Concert Survival Tips! [Part I]

With more frequency than ever, I have been coming across younger fans who have yet to attend a concert and are seeking the advice of older fans on what they should do. Personally being a seasoned veteran, I have taken it upon myself to start a new blog series to help the novice concert-goers!

Above: My friend Emily and I freezing in line
for MCR in Canada. Winter, 2005.

First installment:
Surviving The Line-Wait!

As those of you who have read my show reviews know, I sometimes take desperate measures to make sure I have a front row spot at shows, meaning-- I wait in line for EXTREME amounts of time.

Would I recommend you doing this?

No... but I say that only so your mothers will not yell at me when you say, "But that blogger girl told me to!" I am, however, secretly nodding my oh-so-corrupting-head on the other side of this computer screen, saying, "Yes, yes!"

Some of the most memorable moments of concert days are the ones spent in line hanging out with the new people you meet. Because everyone is at the show to see the same bands, it is likely that you will find you have so many wonderful things in common with your newly made line friends that you will form lasting friendships. If you are like me and don't exactly feel you fit too comfortably in anywhere else, the line is the perfect place to find somewhere where you absolutely can feel comfortable in your company and in your environment. It just shows how music can bring people together... Yunno, bring them together so that they can be completely ridiculous and torture themselves for long hours just to see the band they love.

The torture is worth it, however, and the early-queuing crowd can attest to that. After all, exciting things happen early the day of shows.

First off, you get to see the buses pulling into the venue in the morning, and may even end up meeting band members as they head off to explore their new environment. Everyone is really chill during the day, unlike at night when so many fans try to rush the buses to meet bands and are glared down by security.

There is, for a lot of the day, absolutely nothing to do and no rush, so there's a long time to just relax and hang out.

I can say with 100% honesty that I have never waited in a line where there hasn't been at least one person meet a band during the day. This is because we get bored and feel the urge to wander, and -not to mention- attempt to find a bathroom that we can use. Band dudes get bored and wander too, so it's no shock that one might meander to the Starbucks down the road and happen to find a favorite guitarist or two sipping a Frappuccino there. It's such adventures that end up being the story a person tells: a piece of the day that makes the show just that much better.

Another perk of waiting and wandering is that you get to know the city better and have a more lasting impression of it. There are a certain few blocks in Chicago, for example, that I could tell you not to travel or to watch out for certain potholes, "and -for god's sake- don't use that fucking Dunkin' Donuts bathroom. Ugh..." -- See what I mean? There are roads, restaurants, stores, and landmarks that I will remember forever and associate with amazing shows all because I waited in line all day and had to explore to "survive."

I would just point out this simple thing: don't be stupid like me. Do not wait in line for hours in 100+ degree heat nor in the freezing dead of winter. If you are not healthy, spare yourself, because it takes a lot to make it through the day.

Here is some survival equipment I would suggest for your wait:

Sustenance, or snacks are a big part of line-waiting. I suggest you snack throughout the day so that you will not grow weak during the show. I prefer eating Saltine crackers, because I get so nervous that I become almost sick, and Saltines help calm the stomach or so I've heard.

Big Bags
The whole point of your being there early is to secure your spot at the barricade. Having a big bag will slow you down; as, security will have to tediously search it before you can get into the venue. Make sure to have your pockets cleared when you get to item-check to get through faster.

Health Substitutes
I know. That sounds really bad. This kind of works along the lines of "sustenance," but with an added element. Try taking some foods like protein bars and drinks that have a little extra to keep your body happy, and make absolutely sure you take your vitamins the day of the show. The last thing you want to do is wait in line all day for your spot at the front only to lose it because you get faint in the pit. Oh, and -- NO ENERGY DRINKS! Not good...

For your camera just in case you have a one of those surprise moment where you run into a member of your favorite band! Be sure to check both the venue's and the tour's camera policy before deciding to take your digital in, though. You do not want to risk getting it taken or having to leave it somewhere for after-show pick-up. If you want to play it safe, do as I do and just get a Kodak disposable with zoom. You should be focusing on the show instead of on how many pictures you can take, anyway.

I can't stress enough how much you need to be hydrated. This is especially important if it is hot outside the day of the show. Once you're squished in the crowd, you will be sweating like crazy and will want to be as hydrated as possible so you don't get weak and have to "get out."


Line Wait Etiquette

*NO CUTTING IN LINE! This should be a given, but it is violated all-too-often. This is a common courtesy rule. You wouldn't cut someone in line at a bank- don't cut them in line at a show.

*Absolutely DO NOT show up early having promised a boat-load of your friends that you will save them a spot. If you're 8th in line and 5 of your rude friends show up late and get in line with you, you have - in the case of some venues - taken up the whole of the barricade and sabotaged your line-made friends behind you. Don't be an ass.

*PARENTS: You can become the most WORST queuing etiquette violators. People have waited in line all day, and -just because your son or daughter is special to you- it does not mean he or she is special enough for you to shove people out of the way and barge to the front.

*DO NOT PANIC OR INCITE PANIC! Try to stay seated on the ground for as long as you possibly can before doors open. A few people's suddenly standing, I have found, causes panic in the line and forces everyone to surge forward, turning lines into mobs that can be very dangerous.


Canada for MCR: December 1st, 2005.
Hours before the doors opened, everyone started standing up, and we were soon compressed so tightly that it were as if we were in a crowd before we were in a crowd. It sucked.

Chicago for MCR: April 17th, 2008.
We were let into the lobby of the venue an hour early with everyone standing and mobbing in the small room. When doors finally opened to enter, everyone freaked out and started running. I could hear people falling behind me, and my feet were not even touching the ground as I was carried off by the crowd.

Florida for MCR: August 11th, 2007.
A security guard announced that the line would be shifting. Everyone stood and ran forward, making a mob and causing almost everyone to lose their spots.

Listen carefully to the instructions and, for goodness sake

*OBEY SECURITY! The three instances I listed above, which are the worst and definitely scary, could have been avoided if people had listened carefully to the instruction of security guards and remained calm.

With these tips, you'll surely be able to handle your next line wait.

Have any crazy stories about line-waits or outrageous line-etiquette violations to rant? Post a comment and tell me!



Tiffa said…
The Used in Kent, OH... it wasn't organized, go figure. It was at a college. Jepha caused distraction, hanging to the side of the room. Security opened the door without warning, I was smacked against the gym door, pushed through then trampled as my shoe flew off. No one was courteous to stop and help. Band dudes, do NOT cause distraction. It causes destruction.

I thought all the Used shows were going to be like that but after 7 shows after, no. Everyone was calm, no line drama. It was bliss. I wish all lines were like those. :]
I know, right?!

Everything is so cool until the last 20 minutes or so, then it SUCKS!!

I wish all venues were like the place where I saw MCR in Georgia in 2005 and in 2007. The security and venue staff were very attentive and answered our questions, they opened the box office so people could use the restroom there, and -the second time I saw MCR there- they had this policy where they didn't want anyone on the premises before noon, so they had a person who handed out numbered wristbands to the people who got there early. After noon, they took everyone with wristbands and barricaded our section of the line off so that we were guaranteed to get in first. As they let us in, they checked our numbers to make sure we were all in the correct order.


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