As people excitingly don their facial glitter and best bucket hats for the current raging festival/concert season, you may find yourself a little nervous about attending. If it's your first time, you might not know how to keep yourself comfortable and, more importantly, safe in large, unknown crowds. After going through the rollercoaster of emotions that is actually getting tickets, you need to feel your best to have the best time you can!
Fatal accidents like the upsetting scene at Travis Scott's Astroworld last year should not be a concern, as security measures are always in place, but as someone who has been to their fair share of concerts and festivals, you need to always put yourself first for when measures fall through or the crowd isn't as nice as it should be. I have put together a list of potential concert hazards and how to prepare for them, just to give you a little peace of mind and allow you to let go and sing your heart out.
It’s Getting Hot in Here...
Now, despite what’s known about England’s weather, the British summertime can be absolutely scorching, even worse in a vast festival field with no shade. For example, at last year's Leeds Fest, I wrote "I Heart Alex Turner" on my back with blue body paint, effectively branding myself with these words as everywhere else on my back was burned to a painful tomato red. However, my face was smartly slathered in a SPF skin tint so it proudly survived the August heat.
Any product with an SPF above 15 will actively protect you from the sun, as will a hat and sunglasses. A bucket hat is a clear staple for British gigs, often paired with the sounds of Oasis and a Strongbow Dark Fruits in hand, and why not have some fun with very Elton John sunglasses? Safety doesn't have to be bland, it just has to work.
Nivea sun works wonders.
Photo by Betül Üstün, Via Pexels
But what about if you're feeling a little too hot overall? The obvious answer is to keep hydrated, which is difficult at a gig as most venues don't allow you to bring in your own bottles. This is even worse at a festival, as water either costs an arm and a leg or the lines to fill up your bottle look more hassle than it's worth. However, I guarantee it's worth it.
As for alcohol, if you're legally of age in your country, keep it to a minimum— mostly for safety reasons, but also to keep yourself as hydrated as possible (alcohol can really deplete your hydration). Also, please remember that security and paramedics are around at any kind of live event, and make sure to flag them down if you or anyone around you appears to be struggling in the heat; they are there to help.
A classic festival look to save you from the sun
Photo by Antonio Amacifuen Rojas, Via Pexels
Two's Company, Three's a Crowd...
... and 5,000 plus... is a much bigger crowd.
Bad eggs, you get them everywhere. Unfortunately, and statistically, there will always be a fair few in a rowdy crowd. As someone who used to have panic attacks at small family gatherings, you can imagine how I am in large crowds, and especially how I was when I first started standing in them.
If you really do struggle with the crowd and seats are an option, definitely go for seats. Yes, you're a little further from the action, but the music is still brilliant, and a good show will make sure to impress everybody in the house.
This isn't to say that standing should scare you, as again, there are always security and quick exit options, and don't be afraid to stand up for yourself with a simple "Can you not?" Who cares if you go all Mean Girls Regina George on a stranger? You paid good money to be here, and you're not going to let anybody spoil a great night!
In terms of losing your concert companion, think of a meeting spot. The burger van, the merch stand, the toilets— somewhere memorable just in case service fails you or your phone dies from taking too many videos. This has been helpful to me more than once, and it gives you the peace of mind that's needed to survive mass crowds.
The crowd isn't always a bad thing; singing your favourite song with your community of fellow concert goers is one of the most moving experiences. It really demonstrates how uniting music can be and makes the night even more special. Be one of the good ones in a crowd, and don't let the bad ones spoil it for you.
Always Do an Irish Exit
I know meeting your favourite artist after the gig is the ultimate goal for lots of us, but in bigger venues, make sure to just make a bee-line for the exit. They fill up rather quickly, and it can take a while to get out (my personal longest being just over an hour). I suggest either waiting a while for it to die down or just making a run for it. It will take a long time either way and will be rather stressful, but just think about the hotel bed or comfy train seat that's waiting for you when you get out.
