Thoughts from a Very Small Music Lover
It feels like I haven’t done an article where I just complain for a while, so that’s kind of what you’re getting today. I’m an avid concert-goer, and for the most part I have a wonderful time. Experiencing live music is a feeling that you can’t find anywhere else, and it’s doubly amazing when you’re in a big group of people. There is nothing like being in a big building full of strangers and all singing the same words together. Live music is awesome. But I do want to mention some things that can make it less awesome. I’m not the concert police, but I am barely five feet tall and spend a lot of time in standing-room-only venues, so I feel like I’ve earned the right to have an opinion on this. Also, I know after growing up during the pandemic, a lot of people just aren’t familiar with concerts, which is totally fine! If you’re going to your very first concert, here are some tips to make it awesome for everyone.
- Be kind to openers!
Guys, we cannot call ourselves North Dakota Nice if we don’t treat opening bands as well as we do headliners. You don’t have to know every single word, or even have given their Spotify a glance before the show, but when they’re there in front of you, pay attention! I’ve found some of my all-time favorite bands by happening to see them opening for someone else I liked. Don’t talk over them, and give them good energy! They’re here, playing a show for you, too!
- Try not to spill beer on people
This is mostly a joke, but one time getting baptized with a Miller Lite was enough for me. Please. I know I’m closer to the ground, and the hand you’re holding your drink in is right above my head and you want to jump around, but if you just move your hand down or two inches left, I get to leave this show with less random liquid in my shoes. If there’s someone shorter than you in front of you, just watch where you’re sloshing, okay?
- Be mindful of those around you
I know you’re like, duh, Marie, what is this, an elementary school poster? But just keep the people around you in mind. If everyone’s chilling to a slow song, maybe don’t try to mosh when there are six inches between you and the nearest other people. Pick people up who fall, look out for each other, and for the love of sweet baby Jesus do not try to crowd surf in large, spike-covered boots. I feel like the Venn diagram of times I’ve been stabbed and times I’ve been stabbed at a concert is way too close to a circle.
- Talk to people! Don’t be afraid to go alone!
I know I did an article last year about going to events alone, but I stand by it! If you don’t have anyone to go to a show with, don’t let that stop you! I haven’t gone to a single concert alone where I didn’t make new friends. Whether it’s the people you’re next to in line, someone who accidentally tramples you in the pit, or even the band, shows are a great place to meet people. You’re in a big old room full of people who like the same music as you.
This is an opportunity, especially if it’s a smaller artist. When I went to see Lovejoy in NYC last winter, I solo-ed the whole thing, and didn’t spend a second of the show alone. I made tons of friends standing in line all day, and when I got inside and lost them, a very kind woman named Bianca decided I was going to be part of her friend group. She was six or seven years older than me and looked out for me all night. I’m an idiot and never asked for her last name or social media, so I’m probably never going to see her again, but she picked up my glasses and passed me water while I screamed my way through the best show of my life. It was glorious.
- Why are you glaring at me for singing along?
The overlap of people who get mad at kids for singing at shows and people who read this paper is probably not huge, but if this article makes it’s way into a disgruntled concert-goer’s hands, please. This show is loud enough to give everyone here brain damage, and it is a rock band. Why on Earth are you giving me the stink eye for singing along? Is this not what we’ve all been practicing for in the car?
- WEAR EARPLUGS.
This isn’t even an etiquette thing, it’s just good for you. Protect your ears, I am begging. Most shows have free foam earplugs, and I recently got a pair of reusable Loop earplugs that are amazing. Concerts are actually way more fun when I can hear normally on the train home, and avoiding hearing damage now means I can keep having fun at concerts for many more years.
- Cringe isn’t real
I do not care if you think the way that guy is dancing is lame, or that kid’s band patches are stupid. Especially at smaller shows, for the love of God, I am begging you not to laugh at people. If it’s not your vibe, that’s totally okay! But it’s mean to make the people whose vibe it is feel bad about it. We’re all here on Earth to have fun, even if we’re doing it with different soundtracks in different rooms. Be kind 🙂
- Artists are your friends
I’m going to tell you a silly secret. At most small shows, if you stick around, you’ll get a chance to talk to the band. They might even be selling their own merch! If you like an artist and get the chance, tell them. Buy merch. A lot of bands rely on merch to be able to live and keep making music, so if you can support them, do it! Whether you get an Eras tour shirt isn’t going to make or break Taylor Swift’s bank account, but it sure as hell keeps the lights on for that two-piece you saw open at First Avenue. Plus, it’s just cool. I crumble under the slightest amount of pressure so I know I haven’t ever been cool or calm talking to musicians I like, but it’s so wonderful to get to meet them, even if they did meet the least coherent version of me.
Like, not to flex, but I’ve met the Pansy Division. I’m gonna think about that interaction for the rest of my life, and I only got the chance because I hung around after I saw them to talk to the openers. People in bands are people, too, and a lot of the time there isn’t as much of a gap between you and them as you think. Plus, maybe you’ll be one of those lucky bastards who ends up with a signed copy of the next Fall Out Boy’s first EP. Being smug feels good sometimes, okay?
- Look out for disabled people
A lot of venues are not accessible for people with wheelchairs or other mobility aids, but this does not mean they shouldn’t be there. Everyone belongs everywhere, and if there isn’t a handicap section and someone has a cane, make room! Let people in wheelchairs get through, and try not to let anyone fall down. This goes for people who aren’t technically disabled but have physical limitations, too. Make a spot for that pregnant lady! Watch out for elderly people! Concerts aren’t a space a lot of people expect to see people with physical limitations, because we live in an ableist, generally tedious-about-people-who-are-different world. But just because I didn’t expect to see pregnant moms with toddlers at metal shows doesn’t mean they don’t belong there.
Live music is all about community. We’re all here to have the same experience together, so why not try to make it the best experience possible for everyone involved? I guess what it all comes down to is looking out for the people around you, which is also just good life advice. Keep your mind open, and always be ready to make some room.