gesturing— Making obscene and threatening gestures to others
3. "Missile" Throwing — Throwing items such as food, drinks, bottles, batteries, and cell phones at musicians or spectators
4. Swarming or Stampeding — Rushing the stage, entry ways, or exits 
5. Destruction of Property — Knocking down equipment, damaging venue, and lighting fires
6. Physical Violence — Spitting, kicking, shoving, fighting, stabbings, and shooting other concert goers and/or staff

Behind the Concert - Every concert and festival is trying to live up to the standard set by Woodstock.  The three-day festival held on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York in August of 1969 attracted 400,000.  Those 400,000 got along amazingly well and without significant incident. 

It was a true triumph of peace and love. That’s not to say it was perfect.  

Two people died: one person was killed by a tractor and another died of a heroin overdose (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this). 

There were also four reported miscarriages.  Other than that, the festival unfolded without violence.

 



Buying Merchandis at a Concert

Will you be purchasing a tour t-shirt?  If the answer is “yes” when are you going to buy it? 

This may seem a little a silly but when you buy your merchandise is very important. 

Buying merchandize before the concert…

Pros
Lines are usually shorter before the show.

Cons
You have to carry your merchandize around all night.

Buying merchandize during the concert…

Pros
Since the concert is going on you’re sure to be the only one in line.
Cons
You may not like the song but you might miss the best part of the evening. 

Buying merchandize after show…

Pros
You don’t have to carry your merchandize around all evening.

If the concert was really bad you can avoid giving the artist even more of your money.

Cons
After the show, lines are usually really long.

Your desired merchandise, or your size, may be sold out.

You may be too tired to buy merchandise.

Remember, tour t-shirts are really expensive.

We’re not trying to justify the high prices, but everything is more expensive at a concert.  If you want a t-shirt bring $20 to $30.  If you want a sweatshirt too bring an additional $50 to $70.

Behind the Concert - Just how important are t-shirts to a tour?  Sometimes they are really important.  U2’s “Zoo TV Tour” was comprised of five legs and over 150 shows.  It started in February of 1992 and ended in December of 1993.  It was the highest grossing tour of ’92 and widely considered one of the greatest rock tours of all time. 

In total, the band played to 5.3 million people.  Yet, U2 almost went bankrupt and made little profit (Clickit to ReTweet! tweet this).  The band’s manager, Paul McGuinness, famously said that had the band not sold $30 million in t-shirts they would have been f*****.

 

 

A Roadie’s Take On… “Buying Merchandize”
“Dude, if you’re like absolutely sure that you’re going to buy a t-shirt and you want to wear it during the show, then come to the concert in a tank top.  After you buy your new t-shirt you can put it on over your tank top and you’re ready to rock!”



Different Types of Seats

When it comes time to buy cheap concert tickets, you might find that you’re confronted with many seating choices.  Below, we examine the most common types of available seating at concerts.

Reserved seating
Reserved seating is when each ticket corresponds to a specific seat.  It doesn’t matter if you show up an hour before the show or 15 minutes after the main act has taken the stage, your seat is your seat.

General Admission
General admission does not provide the ticket holder with an assigned seat.  Instead, you can sit anywhere within the general admission area.  Seats in “GA” are on a first come first serve basis.

If you have general admission tickets and you want a good seat you should arrive at the venue extremely early.

Pit
The pit is a large area, usually next to the stage, where there are no seats.  This is where spectators mosh and/or dance (depending on the concert).     

Balcony
Balcony seats are at least one level above the main floor.  You’re further away from the action which is why balcony seats are usually cheaper than floor seats.

Lawn
Lawn seats are only found at outdoor concerts.  Most amphitheaters have lawn seating.  Venues with lawn seating usually allow patrons to bring in folding chairs.

Like general admission, lawn seats are not assigned and are on a first come first serve basis.

 


How To Get The Best Seats In The House

Everyone wants a pair of first-row center tickets.  Unfortunately, there’s only one pair of such tickets per concert.  So how does one get the best seats in the house?

Here are four great tips…

Camping out at a ticket outlet. 
This has been the tried and true method since the concert ticket was invented.  Depending on the popularity of the act, you might have to camp in line for several days.