It's not all bad, as there is very often a singalong on the back of the high of the concert— usually being a classic road trip tune that the whole crowd will know. (Or, in my very English experience, there is usually a good old football chant.) My suggestion is to have fun with leaving— you're in it for the long haul.
If you're driving, try and park somewhere a little further out from the venue and get in fairly early to guarantee a space. It will still take some time to actually get out and on the road, but pack some snacks and go over your favourite bits of the night, or have a nap until it clears up. The same goes for hotels. They are more often than not cheaper further from the venue.
If you're at a festival and camping, the night often goes on long after the last headliner has played with silent discos, DJs, and more raging on in the neon lights of the grounds. These are a good way to spill off from the immense crowd of people heading back towards their tents and prolong the excitement of the day's artists absolutely rocking the stage.
If an afterparty's in a tent, you know it's going to be good.
Photo by Pixabay, Via Pexels
Pack Your Bag...
... as long as it's no bigger than A5, clear, and has nothing that could cause potential harm in it.
One thing I've learnt about myself is that I cannot leave the house for more than 4 hours without bringing my entire bedroom. For concerts, most venues only accept smaller than A5 bags to only hold the few items that are allowed. Additionally, as you may have seen on social media, many large American venues also require the bag to be clear as an extra security measure.
This can actually be a blessing, as you don't want to be weighed down or worried about possessions whilst having the time of your life. Plus, it leaves room for you to spend every last penny on merchandise.
Here are my absolute essentials for concerts (minus the personal necessities like lip balm or ID):
1. Portable Charger
This is a godsend in any situation, but especially if you need to travel to the event and plugs are not guaranteed to be around. They're easy to find and as cheap as within the £5/$5 range, and most also have two USB ports, allowing you and your friends to make sure you capture as many videos as you can and, more importantly, get home safely.
Reliable Brands: Belkin, Juice, Anker
Waterproof ponchos may seem like a funny idea at first, but what's less funny is getting drenched and having to sit through a concert wet through and getting ill two days later. Some outdoor venues sell them at the bar if it starts to really pour, but having one in your bag just in case will pay off well. Plus, it lets you stay dry without ruining the exquisite outfit you spent months putting together.
Buy them from: Amazon, your local dollar/pound store, camping stores
3. Portable Water Bottle
Honestly, whether you're camping or not, camping stores are perfect for festival shopping. I used a compressed water bottle at my last festival, and it's extremely handy. You can crush it up and shove it in your bag when you're done— no carrying around wasteful plastic, and refill it just as easily.
There are a few options available, but the best (and most affordable) one is the clear and colorful thin bags. Just fold them and slide them into a pocket, done and dusted.
Buy them from: Again, the cheap and cheerful camping store
The best kind of bottle for spaciousness
Photo by Cottonbro studio, Via Pexels
As previously stated, the sun is out to get you when you're outdoors, and one layer at 6 a.m. before you set off is not going to cut it. Miniature suncream/lotions are perfect for this. Even better are the small SPF mists that leave no stickyness and little white cast. These are easily located in the travel section of your nearest super or beauty store, and I recommend stocking up in winter when they're significantly cheaper.
Reilable Brands: Garnier, Malibu, Nivea
5. The Bag
Ah yes, this one is pretty important. My nominated concert bag is perfect for both indoor and outdoor venues. It's spacious yet compact, goes with everything, has zips and Velcro, and was under £20. Shoe and accessory sports brands like Converse and Adidas make bags like this for running; fanny packs etc. are also a safe choice.
If your bag must be clear, it is significantly harder to find. For a fun and cheap DIY option, I've seen many people use hot glue or even staple a simple chain or belt to a clear makeup bag. Genius!
Hot tip for storage: Wear cargos. Unlimited pockets for any snacks, cash, or trinkets you want to keep close by.
To all the first time concert and festival folks, I hope this guide aids your journey to one of the most memorable times of your life. Experiencing live music should not be scary, but nerves are understandable and will be fleeting once you catch the bug (warning: its danger to your finances and fundamental to your happiness)!