By Cody Herron-Webb
Summer is right around the corner which means that it is the season for outdoor music and festivals. We have drawn upon our years of experience to provide you with some tips and tricks to help you get through some of the common concert occurrences.
What To Wear
Alaskans will go and dance at an outdoor show in the rain or shine. Unless the wind is blowing dangerously hard, the show will go on, but wearing the wrong clothes can ruin an otherwise fun concert. You want to be comfortable when out at a show and should plan your outfit accordingly.
Unless it is a seated show, you will be standing for hours and being in the wrong shoes can be quite the pain. I always suggest that you go with a pair of footwear that you are comfortable in. The rest of your outfit can vary greatly depending on the event. Just like any other time you will be outdoors, be sure to plan for the weather and aware that it can change. Shows that start in the day but continue after sundown can experience a large temperature drop so don’t write off bringing a light jacket just because the sun is bright out. In addition to clothes, consider what accessories you might want to take. Check with the venue ahead of tie to determine whether or not you can bring your blankets, chairs and umbrellas. Pockets, purses, and fanny packs can be effective ways of carrying your essentials.
Pro Tip: Concert Carry-ons
Sharpie / Pen
Digital or Paper Tickets?
With many venues now offering digital tickets, you often have the choice of whether you want a traditional hard ticket, a print at home ticket, or one solely on your phone. I usually enjoy having the hard copy of the ticket so that I have a souvenir after the show. The downside of a traditional hard ticket is that they are often not replaceable if lost. I have also forgotten them at home on the night of a show, causing a big headache and a rushed trip back to retrieve them.
For that reason, you may opt to go with a digital ticket on your phone. They will live in your inbox until you need to use them and as long as you have your phone, you can get in. Digital versions are also very easy to share if you are buying multiple tickets. Nothing is worse than missing part of the show because you have to hand a ticket off to a latecomer. Arriving at different times than your group can be a pain with paper tickets but a digital one can shared easily.
Avoid getting scammed when buying tickets
Imagine this: You are excited that Shinedown (if you don’t like them, just play along and swap them for a different band you like) is coming to the State Fair and want to get tickets. Sounds easy enough. Being internet savvy, you hop online and google “Shinedown tickets Alaska.” Your search is fast and easy with a promising result, www.ticketoffices.com, right at the top of the page.
You click on the link and are directed to a seat map. With the options of the “Lawn” or “Reserved Standing Area”, you are looking at paying $70 to $140, respectively. That’s a deal for a big name act like Shinedown and you don’t want to miss them. Before you can even get select what you want, a pop-up warns you that the show is popular and in danger of selling out and asking how many tickets you want to reserve. Not wanting to miss out, you select the number you want and click to put the, in your basket.
Say that you want to shop around a little bit first so you go open a new window and look at some of the other results. It is a good thing that you clicked on the first link you did because some of the other sites are charging up to $321 for the lawn at the back of the venue. Shocked by those high rates you go back to the first one and book the tickets. We really wish you hadn’t.
Those Shinedown tickets you bought just made a scalper anywhere from $20 to $200. In order to find the cheapest ticket options, you would have to scroll down 4 or more sites to find the official site.
The Internet and Google has made purchasing tickets so much easier than the old days of having to trek over to the venue and buy them at the box office. However, it has also made it much easier for scalpers and scammers to part us of our money. They do this by creating websites with official sounding names (vividseats, stubhub, etc.) and paying Google to advertise their site up at the top. These ticket reselling sites are banking on us to trust the top results and buy from them so they can make an easy profit. When the Broadway show “Grease” came to Anchorage, the most expensive tickets sold at the Performing Arts Center were for $99. Unfortunately, some of the show goers were duped into paying over $600 per ticket that they bought online.
Don’t trust ticket sites with the little green “Ad” box or the word resale in their description. Spend a little more time and find the official ticket site to make sure you are getting the best price for the tickets.
Pro Tip: AKconcerts.com/tickets has a list of many of the big upcoming shows and links directly to the official site to buying tickets for each one.
All ages vs. 21
Growing up my biggest gripe about concerts was not being able to see bands due to my age. So why do some places put on all ages shows while so many concerts 21+ only? The answer is money and risk. Ticket sales can generate revenue but often they just go into the costs of putting on a show (artist, security, sound rentals, staff, etc.). It is the liquor sales at a concert that allow many of the venues to make a profit. Since so many of the concerts are in bars or venues that serve alcohol, the Alaska Liquor Laws play a big role in the venues’ decisions to make the show for 21 and up. With extra staff required to police the minors, it is generally not cost-effective for many of the regular venues to put on an all-ages show. But aren’t minors allowed in a bar if they are with their parents? Yes, they are. However, the law continues and gives the venue the right to refuse minors to be allowed in.
