Going to a concert can be an exciting experience, especially if it’s for your favorite artist or band. However, trying to get into the venue once you’ve arrived can sometimes be confusing and chaotic. When hundreds or thousands of eager fans converge on a concert venue at the same time, it can be hard to tell exactly when you’ll be let inside. So how do you know for sure when those doors open to let concertgoers in? There are a few techniques you can use to be prepared and get through the doors as early as possible.
Watch for staff instructions
The venue employees themselves are often the best source for knowing when the doors will open. As you’re waiting in line to get in, keep an eye out for staff members giving instructions or updates. They’ll frequently make announcements over loudspeakers or megaphones to direct the crowd. For example, they may say something like “Doors will open in 10 minutes at 7pm”. Pay close attention to any official communications, as the staff will want to coordinate the crowd and avoid chaos. If you don’t hear any announcements, you can also politely ask an employee directly when doors will open.
Check the time
Doors generally open 1-2 hours before the concert’s scheduled start time. This gives fans time to enter the venue, get drinks and merchandise, find their seats, and be settled in well before the show begins. So if you know when the concert starts, you can estimate when you can expect to enter. For instance, if the performance is set to kick off at 9pm, there’s a good chance doors will open around 7 or 8pm. Be sure to check your ticket or look online for the precise event start time, then plan to arrive 1-2 hours prior. Getting to the venue extra early also gives you a better spot in line and ensures you won’t miss the opening.
Look for activity near the entrance
Keep an eye on the door area itself for signs that opening time is approaching. If you notice staff members assembling near the entrance, security guards getting in position, or equipment being moved, it likely means doors will be opening very soon. Having all the systems and personnel in place right by the doors often signals they are about to let the line start flowing in within the next 5-15 minutes. So if you see a flurry of activity right around the entrance, get ready to grab your ticket and walk inside shortly.
Waiting in the entry line
Once you arrive at the concert and get in the queue to enter, here are some tips for making your wait as smooth as possible:
Get there early
It’s always best to arrive well before doors open so you can be at the front of the line. The earlier you get in line, the better your spot will be when doors open. This prevents you from ending up deep in the crowd and having to slowly shuffle into the venue. Arriving early also gives you time to relax, grab food or drinks, or visit merchandise booths before the rush starts.Aim to get to the venue at least 1-2 hours before doors open.
Pass the time enjoyably
Waiting in a long line can get dull, so come prepared with ways to keep yourself entertained. Chat with your fellow excited concertgoers, play games on your phone, listen to music, read a book, or people watch to make the time pass quicker. You can also make friends with fans near you to exchange stories and get hyped up for the show. Having distractions will prevent you from just staring at your watch impatiently.
Check social media
Many venues will post updates leading up to the event on their social channels. Follow them on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get notifications on when doors will open. There may be delays or schedule changes that they’ll communicate via social media, so check frequently for the latest info. The performer or band you’re seeing may also give updates from the venue on their own social accounts.
Charge your phone
You’ll want your phone fully charged so you can contact friends, snap photos, listen to music in line, check online for door times, and show your mobile ticket when entering. Make sure you charge your phone before leaving for the concert and consider bringing an external battery pack in your bag. Running out of battery during the wait or upon entry would be a disaster.
Waiting outside for extended periods can be uncomfortable without the right supplies. Bring a bottle of water and snack to stay hydrated and keep your energy up. Have comfy shoes on as you may be standing for hours. Bring a small folding chair or blanket to sit on instead of just standing the whole time. A book or magazine gives you something to do. Having a portable phone charger, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and small umbrella can also be very useful to have while waiting in line.
Getting through the doors smoothly
Once those doors finally open, follow these pointers to get inside quickly and without hassle:
Have your ticket ready
Nothing holds up a line more than people fumbling around looking for their ticket when they reach the entrance. Have your concert ticket easily accessible – print it out or pull up the barcode on your phone so it’s ready to be scanned or shown. Putting it in a clear plastic sleeve can protect it as well. Have any accompanying IDs ready too in case the venue needs to verify your age.
If you’re attending with friends, get in line together whenever possible. Arriving together ensures you stay as a group when doors open. If people trickle in separately, you risk getting separated in the rush or having people cut in front of part of your group. Meeting together early and staying in line as a unit makes getting seats together inside much easier too.