Join a fan club. 
A lot of official fan clubs, which should really be viewed as “ticket clubs,” provide members access to pre-sales.  That doesn’t mean you’ll be sitting third-row center, but it does mean you’ll be buying tickets a day or two before the general public.  Most fan clubs charge a fee.

Enter and win a radio station contest. 
This is a long shot but it just might put you front and center.  The real downside to this approach isn’t the long odds but all the hours you’ll have to spend listening to the radio.

The secondary ticket market. 
The secondary ticket market is the safest, easiest, and best way to acquire tickets to any concert.  The best part about the secondary ticket market—besides it’s ease of use, security, and convenience—is no concert is ever sold out.

LEARN MORE: When Are Concert Tickets Cheapest To Buy?

 

 


Meeting The Band

You’ve just had your face melted by your favorite band.  Now, to make your concert experience perfect, you’re going to meet them.

You walk back stage.  The band welcomes you with open arms and free beer.  You talk for hours.  They agree to perform at your wedding and you agree to join their tour as their official guacamole maker.

What a night!

If only it worked that way.

Actually, meeting the band, or trying to meet the band, is something you and your party should give a tremendous amount of thought to…

Are you sure everyone wants to meet the band after show?  Meeting the band will take considerable time, energy, and luck.  Some in your party may just want to go home. 

Expect to wait.  The band or artist isn’t going to avail themselves right away.  They need to return to their dressing room to see if all the crazy demands in their riders have been met.

Don’t get disappointed if they don’t show.  Sometimes a band’s schedule prohibits them from hanging around and meeting fans.  They have to leave for their next gig right away.

Some musicians are jerks.  It’s hard to believe that the singer-songwriter who just sang about peace and love for two hours is a colossal douche bag, but it happens.  When deciding to meet the artist(s) after their concert remember the old adage about meeting your idols, they often aren't who you thought (or fantasized) they were.

How To Meet Your Favorite Band

>>Arrive Really Early Or Stay Really Late.  You might be able to meet the band before or after the show.  Of course, in order to do that you’ll need to get to the venue extremely early and/or stay really late.  You’ll obviously want to hang out where the performers enter and exit.  You can find that location by going online or just looking around the venue for an entrance not used by the general public.

>>Learn Where The Band Hangs Out.  With some clever internet research find the band’s hotel or the bar/club they frequent when visiting your town.

>>Join A Fan Club.  Often a band’s official fan club will offer its members access to meet and greets.  Remember, you’ll have to pay to join the fan club and to attend the meet and greet.

>>Join A “Street Team.” Contact the band’s record label to see if you can join a “Street Team,” a group that hands out promotional fliers before a concert.  Sometimes, being a member of a Street Team will lead to meeting the band.

 

A Roadie’s Take On… “Meeting The Band”
“Yo, if you want to meet the band you might want to try buddying up to a roadie—we’re the dudes moving all the equipment.  It’s a long shot but if you’re nice, and the roadie is in a good mood, it could lead to an introduction.  I once introduced a very nice couple to Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger.  To this day they still exchange Christmas cards.”

 

Meeting The Band?

Let’s say it’s your lucky day and you actually get to meet your favorite band. 

Congratulations!

Now, you’ll want to follow our tips to guarantee that your meeting is a memorable moment and not an embarrassing one.

>>If a band member is busy with family, friends or work, leave them alone.  Don’t intrude.  Wait until they’re free.  If you do approach be very polite and acknowledge the family and friends.  You should also apologize for intruding.
>>Be cool and don’t freak out. Don’t act like one of those girls you always see in old Beatles clips.   Absolutely refrain from screaming, crying, or hyperventilating.  It’s not endearing.   Also, don’t tell them you’re their biggest fan.  They’ve heard that line a 1,000 times. 

>>Question or compliment.  If you don’t know what to say, ask about their music or compliment them on their performance (if you’re meeting them after the concert).  If applicable, mention that you saw them during a previous tour and how much you liked the show.  They might be big time rock stars but they still like to be complimented.

