Concert etiquette and tips: The ultimate survival guide

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Chase Lewis
Mat Kearney attracted large crowds to his 2015 concert at The Complex in Salt Lake City. (Chase Lewis)

Whether you bought tickets to see your favorite band months in advance, or your friend brought you along to see a band you don’t know, concerts are exciting, memorable experiences.

Sometimes concerts can be chaotic and feel overwhelming. Maybe you have never been to a concert and wonder how to act or what to do.

The following is a comprehensive guide for summer concert fun, along with some common concert etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Buying tickets

The best way to know when your favorite band is coming to town is to follow them on social media. The songkick website allows users to follow artists and get notified when they are coming to your area.

Many big name concerts in Utah sell tickets through ticketmaster.com, but most shows are sold through two different local websites: smithstix.com and 24tix.com. It’s often helpful to check these websites to see several months in advance who is stopping in Utah.

Some venues cater to different genres, while others are bigger and attract more prominent artists. For example, Velour Music Gallery in Provo mainly features Provo bands, The Complex in Salt Lake City books many metal, hip-hop and electronic artists, and Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City hosts some of the biggest, most high-profile artists in the world.

Check the venue website and see if they have box office locations to avoid online fees. This way you can pick tickets up in person, free of extra charges.

Go with a group

Plan ahead to buy tickets together with a group, or offer to buy a friend’s ticket if they’ll pay you back. It’s safer to be in a group than to go alone.

Even if you go with your own group, try meeting some new people when you’re standing in line or waiting for the concert to start. It can make the experience fun to meet new people who share similar interests, and it’s always a good idea to have some people who can save your spot or help deal with rowdy crowds.

You’ll probably have a better experience if you know the music and can sing along. If you invite your friend to come but they don’t know the band, make sure to introduce them to some songs so they’ll have a better time as well.

What to bring

It can be fun to dress up and express your fashion sense at a concert, but don’t wear your fanciest clothing. Wear comfortable clothing that’s not too hot or bulky and can get a bit dirty. You’ll also want to wear closed-toed shoes in case you accidentally get stepped on, or the crowd starts jumping.

Don’t forget to bring your ticket and ID to the show. Some venues will want to see your ID to verify your age because they only allow age 21 and over audiences. People are able to buy new tickets at the door if they forget them, but this can make a concert much more expensive.

Where to stand

It’s a good idea to decide as a group where you want to watch the concert before you arrive; different people might have different opinions and expectations. The closer you are to the stage, the more packed the crowd around you will be.

Chase Lewis
BYU Junior Max Butterfield plays in several local bands, including Riveter’s Son and Spears. He’s a fan of attending both jazz and metal concerts. (Chase Lewis)

Max Butterfield, a BYU senior studying electrical engineering and avid concertgoer said he thinks the best sound quality in any concert venue is right in front of the sound mixer.

“Because of the venue’s acoustics, and the way the guy is mixing the audio, he’s positioned in the ideal spot for listening,” Butterfield said.

Butterfield recommended to all concert goers to remember to use earplugs. He’s experienced some damage to his hearing from attending many heavy metal concerts, and said he usually enjoys the experience much more when he wears earplugs.

“It’s loud in there; take care of your ears,” Butterfield said.

He also said the front is usually full of high energy, which can be a lot of fun.

It may be worth becoming extra friendly with strangers and risking the “can of sardines” effect to be up close to your favorite band. However, if you get claustrophobic in crowds, Butterfield said to not be afraid to stand near the middle or the back where the crowd is a bit looser and more relaxed.

Make a plan to meet your friends in a specific location if you get separated, since cell service rarely seems to work in large, crowded concert venues. No one is going to hear your call or see your text until after the show.

Enjoying the show

On that note, put away your phone during the show. You paid good money to be there; texting or taking video during the entire show may ruin the live experience. Your fellow concertgoers don’t want to watch the show from behind your hand sticking up in the air holding your phone. Take a picture or two, then put your phone away and enjoy the show.

Marcus Anderson, a recent BYU graduate in trombone performance, said his best concert advice is to go crazy and just have fun. There’s no point in being self conscious; let loose a little bit and dance. Try to let go of your ego or feelings of awkwardness.

Remember who you are

It’s key to remember to be polite and respectful while you’re having fun. You shouldn’t push or shove anyone that’s not already part of a mosh pit, and it’s incredibly rude to push your way through the crowd to get to the front.

Remember that some concert goers may be smaller than you, or may not enjoy dancing the way you do. Don’t let any dancing get so wild or excessive that it annoys others or causes violence. Concertgoers gather for the same reason: to enjoy the music and have a memorable time. Generally, no one is trying to incite violence or conflict, even though the crowd may get rowdy. However, sometimes incidents do happen.

Annie Himes
Ben Himes (third from the right) with his fiancé Annie Johnson and a group of friends pose in front of the stage before seeing RATATAT in Salt Lake City. (Annie Himes)

Ben Himes, a BYU junior studying mechanical engineering,said his most memorable concert experience was in 2015 when he saw RATATAT with his friends and fiancé at the time, Annie Johnson.

They each had special passes that allowed them to get in to the venue before anyone else, which meant a front row show.

A group of women pushed their way to the front during the concert and demanded Ben, Annie and their friends give up their spots because the girls were “bigger fans of the band.”

Ben and his group politely declined, and said they had come early so they could enjoy the show from the front. Suddenly the women began pulling Ben’s friends’ hair, insulting the group and hitting Annie. Security intervened and the concert continued, but the experience stuck with Ben and Annie.

“You go to a concert because you want to celebrate life and have a good time; I’m surprised how sometimes people go to a show and forget their humanity. People should be respectful above all else,” Ben said. “That girl sold out her humanity.”

He said it’s important to relax, enjoy yourself and not take the antics of other people too seriously. However, if you feel threatened or if someone else’s rudeness is ruining your night, he suggests moving away to another spot.

Experiences like Ben’s are more rare than common, but it pays to be respectful and treat others how you want to be treated. Remembering proper etiquette and these tips are sure to make concerts some of the most memorable, fun experiences a person can have.

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