Surviving your first concert experience
Before attending your first heavy metal show during your teenage years or adult life, you should be somewhat aware of proper concert etiquette. You should have a basic understanding of the Dos and Don’ts of the mosh pit, how to handle the opposite sex, and when it’s cool to sing along to your favorite songs. Your primary goal is to avoid looking and feeling like a complete dingleberry. Here are some tips based on real life experiences to help you survive your first rock show, one of the most exciting experiences of your young life.
What not to wear
One of the most daunting tasks of attending a heavy metal concert is deciding what to wear. The bottom half is easy because you can’t go wrong with a pair of jeans or cargo shorts in the summer. When it comes to the top, you have to exercise some caution. The most important rule is that you never wear the t-shirt of the band that you are going to see. As actor Jeremy Piven states in the movie PCU, “don’t be that guy.” You can wear a black t-shirt of another band that you like, but make sure you are a real fan of that band. Chances are someone will ask you about it, “hey, what do you think of their new drummer?” You want to be able to answer with ease. If you lack this type of confidence, then wear a plain black t-shirt. But remember, don’t wear a Disturbed shirt to a Disturbed concert.
Playing music in the parking lot
You get to the parking lot 5 hours before the doors open to take in the culture. You eat a hotdog and tell the roving monks you are not interested in the sacred literature they want to sell you. You also turn down the counterfeit tour t-shirt with the wrong dates and bands. The main reason you are in the parking lot is to meet cool people with similar interests and to hear some killer music from the car stereo. When playing music before the concert, do not play any songs by the bands you are going to see that night. No one wants to hear “Enter Sandman” in the parking lot at a Metallica show. Concert tip: Steer clear of the cars that are blasting the band’s classic album they are going to see.
Don’t accept alcohol or drugs from anyone
After a couple of hours in the parking lot, you notice people are getting loud and rowdy. They are intoxicated, on drugs, and obnoxious. The hairy dude three cars down stumbles on over and offers you a sip from his 100-proof bottle of whiskey concealed in a beach towel, in exchange for a red Solo cup. If you have an extra cup, then give him one. But, you are better off not taking the whiskey from this weirdo. You do not know what’s in that bottle. If you take liquor from this guy, you will end up in the backseat of a 1988 Pontiac with your hands down his toothless girlfriend’s pants. You will learn later that she recently served jail time for abandoning her second newborn in a dumpster behind the motor lodge. You will be scarred for life all because you drank that guy’s whiskey.
Use the restroom
You enter the venue too early in anticipation of seeing your favorite band. You find a cozy spot on the floor that is really close to the stage. You wait 4 hours for your favorite band to come on and rock your face off. However, you drank 6 Dr. Peppers to pass the time and now you have to pee real bad. You think, I can easily go in my pants without anyone noticing since I am already sweaty and smelly. If I piss myself, I will not lose my spot. Another thought you have is to whip out your little piece and let the stream flow discreetly, while doing your best not to get the couple in front of you wet. These thoughts are somewhat rational given your circumstances, however both will end badly. You will hate yourself for going in your pants as you lose all of your dignity. And, someone will certainly notice that awkward stain down the side of your left pant leg by the end of the night. If you release yourself on the floor then you will deservedly get punched in the groin and escorted out by security. The lesson: use the bathroom. You can always maneuver yourself to a decent location when you have general admission tickets. If you have seats, you have no excuse not to use the restroom.
Use your sex’s restroom
Assume that you really have to urinate badly. You run to the bathroom and the line is enormous. You notice the bathroom line for the opposite sex is much shorter or non-existent. What do you do? The principle rule here is that the sexes should stay in their respective bathrooms. While girls may get a kick out of seeing a line of men unleash the fury at a urinal, and guys may get their jollies hearing girls pee, it becomes a serious safety hazard for both sexes to be in there. Some people go to the restroom specifically to get away from the opposite sex. Hence the name “REST-room.”
Don’t take on a dare from a stranger
Suppose the sink in the bathroom is backed-up. It is overflowing with water, spit, blood, and vomit. Now suppose that a random person, issues a challenge: “I’ll give $20 to anyone who’s willing to take a drink from what’s in that sink.” No matter how bad you want that money to buy an over-priced band t-shirt, do not step up to the challenge. In other words, if you can ignore a dare at a concert, you will avoid contracting hepatitis, herpes, and viral meningitis.
Don’t sexually assault anyone
If you are a guy at a metal concert, then you are part of the 96% of concertgoers. The other 4% are female: 90% of them are there with boyfriends and 10% are single. You see one of the single ladies crowd surfing and observe a guy cop a feel as the girl is passed overhead. You think, this is my big opportunity and nonchalantly graze her chest. Congratulations, you just committed your first act of assault. You are officially a low-life loser and should be arrested.
Don’t go crowd surfing
Crowd surfing should have died out after Woodstock ’94, but unfortunately it still exists. Females should not crowd surf for reasons previously addressed. Males should not crowd surf because they will get punched in places I don’t care to state. Crowd surfing is an inconvenience for all. Crowd surfers cause injury to innocent concertgoers, distract from the performance, and inconvenience the security guards that have to try to catch these inconsiderate drunkards. If you are less than 150 pounds and want to try it once, then go ahead. But you should grow out of it by your 16th birthday at the latest. In the post-grunge period, crowd surfing will make you look uncool.
Know when to sing along
The band that you came to see is now 8 songs into their set. You get really excited because they start playing their latest single and you know the words to the chorus! You sing and scream the refrain at the top of your lungs, thinking you are the bomb-digity. You are not. You are a nuisance to the people around you. The point of the concert is to hear the band perform. Save your performance for the shower. If the band asks or signals for your participation, then go for it. But do not sing for the entire concert.
How to handle your first mosh pit
It is helpful to know what to expect when a mosh pit occurs. Suppose a large pit opens up and you are smack-dab in the middle of it. Don’t panic, just quickly move toward the outskirts if you do not want to be involved. Use your instincts and common sense, but don’t try to fight anyone. If it is your first concert, mosh pits can be intimidating. The goal isn’t to hurt anyone, the goal is to slam into each other as hard as the other person can take it. If someone falls, help them up immediately. Moshing, like ballet and Pinochle, is an art form. However, moshing gets old after you turn 19 years old. Then it becomes an aggravation, though it is still an important part of concert culture.
Put the phone away
The mosh pit pushes you super close to the stage and you are making eye contact with your most favorite guitar player of all-time. You grab your iPhone and decide to record this experience so you remember it for the rest of your life. You are now watching the band perform through your iPhone. Congratulations, you are a dumb-ass. You might as well have stayed home and watched the concert on YouTube the next morning. The whole point of going to a show is to experience it live. If you want to snap one picture on your phone when the band first takes the stage, that is acceptable. Otherwise, keep the phone in your pants where it can continue undermining your future chances of parenthood. If you really want replays of the performance, there is often professional soundboard audio available from the band or pro-shot HD footage available on YouTube.
The concert is over and the band totally kicked your ass. You caught a guitar pick and came really close to getting a drumstick. You avoided catching an STD, being drugged, and becoming a sexual predator. Your first concert experience was a great success, one for the books. The ringing in your ear is borderline unbearable, but you don’t care. You simply make a quick note to yourself to bring ear plugs next time. You can’t imagine going to bed yet with all of that adrenaline pumping. You hit up the diner with your concert buds for late-night melted mozzarella french fries with gravy on the side. You talk about your favorite moments, how you narrowly averted trouble, and what shows you want to see next. Remember, you only get to experience your first concert once. You will most likely cherish these memories for a long time.