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How to Survive a General Admission Concert

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Live music, an energetic crowd, jumping around with no regard for possible embarrassment—there’s nothing quite like attending a concert.

Concerts exist in two basic forms: assigned seating and general admission. Each provides an entirely different experience. In the first, you buy a specific seat and no one can take it from you. You have the freedom to do as you please and know that your seat is waiting for you. In general admission shows, however, there usually are no seats. You stand shoulder to shoulder with other enthusiasts as you revel in a great show. Throwing yourself into a mob of screaming fans may sound a bit overwhelming, but proper preparation will help ensure that you have the best experience possible.

#1 – The Wardrobe

You’ll see a wide variety of ensembles at any concert. There are girls who are obviously trying to get an invitation to the bus, those who prefer form over function, and those who just show up in sweats. At least make sure your shoes are comfortable. You’ll be standing for longer than you realize, and your lower back will thank you for the extra support.

#2 – The Bag

Now you need to pack your bag—although I suppose guys can wear cargo pants and stuff the extra pockets. Remember, this bag will be your survival kit for several hours, so pack it well. Make sure it is a smaller bag that will attach to you in some way, whether it be a cross-body bag, a wristlet, or—God forbid—a fanny pack. Well, maybe not the fanny pack. Securing your bag to your body will lessen your chances of losing it in the ruckus. As for what to put in the bag or your pockets, make it the bare necessities:

  • Driver’s License/ID
  • Phone
  • Tickets
  • Camera—Big, bald security guys generally don’t like you to bring professional cameras, so bring your everyday digital. Don’t forget to load up on backup batteries and extra backup batteries. You definitely want to be able to take pictures all night.
  • Money—If you are seeing a band you like, then you are probably going to want a souvenir. Taking cash is a good way to limit the amount you spend. Otherwise, you may get caught up in the high of live music and shell out more than you intended. Plus, paying with cash is simpler than a credit card, even though many vendors accept them now. Bring the plastic as backup only.


#3 – Arriving

Now that you’re packed, you may be asking yourself the age-old general admission concert question: How early do I arrive? Many factors play into this decision. You have to think about how popular the band is, how big the venue is, how many people are expected, etc. Expect your wait time to be directly proportionate to your love of the artist. If you are obsessed with the band and want the lead singer to spray you with sweat whenever he shakes his head, you need to be prepared to put in some time in line. If you’re fine with standing at the back and watching everyone else fight like wolves over the space in front of the stage, don’t worry about getting there early.

#4 – Parking

When you arrive at the venue, whenever that may be, be smart about parking. Back your car in. Your fellow concert-goers are going to be eager to leave at the end of the night and probably won’t be bothered to pause long enough for you to back out. You may have to whip out quickly or you will end up sitting there for a while.

#5 – The Show

Once you’re in and you’ve run—and I do mean run—to your place in front of the stage, your life is going to get a little more complicated. If you have any elementary school basketball defense moves, prepare to break them out. You’re about to be surrounded by a lot of people in varying degrees of inebriation. To deal with others when they step on your foot or hurl themselves into you unexpectedly, you must first assess this level of intoxication. The drunker the offender is, the worse an idea it is for you to confront him or her. You can’t always tell who’s an angry drunk.

A Note on Mosh Pits

If you start to notice the crowd swaying a bit more forcefully, someone has probably decided to mosh. Beware. Mosh pits are gravitational forces that can inflict more damage than fun on audience members. You have to make the decision to either join in or get out. I’ll give you a warning, though. I’ve seen people lose shoes, sunglasses, cameras, and tufts of hair trying to fight these waves of unwashed masses. Some enjoy the chaos of a mosh pit. Some prefer to keep their kidneys intact. Crowd intensity is one of the great things about live music, but enter the fray at your own risk. Try to last as long as you can, because that crowd is not going to be willing to let you back in.

Going to a concert doesn’t have to be a scary experience as long as you know what to expect. The best thing to do is to keep calm and don’t let anyone else ruin your enjoyment of a totally rockin’ concert. After all, you didn’t spend $30 on your ticket just to start a screaming match with some person you’ll never see again. So grab your BFF, your significant other, or someone you don’t mind spending the evening with, and be sure to keep your head while you’re banging it.

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About Amanda Stonebarger

  • Keagan Chase Williams

    Good tips. 🙂 Although, I was looking for a good time frame to show up. It’s a band that has a big time following but they aren’t so popular, but it’s sold out. Should waiting in line an hour ahead of time be good enough for decent seats?

    • Anna

      if its sold out and you are on the floor get there 6-7 hours early