I decided my first article for Louisville.com should be an epic, mind-blowing masterpiece. I have been writing, revising, and adding to what I call “a guide to concerts” for many years now. When I was in high school, my husband (then, boyfriend) was in a Christian punk rock group called Brother Hill. I learned a lot about concert etiquette by touring Kentuckiana with them. (Touring being a loosely used term meaning “playing in extremely shady venues for next to nothing nearly every weekend.”) Though I’m not much of a performer (aside from performing in front of about 100 5-10 year olds daily as a music teacher), I feel I have been to enough concerts and gone through enough concert drama to be qualified to write this guide. Without further ado, here is my guide to concerts.
A Guide to Concerts by Jenna Foster
Chapter 1 - How You Must Behave
You have every right to behave like a total fool by throwing panties at your favorite band, if your favorite band is actually famous. For local bands, keep your hormones under control because you never know if a girlfriend is right behind you. We don't like it when you talk about our boyfriends like they are Paul McCartney and you are a '60s schoolgirl. In fact, you may accidentally get into a very physical mosh pit and go home badly injured.
AIR GUITAR/DRUMS/BASS/INSTRUMENTS IN GENERAL
Please do not play air instruments. You may be a musician who actually knows how to play the song, but no one can differentiate you from a guy who hasn't even picked up a recorder when you are playing air instruments. It does not look cool under any intoxicated circumstance.
Dancing is a delightful concert activity; however, if you know you won't remember it the next day, you probably shouldn't be dancing unless you really want to amuse the sober people.
Chapter 2 - The Pits
Pits require an entirely different set of behaviors. When you are going to be in a pit, please remember to deodorize your own pits for the sake of the people around you. Speaking of the people around you, you should be nice to them. You will be VERY close to them for the next 5 hours, so you may as well start off on the right foot. For example, starting off on the right foot does not include leaving your spot many times and expecting to get it back nor does it include dancing in another person's personal space. If this should happen, accidentally hit them while slam dancing for they have broken a cardinal rule of concert going and they know it.
A tip from a veteran: never stand in front of a mosh pit, for you will get thrown violently into the stage and leave with many bruises on your abdomen. If you do not want to mosh or slam dance, you should reconsider the spot you have chosen and move before you break a leg or tear your pants open.
Chapter 3 - How To Get What You Want
Be ready to break the rules. No backstage access? No problem. Get in good with the security guard. A smile will work for girls, but you may want to bring him food if you're a guy. Within a few minutes, he'll let you backstage to get your picture, autograph, etc. Enter every contest, fight for the perfect seat (even if it's not the one for which you paid), and always look out for your concert buddies. If they get on stage, you get on stage, and vice-versa. It's that simple.
Chapter 4 - Must Haves
Here's a list of logical items to bring to a concert:
1) Hand Sanitizer - You never know what kind of disease you’re up against.
2) Earplugs - Earplugs are not needed if you are going to a professional concert or if you’re practically deaf from concert-going already; however, they are needed if you are going to a bar concert or if you will be standing directly by a speaker. You used to be able to get them at Ear-X-Tacy for a little over a buck, and they came in an awesome key chain carrying case. Now, you’ll have to go to WalMart. They are located near the contact solution in the pharmacy. They even have pink ones, which is fun.
3) Cash – Merch girls generally don't take credit cards, and you must have something to slip the security guard if smiling and food doesn’t work.
4) A Purse with Long Straps - If you choose to bring a purse, one with long straps is best because you can sling it over your shoulder to dance, take pictures, etc.
5) A Camera - Cell phone pictures just don't cut it sometimes.
Chapter 5 - The Do's and Don’ts
DO wear comfortable shoes. Heels just do not feel good after walking from Cardinal Stadium to Churchill Downs, and 4 hours of standing in freezing rain on stage with the Rolling Stones. (Yes, this happened. The pain was well worth Mick Jagger waving at my mom and me.)
DO NOT waste your money on stickers, buttons, or other useless band merch. Go with the best investment, the t-shirt. You will use it way more often than a sticker.
DO NOT wear a short skirt for you never know where you will be sitting.
DO try to look your best. You never know who you’ll see roaming around the venue!
DO NOT leave your spot at any time, and DO pee before you get to your spot
Chapter 6 - The "Rock On" Symbol
In no circumstance is it permissible or considered cool to throw up a Rock On. If the bass and the pounding of your heart has fallen in time together and you just can't help it, please make sure you are throwing up the right symbol.
To make a Rock On symbol fold down your middle and ring finger, let your thumb hold them down at the nails, and keep your pinky and pointer finger extended. Most people get confused when it comes to the thumb. Do not leave your thumb extended for this is the American Sign Language symbol for "I love you," and you can imagine how throwing up that symbol versus Rock On could be embarrassing.
Chapter 7 – Groupies
I recently met some groupies. It was a scary experience, but I learned two things.
- Do not fall into the trap and become a groupie. Tyson Ritter is not going to be so moved by the fact that you have been to 30 of his shows that he is going to marry you. I’m sorry, but we are talking about a man who got paid to make out with Emma Stone. There is no way you will ever live up to that.
- Follow them. They may be crazy, but they know their stuff. If you can handle them for a day, they will show you all the ropes, and you will get front row, meet and greet, etc.
Chapter 8 – Louisville Venues
Become friends with the people working at local venues like Headliner’s and Expo Five. They may have gauged ears and tattoos, but I promise they’re nice people. The better you treat them, the better they treat you!