Sunday, December 28, 2008

How to Attend an Indie Rock Concert

No one is born well-versed in the music scene. It is a skill that can only be developed with time and observation. Did a friend invite you to hear "this new band" but afraid to go because you'll look out of place and awkward? Nobody wants that, especially me. These quick tips make it easier for one to slip into the music scene and leave behind that "out-of-place" feeling.

Things You'll Need
  • money for tickets/transportation (most local shows run under $20, and venues are usually easily accessible in major cities).
  • spending cash for after the show/at the bar (dehydration is a significant factor)
  • comfortable, breathable clothing
  • at least one accessory that can be considered "hipster" "indie" or "emo" (scarves work the best, visible tattoos a plus.)
  • an open mind

Step One
Be knowledgeable about the band playing. Most every band has a myspace music page; check out their profile before the show. Listen to the songs posted, and try to remember your favorite one. When (or if) they play it, you can turn to your friend/date/whomever and say "this is my favorite song!" They'll be so impressed, they'll think you've been doing this for years. Fun facts about the band never hurt either. For instance, while the band is setting up, you can make casual conversation by saying, "did you know the lead singer has been vegan for seven years?"

Step Two
Take your wardrobe into consideration. If you don't want to feel out of place, I'd skip the khakis and polo. Skinny legs and V-necks are musts at most shows. Bold colors work best (the more neon, the better). Hair is usually dramatically swept to one side, and disheveled. Flats and Chuck Taylors are the most acceptable footwear. As noted in the "Things You'll Need" section, accessories don't hurt. Scarves, chunky bracelets, facial piercings and sleeve tattoos are commonplace.

Step Three
Be organized and observant. Most concert-goers will have an "I don't care" feel to them, but this is a lie, and a strategically practiced attitude. Have tickets (or money ready) well before the show, and secure the location of the club or venue (it's always a good idea to call ahead and confirm when the band takes the stage). Walk around the venue. Be sure to locate the bathroom, bar, merch table, and band entrance (this may be the best place to catch a quick conversation). Avoid carrying a large bag/purse in with you, as you may not leave with it. Store all cell phones, cameras and cash in your pockets, and check them frequently.

Step Four
Show an appropriate amount of enthusiasm. As you will notice along the course of your indie rock concert adventure, the die-hards will push into front row and may form a mosh-pit. It is strongly advised to stay away from this area. The sides of the stage usually remain mellow, or the back of the venue may prove easier for conversation. Singing and dancing are encouraged to an extent, but this is not an NSync concert. Nod along and clap after songs; lighters and cell phones usually come out during slower numbers.

Step Five
Hang around after the show. The band will more than likely talk to fans afterwards. Walk around the venue outside; normally, word gets out where a band is greeting fans and a small dedicated group will already be gathered. This is your moment to observe and learn more about the scene, or even make new friends. Conversations with strangers prove easier when everyone is still on a post-concert high and anticipating meeting the band. If the band does come out, strike up an interesting conversation ("there's this great vegan restaurant downtown"). Some bands will hang out afterwards at bars, clubs, or even house parties. Keep your ears and eyes open, and you may be partying with the band that night. At that point: congratulations, you have successfully assimilated into the music scene.

Tips & Warnings
  • Remember: comfortable, closed-toed shoes! Crammed crowds are the best places to get smashed toes.
  • You will sweat, so heavy-antiperspirant is recommended.
  • Be early! You may just catch the band walking around.
  • Music WILL be loud
  • You WILL reek of smoke afterwards
  • You WILL want a cold drink and a hot shower afterwards

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