Experiencing your first concert: What I did not expect, and what you should

Getting you ready for your first concert!

It’s 2020; the year when everything we anticipated will be released and concerts that we were looking forward to will finally happen! Whether it is a concert that you have bought tickets to, or an imaginary one that you are trying to manifest into reality, what better way to get (mentally) ready for your first concert than when you’re stuck at home with nothing to do? There’s an irony of posting this article during these times, but the saying: “preparation is the key to success” exists for a reason!

First concerts are special. You get to experience euphoria and surrealism at the same time, to get the kick of adrenaline rush the moment you hit that “BOOK TICKET NOW” button for the first time, to fantasize everything within and beyond the fanfiction you read. You might even squeal sporadically out of the thrill and anticipation months or weeks before the concert day itself. Excitement and nervousness are common ‘symptoms’ for the first time and even seasoned, concert-goers. We feel this way because we don’t know what to expect going into our first concert. There’s a certain appeal to the unknown, for sure. However, there are things that you should, in fact, know and be prepared for.

Attending my first concert two years back, I felt the same way: excited and nervous. After experiencing my first concert, there were definitely things I wish I knew.

Media portrayals of concerts are not far from the truth. In fact, what you see in movies, fancams, or Instagram stories are probably an exact representation of what you will be experiencing: invigorating atmosphere, sing-alongs, friendly environment. But whatever that you don’t see on social media or movies, will be part of the experience as well. Such as the standing on the tip of your toe if you are too far back in the standing zone, the squeezing, sweating, and the queuing and the waiting.

The Queue and The Wait

Probably what I remembered most about my first, and by far, the only concert I went to, was the queue and the wait. Some people I’ve asked shared similar sentiments:

Every time I recall that concert, the thing I remember the most is how tiring it was (especially the queueing).

I mean paying is a bomb on its own but the waiting? Man, it’s frustrating.

For those who chose the free-seating/standing or rock zone ticket, it is a tedious process, but one that has to be endured if we want a good view. If anything, this is not to discourage anyone but to urge you to mentally prepare yourself for the queue. Make sure to keep yourself entertained, because you will spend 80% of the concert day itself waiting. It is mentally and physically exhausting for some people, so be sure to pack some snacks to chew on and be well-rested. Queuing also means constant anticipation, which could drain your adrenaline level. So, try to pocket that adrenaline for the concert itself and stay calm while queuing. Although this is easier said than done.

Note: you should arrive early to avoid unnecessary stress and to avoid traffic. If you choose the free-standing/sitting or rock zones, arriving 5-6 hours prior to the concert will possibly, if not certainly, get you the front few rows.

Preserving Energy and Staying Hydrated

You will need every ounce of energy you have and vocal cords during the concert. So be sure to eat before doors open. Eat while you’re doing the waiting so you don’t feel too full (that you can’t jump) or too hungry. Food trucks will most probably be within the venue, but it depends on the organizers on the variety you get. You can opt to pack food from home (put it in a zip lock bag so it’s easily disposable) or do a food delivery! My friend and I got Subway and I still think it was the wisest choice we made that day.

Staying hydrated is equally important. This is because most concerts will confiscate any form of liquid or food you have during security checks (especially if you are going to be close to the stage). So, stay hydrated and use the washroom before going into the hall. Eventually, with all the singing, you will get dehydrated. A tip from a friend is to sneak in small candies to keep your energy up, and because when you don’t have water, you resort to candies. I wished I brought a mint with me, after being severely dehydrated halfway through the concert. Candies can be hazardous in a crazy crowd where everyone is squeezing and pushing, so be sure you are eating it in a safe environment, or before things start to get wild.

Loud Noises & Tinnitus, Bright Lights & Sleeping Trouble

You might be thinking “Oh! But everyone expects loud noises! It’s a concert!” Well, I would have said the same too if I have not felt deafening rings in my ears several times throughout the concert. I was in the rock zone, the third row, and very near to the stage, the lights and the speakers. I was also in very close contact with the fans around me. The exposure to sudden and extreme stimuli was a  shock to my systems. Imagine everyone dancing and singing around you while you clasp your ear thinking you’ve gone deaf. I can assure you now that you will get back your hearing, but it was still scary to experience it back then. And I wished someone would tell me this:

Wear earplugs. It won’t ruin the quality of the music, but loud music WILL ruin your ears. Tinnitus sucks.

All these foreign stimuli will definitely increase your adrenaline rush, but also affect your sleep quality for the night. I remember being bone-tired after the concert, but could not sleep for the life of me! Bright lights were still flickering across my eyelids and ears still pulsing, heart still racing. So do remember to wind down before sleeping!

Experiencing Concerts Overseas

If you hope to experience your concert overseas, you might find yourself in a very different concert culture! Attending her first concert ever in Australia, Hanisa found something interesting:

Teenagers bring their parents to concerts in Australia, and it’s neither weird nor a thing that was made fun off. They do it for safety reasons. Instead of not letting their kid go at all, parents in Australia would let them go with their supervision, which I thought was really cool.

In Malaysia, we do have the tendency of making fun or making people feel weird if parents were accompanying a teen to a concert. Maybe if we do it lesser, who knows, maybe more teens will be willing to go to a concert with their parents and get to see their favourite artist!

Being overseas also means being in a different climate, so dress accordingly. Which means, don’t wear crop tops and risk getting hypothermia in the winter. Similarly, dress lightly in Malaysia, and always be prepared for rainy weathers.

It’s 2020! the new decade, the next great beginning. Well, until almost everything got cancelled. It is disappointing, as the fiery excitement when you first click that ‘buy ticket now’ button just did the ice-bucket challenge. But that does not mean you can’t look forward to these concerts still. All we know is that this predicament will pass, however long it will take, and you will get to sing to your heart’s content before you know it. Experiencing your first concert is truly something to get excited about, and I hope you will get to enjoy seeing your favourite artist, band, or group in the near future!

Special Thanks to Nethmi (Rock), Raihah (K-Pop), Hanisa (Alternative Rock), Anussya (Indie), Zee Yee (Pop) for sharing their experience, and people who responded on Instagram (Lauren, James, Wyn, Anussya).

Written by Shizen Wong

Maybe a little too obsessed with bands...

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