Some people just don’t get it. Why would I go to the same show over and over, or spend all my money on concert tickets all around the country? Going to shows has taught me a lot and allowed me to grow as a person. Here are some of the things I’ve learned by going to shows.
1. How to be aggressive
Whether you’re on the barricade trying to defend your spot from drunks shoving through the crowd, trying to find your way back to the pit after crowdsurfing, or even just holding your own while moshing, you have to be aggressive to survive a show. If you’re not now, you will be.
Have you ever camped out for 23 hours to guarantee yourself a spot on the barricade? It’s a long, painful, boring 23 hours. Until you’ve learned patience and the ability to appreciate the experience. Line days are a necessity sometimes, and you have to make the best of them.
Back when I was a casual concert goer, I thought I always had to have a friend with me, so I would buy two tickets and try to find a friend to pawn the extra off on just because I didn’t want to be alone. For one, that gets way too expensive when you turn your concert experiences into a full blown lifestyle. But I learned that lesson a different way.
I brought a friend to see Rise Against and she told me there that it was her first concert ever. She got punched in the boob during the first song and left, so I was forced to be alone. And ya know what? It was okay. I actually had fun by myself. And oftentimes it is more fun by yourself because that’s how you meet people with similar interests. Oh you like this band too? Well obviously.
Ya gotta break out of your comfort zone and learn how to how enjoy living your own life yourself.
4. How to think on my feet
So I’ve got a day off between Boston and DC and nowhere to sleep in either city, so how about I take buses to and from NYC overnight and sleep on them? I need transportation and a place to nap, so that works. Four a.m. bus tonight for $18? Okay sweet, I’ve got this. And time to go out drinking with my New York friends in the meantime!
And better yet:
Well shit, someone just passed out in the pit in front of me. What do I do? What can I do? I guess turn around and try to keep the crowd from pushing forward as best as my 100 lb. self can.
5. To not give a shit what anyone thinks of me
I used to be extremely self-conscious. I wouldn’t even sing in the car if there was anyone with me. That includes good friends and boyfriends. No one would hear me sing.
Now if I can jump onstage with the band, you better believe I will. I’ll dance like a maniac, sing (badly) as loud as I can, and stage-trust-fall because I can’t even stagedive right. I really don’t care. Why should I? I’m having fun whether I look stupid or not, and that’s fine with me.
Ya gonna go jump onstage with the chance that no one’s gonna follow you? Ya wanna open a pit by yourself and try to hype the crowd when they seem a little dead? That’ll give you some confidence if you don’t already have it.
7. How to be outgoing
You’re alone at a show, but you’re surrounded by people who love this band as much as you do. Come on now, you have to say hi. You never know who could end up being your best friends. Ninety percent of my friends are people I’ve met from going to shows alone, and I never would’ve met them if I didn’t make an effort to talk to them.
8. Musicians are just people
Go to enough shows and sometimes the band notices you. When they notice you, they talk to you. (Or ya know, you reach out to them. Either works. “Hi you don’t know me, but we’re gonna be friends.” Boom. Foolproof.) Eventually you’re talking about other bands you like, and swing dancing in their backyard, and spending Friendsgiving with them. They’re just people. You shouldn’t treat them any different than anyone else.
9. How to make friends with literally anyone
Aside from three quarters of one of my favorite bands seeing me a little (or a lot) drunk in settings outside of shows, there are other people it’s good to befriend too.
I met a girl who lives in Vancouver at a show once (er, twice in three days I guess), and I reached out to her to stay with her while seeing a band I’ve literally only been listening to for about four months. She had told me when I met her that if I needed a couch in Vancouver I’d have one, and I can’t pass up an opportunity to see Canada for the first time.
“You don’t know me, but we’re gonna be friends” should be my new motto.
10. How to put my trust in complete strangers
One word: crowdsurfing.
Some more words: That time I did a handstand on top of the crowd.
True, I’d known those guys for a month (which is also like no time at all in hindsight), but a general rule of thumb for crowdsurfing is that you don’t know these people and they can very easily drop you, or worse, flip you completely upside down. (Well, I mean, aside from when it’s intentional.) It’s not an easy thing to do if you don’t trust the crowd to lift you up.
But sometimes they do and it’s worth the risk to trust them.
11. To live life to the fullest
My dad told me a story growing up about a band he saw every summer. One year he had tickets to see them, but something came up and he decided he’d skip that year. They’d be back.
They got in a plane crash and he never saw them again.
I wanna say this was the Day the Music Died, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what band it was he was talking about. That’s not the part of the story that stuck with me. What stuck was the moral: Buy the damn concert tickets, because the band could friggin die.
Or you could die!
What even is life if you’re not enjoying it? Why pass up an opportunity to have a great time surrounded by great people and the music you love? Do everything you can because you really do only have one life and you have to live it without any regrets.
12. To live in the moment
I only record bits and pieces of songs at shows because I don’t want to be stuck behind a camera. There’s action going on out there.
Handstand on top of the crowd? Sure, why not. Crowdsurfing? Waltz-moshing? Stagediving? Yes yes and yes. Do all of the things and live in that moment before it’s gone.
13. How to act like I belong anywhere
“If anyone’s gonna get in the VIP section it’s Lindsay.”
“I have a trick to getting backstage. Just stand behind two other people flashing their badges, and they either don’t have time to look at you before you sneak by, or they assume you’re with them and also have one. So yeah, I’m good if you guys are.”
It doesn’t always work, of course. But it’s worked enough. (With bands that are okay with seeing me show up random places of course. The only exception to that was a badge I indefinitely borrowed to get backstage at a radio event. Hehe.)
14. I’m more powerful than I think
I have opened pits alone. All 100 lbs. of me. It’s a pretty great feeling. I can do things!
My favorite is when four or five ladies get together to open it, and all the dudes are just watching. We own this.
15. Plans aren’t always necessary
“Hey, I land in an hour. Can you pick me up from the airport?”
“I’m getting kidnapped and not sleeping here tonight, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Two cities on my tour list without places to sleep? Meh. Will deal with that when the time comes.
I was supposed to leave town today, but I have a show to go to tomorrow I just found out about. Guess I need to find a new place to sleep and change my flight.
I can’t tell you how many times plans have changed on me, so it’s gotten to a point where I just don’t even bother anymore. It’ll all work itself out one way or another. No reason to stress over the little stuff. It may seem like the big stuff, but eventually you stop caring and learn to truly go with the wind. Just let go.