Have you ever wondered how people end up front row at general admission concerts? Have you ever wondered how it’s possible to beat the thousands of people to enter the venue first? Camping and hours of waiting is the secret. As an avid concert-goer who loves GA shows, I have spent many hours waiting outside in the extreme heat and harsh cold for front row. I’ve compiled a list of all of the tips and tricks I’ve learned during these long, trying hours on how to survive lining up for a concert.
Bring a tent.
I cannot stress this enough. If you plan to sleep longer than one night, bring one. It will save your life. The first time I camped, it was in the middle of November, and I did not want to spend $25 on something that did not feel essential. I genuinely do not think I would have made it longer than one night without one. I also assumed it would be more dangerous because you can’t see the surroundings, but I genuinely felt safer with one. Not only did it provide some privacy, but it also sheltered us and our belongings from the cold wind and icy rain that came throughout the night. I’d also suggest bringing a lawn chair so you have somewhere to sit that’s not concrete.
Make sure you get a number and wristband.
A number secured by a wristband will provide protection from people cutting in line. The line leader is usually an experienced camper and will already have a numbering system with wristbands in place. Often times, they won’t give a number until you have slept the first night. This ensures the line leader and other campers that you are here for the long run and won’t leave and come back show day. Be careful of this, however, I have lost my original place in line because leader held wristbands for friends who came later. Just communicate with the leader, count the people in line, and number yourselves to ensure you aren’t duped.
Check Google Maps beforehand.
Locate your place of camping before you leave (normally, this is near the venue, but not on venue property) and map out any nearby restaurants or stores that would allow public bathroom use. This will give a good idea on how often and far you will have to travel for the bathroom. One time, our camping location was secluded and the closest place was a distant McDonald’s, so we knew we were going to have to drive. It makes it easier if you can plan ahead what you are getting yourself into before you get there. Trust me, thinking you will be able to use the restroom easily when you wake up at 12 a.m., and then realizing you have to wait nine hours until somewhere opens is agonizing.
Pay extra for nearby parking.
Having your car super close is a huge lifesaver. Do not park in a sketchy place or a far walk away, it will be miserable. It’s so nice to be able to walk to your car to get a few valuables or sit with the air conditioner on. Once it’s show day, you will be exhausted and parking nearby makes it so much easier to pack up all of your things into your trunk. If a hotel isn’t an option, parking close will also make getting ready easier.
Don’t leave longer than a couple of hours.
This is the unspoken rule of camping. Every line I’ve been in is different but communicate with the line leader and other campers if you have to leave. If you have to go shower at the hotel you reserved nearby or get dinner or sightsee the city, let everyone know and do not be longer than two hours at a time. Always, always, make sure you’re sleeping in your spot. It’s unfair to the other campers who are sitting in the extreme weather, miserable, while you go out and party with your friends. Necessities are important, but it’s not worth losing your spot in line.
Bring earplugs and a sleeping mask.
This is something that I find extremely helpful. Many of the campers will be loud and partying, and after not sleeping the night before, you’ll be exhausted and just want to tune them out. A lot of campers establish a nocturnal sleeping pattern for safety reasons, and a sleeping mask will make it so much easier to fall asleep.
Lastly, remember to enjoy the time you’re there. I know it’s stressful and the concrete is uncomfortable, but it is a lot of fun and you meet so many cool people who are all there for the same reason. Once you’re in the venue, you will be on the barricade with people you spent days connecting with. That’s a truly incomparable feeling.
Camping adds to the fun and excitement of the show, and that’s why I, and many others, enjoy it so much. Don’t be afraid to camp or wait outside the venue for hours, it positively impacts the entire experience and become memories you will cherish forever