By Josiah Horn

  • Aspiring rockstar
  • Songwriter
  • Fan of Julie Joplin Magazine
  • Professional concert attender 

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In the past few years, I have gone to more than 30 concerts, with even more planned! With all this valuable experience, I have learned a lesson or two on how to make concert-going more enjoyable for myself, anyone I go with, and everyone around me. So, if you are interested in hearing my recommendations, then read below! I’m going to write about everything from buying tickets to leaving the show safely and everything in between!

So the band you like finally announces a tour…

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It may not seem like it, but Joplin is actually a great place to be a concert lover. All in less than a 5 hour drive, you can get to Rogers, Springfield, Tulsa, Kansas City, Wichita, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Omaha, and Des Moines. All hot spots for concerts of all sizes! And thanks to the Joplin Regional Airport, it’s easy to get to Dallas and Chicago, too. 

Anyway, the tour is announced, you find the date that works best for you, then the tickets go on sale. The best way to get the tickets is to go to the tour page on the artist’s website and click on the “tickets” link for your date. Usually you’ll be redirected to Live Nation or Ticketmaster, but sometimes you’ll get sites like AXS, Bandsintown, etix, or something else entirely. But, since you went through the artist’s website, you know you’re in the official place for buying tickets.

Before I choose which section or seat I get, there’s a few things I think about:

First, it’s better to have the absolute worst seat in the venue than to not be there. Yeah, it may seem nice to be in the front row, but they are getting the exact same show as everyone else in the room. If my budget doesn’t allow anything more than nosebleeds, then that’s where I’ll be.

Second, I don’t drink during concerts. That may not seem like something to think about when I’m getting my tickets, but it is and here’s why; When you want to drink during a concert, you have to get out of your seat and go get another drink or use the bathroom. So, if you want to drink, please get an aisle seat. I absolutely hate being pushed passed when I’m trying to watch a concert. Since I don’t drink, I try to get seats in the middle of the row so no one has to push past me.

Third thing I think about is that being closer to the stage doesn’t necessarily mean a better view. A lot of the time, seeing what the band does with their stage (spotlights, lasers, pyro, etc.) is almost as cool as seeing the band themselves, so I try to get a seat straight across from the stage even if that means being further back. Sometimes though, I know the band isn’t going to do much with their stage so a side view is okay. Example, when I went to see Kiss, I knew there would be lights, fire, flying demons, and everything else. So I got seats in the back with a head on view of the stage. But, when I saw The Monkees, I knew there wouldn’t be much to see other than Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz themselves, so we had a bit of a side view, and that was perfectly okay.

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What a view!

Another thing that I want to share my experiences on is General Admission (GA) and floor level seats. When you get GA, that means arriving several hours before the doors open so you get as close to the front as possible (I’ll write more about arriving in a little bit). I want to be close to the front of a GA area for the same reason I only want to be in the first few rows with floor level seats; Tall people. Now, I’m not short, but the one time I was 20 or so rows back on the floor, I just happened to have the 6’4” giant right in between me and center stage. The stage was about 5 feet tall, so I could see most of what I paid to see, but I would have rather not had to look around tall dude’s head half the time.

Another thing I keep in mind before I buy my GA pit tickets is that I am not claustrophobic. I know that I’ll be shoulder to shoulder with strangers and that people will jump on me whenever they think they might get a high five or a guitar pick from someone on stage, and I’m cool with that. If you don’t like that Idea, I recommend thinking twice before getting those GA tickets.

Again, it is better to have the worst seat in the house than to miss a favorite band of yours, so get what you can afford and be ready for a good time no matter what.

 

Now the day of the concert has finally come…

There aren’t many things more exciting to me than getting to the day I’ve waited months for. What do I do when that day comes? Depends partly on what tickets I got. If I have GA tickets, I want to be in line 3 to 4 hours before the doors open. One time I got to the venue a bit more than 5 hours before the gates opened, and there were already about two dozen people in line! I did get my spot right by the stage, but only because I was there early.

If you have a reserved seat, I usually try to get there about an hour before show time. No matter when I plan on arriving, I eat before I get there if I can help it. Concert food is expensive and not really that great.

One more thing I check is what I will be allowed to bring into the venue and what needs to stay at home. Most of the time you can bring small bags or purses, cameras that do not have detachable lenses, and one factory-sealed bottle of water. But, I always check the venue website beforehand just to be sure.

