Doesn’t the phrase “Summer Concert” just automatically conjure up pleasant mental pictures? Dancing barefoot in the grass, singing along with the band, laughing with friends, sipping cool drinks, maybe playing a little Frisbee on the outskirts of the crowd…
It all sounds incredibly appealing. In February, when you’re freezing your tukas off and yearning for the smell of fresh cut grass. But on a hot, humid, airless day in mid-July, the reality might not live up to the fantasy.
This past Sunday, I went to an outdoor concert. I thought I was well prepared and, in comparison to some of my fellow-concert goers, I probably was. But I still learned a few lessons.
- It’s gonna be hot, so dress accordingly. This particular concert was 100% outdoors, with no undercover seating. Also, as amphitheaters are not likely to be filled with view-blocking trees, you probably won't find shade. So, that cute outfit you picked out is going to be sweat-soaked, your carefully blow-dried hair will wilt, and any non-waterproof makeup will be little more than a memory. Don’t dress to impress, dress to be comfortable! Wear light colors—that oh-so-fashionable black tee-shirt with the band’s logo on it may show your support, but it also absorbs heat like a solar panel. And wear shoes you can climb stairs and slopes in. One of my adorable sandals broke on the gravel path on my way in the gate. This added a whole new dimension to my bathroom visits, for example.
- Hydrate. Did I mention it’s gonna be hot? Fluids are essential, and I don’t mean (just) beer. If alcoholic beverages are being served, as they were at the concert I attended, remember that alcohol is a diuretic – it actually dehydrates you so that the more you drink, the thirstier you get! Nice for the organizer’s profits, but not so nice if you plan to still be feeling well enough to get up and dance when the band plays your favorite song as an encore. Water or, even better, sports drinks (that replace lost salt and electrolytes) should be consumed instead of, or at least alternated with, more festive beverages. You’ll thank me in the morning, too. Note: Most venues will let you bring in at least one large factory sealed water or other non-alcoholic beverage, but there are exceptions. Search on “Ticket Liquidator” and the name of the venue to find the rules for the specific location.
- Sit down. No, not the whole time. But when the band plays a ballad or a long, jammy instrumental, take the opportunity to rest. If you have lawn tickets, you can usually bring a chair but, as with the beverages, there are exceptions. Ticket Liquidator’s venue pages should let you know what kind of chair you can bring, or if they only let you sit on blankets or towels. I was lucky last weekend—the venue wouldn’t allow umbrellas, which block other people’s view (and can double as weapons), but they did let me bring a chair with an attached sunshade, like the one in the picture.
- Don’t forget the goopy stuff. I remembered the sunscreen (I’m a #70 gal these days) and was spared the lobsterish glows I saw on many other departing guests. But it was a still day and, especially as sunset came on, I was wishing I’d brought some mosquito repellent. A few venues have security regulations like the airlines – you can’t bring in anything liquid in a container that’s larger than a sample size, so your giant bottle of Coppertone might get confiscated. Pick up some sample sizes or, better yet, both sunscreen and bug spray comes in moist towelette form. In fact, Avon sells a combination of both, that takes up about as much room in your pocket as a credit card.
- Toddlers? Seriously? The few small children I saw were either cranky and whiny, or behaving in a way that made their parents cranky and whiny. Consider very, very seriously whether an outdoor concert is going to be appropriate for your kids. What age will the average fan base be? How much drinking will be going on? Will small children be able to see, and can you find seats in an area where they won’t be trampled?
- Use the bathroom before you leave home. Mom always made you do this before a road trip, and she had good reasons. Oh, you may still have to get in line for the oh-so-fragrant port-a-potties at least once during your stay, but even if you can avoid one visit to stinky town, it’s a mark in the plus column.
- Travel light. It’s a concert venue and it’s designed for people to sit or stand and watch a performance, not a picnic at the beach. A few venues will allow small, soft-sided coolers, but most won’t. Almost no one will let you bring in a professional camera and umbrellas aren’t usually permitted, even at rain or shine events (bring one of those fold-up rain ponchos if the weather looks iffy). If the venue sells food, they likely won’t let you bring in your own, no matter how persuasively you explain your gluten-free diet or your peanut allergy. And unless your dog is a licensed service animal, leave him at home. He probably wouldn’t appreciate the music anyway.
Again, if you search on “Ticket Liquidator” and the venue name, lists of what you can and cannot bring with you should be easy to find, as well as information about parking and other helpful stuff.
And don’t let all my advice discourage you. I had an absolute blast, broken shoe and dripping makeup notwithstanding. And Summer is just getting started.