>>Don’t get personal.  You’ll make everyone uncomfortable if you bring up some salacious scandal or an embarrassing moment from their career.

>>Politely ask for an autograph and/or if you can take their picture.  Then respect their answer.  Musicians are people and sometimes they don’t feel like signing or having their picture taken.

>>If you do ask for an autograph keep it to one.  Band members aren’t there to sign every piece of memorabilia you own.

>>Don’t monopolize their time or make any big requests.  The band is busy and there are probably other fans waiting to meet them.  Don’t ask for a big favor like free concert tickets, backstage passes, or performing at your wedding.

 

 


The Right Attitude

A bad attitude can ruin a concert faster than a blown amp.  That includes your fellow concert-goers as well as yourself.

So do everyone a favor, especially yourself, and attend concerts with the correct mindset.  You’re about to enjoy live music from one of your favorite artists.  Life is good.  Be happy!

Be social, jovial, and friendly.  “What’s your favorite song of theirs?” is the perfect conversation starter.

Expect to be crowded.  Getting pushed into the person next to you is part of the concert experience.  Don’t freak out when it happens.

Don’t be inhibited.  If you want to dance, then dance.  If you want to sing along, then sing along.  You’ll be more conspicuous if you just sit there and do nothing.  Yet…

Don’t draw attention to yourself.  Dancing and singing notwithstanding, don’t do anything that will take attention away from the band.  People paid good money to see the show on the stage, not your show in the aisle.

No PDAs.  When the artist plays their love ballad that doesn’t mean you and your date can start making out.  For the benefit of everyone, keep the public displays of affection to a minimum.

A Roadie’s Take On… “Yelling “Free Bird” At A Concert”
“There are a few legends behind why “Free Bird” is yelled at concerts.  Surely all of them are apocryphal (Hey, I know a few big words).  My favorite is a radio disc jockey who challenged his listeners to attend a Florence Henderson concert and request a song she’d never sing.  Listeners decided “Free Bird” was it and the tradition stuck. 

Remember to be first.  “Free Bird” never needs to be yelled out twice.  I yelled it out once at a 10CC show in Des Moines.”

 

 

Behind the Concert - Lynyrd Skynyrd released “Free Bird” in 1973.  On the band’s 1976 live album, lead singer Johnny Van Zant asks the crowd what song they want to hear.  They responded by yelling “Free Bird.”  “Free Bird” is widely considered the most requested song in the history of rock and roll (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this).

 

How To Park At Concerts

Probably the worst part about attending a concert is finding a place to park and the traffic afterwards.  It’s so daunting that some skip going to concerts altogether.

It might come as a surprise but there is a surefire way to avoid all the headaches and long waits associated with parking at a concert.  It’s quite simple.  All you have to do is learn how to alter time, space, and matter with your mind.

If you’re unable to do that, or you just don’t want to try, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the hassles that come with parking at a concert.

Getting There

Visit your concert venue’s website.  Just about all of them have a section, or sections, dedicated to parking and transportation.  Checking the venue's website before a concert is the smartest thing you can do (Clickit to Tweet! tweet this). The information they possess is invaluable.

For example…

…the website for Madison Square Garden reminds patrons that the venue doesn’t “own, operate or have an affiliation with any parking facilities.”

…the website for Staples Center has a huge section dedicated to “parking.”  The venue even has a page about bicycle parking.

Parking Guides To Major Concert Venues

Air Canada Centre
Amway Center
BMO Harris Bradley Center
CenturyLink Field
Gillette Stadium
Heinz Field
Levi’s Stadium
NRG Park
Oracle Arena
Wrigley Field

Arrive early.  Whether you’re going to a concert at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland or Ford Field in Detroit, the first piece of advice organizers always give is ARRIVE EARLY.  The bigger the venue the earlier you should be there.

Buy a parking pass in advance.  Many venues, such as PNC Arena in Raleigh, allow you to buy parking passes in advance.  Take them up on their offer.  It will save you time and the irritation of finding a place to park.

Get directions to your particular parking lot.  AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas has 15 parking lots.  They also have an online tool that gives ticket holders specific directions from their home (or any starting point) to their specific parking lot. 

