My first punk rock concert was in my sophomore grade in high school. My brother was in college at the time and bought a ticket for my friend and me. We set up a trip for the weekend and were very excited about the concert which included Less Than Jake and New Found Glory. While my brother was giving me helpful tips, I left the concert losing some cash, twisting my ankle and had a lot of bruises on top of that. Hoping that things would be safe for the others, I thought I’d share some advice I’ve learned after countless punk rock shows.
First, you want to be as prepared as possible, especially with what you wear and what you bring. At punk rock concerts that are usually full of people, you’ll want to pack as little as possible. So males will not want to carry a wallet and females will not want to carry a purse. I say this because these things can easily get lost in a crowd (especially if you want to “crowd surfing”). But the most important things you will want to bring are your ticket, cash and ID (if you are underage or want to buy alcohol). Everything else can easily be left in the car, but make sure to put items you are bringing in the front pockets so they don’t get stolen or fall out. However, if the space allows you to take photos, you might consider taking your camera, but bear in mind that this can be a problem if you are pushed in the front and don’t want it damaged.
In preparation, what to wear? It’s really up to you, but I would personally advise you to wear pants instead of shorts and shoes instead of sandals. If you plan on moving forward, you will need pants as you will be kicking a bit and will need some extra protection. Also, if you think the sandals will be okay, imagine hundreds of people stepping on your toes. Also, it’s not a good idea to bring a sweatshirt or long-sleeved shirt with you. As you will soon find out, the premises will be very hot and you will have nowhere to put any extra clothes. Unless of course the site is outside in cooler climates, that would be a good idea.
Now that you are all ready the fun can begin. But there are a few things you may want to know before you get too crazy. First, you have to think where you would like to position yourself for the concert. If you want to stay behind, just make sure you are behind the “bottom” as this is something where people like to throw each other in a big circle. It can certainly be painful if someone accidentally hits you, so watch out!
But if you’re like most people, you’ll come see one of your favorite bands and, damn, you’ll be in the lead! One thing to remember is that there are opening bands, so you may want to wait to line up when the band you want to see performs because the crowd may already be full and you will be exhausted when your band comes to play. While the struggle to get ahead can make people a bit angry when you jostle, just try to be nice and use the words “sorry” lest people start pushing you for bumping into them.
While you may want to rush forward to see “your band” changing your kit, you may also consider waiting for a song or two before moving forward. This is because everyone has the same idea to move forward when switching sets, and standing hand in hand with people waiting sometimes over half an hour can feel like an eternity. This way, all the pushing and madness seems to calm down a bit and you can make your way easier.
Finally, the two aspects of the show that may be most disturbing are the two things known as “crowd surfing” and “pit stop”. If you go to the front of a large group make sure people are sure to surf in crowds as elbows, heads and feet can hit you unexpectedly. Also, make sure you have earrings to take them out before moving forward. My brother had a friend whose earring was ripped off when the girl’s purse tore it off as she surfed in the crowd. Not good huh. So that’s another thing to think about.
When it comes to the bottom, if you want to be away from people just bumping into each other, crazy dances and mostly dudes just proving their manhood, this might be for you. But for most it is not. It usually forms in the center behind the first line of people. Even if you’re not outside of that, make sure you are a few feet away so people don’t bump into you. From experience, I suggest going to the right or left on stage to avoid those intense people.
Overall, I encourage everyone to go to concerts and support the music they love. Hopefully by reading this you will maximize your fun and be as safe as possible.