Wednesday, 24 June 2015

My Concert Tips & Advice
Photograph by Ashley Osborn
In August I will be attending my 5th concert.  I'll be seeing All Time Low and Neck Deep in Edinburgh for their Reading and Leeds warm up gig and I'm really excited.  Although I have only been to a handful of concerts, I thought I'd share with you some tips (some my own and some I've learnt from others) that could be handy for attending concerts, especially since it's currently the festival and warm up gig season.
1. Stay hydrated.
This is probably one of the most important things.  But unfortunately most venues don't let you take your own drinks into the venue, even if it's just a bottle of water.  Which means spending money on their overpriced drinks but, it's worth the money if it means you'll stay hydrated.
Venues can get hot very quickly and if you're standing (and if you've been queuing for a long time) then you need to keep yourself hydrated for health reasons.

If you know you're going to be queuing for a while before the gig then take a few bottles of water with you and bin them at the door of the venue.  Also, if someone asks for a sip of your drink in the queue then it's probably best to give them some, cause you might need their help later on in the evening when you're trying to get a pick from the guitarist.
If during the gig you need a drink but there isn't somewhere in the venue to get drinks or if you can't get access to this area, then alert the security that are there that you need a drink.  They'll hopefully be able to help you out somehow.

Photographs by Elliott Ingham

2. Go to the bathroom.
Like I said above, staying hydrated is important.  But consequently this means you'll need to go to the toilet. 
If you're queuing for quite a long time then try and go to the bathroom in local businesses, even if it's just the nearest Starbucks.  I know that in the UK if you go into a public building, I'm pretty it's the law that they have to let you use their bathrooms.  Sometimes they'll insist that you have to be a customer to use their bathroom so, sometimes you just have to suck this up and deal with it by buying a chocolate bar so you can pee (some people just don't seem to understand that it's a normal human function to empty our bladders and we don't have access to bathrooms when waiting to see our favourite musicians).

 If you're standing and you want to get to the barrier then as soon as you get to the venue you're going to be trying to get a good space.  And it's understandable, you've been queuing for what may have been a long time and you don't want to miss the opportunity to be in touching distance of your favourite musicians.  If this is the case then try and go to the toilet at a local business just before the doors open.
And if you need the toilet during the gig then sometimes you just have to go and that's that, the condition of your bladder is more important than the gig (yes I know this is difficult to come to terms with but seriously, look after yourself and go pee during the gig if you need to pee).
3. Photography/Filming
One of my biggest regrets is that I have watched the majority of all the concerts I've been too through either a camera or a phone screen. 
Although I love looking back at my photos, I hate that I didn't enjoy the concert and the fact that my favourite musicians were performing right in front of me.  Yes, it's nice to share you're photos on Facebook later but I've learnt from experience that it's a lot nicer to have incredible memories from the concert you've attended, through your eyes not a phone screen. 
It's more than likely that artists will have official photographers with them on tour and will post countless professional photos from your concert on their social media sites.  And there are a lot of other people at the concert that will be posting photos that you'll be able to find on social media.
But, it's still nice to have some photographic memories from our own perspective but enjoy the gig at the same time so, I'm giving myself the following rules for gigs in the future:
  • I can take photos during the first song and be as trigger happy as I like.
  • If there's an acoustic set then I can take photos during this.
  • I can take photos and short film clips during the final song.
  • I can film two songs during the set.
  • I can take as many photos as humanly possible if I'm ever lucky enough to meet any of the musicians at a gig.
I'm hoping that by sticking to this it means I'll be able to enjoy the concert but also have some photos and videos to look back on and remember the gig.
Photographs by Adam Elmakias

4. Mosh Pits.
If a mosh pit starts then don't feel you have to get involved.  If you want out of there, then get out.  Sometimes this is easier said than done because in those moments people are in the moment and moving to the music.  Try and get to the sides or the back of the venue.  Try and let someone know that you're maybe a bit shaken because these experiences can be scary.
It's more than likely that people will want to help you out, whether these are fellow concert attendees, the venue staff or the security at the gig.
If you're the kind of person who feels at their element when in the middle of the pit then you have a bit of responsibility in these situations. Yes, enjoy yourself and enjoy the music by moshing with people who feel the same way as you but, if you see someone in the pit who has been pushed/pulled in and clearly looks uncomfortable then do what you can to get them out.  If you don't feel comfortable in this situation or can't get to them to help them, then try and get the attention of someone who can.  Remember that the security are there for a reason, this being one of them.
5. Standing at gigs.
 Don't push people.  Try and keep your elbows in.  If someone falls over then help them up, this one's just common sense and manners. 
If you're feeling light headed, dizzy, dehydrated, overwhelmed, anxious or anything similar at any point of the evening then let someone know and try and get out of there.  Even if this means just standing in the toilets for 5 minutes to get a bit of head space.
If it's the kind of gig where there could be crowd surfers then be aware of this if you're near the front, you may get knocked in the head a few times.

When someone asks you to save their space while they go to the toilet or get a drink then try your best to save it, it means they'll help you if you need it during the gig as well.
If you think someone needs help because they're hurt/dehydrated/have fallen over/having a panic attack then try your best to get the security's attention.  Again, they are there to do a job and will help you out as much as they can. 

If you are standing but know you don't want to put up with being pushed around and squished up against the barrier, then as soon as you get to the venue position yourself at the back or the side venue.  This way you can enjoy the gig without worrying about being shoved around.
Photography by Thomas Falcone

6.  Sitting at gigs.
You're going to have a more relaxed time than the people standing and that's just a fact.  But that doesn't mean you can't have just as much fun. 
If you're on a balcony, then it's normal in most venues that people in the first two rows aren't allowed to stand for safety reasons.  So, if you're wanting to dance around then go for the third row or further back otherwise be prepared to have a good view in the front two rows but be restricted to staying on your chair the entire time.