In other words, don’t get directions to the venue, get directions to the parking lot you’ll be using.

Third party parking.  You don’t have to use the venue’s official parking lot.  You can use a parking lot owned by a third party.  To find such a lot use a site like ParkWhiz or SpotHero.  Sometimes these lots are easier to get in and out of then the lots belonging to the venue.

Getting Home

Back in.  It won’t save you much time but it will make it easier to get out of the parking lot.  We’re talking about backing into your parking spot.  That way, when you leave you can quickly pull into the flow of the traffic.

Park close to the road home.  Don’t necessarily park close to the venue.  Instead, park close to your freeway on-ramp or the main thoroughfare that takes you home.  This may make your walk to and from the venue a little longer, but if you have a straight shot home it will be worth it…

Or…

If the attendants will let you, park close to the lot’s exit.  Again, it might make your walk to the venue longer but you’ll make up the time after the concert.

Leave early.  It won’t guarantee that exits will be clear, and the parking lot will be free of traffic, but your best bet for a smooth and timely trip home is to leave early.  Of course, that means you’ll have to miss a portion of the concert.

If you’ve seen the act before, and/or they’ve already played your favorite song, then leaving early might be a viable option.  If it’s your favorite band and you have awesome seats, then leaving early is probably not going to happen.

Avoid Driving
There are a few ways to attend a concert and to avoid the irritations that come with parking and the traffic after the show.

Attend small venues.  You won’t experience the same problems with parking and traffic at a club, theatre, or small amphitheater that you will at an arena or stadium.  The tradeoff is the acts won’t be as popular.

Public transportation.  Many of the aforementioned venues suggest ticket holders take public transportation.  That includes trains, light rail, subways, and buses.

Do you know that TD Garden, Barclays Center, and Madison Square Garden all sit on top off train stations?

Some venues, like the Hollywood Bowl, are served by Park and Rides.  MetLife Stadium has something similar.  

If a bus or train isn’t “green enough” for you, many venues support and encourage attendees to ride their bike to the concert.  For example, Fenway Park is very bike friendly.

Keep in mind that there are some venues that aren’t served by public transportation.  Red Rocks and the Gorge Amphitheatre are two such venues.

Pay for a ride. You can always take a taxi, hire a limousine, or use Uber to get to and from the venue.  If you take this route you’ll still want to visit the venue’s website as it will likely tell you the best places to be picked up and dropped off.

Just Lean In To It! Parking, and the post-concert traffic, is part of the concert experience.  Don’t fight it.  Enjoy it.  Bring some sandwiches and hot coffee for after the show.  Load up a tablet or smartphone with a movie so your passengers can watch it as you inch your way through the parking lot.  Use the time to talk with your friends and share your favorite moments from the concert.

Be grateful…

…You just saw one of your favorite acts play live.  Life is good.  Who cares if you had to pay to park and you spent a considerable amount of time struck in traffic.

Remember…

…The only way to avoid parking and traffic at a concert is to avoid concerts altogether.  No one wants to do that.

 


Concert Venue Overview


Popular Indoor Venues
American Airlines Arena
American Airlines Center
Barclays Center
Madison Square Garden
Philips Arena
Staples Center
TD Garden
United Center
Verizon Center
Wells Fargo Center

Popular Outdoor Venues
GEXA Energy Pavilion
Gorge Amphitheatre
Greek Theatre
Hollywood Bowl
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Starlight Theatre
Wolf Trap Performing Arts
Popular Music Festivals
Bonnaroo Music Festival
The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
Lollapalooza
Stagecoach Festival
Vans Warped Tour

Popular Indoor Venues


American Airlines Arena


Location: Miami, Florida
Capacity: 19,600
Also known as “AAA” or “The Triple A”
Website: ttp://www.aaarena.com
Twitter: ttps://twitter.com/aaarena

Gate 3 on NE 8th Street is suggested for dropping off and picking up guests.
>>You cannot bring noise makers into American Airlines Arena.


