Summer concerts made easy: Tips for safe, happy concert-going

Photo illustration by Grace Everett | Photographer

By Emma Weidmann | Arts and Life Editor

Summer is the season for late nights at a concert, coming home sweaty and tired with ears ringing and a voice that’s a little scratchy from singing. But for every life-changing, memorable concert experience, there’s one just as miserable. It comes down to good planning, so take these tips with you to the venue and never have a bad concert again.

Figure out transportation ahead of time

The second of the three times I’ve seen Harry Styles in concert, my friends and I were stranded outside the AT&T Center in San Antonio for at least an hour after the pop star ended the show because our transportation plans were not solid enough before we arrived.

This sort of thing can have you standing in uncomfortable shoes in a bad part of the city for longer than you’d like. To avoid this, make sure everything is ironed out beforehand. If you’re being dropped off, make sure your driver knows to get to the stadium before the last song ends to dodge the mass exodus that will be happening soon after. If you’re parking, make sure the vehicle is close to the edge of the parking lot. Yes, that involves a walk to the venue, but you won’t have to wait in an endless line of cars after the concert, since you’ll already be close to the exit.

If taking an Uber or Lyft to the venue is more up your alley, make sure to schedule your ride home in advance. Do not — and I repeat — do not try to find an Uber after the show ends.

Check the venue’s bag requirements

Most venues these days have very specific size and color requirements for bags. Many of them will not let you in if your bag isn’t clear, and some will allow opaque bags under a certain size dimension. Be sure to make absolutely certain what your venue’s rules are before arriving.

This goes similarly for outfits. Since the rise of over-the-top concert costumes, many venues have certain guidelines for what you can and cannot wear inside, like large hats or distracting elements like lights. In some cases, signs are prohibited inside the venue.

All of these requirements will be available online on the venue’s website.

What to bring in your bag

Now that you’re clear (see what I did there?) on what bag to bring, it’s time to shove as much as you can into it.

A must-have is foam earplugs. Your parents were right, you actually can and will lose your hearing after all that loud music. All those rock concerts they went to in the 80s now means you have to yell three times from the kitchen to get their attention. That will be you one day if you don’t bring proper ear plugs.

If you’re into the artsy stuff, feel free to bring a Polaroid or digital camera for a tangible memento of the concert. Bring some spare cash as well, in the off chance that the card capabilities are down at merch boots. And lastly, don’t forget your ID or credit/debit card.

What to wear

As mentioned before, try not to wear anything that might be distracting to the people around you. As a very short person myself, there’s nothing worse than a massive cowboy hat right in front of my face while I’m trying to see the artist I paid hundreds of dollars to see.

But on another note, make sure you’re comfortable. Comfy shoes have been drilled into the ground at this point, and for good reason, but that’s not the only thing to be aware of. A breathable, somewhat denim-free outfit is nice for dancing in close proximity to other people and reduces your chances of walking back to the car sweaty and with sore feet. I recommend not wearing anything leather (or pleather). Rather, go for something flowy and linen for maximum comfort and hippie vibes.

Tips for not passing out

A lot of concerts this summer will take place outdoors, so food and water will be more important than you may realize.

For venues that allow outside food and drink, be sure to bring a water bottle so you don’t faint from heat exhaustion, especially if you plan on being out there all day. If not, you’ll be stuck with expensive venue prices. Water will also be important for keeping your voice intact, if that’s the sort of thing that matters to you.

Make sure you eat before you arrive. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a bite at the venue, but your options may be limited or expensive, especially if you have any dietary restrictions that may keep you from eating stadium nachos or hot dogs.

There’s nothing worse than being starved to death in the middle of a concert. You know you need to eat, but you don’t want to miss a single thing. The only thought that will pull you through is a 1 p.m. trip to Whataburger afterwards. Avoid all of that. Get your Whataburger — or whatever you’re craving — beforehand.

Have the best time possible

Who you go to the concert with can really make or break the experience. Make sure you are with people you trust to keep a buddy system and who you know you will have a good time with.

Don’t let other people in the audience ruin your vibe if you like to sing loudly and dance around. As long as you aren’t whacking anyone with your freeform dance moves, you’re here to have fun, not to fit into a crowd.

You may even want to budget some time for taking photos. At a lot of the most popular concerts like Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, the stadium sets a few photo-ops around the venue, but these lines get long fast. You don’t want to be stuck close to the front of the line after half an hour of waiting when suddenly, you hear your favorite artist come out on stage.

The important thing to remember is to have a good time and get your money’s worth, and to get back home safe and happy.