I’ve loved live music since college, when I saw Phish play at New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center. And I’ve had experiences where I’ve gone to shows with friends, as well as those where I’ve gone solo.
Going to shows with friends is wonderful. I have one friend, Sal, a drummer, who would provide critiques and commentary on who the “weak link” in the band was. Some of my fellow Deadhead friends went to shows in the 1970s and 1980s and have enlightened me on some of the history behind the songs played by the Grateful Dead. And there’s always the pregame dinner, where we talk about the show, as well as the postgame trip home, where we comment on the show’s highlights. My friend Maggie and I once went to see Zoso, a Led Zeppelin tribute, where we interacted with a group of friends who engaged us in a bet to see what song they’d play. My friend Pete, who goes to way more shows than I do, is able to inform me what tunes certain bands play if I’ve never heard them. And they’re all stars on my blog, Not Enough Concerts.
But there is a great deal to be said for solo concertgoing. When I do go to a show solo, I’m a lot less insular and more open to meeting people. And with jam bands (particularly general admission shows), there’s an energy that just unites us fans and keeps us engaged with each other, as well as the music.
The first time I went to a show in DC (after lockdown) solo (a Grateful Dead cover band called Better Off Dead), I met a dude named John, a lawyer who I subsequently met up with at future shows. A month later, when I went to see Trey Anastasio play, I ate at an Indian restaurant near the venue. Pete commented on my Phish T-shirt, and we just got to going. A few minutes later, we were walking to the show, and we’ve met up for several in the DC area since, as well as a Phish show in Philadelphia. There was also my adventure trying to catch an Uber when Phish played at Jones Beach, and teaming up with John during my quest. And having Larry introduce me to all the regulars when I saw the Montgomery Warlocks (another DC-based Dead cover bad) solo.
And I don’t always meet people who I stay in touch with for long periods of time. Sometimes, they’re just friends for the night. Like that guy Mark who had driven from Boston to New York to see Phish. And those two dudes from Georgia who flew up to New York for the Widespread Panic show. And countless other people whom I can’t remember.
As an introvert, I definitely appreciate this article and have internalized most of the tips, like being close to an exit (I like standing in the back during general admission shows). One nice thing about going solo is that I can leave whenever the hell I want and not have to stand around and jiggle my keys while one of my extroverted friends chats with some stranger.
Not that I don’t love my extroverted friends, but still…
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.