After a roughly estimated 400 to 500 concert and festival visits, I have now developed my very own strategies to be at the front of concerts in a relaxed manner. Without any uncomfortable pushing or waiting like a pillar of salt in front of the hall for countless hours before admission. I also watched many other band fans during this time and heard their stories. From this, I have written 4 very practical tips with which you will definitely make it into the first row. Or just as far forward as the crowd allows.
Tip 1 – Against the current
Never line up where everyone is queuing and don’t just go where the flow of the crowd draws you. This tip applies to the time in the hall itself, but also to the entrance. Unless it’s a tiny basement club, chances are there’s at least a second airlock. Man is a herd animal. So before you join the line that goes around the block, go to the front and see if there isn’t a second parallel entrance there. I’ve seen 500 people line up on one side of the door five minutes before admission and only ten on the other. The way to the front row is rarely easier.
For large halls, most people flock to the center (main) entrance. So look for one that is a bit more to the side. Advantage: Inside there you don’t usually stand your legs in the cloakroom, drinks or toilet.
In general, the side walls are your friend. Instead of fighting your way through the crowd, which is usually super exhausting and also pretty hopeless, weave your way through the people along the very edge of the wall as far as you can until you are at the height where you want to stand. From there, it’s a lot easier to sneak forward to the middle. Always look for the wall furthest from the main entrance to the hall (provided the doors are perpendicular to the stage’s line of sight) and avoid following the herd. Sometimes that also means avoiding grandstands and then returning to the interior further ahead. Be creative.
Tip 2 – Knowledge is power
OK. Your favorite band is playing in a hall or a club you’ve never been to and you really want to be at the top. Familiarize yourself with the location in advance so that you can swim against the current and avoid the herd. On the homepages of the halls you can often find a floor plan of the interior, sometimes even a plan with marked entrances and escape routes. Ticket booking portals usually also have an exact seating plan. If there are no exact plans, there is almost always at least one gallery with pictures of the (empty) location on the net or you can ask away at sites like evryanswer or quora. Take a good look at everything at home and memorize the pictures so that you can comfortably follow tip 1 on-site.
Tip 3 – Bring a smile and a beer
It’s just before kick-off, the hall is already full, but you’ve chatted at the merch or the bar in the back. But now quickly forward! But wait, we don’t want to push and squeeze no matter what. Just order two beers (or other beverages), balance them slightly over your head, remember tip 1, and pretend to bring someone’s drink up front. Always smile friendly, and apologize politely if you carefully but firmly weave your way through a slightly narrower gap. Just go as far forward as possible. When you’re stuck, give the person next to or behind you who’s looking at you the rudest or giving off the worst vibes the second drink with your most charming smile: “Here, I brought you.” That works wonders.
Tip 4 – Shake it out!
You’ve followed tips 1 to 3, but you’re still not as far ahead as you would like. Dancing helps. Unless it’s a sentimental singer-songwriter at the concert, just celebrate the band where they stand mega. Dancing, jumping, everything is allowed. Most of the time the people who just want to look will avoid you almost automatically. Don’t forget to smile and simply ignore stupid sayings.