Rules, Tips & Advice for Attending Concerts & Festivals

Sturgill

We’ve reached May and for some of us the winter weather has finally just ended. With the weather now nice, you want to get out and do something. If you’re anything like me, you’re itching to go see some live music. It’s officially concert season! So with this in mind I started to think of all the tips and advice I’ve learned from attending various live music events and realized I could write a whole post on it. This isn’t some list where you have to follow everything on it, but are some of my rules and tips for myself and other concert goers. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a “bad” show, but I’ve seen stuff that’s rubbed me the wrong way. And I’ve seen some stuff that’s just plain wrong. So as you get ready to embark on your own concert season, here’s some rules, tips and advice to keep in mind and pass on to other fellow concert goers (this goes for any concerts, country or not).

NEVER wear a T-shirt of the band you’re going to see at the concert. 

There are a few reasons for this. First because you’ll be lumped in with the crazy super fans who show up dressed head to toe in the act’s gear (plus the groupies). Second you’re just being redundant. Third because you don’t have a chance to show off the rest of your music tastes. I always wear a t-shirt of a band similar to the one I’m seeing at the show. For example, I attended a Lucero concert about a month ago and wore my Jason Isbell shirt. It got a lot of compliments and even sparked some conversations with fellow concert goers about their shared love of Isbell. That leads me to…

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Fellow Concert Goers

This is an opportunity to meet new friends and have an even better time. You should especially do this before the show begins because waiting an hour or so before the concert begins can feel like it takes forever. Talking with others passes the time quicker. It’s especially important if you go alone. So that leads to…

Don’t Be Afraid to Go to Concerts Alone

I remember I used to not go to concerts when I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. As a result I’ve missed out on some really cool shows. It ate me up inside. Finally I had enough and said to hell with finding someone, I’ll just go alone. And I end up still having a great time. If the music is good and you chat it up with fellow fans, it’s going to fun. It may be even better to go alone because nothing is worse than dragging a reluctant guest along only for them to complain halfway through they want to leave (this has never happened to me, but I’ve heard stories and witnessed it). This tip is especially important for fellow fans of actual country and Americana because your friends will most likely only go along if it’s Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson or some terrible radio act.

That Being Said, Be Sure To Take Along Fellow Fans With You

It’s always more fun with more people.

Picking The Right Venue

When going to see live music, there’s a variety of venues you can see. I’ve been to about every type, including watching a band perform on a barge sitting in a river. There are pros and cons to each. Obviously this is highly subjective, but here are my thoughts on the most common types:

  • General Admission – This is almost always the cheapest option because you aren’t guaranteed a spot; its first come, first serve. For the concert goer on a budget, this is the ideal option. It’s usually a more up close, loud experience too that can be a lot of fun with the right crowd. You can get right up close to the stage and really feel the music. The downside to this of course is you don’t have a reserved spot. If you get to the concert late, you might get stuck with a terrible spot. So always get to these shows early. You should also avoid bathroom breaks because you can easily lose your spot. A crowd that’s too raucous can ruin this experience also.
  • Theater/Concert Hall – This is the more expensive option, but you’re guaranteed a seat. It’s also more clean and organized than general admission. For those who want a quieter, less rowdy experience and more family friendly environment, this is ideal. You can also show up closer to show time, don’t have to wait around as much and can take bathroom breaks. The cons I’ve found with theaters though is they’re not quite as fun. The crowd is too quiet and doesn’t get into the music as much it seems. The crowd can be stuffier and older, which explains why it’s too quiet. I usually only go to theaters for the more quiet, mellow acts.
  • Outdoor Amphitheater – This is my personal favorite because it has the best of the first two options above. You get a reserved seat like at a theater, but the fun, close environment of general admission. You’re also outside, which makes the sound perfect between not too loud and not too quiet. The price point of shows at amphitheaters can fluctuate and really just depends on the act. However I find the price is worth it most of the time. There are however two downsides to this option. First is the weather. You can only attend these shows during the warm months. Also when you attend these shows in the middle of summer, be prepared to sweat your ass off until the sun goes down. Second is amphitheaters can be hard to come by in your area.
  • Festivals – I’m sure you’re all familiar with a festival in your neck of the woods. Country festivals in particular have popped up like wildfire in recent years. The obvious benefit of festivals is you can see a bunch of artists over multiple days. You can cross a lot of artists off your bucket list this way. Festivals overall have a fun atmosphere and can feature more than just live music. You can get a lot of bang for your buck. That leads to the biggest downside of festivals: the price to attend one can be outrageous, especially out-of-town. After adding up the costs of tickets, gas, hotel, camping, food and extra stuff, it can get very pricey. Not even accounting for that inevitable trip to the merchandise stand! For some this is their yearly vacation because the expenses are so damn high. Then there’s the other problem I’ve often found prevents me from going to one and that’s spreading the festival out over multiple days. This is pretty annoying because inevitably all of the artists you want to see are all on different days and paired with five other artists you have no interest in. I’m not sitting through Brantley Gilbert to hear Alan Jackson. This is why we need more one and two-day festivals.

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Don’t Get Black Out Drunk

You’re there to see live music, not get so damn wasted you have to be escorted out by security for getting into a fight with someone. I’m all for having a drink or three at a concert (as long as I’m not driving), but I just don’t see the point of getting absolutely shit-faced. Not to mention the beer prices at any kind of venue you go to are going to be pretty high. You also don’t want to be the drunk person screaming the lyrics and pissing off people around you.

