Some rules for concertgoers from a pro
By SARAH SEPANEK
Ive been to a lot of concerts. Lots and lots and lots of concerts. For a few years, I had a job that allowed me to basically go to concerts for free, and I went to anything and everything that the luxury of being smack-dab in between Cleveland and Pittsburgh could afford.
As a seasoned veteran, I have picked up a number of tricks of the trade over the years. Many rituals that go along with being both a music and a concert fan should be observed to make the experience more enjoyable for both you and everybody else. Whens the last time you had to stand behind someone with giant hair, or who talked on their phone the whole time, or tried to steal your spot?
So, here are some basic rules for attending a concert:
Rule 1: Never, ever wear a shirt of the band youre going to see. And absolutely never go to the mall and buy the shirt of the band youre going to see right before you go see them. The only exception to this rule is if you have a really old or rare or especially cool shirt of the band, and its very obscurity would be a source of wonder and interest to the other fans. Anything else, prepare for ridicule that rightly comes with being unimaginative.
Rule 2: Another fashion tip: wear the right shoes. It can be tempting to put together an outfit that looks good at home, but remember that you will probably be spending a few hours on your feet, either outdoors or on hard concrete, and that there will be hundreds if not thousands of other people tramping upon them. Heels and dress shoes are OK if you have seats, or are some VIP with a loge or backstage pass (my, arent you hoity toity). Flip flops and mosh pits dont mix; boots and sneakers are better for general admission shows and your toes.
Rule 3: Know your place. Be aware of whos around you. To the tall, take pity on the short (me). If you have seats, dont cause problems for your seatmates by talking on the phone the whole show, having obstructive hair and / or accessories or generally being annoying. If your five year old cant behave for three hours (and how many can?), dont bring them to a show that fans paid hundreds of dollars to see only to have to hear This is borrrrring all night long. Your kid doesnt care about the Rolling Stones.
Rule 4. Actually watch the show. Dont spend the whole time watching the concert through a cell phone camera. Back in MY day (oh, boy, its already beginning) the occasional camcorder in the crowd was an annoyance, mostly because the owner was totally unaware of everything outside the screen, making him a target for accidents that may damage his precious camera. Paying attention is what keeps lips from being split by errant crowd surfers, or fights from being caused by your camera-fist being square in front of someones view. If you pay to see the show, see it. I promise, video will be available all over the Interwebs as soon as you get home.
Rule 5: If you want to get up front, elbowing everyone isnt the way to do it. For both indoor and outdoor shows, a primo spot is earned, either by showing up early and making a dash for the stage, or by making friends with the people around you, so they wont mind if you wiggle in front of them for a better view. For the more adventurous, strategic crowd surfing can be used to make your way up front. Providing its still 1993 someplace.
Rule 6: Be cool. Overzealousness can be annoying for other fans, and for the band. Screaming at the lead singer the whole night comes off a little desperate this is only acceptable if youre 12 and its the Jonas Bros. Bothering roadies who are trying to work for a sliver of a guitar pick is a no-no too. Fans who are cool and patient can usually get something for their efforts, maybe a setlist, autograph or photo.
Newcomers can be forgiven, to an extent. I myself have run afoul concertgoers with my particularly spastic dancing (think Elaine from Seinfeld), only to be rescued by a pack of kind Pittsburgh drag queens who had my back. Learning to respect those more experienced is a good trait to pick up, and it applies to life both in and out of the concert hall. This feeling of camaraderie cant be beat. For all fellow lovers of music, respect should be given, and therefore is received in the form of a supportive mosh pit that will, literally, never let you down.