If I do get to the venue before the gates open, I have to keep in mind that I have not once seen the gates open on time. There is way more that goes on inside than I know about, and I know that the show will not start if everyone is still waiting outside, so there is no use in being upset if the doors open late. I usually expect them to open between 15 and 30 minutes after the scheduled time. Sometimes it’s as little as 5 minutes, sometimes it’s more than an hour. Still, no use being upset by it.

Once I get in, if I have a GA ticket, I go right to my spot and hold it until it’s time to leave. It’s easier to have a group or a friend in this case so that if one needs to leave, the other(s) can hold the spot. If I have a reserved seat, I go to the merchandise stand first. Concert shirts take up about half of my closet, but I don’t care. T-shirts are my way of saving a good time in the form of something permanent. Good times are temporary, T-shirts are forever. Usually concert shirts cost either $35 or $40, but I’ve paid as much as $50 and as little as $30. The artist never really has a say on merch prices (or ticket prices, actually), that is all set by people who know how much people will pay for them before they just quit buying. So, buying concert shirts is technically falling for the capitalist scheme, but that’s ok because T-shirts are forever, capitalism is not. Anyway, I do like to get my shirt before the show because they tend to run out of my size pretty fast. Lines are usually shorter after the show, but you risk not getting the right size. That’s why I try to get to the show an hour before show time (with a reserved seat), so long merch lines aren’t a problem and I can still find my seat without being afraid of missing the first song of the night.

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Waiting for The Rolling Stones to begin!

 

Now the first song of the night is usually by an opening act…

Not everyone tours with openers, but if they do, please support them by being in your seat to watch them perform. The worst that could happen is that you don’t really like it. I can honestly say that I have never NOT enjoyed an opening act. Sometimes, they even put on a better show than the headliner. If there is no opening act, I usually expect the show to start about 30 minutes late, that’s so people who have not read this article have time to find their seats. That’s not always the case, Elton John started right at 8 p.m., but Paul McCartney and Billy Joel were both about 30 minutes late getting on stage, which is okay because the show will happen no matter when it starts.

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Paul McCartney — worth the wait!

When the show starts, if I want to stand and dance, I stand and dance. If I feel like sitting, I’ll sit. Usually most people will stand for the fast songs and sit for the slow songs, but that rule is very loosely followed. I’m there to have a good time and so is everyone else, so I’m going to have a good time. If you want to take pictures or video, go for it (sometimes performers or venues have no photography rules, be aware of that before you get your camera out). I like to have a good snapchat story and a few pictures, but no one likes the person that watches the whole concert through their phone, just live in the moment!

I wrote a song about going to concerts (if that sounds interesting to you, peep my Facebook page!), and one of the lines is, “The people outside can judge us all day, but do any of us really care?”. Let the people outside judge you, but the people inside are just one big family that have been brought together by music. So dance, sing, cry, scream, have fun!

 

I can always tell when the end is close… 

Because you’ll start hearing hit after hit with no breaks in between, and the energy level on stage is going up. Some people like to take this as their queue to leave so they can beat traffic, but honestly no amount of bad traffic is enough to make me want to miss any part of the show I paid to see. 

Once that big last song ends and the band leaves the stage, that doesn’t mean the concert is over. This is usually the part where everyone gets their cell phone lights out and light up the arena and chant for the band to come back for an encore. And usually they do, and then they leave the stage again, and sometimes there’s even another encore. I know the show is truly over when the house lights turn back on and the road crew starts to take stuff off the stage. Even then I like to wait for 10 or so minutes for the crowd to thin out before I leave my seat. 

On my way out, I get my T-shirt if I haven’t already, I thank any staff or security I pass by, and I get in my car and go home. Traffic is always bad, usually there’s traffic cops to help with that, there will inevitably be drunk drivers but please don’t be one yourself, make sure you have plans to get home before you have anything to drink. My ears usually will be ringing for a while, if that would bother you then bring some ear plugs to the show.

I’ve never been able to resist the temptation to wear my new shirt the next day because dammit I had a good time and I want everyone to know.

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Not gonna lie … I’ve amassed a pretty impressive T-shirt collection 🙂

I hope these tips and tricks help you out on your next concert-going adventure!

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