Don’t cut the line
As excited as you may be, never cut in front of others who have been patiently waiting before you. Cutting causes delays and arguments that slow down the line, angering both staff and your fellow fans. Don’t be that person who ignores the pack and selfishly pushes your way through. Follow proper queue etiquette by being respectful, waiting your turn, and not crowding others.
Follow staff orders
Listen to instructions from venue staff and security to keep entrance procedures smooth. They’ll likely call groups forward in an organized fashion or have you enter through designated gates. Don’t ignore their orders or try sneaking into a faster line – that just aggravates everyone. The staff wants to get everyone in quickly and safely. Following their lead helps that happen.
Have your ID and payment ready
Many major concerts now have enhanced security, which means showing identification and having bags checked before entering. To prevent holdups, have your ID card ready to show staff so they can verify who you are. Bags may also need to be unzipped and inspected. If you’re planning to buy merchandise or drinks inside, have your credit card or cash ready to pay so you don’t lose extra time fumbling through your wallet or purse.
Getting a good spot inside
Now that you’ve finally made it through those doors, here are some key tips for getting a prime viewing or seating spot inside the venue:
Scope out the layout
Once inside, take a moment to survey the scene and map out where you want to end up. Are there reserved seating sections or standing room only? How big is the floor area? Where is the stage located? Understanding the layout will help strategize the fastest way to your ideal spot. Identify routes through the crowd or up stairs to reach your destination.
Head straight there
Don’t stop to buy merch or drinks first unless absolutely essential. While others are making pit stops and getting held up, make your way directly to the prime real estate before it’s taken. Getting sidetracked right after entering causes you to lose your advantage coming in early. Stake out your viewing spot, then take turns later to buy stuff.
Stake your claim
For standing room only shows, plant yourself in your chosen spot as soon as possible. Make your presence and intention to stay known. Spread out just enough to give yourself space but prevent gaps for others to sneak into. Defend your area while still being polite to those around you. Your early arrival earned you this space, so hold onto it.
Sit immediately if reserved seats
For reserved stadium seating, quickly find your section, row and seat number. Don’t stand around or stop to chat – sit down right away. This discourages others from trying to steal your already assigned seat. Maintaining occupancy also lets other arrivals know they need to find another open spot, keeping your claimed chair secure.
Get on the end
For the best views, positioning yourself on the very end of a row is ideal. End seats let you freely access the aisle without climbing over others when taking breaks. Being on the aisle also means you can better see the stage even if people in front of you stand up. If your assigned seat isn’t at the end, politely ask those next to you if they’d switch so you can have that vantage point.
Purchasing band merchandise
One of the best parts of seeing a favorite music act live is scoring some sweet branded merchandise to remember the night and show your fandom. Here are handy strategies for snagging that must-have concert merch:
Preview items online
Most bands and musicians will post photos of their tour merchandise online prior to shows starting. Check their websites and social media pages to preview shirts, hoodies, hats, posters, and other specialty items they’ll have available. This lets you plan what to budget for and prioritize the coolest pieces you definitely want to buy.
The most in-demand merch goes quickest, so get to the merch table promptly after doors open. Don’t wait until later when sizes start selling out. Popular items like artist tour shirts often fly off the shelves right away. Hit the stands either on your way to secure a spot or immediately after getting settled in.
Scope out locations
Larger venues may have multiple merch booths in different areas, like near the entrance or by the stage. Identify where the various stands are located and which have the shortest lines so you can grab your gear efficiently. You may be able to avoid packed tables by heading to a lower traffic spot.
Bring a poster tube
If collecting a tour poster, bring a sturdy empty tube to safely transport it without bending or creasing. Venues do not provide tubes. Laying posters flat or rolling them tightly causes damage over time. Pick up a cardboard or plastic tube at an art store or office supply store ahead of the show.
Keep your purchases safe
Don’t buy more than you can reasonably carry during the concert. Merch bags are usually simple plastic sacks that can easily rip. Consider stashing purchases under your seat or in your vehicle until the show ends to avoid losing or damaging items in a crowded venue. Or pack a sturdy reusable bag or backpack to contain your haul.
Purchasing drinks and snacks
Concerts typically have plenty of drink and food stands available inside, though prices are higher than normal. Here are some tips for navigating venue concessions:
Food at most concert venues is overpriced and underwhelming in terms of taste and portion sizes. Eat a hearty meal before arriving or bring your own snacks to save money and avoid concession sticker shock. Granola bars, trail mix, sandwiches, and fruit are easy to bring.
