Having attended around two dozen concerts so far, I have come up with some tips for getting the most out of my concert experience. Hopefully, these can be useful the next time you attend a concert.
Only bring what you need.
I have mastered the skill of bringing the bare minimum to a concert. Most of the time I only bring a lanyard with a small wallet attached to my ID, debit card and a little bit of cash. Then, I just have my phone and maybe a portable phone charger that easily fits in a pocket. This makes going through security easy and is especially useful at general admission shows because I can keep the lanyard around my neck and not worry about someone trying to steal it.
There’s no need to bring a large bag or purse with you, because many venues limit the size of bags that are allowed. I used to bring a drawstring bag with me to shows, which I still do from time to time, but it often gets in the way. It can get heavy and awkward to wear during the show. Now, I only bring the bare minimum. There’s less stuff to worry about losing and my full focus can be on the amazing performance going on right in front of me.
Put your phone down.
I have been to many concerts where people around me record almost every moment of the concert. If you watch the entire concert through your phone screen, it’s almost the same as watching a video of the concert at home. When you are at the concert, live in the moment. Take a few photos of the stage beforehand, a few during the performance and a few short video clips.
When I saw two of my favorite bands, Waterparks and Too Close To Touch in 2017, I never pulled out my phone to get any clips or videos during my favorite songs by either of the bands. The singer of Too Close To Touch went into the middle of the crowd during their last song and most emotional song “Eiley” and the crowd surrounded him and screamed lyrics with him.
During that song, I never thought to pull out my phone. I let myself be completely in the moment because it was something I knew I would never get to experience again and something I’ll never forget. You will never get to experience that exact concert again, so don’t spend it getting the perfect video or photo.
Sing your heart out.
I am known to do this at any concert I go to. I’m there because I love the music and the artist. From the first line of the first song to the last line of the last song, I will sing almost every lyric at the top of my lungs. I do not care that I am a horrible singer, I will sing along. Of course, I stop singing at points to enjoy it, but I am most likely still mouthing along or screaming in excitement.
I encourage everyone to do the same at the next concert you go to. I was in the front row, against the stage when I saw Palaye Royale in 2018 as Remington. The lead singer was singing right in front of me, without a care in the world. Don’t be embarrassed. Chances are, no one around you is paying attention to what you are doing, let alone hear you. Let your love of the music show — that is why you are there. Sing and dance like you do not care.
Plan on when you are going to buy merchandise.
If you’re going to buy any merchandise at the show, choose wisely when you’re going to buy it. If it is a general admission show I recommend buying it afterwards. One, because if you want to get towards the front of the crowd, claiming your spot right away is important and two, you do not want to have to hold it during the whole show.
There are no seats to place a shirt or poster on during the concert and if you drop it, it can be hard to find it again. I have bought shirts before concerts and ended up during some make-shift, stuff into the jacket around my waist trick, spending half the concert constantly checking to make sure I had not lost it. So after the show is when is most likely the best time.
If you are at a large arena or stadium show, the merchandise stands will be crowded a majority of the time. However, if you manage to be one of the first people into the venue, you can usually avoid big crowds and snag your shirt quickly. Many venues will have stands in multiple places on each level, so if the bottom one at the entrance is crowded, try heading up to the very top level stand. People also tend to crowd them in between opening acts and the headliner, so try to go after or before the concert begins.
Go with the flow.
As much as you want to try and plan exactly how the day of the concert is going to go, you cannot control everything. In 2011 my parents bought tickets for a friend and me to see Selena Gomez as a fifth-grade graduation present. The concert was outside in the middle of August and it rained all day and after the two opening acts. They canceled the show before Gomez got to perform. I was 11 years old and devastated and cried my eyes out, but I could not control the weather. Luckily, they were able to reschedule the concert to October at an inside venue with one of the same opening acts. Of course, it was nicer weather then than it was in August, but that is Ohio for you.
The point is, do not let one little bump in the road ruin the whole experience for you. If you get to the concert a little later than you had planned, it's okay. If your hair will not cooperate, just throw it in a ponytail and move on. What matters is that you are going to go see some of your favorite music live, surrounded by people who also love the same music.
Once again, these tips are all based on my own experiences at concerts. Do what works best for you and have the time of you will never forget. Sing, dance and most importantly, enjoy the music.