If you're seating is unreserved then you'll probably want to be at the venue near enough to the door opening time so that you can get a good seat.  Also, make friends with the people you're next too, this means you can keep each others seats when someone needs the toilet/a drink/wants to buy something from the merchandise table.  And you might even make a new friend.
If seating is reserved then you don't need to be at the venue straight away, you could save yourself the annoyance of queuing in the cold and still be on time for the opening acts, even if you just go the venue for half an hour after the doors open.


7. Buying tickets.
When buying tickets go through a trusted site, such as the musicians own site, the venue itself or a site that the artist has advertised on their social media.  This way you'll know that you're ticket is genuine and that you're not being scammed.
There's nothing wrong with buying tickets second hand from people but, be extremely careful who you're buying it from and the price that they're selling it for.
Make sure that the price you're paying is one that you think is worth it, if you feel you're going to be ripped off to see an artist that you're only slightly a fan off, maybe it's best to wait till they're touring another time or saving the money for a concert you'd enjoy more.

Photograph by Thomas Falcone

8. The queue.
Be prepared for all weathers.  I was waiting in a queue to meet Lawson at their CD signing and my arm got horrendously burnt, it was bright red and resulted in Ryan from Lawson commenting on it at the signing and, it was extremely painful . 
Take sun cream with you if you know you're gonna need it and share it with others who need it.  Likewise, if it's going to be a bad forecast then take a cheapy rain coat with you.  This means you won't feel guilty about binning a £3 coat from Primark when you get in the venue and, you'll be dry when you get in the venue which is the most important thing.
Make friends.  You are surrounded by people who love the same music as you, this is a situation you could be taking advantage off.  If you feel you have the courage to start a conversation with someone then go for it, even if it's as simple as asking if they've seen the artist in concert before. You never know where a conversation can lead too, I've heard of people who met their boyfriend/girlfriend by talking to them at a concert.  It might not come of anything but, you've had a chat with someone with a similar interest and if you're queuing for a long time then you've killed some time.
Other bands and musicians will use concert queues as a place for promotion and I love this.  I love finding out about new music so if someone comes up to me with a leaflet about a new band, wants to promote their underground band by selling a CD or having a chat, then I'll be more than happy to have a chat about their music. 
But don't feel you have too, if you're not interested then politely tell the person this and they'll more than likely move onto the next person in the queue, they're not going to waste time on someone who isn't interested in the music they're promoting.

If you're planing to queue for quite a long time then take food and drink with you.  This is extremely important cause if you're not eating and drinking throughout the day then you're highly likely to feel ill when you're in the venue and that's the last thing you want during a concert.
Photograph by Ian Coulsen 
9. Clothing, makeup & hair.
I once saw a post on Facebook where someone said that "people shouldn't wear the musicians merch to said musicians concert".
I personally find this kind of silly.  When I've been at gigs almost everyone there is wearing merch for one of the musicians that's playing at the gig.
But, this doesn't mean you have to wear merch to a concert.  You can wear whatever you want to a concert, obviously within reason.  Make sure you're comfortable and happy in what you're wearing.
If the concert you're going too is the kind where there will be moshing and a lot of overexcited fans then it's probably best not to get dressed up.

As far as makeup goes a good primer is probably your best friend.  You want your makeup to last as long as possible but, it's best not to go overboard with your makeup.  The venue is going to be hot so you're going to get sweaty and, if you get emotional during songs you don't want eyeliner running down your face so you look like an extra in the Welcome To The Black Parade music video.

But I think the same for clothing as I do for makeup, wear what you want to wear and what makes you feel confident, comfortable and happy.

If you're going to be standing then it might be best to have some or all of your hair up, because it is more than likely going to get hot and a little sweaty, quite quickly.  If you're hair's up then it means it won't be hitting you or other people in the face or getting tangled.

10.  Merchandise

I love wearing band merch.  It's a way of identifying with people who like the same music as you.   
 But, buying merch at a concert is expensive and not all of us can afford to do this because we're poor students.  If you know that the merch they are selling is available somewhere cheaper such as Pulp, Hot Topic or on the artists online store, then wait and buy it from there and save yourself some money.
However, if you want to buy a shirt with tour dates then you'd be best buying it at the gig as it is highly unlikely it will be available to buy at any other time.  Although make sure you definitely want it as most of the time you can't return items that have tour dates on them so make sure you definitely want it and that it's the correct size.
If you're not wanting to spend lots of money on merch then you can always get a wristband, tour programme or other accessories instead of a t-shirt as they'll be cheaper.

A lot of the time support bands will be hanging around the merch table, if not running their own merch table.  Have a pen or a sharpie with you because it's an opportunity to have your ticket or merch signed by one of the musicians from the gig.

11. Attending a concert on your own.

Going to shows alone is quite scary and can be very daunting.  I've personally never been to a concert by myself but I know that I would find it very difficult.  If you read this post from Alternative Press you'll find a lot of great advice about attending a concert by yourself, especially if you're a girl.

If you see someone attending a concert alone then offer for them to stand with you if you feel okay talking to them.  They're probably just as nervous as you and will appreciate a friendly face and someone to stand with.  And it means you can bond while screaming "I see your name in lights" during Dear Maria, Count Me In.

12. Have fun!

You're seeing live music, most probably from a musician/band whose music you really like.  Appreciate it, have fun, sing from the top of your lungs, dance around like an idiot, and enjoy it as much as you can.

Photograph by Cydnee Australia Photography

I hope you all enjoyed reading this post and that there was some useful advice.  If you have any other tips or advice about attending concerts or festivals then let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you.