If purchasing food at the venue, consider sharing bigger items like nachos or giant pretzels. Most portions are far more than one person needs. Splitting eliminates waste and saves a little cash. Just ask for extra napkins and forks if needed.
Bring a refillable bottle
Stay hydrated by packing an empty reusable water bottle. Fill it at any of the venue’s free water dispensers instead of buying individual bottles. Reusable bottles are eco-friendly and let you sip endlessly without running up a tab. Just be sure the bottle is empty upon entry to comply with security policies.
Buying basic soft drinks at venues then spiking them with mini alcohol bottles brought in can cut costs. While not allowed officially, security rarely thoroughly checks belongs. Bringing airplane size liquor bottles to mix is an old veteran move.
Scope out options
Quickly scout out where drink and food stands are located within the venue, and check what the offerings and prices are. This allows you to comparison shop and choose the best value. Prices often vary between locations for the same item. Knowing the layout saves unnecessary wandering later.
Interacting with the artist
For the ultimate concert experience, many fans hope to actually interact with the band or musician on stage. Here are some tips for making that dream a reality:
Get there first
To increase you chances of being noticed, get to the stage area as early as possible. Stake out a spot right up front where the performer will easily see you. This prime real estate gets taken quickly, so arrive early to claim it. The earlier you get settled in near the stage, the more likely you’ll stand out.
Make eye contact
Once the show starts, work hard to make direct eye contact with the musicians during songs and between numbers. Engage with them visually so you’re more than just another indistinguishable face in the sea of fans. Eye contact builds rapport and grabs their attention. Wave and cheer when they look your way.
Hold up a sign
Bring a handmade sign with a personalized message for the band, such as requesting a rare song or sharing how much their music means to you. Witty or funny signs can also grab the performer’s interest. Just avoid offensive, rude, or inappropriate content. Hold your sign up high during the entire show to increase visibility.
Stand out visually
Wear an outfit or crazy costume that will stick out from the crowd, like the band’s signature look or something related to their music. Face paint and funky hats help you get noticed as well. Musicians will be naturally drawn to fans who visually stand apart from the masses. Distinguishing yourself catches their eye.
Sing and dance passionately
Nothing gains a performer’s admiration like passionate fans truly enjoying the show. Sing every song at the top of your lungs and dance with wild abandon. Your enthusiasm and energy will radiate from the crowd. Let the music move you physically to attract the artist’s attention and appreciation.
Meeting the performers
Meeting your music idols face-to-face is an unbelievable thrill. Here are some strategies for making that post-show meeting happen:
Wait at the tour buses
After the concert concludes, head outside near the tour buses and watch for the band to emerge on their way out. Politely ask for autographs, photos, or just a chance to share what their work means to you. This option takes patience since you likely won’t know exactly when they’ll come out, but it can pay off big time.
Hang around the backstage area
Some venues have sections near dressing rooms or production offices where artists may appear post-show. Lingering politely in these zones gives you a chance to connect as they come and go. Just be respectful if they seem to be in a hurry or avoiding interaction. Don’t follow them or get aggressive.
Attend a meet and greet
Larger acts frequently host pre-show meet and greet sessions for contest winners and fan club members. Entering radio contests or joining fan groups ups your odds of scoring coveted meet and greet passes. These sessions allow a photo op and quick chat in a controlled environment.
Get a VIP package
Many artists sell premium-priced VIP ticket packages that include a post-show meeting. Purchasing the highest ticket tier often guarantees you’ll get a personal audience, though for a steep fee. For wealthy superfans, the cost is worth a private encounter.
Meet a support act
Lesser known supporting acts are often more willing to hang out afterwards. Approach them by the tour buses or backstage areas politely asking for a conversation. Capitalize on their small crowds to get face time that headliners can’t provide. These rising talents cherish devoted fans.
Attending a concert of a beloved musical act is an unforgettable adventure. Arriving early, having a plan, and staying flexible increase your chances for a smooth entry, prime viewing spots, cool merchandise scores, and maybe even some coveted artist interactions. Prior preparation prevents headaches and helps set you up for an epic experience. Follow these tips so that when those venue doors finally swing open, you’re ready to rock and roll all night!