Ultimate Concert Venue Guide: What to Expect

Depending on what you bring, who you bring, and what you do, going to a concert can either be one of the best experiences of your life or one of the worst. Use this guide to help you make the day or night of the concert one you won’t end up regretting down the road.

Concert Fixed

Big Venue vs. Small Venue

If you’re going to see a really popular artist – such as Jay-Z and/or Beyoncé – somewhere like Nokia Theatre or the Air Canada Centre, make sure to bring at least one friend. You’re going to need someone to jump and up and down with when your favourite song comes on, to help guide you through the swarm of people trying to get into the theatre, and to keep your seat warm when you go off to buy that On the Run t-shirt or poster. If you think the concert is going to be fun and high-energy, you can usually bring anyone you like – even if they don’t particularly like the artist who’s performing, the exciting atmosphere will usually be enough to keep them entertained.

Of course, having a friend with you at a smaller, more low-key concert venue can be a lot of fun, but isn’t necessary – especially if the artist you’re paying to see is one of those upcoming super-indie types who you feel no one else can truly appreciate. If you do bring a friend, make sure they enjoy the artist just as much as you do, if not more. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself paying too much attention to how the other person is reacting and not enough to the performance itself.

Usually small venues don’t sell a lot of merchandise other than the artist’s CD (and sometimes small posters), so making sure to bring enough money there won’t be much of a problem. At the bigger venues, however, the price of shirts, posters, programs and bags can range anywhere between 20 and 80 dollars. If you’re planning to buy something, my advice is to bring double what you plan on spending. You’ll be tempted to buy more merch, but there’ll be less of a chance of suddenly finding yourself without any money for a taxi or, more importantly, food. You can always bring a credit or debit card for backup as well.

Stand 2

Assigned Seating vs. Standing

Usually a more popular act like Justin Timberlake will play a venue with assigned seating to make sure that the most amount of people possible can get into the theatre or concert hall. Artists and bands who are only moderately popular, however, such as Panic at the Disco or Passenger, will most likely play at a venue where you’ll be required to stand up. There are definitely pros and cons to each of these options.

At a venue with assigned seating, you don’t have to worry about getting to the concert super early. Don’t worry, your seat will be waiting for you whether you’re there for the opening act or whether you get there two minutes before the main event. On the other hand, expect to have to get in and out of your seat at least four to five times to make way for other concertgoers trying to get to their seats.

Attending a venue where standing is required can often make you and your fellow concertgoers feel more energetic and excited, but there are a lot more factors to be aware of. Your spot in the crowd will be solely determined by how early you arrive – don’t expect to be able to see the performance if you arrive 5 minutes before starting time. Also be aware that there will be people clamouring to get to the front. You will be pushed! So make sure not too wear any earrings or other jewelry that can potentially get caught on other people’s clothing.

Pro Tip: Bring as little stuff as possible, no matter the venue. It’ll get in the way at seated concerts, and most venues without assigned seating contain coat checks… which cost money… which is not good.

Outside Fixed

Indoor vs. Outdoor

The main thing to keep in mind during indoor concerts – WEAR LAYERS. It might feel cold when you first walk into the venue, but trust me – it’ll start to feel insanely hot as soon as people start standing up and dancing in their seats.

The dress code for outdoor concerts will obviously differ depending on location and time of year, but generally try to bring at least one water bottle if you don’t mind carrying something. A lot of music festivals take place during the summer, so in these cases make sure to protect yourself and bring sunglasses and sunscreen.

Tell Us…

What is your favourite concert venue? Why?


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