I’m fortunate enough to have been raised in Austin, TX, the live music capital of the world. I grew up going to concerts when Emo’s was on 6th street, and when barely anyone cared about SXSW. My friends and I would rush to Tower Records and Sound Exchange on The Drag to listen to the latest cool staff pick and buy concert tickets to bands we read about in the Austin Chronicle. This was my adolescence. As I grew older, Austin grew larger, and the venues I loved became overcrowded, I learned just how to get the best experience out of seeing live music. Here’s my top five pieces of advice:
Eat well and drink a lot of h20 throughout the day
This will give you the stamina you need to hold up Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips when he crowd surfs in an inflatable ball. I personally stop drinking anything about an hour before the show because I have the bladder of an old lady on dialysis and I’m usually towards the front and don’t want to give up my space.
Location is Key
It’s all good if Robert Smith of The Cure is just background noise to you hanging at the bar and people watching. But for me I try to embrace as much of the music as possible. The best place to be is a few people back and towards the center. If you’re stuck on the sides, just be aware of the positioning of the speakers. RE: speakers, I always carry tissue with me and stuff it in my ears if the volume becomes unbearable. There are proper ear plugs that take down the decibel without distorting the sounds, I’ve just never tried them.
If I know I want to see Gang of Four AND The Faint, then I show up early. 20 minutes after the doors time listed on the ticket. But, if I just want to see The Adicts headline, I usually show up about 9pm as a general rule. Stubb’s in Austin or The Greek in LA are outdoor venues and have noise curfew, so their shows usually start and end much earlier. Showing up early also makes it likely that the schnedium shirt from merch that you want to wear to work the next day won’t be sold out.
Rage out! This is the time to dance off all the BS in your life that’s bothering you. Get transported! But don’t be the jerk who’s trying to start a mosh pit at a GZA show. There’s a time and a place.
The Come Down
It feels so good when the fresh air hits your face after walking out of a venue. Treat yourself to some carnitas (or veggie) tacos from a taco truck, or a sidewalk hotdog covered in bacon, with jalapeno please! Bonus tip – for bigger shows a lot of times there’s bootleg t-shirts being sold in the parking lot. I have no shame buying a $10 “I Feel Like Pablo” shirt instead of paying $60 inside.
And there you have it, you survived! These are a few steps to help you get the most out of going to a concert. So get out and enjoy some music 🙂