I think it’s best to start this post with a disclaimer, so I don’t come off pretentious. I am in no way claiming that I am a concert expert, nor do I believe I am the best at finding/scheming a way to meet an artist or get upgraded. I do, however, for whatever reason, have had some crazy good luck at gigs.
There are a lot more people I know that have been to way more gigs than me and have had cooler experiences — such as following bands on tour with their friends, attending super sick festivals, etc. I am a sheltered young adult with crippiling anxiety, so my stories are not like that. But again, the shows I have attended (over 50 of them) have led to some wild experiences, thus teaching me many “Do’s and Don’ts” in the world of live music that I thought would be fun and interesting to share.
Take these with a grain of salt, it ain’t that deep fam.
My advice for General Admission shows:
Personally, my favourite kind of shows to attend are those with General Admission pits (it’s even better when it’s all GA), because it’s not about who has the most amount of money to dish out for “VIP front row seats”, it’s who’s craziest enough to camp out.
When I was a teenager, one would only need to queue up for a few hours in order to get barrier (aka front row). However, I have noticed that it really depends on how popular the artist, the intensity of the “fandom”, and what genre the artist is.
A good example of this is with Ed Sheeran, I first saw him in 2012 when he was the opening act for Snow Patrol. I got to the theatre 40 minutes before the show started (not even 40 minutes before doors opened), not only did I meet him and get to have a good conversation with him, I got amazing seats! I then saw him again in 2014, had to queue up for 6 hours before the show to get barrier, and only briefly got to speak to him. In 2015, I queued up for 7ish hours and didn’t get barrier, nor did I speak to him. After that I stopped listening to him, nor did I care to see him live again, but you can see how growth in an artist really changes the dynamic of the gig experience.
That aside, this timeline I’ve created does generally cover the way “queuing up for a good spot” works… it obviously depends on where in the world, what kind of band, and the capacity of the show, but I have tested this theory out on many different kinds of venues and genres of artist and its yet to be way off.
- 6am-10ish am: front row/behind barrier, be prepared to get your ribs CRUSHED and for your knees to be battered, but is it worth it? yes, 100%!! it’s worth the pain and the tears and the dizziness. You get to interact with the band, and you make so many new friends while in line. Go as early as you can in order to get barrier!!
- 11am-3pm: If it’s a 2k-5k capacity theatre you’ll be guaranteed a 3rd or 4th-row spot, which is what I find more of a danger zone than barrier. You won’t have the weight of the crowd pushing into you, but you’ll be in the “wave zone” as I call it. You kind of feel like you’re lost at sea because of how you’re swaying with the crowd while being crushed into the person in front of you as people try to push to get to the stage. However, if you’re small enough you can find yourself touching the barrier at some point of the show because a lot of people get pulled out and the swaying motion gradually causes you to shift forward — it’s a bit of a win if you put up a (gentle) fight!
- 4pm-doors: again, if we’re talking a 2k-5k capacity theatre, you’ll get yourself a nice comfortable spot in the back of the pit, or middle if you’re there a couple of hours before doors. I personally don’t mind standing behind the pit because you can breathe and most of the time you can still see really well! You also get the privilege of being able to go in and out of the room to get a beer and use the toilets! so it’s honestly not bad at all. The middle of the pit is something I don’t recommend if you have bad anxiety (like me). I’ve only been in the middle of a pit one time in my concert-attending-career, and I nearly had to ask the security to pull me out — which is something I’ve never had done before, or even thought about! However, I sucked it up and kept myself focused on the music..(I really don’t recommend that, which I’ll explain later on)
With that being said, a lot of my European friends have said they’ve shown up to a show for a big artist only 3 hours before the doors open and still ended up against the barrier, so when planning for your show take into consideration how big/small the venue is and what kind of crowd the band is!
There are obviously some people who choose to set up camp 2 to 5 days before the show, which, for me, is a sensitive subject. I know a lot of people enjoy setting up camp outside the arena/theatre because they get a big group of friends and its almost like attending a festival, and they make a whole ordeal out of it. What I’m about to say is a personal opinion, and in no way is something you need to take to heart.
