Every year, the best shows seem to be held during summertime. The weather’s nice, work has relaxed, and people are just itching to get out and party to some great music. It can be difficult picking out which show is right for you (for help, check out PollStar), but the right concerts usually come to you.
For the less experienced, this guide will help you figure out what to expect, and how to survive those sweet summer shows.
These particular events require the most planning, and are typically the least intricate. Festivals move beyond the one, two, or even three band set-up. They include a wide array of acts within the same general genre. From metal to electronic dance, there’s a festival out there for everyone’s musical taste this summer (i.e Bonaroo, Lollapalooza, and IDentity Fest for you electro heads).
Make sure you assess if the money is worth the experience. How many bands would you willingly pay to see? Don’t go just for one–this means you just spent 120+ bucks to see a ton of bands you don’t really like and sit in a field with thousands of rowdy people! Do some research, and give the other bands a listen.
Stay with your group, otherwise you may find yourself running back to the crowd you were just in, only to realize that the small gathering around the stage has turned into a 50-mile radius. Safe to say your friends will be lost in a sea of sweaty carbon for hours.
Then what? Give it up and take a seat atop a bus with daisies painted on it and tapestries in the windows. Might as well make yourself comfortable–this is when the “culture” starts happening. Soak it in. You’ll probably leave without a decent memory but having had a transcendental experience. Was that pot laced with something?
All-day affairs such as these require tons of water, and less smoking due to the dehydration factor. Columbia University graduate and TNGG’s concert guru Caitlin Tremblay has a few tips. “Dance so you have a reason to be sweaty and gross other than, “it’s hot.” And between sets when everyone is getting food, take a siesta.”
Remember your SPF 30+ (and reapply throughout the day), bug spray, a big blanket, a sweatshirt, and “Dry Shampoo” for a quick fix-up.
Remember to know your drug limits if you don’t do anything else. Arbitrary usage of psychedelics never turns out well.
Similar to festivals, you can expect to be sitting outside in the sweltering sun all day, except there won’t be live music playing for most of it.
Most outdoor venues require one thing only: Tailgating. That’s right, grab your Bud Light Limes (which are actually kind of good, aren’t they?), some Bratwurst, a truck or Volkswagen van, and a charcoal grill that can easily be left behind for arena staff to pick up.
A general rule of thumb: don’t leave until the beer is gone! You probably won’t be able to sneak back to your car for more (stupid no re-admittance policies) and no one wants to pay $8 to keep a buzz on.
Lets face it, since you’re probably at a Jack Johnson or Dave Matthews concert (because I think OzzFest bit the heads off one too many bats) leave your earth-saving Nalgene bottle at home. Just accept your fate and buy $5 bottles of water that kill the environment. Or, you can always, “flirt with the concession stand dudes for free bottled water/beer.” It’s important to not, “be too sober, but drink lots of water,” Tremblay says.
Outdoor venues aren’t quite free-for-alls like festivals. They tend to have container policies, and they definitely have “rules” against pot, smart guy. But don’t worry, the girl that came with the bro in Birkenstocks next to you managed to shove her stash in her giant boobs.
Make friends and you’ll be taken care of. Free love, people.
If you’ve managed to grab a seat somewhere that’s air-conditioned and poses no threat to the lack of pigment in your skin, you really don’t need me to tell you how it goes and what to do. The atmosphere can range from relaxed and buzzed in the back, to moshing drug-induced insanity near the stage. Really depends on the type of music featured.
Grab a cranberry vodka or a light beer at the bar, sit with your friends, and enjoy your night. Make friends with the guy or girl in front of you dressed up like the lead singer (if only to have something to talk about tonight when you go bar hopping to find where the band is drinking).
Now kick back, relax, and have a good time. There will always be more concerts to be miserable at.
If dancing: shoes with traction are a must unless you want to look like Bambi on Ice (plus, who knows what’s on that floor). If the stuffy heat is too much, take a break. You can always crowd surf your way back in anyways.
“Bring a wristlet or have some deep pockets for your phone. You DO NOT want that getting knocked around the floor,” advises 21 year old URI student Alexis Capozzi. Make sure you check your coat and guard all personal items against your drunk alter-ego (less is more at these type of events). Oh and all of those battle wounds should you decide mosh? Wear them proudly.
And remember: Groupies never say die.
Photos by Anirudh Koul and Karen Roe.