Concert season is approaching and many of us are going to be faced with some very hard decisions in the near future. Pitchfork or Lollapalooza? SXSW or Coachella? These are just an example of some of the harsh choices I’m left with this year. It should also be noted that single headline concerts pose a bigger threat because of awkward show dates and availability.
Fortunately, I’ve thought up a things to consider before you get that deep feeling of regret that comes with missing the show you know you should have went to in the first place.
Time Element – The difference between a timeless act and a flavor of the week soon to be has-been is usually obvious to the ears. However, knowing which to see depends in their…”expiration date,” sort to speak. Bands break up and not everybody has the resilience of Keith Richards, so the time element when it comes to what show you choose is crucial. If you think this is your favorite aging act’s last go round, spend the extra money, make the trip, do whatever you need to do in order to catch it. The story of making the trip is much more interesting than that of missing it.
Supporting acts – This aspect of concerts is often overlooked, the opening acts are just as important as the headliners when it comes to atmosphere and getting your money’s worth. If you’re going for an opening act, give the headliner a listen. Leaving early for an unknown headliner only to realize you would have loved them is devastating. Know who’s playing the show. A quick YouTube search should do the trick. If not, dig deeper, you might find something that fits your “discerning” taste.
Stage presence – A good studio album doesn’t always mean a good live show. Once again, do your homework. Some music just doesn’t translate well in a live setting, especially one person acts. Ask around. Look up a couple show reviews or a live performance. You have the resources, use them. Nothing ruins a good album more than seeing it performed horribly live.
Venue – Venue is just as important as the three above elements and can make or break a show. Small venues work well with certain acts. However, the promoters for these shows usually oversell for the size of the venue. Make sure you consider this before you end up like me, snuggling up the sweaty guy who saw fit to take his shirt off in the crowded confines of Pontiac’s Pike Room (true story, worst show ever).
Crowd – Just because you like an artist doesn’t mean you’ll like the other people that enjoy the same artist. Understand the fan base of the act you want to see before going to a show. Nothing makes you reconsider your music taste like being surrounded by screaming teenage girls for three hours.