Six Ways to Enjoy a Concert More
As a fairly extroverted person who is hyper in general and also suffers from a crippling caffeine addiction, I'm constantly going out and doing things, especially things that involve large crowds and performance. Translation: I go to a lot of concerts and live shows. This is a passion that some of my more introverted friends don't quite get.
I understand where they're coming from. To an introverted person, the atmosphere of a live show can be absolutely dreadful. You've either got people trampling over you having a good time themselves, or you don't really know how to take in such an environment without just wanting to go home and be alone for a while.
There are things that we can all do to help with this. I came up with some advice for both those who want to have a better time at concerts but don't know how, and some advice for those people who trample on others' good times. While the latter could probably be boiled down to "don't be an asshole," where would the fun be in that? So here's six ways you can have fun at a concert that will benefit you no matter what camp you fall into.
Don't Get Drunk For some people this might sound like blasphemy. I mean, you're at a show and there's nary a venue in Houston that doesn't serve (overpriced) alcohol. Well, that's all well and good, you should have a drink or two to loosen you up and have a good time. Just don't get wasted.
Not only do you piss off everyone when you get drunk and rowdy, but you miss out on the show yourself. I've been there, and it's not worth it to pay good money to go see a band you like and hardly remember what they played or sounded like the next day. You are not going to commit any of the night to memory if you're blotto by the second song, and you're just going to annoy your friends and fellow patrons.
Don't Talk Look, I get that you might have a funny observation to tell your friend about right in the middle of the slow, acoustic song, but is it really that important that you make your friend giggle for ten seconds? Is it so important as to interrupt the performer, to yell over the music and disrupt everyone else's enjoyment of the song, or to disengage yourself and your friend from the performance at hand?
It doesn't even matter if it's not a slow, acoustic song. It could be a loud metal song, but you and your friend yelling at each other to communicate over it is pointless and takes you both out of the music, which was ostensibly the whole reason you went to the show to begin with. Your thoughts can wait. You'll enjoy the music more if you save them for later, and everyone else around you will thank you for it too.
Get in the Pit If you really want to engage with the show though, save your thoughts on the performance and instead actually get involved! This mainly only applies to metal and punk shows, but if you happen to be at one, quit yelling at your friend about what other people are doing and get in there yourself. As a veteran of the pits, I understand it's a risk. Broken bones do occur.
That being said, you're going to have much more fun and a much more memorable night if you just go for it and do something a little bit crazy. Yeah, you might feel foolish flailing around in there, especially if you're in the over 30 crowd, but I guarantee you once the adrenaline gets going you'll be having a better time than you would have standing there trying to avoid getting punched in the face. Metal and punk were made for moving.
Luckily, all music was made for moving. If you're not into metal and punk, that doesn't mean you can't still move around. If you're at an indie rock show, you can still dance your ass off to the more upbeat songs. Don't be afraid to look uncool in front of all the casually dismissive hipsters around you acting like they're too cool for it. If you let yourself get down to the music, you'll have way more fun, and they'll be the ones missing out.
And you can dance to any music. One of my favorite parts of Mars Volta shows when that band was still touring is that they played freak out psychedelic prog rock, but you had a whole crowd shaking their asses to it along with the band, who were dancing machines themselves. All it takes is some courage and free spirited abandon, whether you've got moves or not.
Don't Record It Seriously, the only thing worse than the casually dismissive hipster is the casually dismissive hipster who also has their iPhone up in the air recording every second of the show. You may think you are experiencing the concert, but what you are actually experiencing is the screen on your phone. You are missing out on the inherent interactivity of a show for the one-sided enjoyment you could simply glean from watching YouTube videos.
You also aren't doing any particular service for the fans. Unless it's a new song, it's unlikely you're giving new content to the world. Even if you are the first to record a brand new song, you're still giving the fans a shitty iPhone video. If you really want to do a service to fans, become a professional taper. These people exist and provide actual quality recordings of performances, whereas what you are doing is missing the show for yourself and giving the gift of an ear-splitting five minute long bass tone to fans around the world.
Don't Expect Perfection This is the number one problem people seem to have with live shows. They go in wanting to hear the record. If you want to hear the record, listen to the record at home. When a band performs, you have to take into account things like human error. That's part of the fun of it. You are having an intimate experience with the performers themselves, not enjoying the endlessly tampered with studio recording.
Live shows are something special that can't be replicated past the initial performance. Once they're done, they're over and there's no going back. It's an in-the-moment experience that you can never have with a record. That means it's not going to be perfect or exactly like the record. It's going to be unique every time. That is the beauty of the thing, and demanding an exact replica of what you already heard on a CD is ruining the experience for yourself and the performers.
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