Going to a concert can seem daunting, but it can also be an extremely memorable experience. My first concert was JLS at Warwick Castle when I was 8 years old, and I definitely caught the bug. I seem to be at a different gig every month, and I have it down to a fine art. Hopefully, this can serve as a handy guide on how to survive your first concert.
The first step is getting your hands on tickets. This can be harder than it seems, especially for bigger artists who don’t tour regularly. It is essential to determine if a presale is happening, and what you need to do to gain that early access. This can be as simple as entering your email, or could involve purchasing an album—it is always worth it though. In order to get presale tickets for various Sam Fender gigs in 2019, I ended up with 3 copies of Hypersonic Missiles.
Securing tickets is the first thrill, but it only gets better from here
Once you have that all-important code or link, get yourself ready to buy some tickets. If presale starts at 10 am, get the page loaded at 9:30 am—be as prepared as possible. Most ticket sites have very user-friendly interfaces; you might have to wait in a queue, but if you followed all the above steps you should soon have those golden tickets.
Now you can start getting excited! Securing tickets is the first thrill, but it only gets better from here. There are a number of things to check, mainly venue, stage times, and transport—but we will cover all these in due course. Go on, get excited again.
Transport is vital to sort. Nine times out of ten I will get the train, as they usually run late enough that you can easily get home. We are lucky at Warwick to have easy access to both Coventry and Birmingham, and you can get to London if you’re well-organised. I managed to get to Shepherd’s Bush and back to see Loïc Nottet in 2016 in one day, but it was a very stressful experience and not one that comes highly recommended. Stick to somewhere more local, and chances are you’ll be able to get the train there and back.
The smaller the band, the easier it will be to get the front
When you arrive at your destination, it is paramount that you eat something. Concerts are tiring and you can spend long periods of time on your feet—you need to be fuelled. They’ll be plenty of time before the main act, don’t worry! Whilst you’re eating, you should be able to find the stage times, although they are not always available. These can be found either on the venue’s website or the artist’s social media. If these are both unsuccessful and it is not the opening night of the tour, ask on Twitter, and it’s likely someone will let you know.
Now it’s time to start heading over to the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes so make sure to check where you’re going beforehand, and what sort of venue it is. Broadly, most will fall into one of two categories, arenas and academies. Arenas normally play host to bigger artists, and they have a much larger capacity than their counterparts. Unless you have a standing ticket, an arena gig usually means a designated seat which helps alleviates a bit of stress. On the other hand, so-called ‘academies’ are smaller in size and tend to be standing, and even when they do seating, it is unreserved. For this reason, I would recommend getting in earlier and finding where you want to position yourself. The smaller the band, the easier it will be to get the front, so bear that in mind when you decide what time you want to go in.
Sometimes, you will go to a gig that is at an unusual location, and these are my personal favourites. I’ve seen George Ezra in a forest, Half Man Half Biscuit in a cave, and Tom Jones at Hampton Court Palace. Tips with these are hard to give, but make sure to check the website and get there as early as possible. My major takeaway is don’t let strange venues scare you off, as they make for an extremely unique and magical experience.
And just like that, it’ll be over. You’ll likely be absolutely buzzing, as I always am. But don’t run off just yet! If you’re at a small gig (say, 100-200 people) please stay around and chat with the artist—it is the most rewarding interaction for you and them. Personally, I got to talk to Joe Hicks after his gig in February this year. Being able to share my love of his music gave me so much gratification, and you could tell it meant just as much to him. Normally, the artist will hang around near the merch stand, so don’t be shy. I always used to be, but it’s those moments you will remember.
And then, before you know it, it’s all done and you’re on your way back home. So much anticipation for what can often feel like a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably already be booking tickets to your next concert.