Note: All concert photos within this blog post were taken by me.
Over the course of the pandemic, one of the things I’ve missed the most is live music. Being in a space with strangers who care just as much about the songs as you do can be unifying; affirming. For me, a concert is the best form of self-care I can give myself.
Which is why I will go to any gig I want to, whether I have a friend to accompany me or not!
And as a regular solo-concerter (a term I have just coined), here are some tips I have learnt over the years.
1/ Keep someone informed
This one may seem obvious, or you may shrug your shoulders at its importance, but it really shouldn’t be missed. If you’re going to a concert alone (especially if you’re taking public transport or a taxi on the way back), be sure to always let a friend, family member or housemate know where you are.
2/ Watch out for creeps
I wish I didn’t feel the need to include this one in my list. Overall, I’ve been pretty fortunate, but I have had a few uncomfortable experiences.
My last bad encounter at a concert was, I’m sad to say, with a security guard – someone who should have been helping me feel safe. He had noticed me coming in and out of the concert space (I was in the Circle, so had a seat I could leave unattended), getting myself drinks and using the loo in between acts, and stopped me when I tried to re-enter the space.
He was pushy. He wanted to know if I was there alone or with a boyfriend; he wanted my name and phone number and told me that had he not been working, he would have been “chasing me”. Being two double gin and tonics down, on an empty stomach, after he asked I stupidly told him that, yes, I was there alone. I regret this as my answer only fuelled his interest in me. Luckily, I was able to slip away as the next act started, but the whole affair did leave me feeling more wary.
If someone you are unsure of asks you if you are alone in a space and you are, in my experience the outcome has always been better when I’ve lied.
3/ Bring water
Most venues won’t let you bring any liquids into the actual venue, but there’s nothing to stop you from drinking whilst in the queue!
If you’re there alone, you won’t have a mate to take turns getting drinks. This won’t be too much of a problem if you have a seat as you can always leave your jacket to guard your spot. But if you have a standing ticket, going to the bar can mean losing your spot. So make sure to drink lots beforehand!
(It goes without saying that if you’re really thirsty and need water, prioritise your health and go get some water, good spot be damned!)
4/ Download entertainment beforehand
I won’t lie – the run-up to the gig starting can be very boring. If you’re like me and you like to get to the venue early so you can get the best spot, this can mean being in line for an hour. Then, once you get into the hall, there’s always a limbo period (in which attendees are still entering the space, buying drinks and merch or going to the cloakroom, and the crew are still setting up). Depending on the size of the venue and the number of attendees, you may be waiting for another hour or so before the support act takes to the stage.
During this time, you may want to give scrolling through social media a miss, as this can really drain your battery, meaning you won’t be able to take as many photos/videos when the concert does start. It’s also a good idea to conserve enough charge in your phone for the journey home.
So, I always make sure I have a couple of podcast episodes or an audiobook downloaded, as listening to these won’t use up as much of your battery as scrolling will.
One podcast in particular that I like to save up on is James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds. Here is Acaster summarising the podcast’s premise:
In 2017, I had a breakdown. I dealt with that breakdown by buying as much music from 2016 as I possibly could. As a result, I now own over 700 albums that came out in 2016 and I’m convinced it’s the greatest year for music of all time. But it’s not enough me being convinced, I also want to convince each and every single one of you, plus a guest every week. I’m gonna send them an album in advance, they’re gonna come on the podcast and we’re gonna talk about that album.Acaster recites this speech at the start of each episode, but this particular quote was transcribed from his episode on Andy Shauf’s brilliant album The Party which you can find here.
The reason I go for this podcast in particular is because Acaster really loves music. And listening to him and his guest talk in such depth and with so much passion and admiration really gets you in the mood for watching some live music.
Other podcasts I would recommend are: Song Exploder (established artists are brought on to discuss how they wrote a specific song), Dissect (“a serialized music podcast that examines a single album per season, one song per episode”), and, if you’re a fan of Blossoms, the Blossoms Pubcast (they don’t talk solely about music in this one, but in each episode of season 2, they do bring on a guest to discuss the music of Manchester with).
And if you’re not into podcasts – you can always download a few choice albums!
5/ If you’re feeling brave, try starting a conversation with someone
This tip should not be seen as a requirement at all – you don’t have to socialise with anyone if you don’t want to. I usually don’t!
However, if you’re feeling chatty, I’ve found that a good conversation starter is “Do you know the support act?” If the person you’re trying to initiate conversation with only responds in one-word answers and doesn’t ask you any questions back, then best to leave them alone. But if you’re lucky, you might land someone who’s open to it!
6/ Try not to worry about people judging you
The first time I went to a concert by myself, my biggest worry was that people would judge me.
In truth, no one cares. I have now been to eight concerts by myself, and I have never noticed so much as a sideways glance. Most people don’t notice, and if they do, they won’t think twice about it. It’s only “obvious” that you’re there alone when you’re waiting in line (and only the people immediately before and after you will ever notice). Once you’re in the actual venue and surrounded by people, no one knows who’s with who, and everyone’s attention is focused on what’s happening on stage.
No one is looking at you, I promise. ❤
7/ Be present and enjoy the experience to the fullest
The benefit of going to a concert with a friend is that you get to share the experience with someone; you see and feel your friend’s enjoyment and, after singing lyrics that might mean a lot to you, out of tune and together, you may come out feeling closer.
Whilst going with a friend allows you to feel better connected to them, going alone has always left me feeling better connected with myself. The best thing about going alone is that there are no distractions – and you should take the opportunity to embrace this.
Going alone is a way of spending time just for you. It is a chance for you to focus on yourself and an artist or band that means a lot to you. So go alone. Listen to the music. Sing. Dance. And get lost in it!