First Concert/Basic General Admission Tips

Photo by Adam Elmakias

This post is directed towards your first general admission concert, but it could also apply to anyone going to their first concert, or just looking for tips at a general admission show! It's important to be prepared and know what you're getting yourself into when you get a standing/pit ticket for a concert. First, know that everything is different as the type and size of venue, artist you are going to see, types of fans, weather, security, and other factors vary from show to show. That being said, here is a general list of advice and tips for your first show.

1. You're going to be squished, and probably more if you are in the first few rows of people closest to the stage. It's annoying and uncomfortable and sometimes you can't even put one of your feet on the ground, but if you want to be close to the band/artist, you'll stick through it and honesty once the main act comes on, you barely even notice your squished. There's many times where I've been at a concert and it would take strength to just get my arm up because your so squished and sweaty. It's totally normal but just know that it might happen.

Photo by HerCampus

2. When there's hundreds or thousands of people, (depending on the venue size) you're not going to stay in the same spot. Especially if its you're first show, you're probably going to be pushed around and possibly even backwards and further from the stage. This is totally normal and not one person's fault. Yes, some people are more aggressive than others and some jump around a lot but don't think that gives you a good reason to blame them for you moving around or getting pushed back. If it's happening to you, I promise its happening to 30 other people in the same moment and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. Try to keep your feet on the ground and learn to keep your body weight on the ground even when people are coming at you from every which way. Its difficult at first, but you will probably get used to it after a few general admission shows. Extra tip: If you try and take pictures/videos, its easier to get pushed back when you're not paying attention and looking through your phone screen so try to limit taking a bunch of pics and try to only take them when you have both feet firmly on the floor. Try to enjoy the show instead of picking fights with people. Some people just know how to deal with the crowd and are able to stand their ground or even move closer. It's something you learn to deal with in time so don't go trying to push you're way to the front by shoving or elbowing people because that will only get people mad or even get yourself kicked out. 

3. Be respectful to people around you. Like I mentioned before, don't be shoving your way to the front or picking fights with people because they're falling on you because you're squished or anything. It happens at many general admission concerts. There's only a handful of shows that I've been to that wasn't very aggressive and those tend to be more hip-hop shows or ones with a younger fanbase, but if any member from the stage gets even somewhat close to the audience, anything is fair game. I've walked away from many many shows being sore with bruises. 

4. It gets sweaty. I mean REALLY sweaty. It's gross. You're legs and feet are going to hurt. People are going to repeatedly step on your feet. Its all part of what comes with being in the pit at a general admission show. Try to be prepared and wear things you don't care about being gross afterwards. Don't wear new shoes. Don't wear sandals or anything opened toes. Don't wear heels! It's terrible for you and people around you and they will all despise you if you step on their feet with heels. If its winter, try and check your coat at a coat check or run your coat back to your car a little bit before the doors open, or you can tie it around your waist. Lots of people tie their coats/sweatshirts around their waists for concerts and have been fine, but I've lost jackets a couple of times, so just be aware of it and if you do lose it, you have a good chance of finding it on the floor after the concert ends, but it might have been stepped on and kicked all over the venue.

5. Be respectful to the staff, security and other artists playing. This may be common sense but staff and security can kick you out of a show pretty easily. If you're causing trouble or being rude to a staff member, it doesn't take long for them to get you out and you end up missing the show. Obviously not every security personnel or staff member is going to be your best friend and they might not always be nice, but its not worth it to start an argument. This also goes without saying but be respectful to any of the acts on stage. Opening acts can sometimes be people you've never heard of or they might play music you're not really into. Even if you hate the music, don't ruin the set by talking or booing or anything like that. There's definitely people who do know and like the opening acts who want to see the set and it takes a lot to play to audience who doesn't know or necessarily like you so don't be rude. They're usually pretty short sets so just wait and know that its that much closer to the main act to come on stage.

6. If you want to be up close or at the barrier, you need to get there early. This, of course, varies from the size of venue, type of show, how dedicated fans are, the weather, etc. Some people might even camp out for the night before (or longer) if its a popular act or has very dedicated fans. For example, I know that a few Justin Bieber and twenty one pilots concerts that I have been to had fans waiting outside the venue for 3+ days to get the front row. But if you're going to a smaller venue that's less than 5,000 capacity, I wouldn't imagine camping would be necessary, but it always depends on who you're seeing. Try checking fan sites and social media to see what the super fans are talking about and you can usually get some kind of an idea of what people will be doing and what time they will be getting there to line up.

Photo by Lori Allen

7. If you are going to get there early to line up, even if you show up an hour before doors open, be respectful and honest in line. Wait your turn and don't cut people. Venues and security measures vary how they let people inside. Try to check online at the venue's website to see what their bag, food/drinks, and camera policies are. Some venues might have restrictions on what time you are allowed to start lining up. Try to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations to ensure you are let in when its your turn and you're not stuck with a bag that's too big and they won't let you in. There are also some venues that have multiple lines when letting people in. Be fair, but if everyone is going crazy, then its fair game. People will tell you no running, but if everyone's running, I'm not going to tell you to walk politely behind 200 people rushing by you. Use your common sense and pay attention to what's going on around you. If there's a bag check, have your bag open and it will go faster, just use your common sense.