So why don’t bars allow minors to remain inside? Wouldn’t that allow them to make more money (food, soda and selling to parents)? It is too risky and most venues do not want to fight that battle. If a minor decides to drink at the bar, they risk a fine up to $600. If they are a repeat offender the fine is $1,000 and 48 hours of community service. While that might be a lot of money to a teenager, it is not a severe enough punishment to deter them from risking it. Unfortunately for the business owner, the majority of the blame and punishment will fall on them or their staff for anyone under 21 who manages to sneak a drink. Their penalty is up to a $50,000 fine and 5 years in prison. The venue could also get its liquor license suspended for up to 45 days with the first offense 90 days for the second and on the third their license may be revoked. With the large fine and losing over a month of beverage sales, the risk to bar owners is generally not worth putting on an all-ages show.
A message to minors: I know it sucks but tough it out and soon you will be able to go to all of the shows. Until then, here are a list of venues & promoters that regularly host shows that you can attend.
All Age Venues:
Anchorage Town Square
Performing Arts Center
Church of Love
Alaska Airlines Center
Anchorage Downtown Partnership
Alaska State Fair
Smoking at a concert is both breaking the law and the venue’s house rules. Since you have avoided security and smuggled your stash in, you should also be smart in the way you consume. Getting caught can get your stash confiscated, you ejected from the show, or worse. For this reason, vaporizers work really well in these situations because they are discrete and produce far less smoke (vapor) than the other methods. If you can not afford a vaporizer, bring a small pipe that you do not care about. If it gets confiscated or dropped, you will only be out a few dollars. The benefit of a pipe is that you can take small puffs and come back to it each time that you want a hit rather than having to smoke a whole joint.
You may prefer a blunts to booze but it is very likely that you are near to someone who doesn’t. If may seem like common sense, but don’t blow smoke in anyone’s face. Your toking up can ruin the show for a neighbor who is allergic or prohibited from weed (work, military, etc). Exhale upwards or hold the smoke in and swallow it. If security tells you to put it out, just do it. They may be smokers as well, but they are there to enforce the rules so don’t make their jobs harder.
If you do decide to spark up a joint or blunt, it is up to your discretion whether or not you want to share it. Offering a toke to your neighbor can be a good way to determine who is a fellow smoker. It will be a good peace offering as well as a way to finish the bud quicker if you are worried about getting caught by security.
If someone smoking next to you is bothering you, politely ask them to put it out or to go smoke somewhere else. Chances are, they will. If they refuse, just be the bigger person and relocate. Don’t let them ruin the show for you.
Crowd surfing began back in the 70’s with rockers jumping off of the stage into the crowd. The audience would support them with everyone sharing a bit of the weight. It gained popularity as more and more musicians began to incorporate it into their shows. Nowadays, you can find crowd-surfing at all sorts of concerts, from metal to country. While it can be a memorable part of a show, most of the time it is fans in the audience wanting to be lifted and held aloft. They want to gain attention and experience the exhilarating thrill of a giant trust fall. However, it is not for everyone and is best to leave the surfing to the performer.
There are risks associated with crowd surfing. You will have lots of hands all over your body. I have seen surfers groped, pick-pocketed, and their shoes taken off to be thrown. If you are carried towards an empty pocket in the crowd or people are unable/willing to support you, chances are you will be getting dropped; sometimes on to other audience members. It is this exact reason why many venues prohibit crowd surfing and will eject you from the concert if you are caught.
If you are wanting to ride the human wave, do it front-to-back only. The audience all have their eyes facing the stage and if they see you are heading towards them, they will often help hold you up. If you attempt to surf from the back towards the stage, you are an asshole who deserves to get dropped. Everyone is looking forward and are unaware that you are about to come crashing into the back of them. Expect to anger a lot of people and possibly get punched, especially if you come crashing down on someone who has a beer in their hands.
Much like crowd surfing, moshing originated with rock and quickly spread. As the popularity grew, so did the issues created buy it. Thrashing around can be a fun high-energy way to dance but it is also dangerous to participants and bystanders. Many venues prohibit it because people have been bruised, bones broken, and even died in mosh pits from being thrown about or crushed in the crowd. Just like crowd surfing, just because it is prohibited, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at a show.
When a pit starts forming, those who wish to mosh will gravitate towards it like a black hole of thrash. If you are in the area and do not want to be involved, it is best to just relocate somewhere nearby because it can be hard to get a mosh pit to disperse unless you are onstage with a microphone.
Just outside of the circle will be a little safer but there is still the risk of the pit spilling into you. Often another group of people will make their way to stand between you and the mosh pit. Usually composed of those who like or are interested in moshing but not quite ready to jump into the ring, the people on the edge are the unsung heroes and the most important part of a mosh circle. They hang out on the edge of the circle and contain the mosh in the ring to protect the rest of the concert-goers from having a human cannonball barreling into the crowd. If you want to be Pit Defender, all you need is to enjoy the show from and the circle’s edge and give stray moshers a gentle encouraging push back towards the center. Careful: they may push back!
Rules of the Pit
Don’t try to hurt anyone
Pick up anyone who falls.
Not everyone is there to thrash.
Don’t push people outside of the ring. They did not come here for that.
No drinks. That is an unwanted shower waiting to happen.
Pro Tip: The circular flow of a mosh ring can be similar to the currents of a stream. The waters may be choppy but navigating them can be the fastest way to the other side. Channel your inner salmon and swim though the crowd to get to the front, back, or wherever you need to go.