American Airlines Center


Location: Dallas, Texas
Capacity: 21,000
Also known as “The ACC”
Website: http://www.americanairlinescenter.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AACenter

American Airlines Center considers placing your child on your shoulders as a disturbance.
>>Seats at American Airlines Center are approximately 17” to 22” wide.


Barclays Center


Location: Brooklyn, New York
Capacity: 18,100+
You’ll find Barclays where Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues cross
Website: http://www.barclayscenter.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/barclayscenter

Barclays opened Sept. 28, 2012 with eight consecutive concerts by Jay-Z.
>>The venue will stop selling alcohol one hour before the end of a concert.


Madison Square Garden


Location: New York City
Capacity: 20,000
Also known as “MSG” and “The World’s Most Famous Arena”
Website: http://www.thegarden.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheGarden

MSG does not hand out backstage passes… ever!
>>If you need to meet someone, MSG suggests meeting inside the box office lobby under the clock.


Philips Arena


Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Capacity: 18,200+
You’ll find Philips Arena just south of Centennial Olympic Park.
Website: http://www.philipsarena.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/philipsarena

Doors generally open 90 minutes before concerts.
>>You cannot bring silly string into Phillips Arena.


Staples Center


Location: Los Angeles, California
Capacity: 19,000
Staples Center welcomes nearly four million guests a year.
Website: http://www.staplescenter.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/staplescenter

The first two words under the venue’s “General Tips” section on their Website are “arrive early.”   
>>Everyone entering Staples Center is subject to a metal-detector screening.


TD Garden


Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Capacity: 17,500+
Also known as ‘The Garden”
Website: ttp://www.tdgarden.com
Twitter: ttps://twitter.com/tdgarden

TD Garden opens its doors one hour before concerts.
>>Laptops are not permitted inside TD Garden.


United Center


Location: Chicago, Illinois
Capacity: 20,500
Also known as ‘The UC”
Website: http://www.unitedcenter.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/unitedcenter

The United Center is the largest arena in the United States.
>>Selfie sticks are prohibited inside the home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks.


Verizon Center


Location: Washington, D.C.
Capacity: 18,200+
Also known as “The Phone Booth”
Website: http://verizoncenter.monumentalnetwork.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Monumentalntwrk

To find the Verizon Center, follow signs to downtown Washington.  Then follow signs to the arena.
>>Vendors sell Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Lipton, Tropicana, and Aquafina (water).


Wells Fargo Center


Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Capacity: 19,500
Also known as “The Center”
Website: http://www.wellsfargocenterphilly.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wellsfargoctr

Outdoor smoking areas are located by Section 104-105 and the Cure Insurance Club.
>>You can NOT bring gifts, letters, flowers, or packages into the Wells Fargo Center.

 

Popular Outdoor Venues


GEXA Energy Pavilion


Location: Fair Park, Dallas, Texas
Capacity: 20,000
The venue was originally called the “Coca-Cola Starplex Amphitheatre”
Website: http://www.ticketmaster.com/Gexa-Energy-Pavilion-tickets-Dallas/venue/98330
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LiveNationDAL

>>Gates to the GEXA Energy Pavilion open 90 minutes before show time.
>>There are clocks in concession stands that indicate when alcoholic beverages will no longer be sold.


Gorge Amphitheatre


Location: Quincy, Washington (150 miles east of Seattle)
Capacity: 20,000
Also known as "The Gorge in George"
Website: http://www.gorgeamphitheatre.net
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GorgeAmphitheat

The Gorge Amphitheatre offers a breathtaking view of the Columbia River.
>>You’re allowed to bring a 20oz sealed bottle of water and food in a clear plastic gallon sized bag into the venue.


Greek Theatre


Location: Los Angeles, California (Griffith Park)
Capacity: 5,800+
Also known as “The Greek”
Website: http://www.greektheatrela.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/greektheatrela

You can preorder a picnic basket and eat it while you enjoy your concert.
>>Umbrellas and coolers are not allowed inside the Greek Theatre.


Hollywood Bowl


Location: Los Angeles, California
Capacity: 17,300+
Opened in 1922
Website: http://www.hollywoodbowl.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LAPhil

To attend a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, organizers suggest you use one of the venue’s four shuttle bus lots or a Park & Ride location.
>>There’s no dress code at the Hollywood Bowl, but you do have to wear shoes.