8. If you plan on getting in line 3+ hours early, plan ahead. Use your best judgement on the weather. If its cold, bring a jacket, a cheap blanket, gloves, scarf, etc. You need to stay warm, but also keep in mind that once you're inside its going to warm and it gets hot VERY fast. If you have room in your bag to keep things like your gloves while you're inside, that's probably your best bet. As for coats, many venues have a coat check that usually only cost a couple bucks but that also means while you're waiting in line and checking your coat, tons of people might get in front of you in the pit. If you drove to the venue, just run your things back to your car an hour or so before doors open. If not, you run the chance of loosing your things if you leave them outside so bring cheap things that you don't care about losing.

8. Water is often given out to people in front of the pit. Even if you're 5 or 6 rows behind, you might not get water. Security are only allowed to do or give out what they have, its not their fault if they don't have cups or enough water, but it never hurts to ask for water when you're in the pit. It gets really hot like I said and especially if you haven't had a lot of water, you can get dehydrated easily. Many times water bottles or cups of water are handed out and passed around. It's your call obviously, but if it was me, I wouldn't think twice about taking a sip of water after its been handed around. Hopefully only one or two people drank some before you but usually I'm dying of thirst and wicked hot, so its worth it to have some water. Also please be sure to share it if you have more water or it gets handed to you first. Don't be the guy that drinks the whole bottle and keeps it for you and your friend. We're all thirsty and sweaty so please share.

9. If you are having a hard time breathing, having an anxiety or panic attack, feel like you're going to pass out or throw up, or any other reason you need to get out of the pit, TELL SOMEONE. Literally anyone. People are understanding and usually willing to help you. No one wants you to throw up on them or get hurt, so just try and tell people you need to get out and they will help you. If you are closer to the back just turn around and try to get out to the back, there's a lot more room back there and you will have access to the bathroom, water, and any first aid you might need. If you need any medical attention, even if you just feel faint or going to throw up, find any security or staff and they will make sure you get to their medic. Don't be embarrassed or wait too long--its not worth it, I promise you. 

10. If you see someone having a hard time and needs to get out, HELP THEM. If you're a short girl, don't try to lift someone out of the pit by yourself. Tell people around the person and say they need to get out and people will help. Get a security member's attention and they will help lift the person out and get them help if they need it.

11. Don't record the whole show. As I mentioned before, you are more likely to get pushed back when you're on your phone, but you also should just enjoy the show. I know the feeling of seeing an artist and wanting to capture every moment they walk near you, but you'll probably watch the videos 2-3 times max and you'll loose the part of living in the moment. There's something exhilarating about being at a concert and thinking about how great the band is and how great that moment is. Don't watch it through a phone screen. Don't get me wrong, I will usually take a couple pictures and videos, but don't be the person filming every single song or try to live stream the first 2 hours. The people watching them at home don't care half as much as you do and you'll have way more fun actually living it instead of worrying about how your videos are coming out. 

Photo by Ree Hines

12. Signs are a no. Always a no. Some people love signs and I really don't understand why. Yes, there's a possibility an artist might acknowledge the sign for a minute but that's about the most you will get from it. It blocks the view for a ton of people behind you, which can possibly ruin their night and I promise you, they will be bitter about it. People will try to knock your sign down and throw it away from you. Many venues don't even allow signs anymore, so if you're thinking about bringing a sign, please don't.

13. Wear merch if you have it! Some people think its weird to wear a band's shirt or other merch to their concert. It's definitely not and it shows you really like the band. More people than not wear band merch to the band's show. If you have merch, wear it! You can also buy merch there, a lot venue tends to set up merch tents early before the show and there are of course places you can buy some after the show. 

Photo by Tom Sykes

14. If you're going to a heavier concert, there might be mosh pits. Look into the band you're going to see and how their concerts are. If you don't want to be in a mosh pit, stay away from the middle, For bigger venues, they can form in a few places, but a general rule would be to stay away from the middle. People in the front couple rows are usually safe and obviously if your farther back, you can just move back if it forms around where you are. If you do start to see it forming near you, even if its a few people away from you, I would try to make your way away from it. It can spread like crazy and grow in size in a matter of seconds and can sometimes be tough to pull away from when everyone else is pulling away at the same time. This totally might not be an issue depending on who you are going to see live and many venues don't allow them, especially to many shows I've been to in the US. 

15. Crowd surfing is also a possibility. Again, some venues don't allow crowd surfing and it depends on the type of artist you're seeing. I personally am not a fan of crowd surfing or crowd surfers. They are heavy and usually come from behind. Try to be prepared as you can and if someone "surfs" over/around you try and push them forward so they don't fall on you or others, it hurts.

16. Encores are still a thing. Most shows still have encores so don't be fooled by the "we only have one more song" but they forgot to play their biggest singles. 

17. Setlists are almost always available online after the tour starts. I live and breathe setlists for upcoming concerts. I don't try to memorize the entire setlist or anything, but I like to have an idea of what the set starts with, what's in the middle, end, and the encore for the most part. Some shows artists will switch up their setlists a little, but usually if you find one setlist for the tour, it will most likely be the same or very similar to the set the band plays at your show. You can also familiarize yourself with any songs you don't know that are on the setlist so you know them when they are played live.

18. Don't set too high of expectations for the night. Overall, I think this is an important thing to remember. Especially if this is your first general admission concert, you might be bruised and sore afterwards and barely be able to feel your legs. There is a possibility of being really close to the artist(s) you went to see, as well. Just try to have the best night you can and enjoy living in the moment, even if your squished next to 1000 sweaty people :) They're all there for the same reason and like the band as much as you so make the most of it. Talk to people, make friends, and enjoy seeing your favorite songs live. 


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