The Case for Going to a Concert Solo and Doing it Safely
There's nothing better than singing your favorite songs along with your favorite artist/band. And nothing beats the energy of being surrounded by people who share the same love for said artist/band. That's why I love concerts and go whenever possible. This means sometimes, I'm flying solo.
My first solo adventure was almost 8 years ago, at the venue formerly known as The Cumberland County Civic Center. I acquired a ticket off eBay to see Cavo, Lifehouse, and Daughtry. I was honestly pretty nervous about it but the fomo (fear of missing out, as the kids say) was worse. Since then, I've been to a handful of shows alone. Everyone looks at me like I'm crazy for doing it, but I love it! Here are my thoughts on why it's awesome, and how to be smart about it!
1. Know your band- This is important because it will help you judge the crowd. There are bands I absolutely wouldn't dare go to solo. Exhibit A would be when I was seeing Flyleaf, Breaking Benjamin, and Three Days Grace in 2010. I went with my brother and some friends and during Breaking Benjamin there were moments when the crowd was so pushy, my feet weren't even touching the ground. At times I somehow would get separated from my group until a long arm came and pulled me back. We ultimately decided we were better off watching the show from the side. Had I gone solo I would have been miserable, and/or injured. Not worth it. When you're aware of the kind of crowd a band or artist draws, you can determine if you're up for the worst of it, just in case.
2. Know your venue- If you've been to the venue before this is pretty easy. If not, Google is your friend. Look at pictures inside, if you have an assigned seat know where it is. Know where you'll be parking and prepare for the parking costs. $20 should be safe. Read reviews! Go to their Facebook. You'll see the worst of the worst experiences here because, as we all know, Facebook is where we all go to complain. Know that these reviews are likely the exceptions and not the rules but again, this will help you decide if you're willing to deal with the worst. Maybe you'll be lucky and come across nothing but positive experiences! Ha, who am I kidding? This is the Internet.
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3. Don't be cheap and buy early-Depending on the venue, general admission could be a mess. Lots of people, and you can't see! What's the point of going if you're way in the back? If there's someone I really want to see I buy my ticket as soon as it goes on sale. If I REALLY like the band I'm already in the fan club or I'm opting for VIP. There are many benefits here. Not only are you meeting someone you admire, but you likely have better seats, early admission, and since you're going solo the extra cost probably covers the cost for you and a friend for just ok seats. You also build a camaraderie with the other VIPs since you share the same love. It will give you a sense of comfort that even though you're there alone, you're not really alone.
4. GA only show? Be there early-I know the thought of waiting in line for an hour is less than appealing but this is so important unless you want to be in a sea of people or way in the back. My goal is always to be right up front so I can hold on to the security gate as an anchor and support. This is especially key during music festivals when you'll be there for a long time. I went to a music festival once that lasted 5 or so bands. It was so nice to be able to lean against the gate. Another benefit to going solo is the freedom to move around and not worry about others tagging a long. If you don't end up up front it's infinitely easier to get up front as one individual. People assume you're just going back to where you were before. This came in handy when I was at the Fozzy show last month. While I wasn't alone I was content with sitting in the balcony. Or so I thought. As we were heading towards the headliner I couldn't help it. I needed to go up front. This paid off as I was later brought on stage. The other benefit is being up front you're way more likely to get a high-five, a t-shirt, CD, drumstick, etc. The Daughtry show I went to solo paid off in that I wasn't worried about my friends. I was alone so I did what I wanted. I got a picture with Cavo, and being on the security gate, one of the security guys apparently noticed me, perhaps because I was alone, asked me if I liked Daughtry, I said yes, and he handed me one of his sweat towels! A few years later I caught Daughtry's drumstick, Theory of a Deadman's guitar pick, The Struts' setlist, Karmin's setlist, and Palisades setlist. One time, a drunk Wes Scantlin (of Puddle of Mudd) drunkenly crowd surfed over me.
5. Get yourself a concert mom-Can't grab the gate? Plan B, find short people or middle aged moms! Stay with me here, nothing is worse than being behind the tall guy and there are always middle aged ladies at shows. Either because they're really into the band, or got dragged there by their kids. Basically, they're a safe bet to not be obnoxious and if there's a creeper nearby it's not difficult to act like you're with them or enlist them as an escort to your car. Also, venue staff and security are usually readily available if you're not feeling safe.
6. Stay sober-This one's pretty simple but it's worth saying. Things can get out of hand quickly when alcohol is involved. You can't count on others to keep an eye on you and you want to be as clear minded as possible. This also eliminates the risk of someone putting something in your drink. I don't say this to scare you, it's very uncommon, but I want the worst circumstances to be considered so you can prepare!
7. Don't advertise- This is along the same lines as not telling everyone on Facebook and Twitter when you're going on vacation. That automatically puts a big target on your house for getting robbed. Saying you're going to a show solo also puts on a huge target.
8a. Know where the tour bus is. 8b. Follow the band on social media- This is a long shot, but paid off for me! After seeing Dorothy and The Struts at Port City Music Hall, I planned my walk back to the car to include going by the buses. I had seen Dorothy doing Facebook live streams after shows just hanging out so I knew it was a possibility they'd be there. I was right! There they were taking pictures with fans. The bassist even recognized me from Instagram!
9. Stay alert-This one is important walking to and from the venue. Keep your nose out of your phone. A distracted person is an easy target. Be alert, make eye contact, and keep walking.
Those are the basics! Know you can't prevent everything but you can make yourself as prepared as possible. Trust your gut and have fun.