My dislike for campers stems from two different experiences. One, is my sheltered lifestyle of never being allowed to camp out for shows, therefore finding it unfair that a big group of people take up the entire front row because they are able to take off school, work, whatever, in order to camp out for days and lock that spot in. Two, my personal experience dating a well-known-musician and the sense of entitlement the fans who camp out place on the bands, if they are not appreciated for those efforts.
A combination of those two things has left a bad taste in my mouth when I read that people have camped out days before a show to guarantee a front row spot. I also find that it sets a bar so high, and ruins the fun atmosphere into more of a competitive one. It’s a concert, we’re all attending to experience live music and connect with the band, it’s not a competition.
So, camp out if you must, or if you really want to. Just be cautious when you do, because a lot of the time concert venues are in more sketchy parts of town — which is why my parents never let me do so (and now as an adult I’m so thankful they didn’t), so have a buddy system always! make sure there’s at least one group that stays awake at night!
A frequent question I get, especially on my tumblr, is if it’s worth going early to shows that have reserved seating?
Well, once again it’s all about personal preference! It doesn’t make you a bigger fan if you arrived 12 hours before the doors open, nor does it make you a shit fan if you show up right as the door opens! Personally, I like going to shows early just because I always have a lot of fun in doing so.
At locals shows, the people show up early almost become a community, especially if the lot of you attend the same kinds of shows. I know for me, attending a concert became a “going home” kind of atmosphere. I would recognize the same people in the queues, I would know the venue staff, the security, I would even make new friends each time! That’s the only reason why I would say arrive a little earlier, even if your seat is guaranteed.
Other than that, there’s no real reason to show up early…unless you want to meet the band 😉
Tips on how to meet bands:
Before we dive into this section, I want to make it clear from the get-go that I do not condone stalking, at all. I will not promote or even hint at stalking beyond the venue, because that goes everything I believe in, so if you’re looking for that kind of advice you’re shit outta luck.
Moving on, these tips are in reference to my ancient ‘how to meet AM’ video I made several years ago, which is disgustingly cringe-worthy video… but oddly enough the advice I gave in it wasn’t completely wrong in. One point I make that’s definitely worth mentioning is my soundcheck trick.
You may or may not know soundcheck is usually at 4:30pm. This is a hypothesis that I have tested many many times, and have yet to be incorrect. Which is why I normally advise people go to the back door at the venue at around 4pm and listen to soundcheck, the band typically leaves to go back on the bus and you’ll probably see them/meet them.
With that being said, if you got at 4pm you might also see them go into the venue and that will also give you a chance to meet them. I for one haven’t stayed after a show to meet bands, but apparently if you go to the back and wait until like 1am they come out and stop for pics, the reason why i say ‘1am’ is that everyone goes to the back after the show and they usually wait for the crowd to die down to come out and say hi. If it’s a big group out waiting by their busses or the back door, chances are you won’t get a pic and will only get a wave, but that also depends on who the band/artist is and how popular they are!
Please do not wait at their hotel, please do not curse them out/yell at them if they don’t stop for pictures because a lot of the time they are on a strict schedule and can’t, also they’re humans with feelings and maybe they’re not in the mood… that’s totally okay. another thing I’d say is to talk to security, sometimes they like to blab little details
Don’t Forget to Bring
Don’t forget to bring a portable phone charger, keep hydrated and wear comfortable shoes, bring layers that you don’t mind getting lost because you might be cold when you’re outside queuing but you’ll be VERY HOT in a mosh. my best friend once left her hoodie on the ground (in a mosh pit) and once the show was over and the floor cleared up, it was still there and she was able to put it back on after the show (yes it was dirty, but hey at least she didn’t have to hold it)
Darya’s overall concert rules:
- don’t be a fucking asshole – don’t judge people, don’t start drama, don’t hurt anyone physically or emotionally.
- if you’re feeling anxious or sick in a mosh pit, don’t force yourself to stay in it, ASK SECURITY TO GET YOU OUT
- don’t be afraid to have fun and sing along, that’s what gigs are for!
- yes, you’ll get bruised in a mosh. yes, people will push and you’ll probably be stepped on… that’s just the way
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