My first punk rock concert was my sophomore year of high school. My brother was in college at the time and bought a ticket for my friend and I. We made the travel arrangements for the weekend and were very much excited for the concert that included Less Than Jake and New Found Glory. While my brother did give me helpful hints, I left the concert losing some cash, obtaining a sprained ankle, and had a number of bruises to top it all off. In hopes that everything goes safely for others, I thought I’d share some advice I have learned after going to a countless number of punk rock concerts.
First off, you want to be prepared as much as possible especially in what you wear and bring. With punk rock concerts usually packed with people, you’ll want to pack as little as possible. So males will not want to bring their wallet and females will not want to bring their purse. I say this because those things can easily get lost in the crowd (especially if you want to „crowd surf“). But the main things you’ll want to bring is the ticket, cash, and an ID (if you’re underage or would like to purchase alcohol). Everything else can easily be left in your car, but make sure you put the items you do bring in your front pockets to ensure they won’t get stolen or fall out. If the venue allows pictures being taken though, you may consider bringing your camera, but remember this may be an issue if you’re being pushed around in the front and don’t want it to be damaged.
In preparation, what should you wear? This really depends on you, but I personally would suggest to wear pants instead of shorts and shoes instead of sandals. If you plan to make your way to the front, you’ll want pants as you’ll be getting kicked around a bit and will need the extra protection. Also, if you think sandals will be okay, just imagine hundreds of people stepping on your toes. Also, bringing a sweatshirt or wearing a long sleeve shirt is not a good idea. As you’ll soon find out the venues will be very hot and you’ll have nowhere to put your extra clothes. Unless of course the venue is outside in a cooler climate, then it would be a good idea.
Now that you’re all ready to go, the fun can begin. But there are a few things you may want to know before you get too crazy. First off, you must think of where you would like to position yourself for the concert. If you want to stay in the back, just make sure you’re behind „the pit“ as this is something where people enjoy throwing each other around in a big circle. It can certainly be painful if you accidentally get hit by someone, so watch out!
But if you’re like most people, you came to see one of your favorite band and dammit, you’re going to be in the front! One thing to remember though is that there are opening bands, so you may want to wait to position yourself when the band you want to see performs as the crowd may already be packed and you’ll be drained by the time your band steps up to play. While struggling to get to the front may leave people a bit angry as you push through, just try to be nice about it and use the words „excuse me“ so people don’t start pushing you around for bumping into them.
While you may want to rush to the front to see „your band“ during a set change, you may also want to consider waiting a song or two before going ahead to the front. This is because everyone has the same idea to rush to the front during a set change and standing hand in hand with people waiting for sometimes over a half an hour can feel like eternity. Also, this way all the pushing and craziness seems to settle down a bit and you can ease your way in.
Finally, two aspects of a concert that may be the most worrisome are two things called, „crowd surfing“ and „the pit.“ If you make your way to the front of a large group, make sure you’re aware that people will certainly crowd surf as elbows, heads, and feet all may hit you unexpectedly. Also, make sure if you have earrings to take them out before you go to the front. My brother had a friend who’s earring was actually ripped off as a girl’s purse ripped it off as she was crowd surfing. Not good, huh. So that’s another thing to think about.
As far as the pit goes, if you want to be apart of people just running into each other, crazy dancing, and mostly dudes just proving their masculinity, this may be for you. But for most, it’s not. Usually this forms in the middle, behind the front line of people. Even if you’re not apart of it, make sure you’re a couple feet away so people don’t run into you. From experience, I suggest going stage right or stage left to avoid these intense people.
Overall, I encourage anyone to attend concerts and support the music they love. I hope by reading this you can maximize your fun and also be as safe as possible.
by Michael C Schneider