Your favorite band is coming to play a show! In your home town! But, oh no, you cannot find anyone to go with you! Do you go alone? In public? Would that be the saddest thing anyone has ever done?
Of course not! Going to concerts by yourself is a totally acceptable social activity, and it is better to go alone than miss seeing a band you love. As someone who has gone to hundreds of concerts (almost exclusively on my own), let me walk you through the solo concert-going experience and give some tips.
When you are on your own, the time before the show starts is the absolute worst. It is brutal, you will feel even more like the biggest fucking loser in the world than any other time in your life. As groups of friends start to form around you, talking about all the same things you like to talk about with your friends, you go through a cycle of jealousy, anger and regret over and over again.
Thankfully, if you are okay with not being at all close to the stage, you can call the venue on the day of the show and ask for the set time for your band. Knowing this means you can take your time getting there, sliding in right before the show starts and minimizing social anxiety to the fullest.
But if you do want to be close to the stage, or you maybe are interested in an opening band, you will have to stick it out. I highly encourage you to spend the entire time looking at your phone, reading a book, or doing anything that lets you ignore that everyone else is having fun time with friends around you, and you are the only fucking loser who came alone. WHICH IS NOT TO SAY YOU ARE A LOSER, but your sub-concious will certainly be saying that for you.
One of the challenges in being alone is that if you need to leave to go to the bathroom, you will probably forfeit your spot. If you are a social, friendly type you might be able to ask someone near you to save your spot, but if you are reading this guide I am guessing you are not that person. My advice is to always, always go to the bathroom before you approach the crowd, try to avoid drinking too much (if you get a drink, sip it very slowly) and try your best to stick it out. Going to the bathroom between acts might seem feasible, the crowd thins out pretty fast, but always know your spot is at risk.
Try not to pay too much attention to the house music they are playing before the show starts. It can be tough, as the various groups of friends around you will run out of chit-chat, providing less background distractions. Your urge will be to use the music to fill the dead space in your heart just long enough for the band you love to come out, but you can fall into a common folly.
The show always begins when the music abruptly cuts out in the middle of a song, never when a song ends. I know you have been waiting seemingly forever and that 27 minute dance remix of Maneater just finished, but to get excited is a fool's errand. Too many crowds raise their hopes only to have them dashed when that next Hall and Oates classic starts to play.
But then the music cuts out, the lights go down and the band walks on stage. This is why you came. Suddenly all that bullshit you put up with before the show melts away. Your attention is locked. You know all the words. You can tell exactly what song they are playing from hearing the guitarist strum the first chord. It is nirvana (the state of mind, not the band, because you know) and there is no where else you want to be.
That is until the people next to you start talking halfway through the first song. Or taking selfies with the flash on. Or just standing way too close to you. Whatever it is, you need to address these things head on. Too many times have I had an otherwise enjoyable concert ruined because someone standing next to me was being incredibly annoying, and I spent the entire show resenting them instead of telling them off and getting on with it. Be curt. I guarantee there is someone else in the vicinity who also wishes they would stop doing whatever, so you are speaking for everyone. Use that righteous fury.
Even worse are the ones who wander in late and force their way through the crowd, choosing to stop right in front of you. These people are always your height or taller, meaning you now have an obstructed view. Believe me, I am six-feet tall and I still get basketball players and half-giants who stop in front of me, five minues into every show. These people are harder to deal with. Unfortunately you have little recourse, other than trying to shift in the crowd and obtain a decent view again.
I am not saying you should carry a knife with you at all times to shiv the seven-foot tall guy who plants himself in front of you (who is also holding up his iPad over his head to record a vine), but the room is pretty dark and the crowd is thick. Who is gonna even notice?
You may have the urge to take a photo or video of the show, and while I think everyone should be allowed to experience things as they want, I ask that you consider these two things:
- Please do not hold your phone or camera above your head. It is super disrespectful to the people behind you.
- No photo taken at a concert with a smartphone has ever looked good. Yours will not either, so maybe do it fast and get back to dancing.
When the band first leaves the stage, they are waiting to come back for an encore. No matter how many times they say "this is the final song" or "thank you, good night!", you can tell there will be an encore because the lights will not have come back up nor will the music have started again.
Encores may be planned, but they should always be earned. This means you as the crowd have to yell and scream until you are coughing up blood. You are to stomp your feet so hard you put holes in your shoes. Or just, you know, put a little effort into it. Many crowds will applaud for a minute or so and then just mill about, knowing the encore is coming. And it probably is, but the whole facade is ridiculous anyway, so you might as well have some fun with it.
That said, no matter what the people around you do, you must never chant "One more song!". Ever. I am not really sure why this has gained popularity as of late, but it is completely foolish. Avoid it.
The correct chant is "Encore!" (or the band's name, assuming it can be reduced to a two or three-syllable chant). Chanting "One more song!" precludes the band from playing more. Maybe they were planning to surprise everyone by playing your absolute favorite album of theirs (the one they never play songs from any more) front to back, but then decide to cancel because the crowd only wanted "one more song". It might sound far-fetched, but this has literally happened to me. The playing-my-favorite-album-as-encore part, not cancelling the encore, but only because I know better than to chant "one more song".
And then the show is over. Hopefully, you had the best time and the warm glow of seeing this band you love will carry you throughout the rest of your week. You did it! Despite all the social anxiety they can induce, going to concerts on your own is a fun and rewarding experience, and it only gets easier after the first time.