Merriweather Post Pavilion


Location: Columbia, Maryland
Capacity: 19,300+
Merriweather is widely regarded as one of the best amphitheaters in the nation.
Website: http://www.merriweathermusic.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MerriweatherPP

Lawn chairs and small blankets are permitted for most shows.
>>The Merriweather Post Pavilion was designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry.


Nikon at Jones Beach Theater


Location: Wantagh, New York
Capacity: 15,000
Also known as “Jones Beach Theater”
Website: http://www.jonesbeach.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jones_Beach

Weather rarely cancels concerts at Jones Beach Theater.
>>Since Jones Beach Theater is located on New York State Park property, alcohol is prohibited in the general admission area.


Red Rocks Amphitheatre


Location: Morrison, Colorado
Capacity: 9,400+
Red Rocks opened in 1906.
Website: http://redrocksonline.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RedRocksOnline

You can tailgate at Red Rocks but no open alcoholic beverages, flame fires, or charcoal grills.
>>Red Rocks is not served by public transportation.


Sleep Train Amphitheatre


Location: Chula Vista, California
Capacity: 20,500
The Sleep Train Amphitheatre is situated 15 minutes south of San Diego.
Website: http://www.livenation.com/venues/14468/sleep-train-amphitheatre-in-chula-vista
Twitter: https://twitter.com/livenation

Dress for the weather.  Shows go on as scheduled, rain or shine.
>>The Sleep Train Amphitheatre is one of the largest amphitheaters in the U.S.


Starlight Theatre


Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Capacity: 7,900+
The Starlight is one of the few self-producing outdoor theatres in the U.S.
Website: https://www.kcstarlight.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KCStarlight

Drones are prohibited at the Starlight Theatre—you can’t launch, recover, or possess one.
>>The Starlight Theatre traces its history back to 1925 and a visit from Romania’s Queen Marie.


Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts


Location: Vienna, Virginia
Capacity: 7,000 (Filene Center)
Also known as Wolf Trap
Website: http://www.wolftrap.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wolf_trap

Wolf Trap is about three miles off the Capital Beltway.
>>The venue’s lawn section has its own sound system.

 

Popular Music Festivals


Bonnaroo Music Festival


Location: Manchester, Tennessee
Time of Year: Mid-June
Duration: 4 days
Debuted: 2002
Music: Multiple genres
Website: http://www.bonnaroo.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bonnaroo

You won’t get into trouble for anything you say to a Bonnaroo medical or safety staffer.
>>The secret to having a good time at Bonnaroo is to pace yourself.


The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival


Location: Indio, California (Empire Polo Club)
Time of Year: April
Duration:  Two consecutive three-day weekends
Debuted: 1999
Music: Multiple genres
Website: https://www.coachella.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/coachella

Cigarettes are allowed but not hula hoops.
>>There are porcelain flushable toilets at Coachella.


Lollapalooza


Location: Grant Park, Chicago
Time of Year: Late July
Duration: 3 days
Debuted: 1991 (touring), 2005 (Grant Park)
Music: Alternative, hip hop, punk rock, and EDM
Website: http://www.lollapalooza.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lollapalooza

Running parallel to Lollapalooza is “Kidzapalooza.”  Parents and offspring can enjoy family-friendly tunes and do crafts.
>>Hammocks are prohibited at Lollapalooza.


Stagecoach Festival


Location: Indio, California (Empire Polo Club)
Time of Year: Late April/early May
Debuted: 2007
Duration: 3 days
Music: Country
Website: http://www.stagecoachfestival.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stagecoach

Kids 10 and under get free general admission.
>>Stagecoach doesn’t allow Frisbees, horses, wagons or caution tape.


Vans Warped Tour


Location: Traveling
Time of Year: Summer
Duration: One day
Debuted: 1995
Music: Alternative, punk rock, and heavy metal
Website: http://vanswarpedtour.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vanswarpedtour

Organizers don’t release a schedule of the band’s set times until the day of the show.
>>You can bring “a small homemade snack” with you to the Warped Tour.


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