Don’t Be A Loud, Obnoxious Asshole When People Are Singing (especially during acoustic sets)

This is just rude. I’m looking at you people having a phone conversation while John Moreland is pouring his heart out on-stage.

Go Check Out The Merch Stand & Support Your Favorite Artist

If you’re on a budget I can understand if you don’t buy anything from the merch stand. But if you have a little extra coin to spend, go check out the merch stand. This is the best way you can support your favorite artist because they get all of the money from it. Sometimes the merch stand will even have stuff you can’t find online or anywhere else, especially leftover old records that aren’t sold at outlets anymore. Independent artists will especially thank you for doing this.

Be Helpful & Respectful To Your Fellow Concert Goer

This should go without saying.

Don’t Spend The Entire Show Capturing Videos & Pictures

Snap a few pictures and maybe one video. Then put your phone away and enjoy the show.

If You’re Tall, Be Aware of People Around You and Try Your Best Not To Block. If You’re Short, Arrive Early and Find A Good Spot Near The Front. 

This is only applicable for general admission and festivals.

You Should Always Call For An Encore. And Always Stick Around For The Encore. 

If the band you’re watching has put on a great show, always make noise for the encore. Do not leave before the encore, unless you have an emergency. You look like a square if you leave before the encore.

That being said if the show sucks, feel free to leave. You’ll probably be gone before the encore is even thought about.

Have Fun!

Duh. Hope you all enjoy the concerts and live music you attend this summer. And feel free to add your own rules and tips in the comments below.

Wade Bowen Concert Recap/Review

 

Wade Bowen
Wade Bowen

On November 21st, I had the great pleasure to finally see a Wade Bowen concert.  My first exposure to Bowen was hearing him sing alongside Will Hoge on “Another Song Nobody Will Hear.” After that I quickly got my hands on Wade’s catalog and I’ve been a huge fan since. So imagine my excitement to learn that Wade Bowen would be in downtown Oklahoma City that Friday night, just a mere 20 minute drive from my place. The show kicked off at 9:30 pm with about a 50 minute opening set from Chance Anderson, a Oklahoma singer/songwriter. Anderson did a great job setting the mood for the night and put on an enjoyable show. After a 45 minute break to reset the stage, enter Wade Bowen.

Chance Anderson
Chance Anderson

Bowen kicked off the show with his brand new single, “When I Woke Up Today.” Until that night, my only exposure to Wade Bowen’s live music were two live albums, but experiencing live music in person is much better, especially Bowen’s music. His voice is nearly identical to what you hear on his studio recordings; the man can flat-out sing. After playing “Trouble,” Bowen welcomed the crowd and explained that they had a full set list to play, including over half of his great new album. But this first talk with the crowd ended with him exclaiming let’s enjoy “some country music tonight” heading straight into his great protest song “Songs About Trucks.”

Wade Solo 2From there, Bowen and the band treated this crowd to some wonderful live music. He sang the definite standouts from the new album like “West Texas Rain”, “Watch Her Drive” and “Long Enough to Be a Memory” along with fan favorites like “Resurrection”, “Mood Ring” (which also had a brief “Ain’t No Sunshine” interlude) and the love song every Wade Bowen fan knows in “Who I Am.” He encouraged the crowd to get pumped up with songs like “Saturday Night”, “Patch of Bad Weather” and “When It’s Reckless.” He also captivated the crowd with heartfelt performances of his slower songs like “Walkin’ Along the Fenceline” and “My California.” Before singing “Hungover” Wade Bowen treated the fans to a short acoustic guitar solo. And as the main set closed out with “Beat Me Down” each member of the band got some spotlight time for solos, including a great drum solo!

In the encore set, Wade Bowen talked about how proud he was to have been able to play in the mother church of country music, the Ryman Auditorium, a few weeks ago. This led to an a-capella opening of the chorus of “If We Ever Make It Home” before playing that song in full. After that this Oklahoma honky-tonk bar enjoyed hearing Bowen’s new song, “Honky Tonk Road.” Here I thought the show was over, but the band had one more song up their sleeve: a cover of The Rolling Stone’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”! I really enjoyed watch Wade Bowen strut across the stage, doing his best Mick Jagger impression.

WB Guitar Pick
One of his guitar picks we got as he flicked them into the crowd.

Overall, it was a great show with some of the best modern country music you’ll find today. Wade Bowen is a great singer, and if you’re a fan of his music, then you couldn’t ask for more than to hear him sing his hit songs for about two hours. Maybe it was the venue’s acoustics or the audio mixing, but there were times it was tough to hear a line or two during some songs, but it didn’t take away from the show much. The stage was small, and at times seemed a little crowded with Wade and his three guitarist (2 electric, 1 bassist) standing, but the four men weaved around each other seamlessly throughout the night. As a singer, you can tell Wade Bowen appreciates his band and was more than happy to give them the spotlight during solos. For the most part the crowd was pleasant and not all that rowdy. In fact, there was an old guy with a long white beard front and center who, I bet, danced more than anyone else in the crowd. He was quite an entertaining sideshow. That guy had the time of his life, and the younger women around him even danced with him at times. This is how concerts should be enjoyed, in my opinion. If you enjoy Wade Bowen’s music, I think it’s worth catching a show of his at least once. Thanks to Wade Bowen and company for a great show!

Wade Full Band 1