Sunday, June 21, 2009

Concert Survival Tips [Part II]

Concert Survival Tips Part II
Warped Tour Survival

There are two very specific forms of surviving in the concert world. There’s basic show survival, which is- well- basic; then, there is Warped Tour. Festival shows such as Warped are a breed all their own: a breed that can grab you by the throat, over-exhaust your sweat glands, and throw you –before you have time to think- into the land of “Oh-shit-I’m-passing-out-in-front-of-my-favorite-band!".

I was in thrust into that land at my first Warped Tour.

(Flashback Time…)

Not only was 2005’s my first Warped, but also my first time being in a pit. I waited the whole time in front of the main stage for My Chemical Romance to come on, and- by the time they did- I was beaten and battered (second row sucks, but that’s a story for another survival lesson) to the point of exhaustion. I, however, could did not let this damper my mood; as, I was seeing my favorite band for the third time, and for the first time, I was actually seeing them up-close! Like I was going to relent! PFT! So, I flailed and went as wild as usual while the crowd compressed me in the summer, asphalt-increased heat. I was happy, somewhere beyond happy, somewhere so far from this world that I hardly noticed when I woke up and the band was suddenly in the middle of “You Know what They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison” and people around me were giving me funny looks. I was fine, right? Well, I thought I was even after the band had finished and I followed my friends who crawled out of the crowd over the barricade. As I stumbled to my feet after being hoisted out by the crowd, I was promptly stopped by a security guard who grabbed my arm, said, “Whoa, whoa… You’re coming with me.”

I was horrified. What had I done? Did I break some sort of Warped Tour rule? As the security guard guided me by the arm under the stage my favorite band had just played upon, I looked back at my friends in horror; then, I looked ahead… 10 legs and clouds of smoke surrounding the appendages at the light end of the stage-tunnel revealed my favorite band’s standing directly in my path. I panicked. I had to say something; how could I miss my opportunity to talk to My Chemical Romance?! My mind went fuzzy; the legs started moving away; I had reached the light; the guard’s grip on my arm was slipping; my voice was weak as I yelled the name of the owner of the last pair of legs I saw: “Gerard!” And that was the precise moment the entire band decided to respond to the name “Gerard” and when the security guard lost his grip on me, and my heat-weakened body fell onto Bob Bryar’s freshly-unloaded drum-kit.

I was hoisted up as a wheelchair was brought to me. My leg was bleeding from its collision with the most magnificent and embarrassing set of drums I had ever encountered, and I was blushing as red as that blood as I watched my heroes look back at me with wide eyes before they walked away. Great. I had blown it, and now my favorite band thought I was some fangirl mental patient. Why couldn’t I have yelled the name of one of the other guys, and why the HELL did my voice have to sound so rabid when I said “Gerard”?

As it turned out, my voice had been so weak and rabid because I had had a heat-stroke. I guess I was “not okay” (sorry) after all. As I sat in the first aide tent backstage and watched MCR’s standing about 50 feet away doing an interview, I was close to tears. They were so close; yet, the medic wouldn’t let me move to go talk to them and repent for my wild behavior.

Finally, I saw Gerard Way start walking toward the tent, and I called him over (this time much more gently). He asked the medics if he could enter; then, he came to talk to me. My life was pretty much made at that moment. I was too nervous and still too mind-scrabbled to tell my hero much of anything, but I had enough sense to ask him for a picture and to attempt to hold up my phone to take said picture, which only revealed my trembling hand. After Gerard’s awkwardly trying to take the phone so he could get the picture followed by the medic’s taking the phone to get the picture, my apologizing for the wet towel around my shoulders as Gerard put his arm around them, the singer’s assuring me that there was nothing to apologize for, and after his asking me if I were okay about 20 times, the picture was snapped, final “are you all right?”s were repeated, and I was left shaking harder than before with a huge grin on my face. My favorite singer had just talked to me, and I had a picture to prove it. And, though it was awkward, he had had a concerned look in his eyes as they were directed at me, which made me ecstatic. I sat back down on my ice-cooler chair, shaking, grinning, and crying just a little bit as Gerard talked to another nearby fan before leaving the tent with a wave and smile and heading over to the second stage watch the Transplants.

A moment later, My Chemical Romance bassist Mikey Way made his way over to the first-aide realm, and I met him just as awkwardly as I had met his brother, but this time I had the sense to hand the camera-phone to the medic before he could see that I was shaking (as if it weren’t bad enough that he could see I was teary-eyed).

Shortly after my second (well, technically third) encounter with a member of my favorite band, a go-kart came and whisked me away to the parking area where I was forced to go home in the middle of the day, which sucked major.

(End Flashback...)

So, what’s the moral of this story? You don’t want to be mind-scrabbled at Warped tour, and you don’t want to be forced to leave early. Though something good happened when I got sick at Warped, most of the time, nothing good can come of mixing heat and hurt. So, here are some survival tips for Warped Tour.




TO SURVIVE:

1. Don’t show up too early.
It gets HOT at Warped Tour, sometimes too hot to handle healthily. The earlier one shows up, the longer one has to endure the heat. Simple. The earliest I have ever shown up to Warped Tour was about 2 hours before doors. Unless there is a band you are dying to see and want to secure a barricade spot for, don’t worry about showing up early. It’s not very hard to get to the front of a crowd at Warped Tour; as, crowds are shifting from stage to stage all day. If you want to see a band up close, but don’t want to stand in the crowd all day, just get to the stage a band or two before the one you want to see and work your way up as the crowd moves, but don’t be a jerk about it. It’s hot, and very few people will have the patience for your being a jerk. Generally, fans go see a band at one stage then migrate elsewhere. If you really love a band and are willing to stay at the front of one stage for them (as I did for 10 hours at my second Warped Tour in 2005), be prepared for the heat and for the impact of the ever-changing crowd behind you.

2. Bring a Large Bag
Warped Tour is the one show that can be excluded from the “No big bags” rule I mentioned in my first Concert Survival blog. I would actually RECOMMEND bringing a large bag to Warped. You will accumulate lots of fliers, stickers, CDs, t-shirts, and random items from vendors throughout the day, and many of them are worth keeping, so it’s nice to have somewhere to store them. Beside that, you’ll need something to carry the loads of sunscreen I recommend you bring.

3. Apply The ‘Screen
You will be in the sun all day long, and I know many of you are like me and don’t see much of that fiery death-ball in the sky. You don’t want to be the Warped Tour lobster-kid with the awkward tan-lines and a ticket to skin cancer-ville. Apply sunscreen, and apply it often; the more waterproof and higher the SPF the better!

4. The Band Schedule Is Your Best Friend
Immediately upon entering Warped Tour, you will want to look skyward for a large list of bands and their correlating stages and times. Okay, not skyward, but above the tents; as, the band schedule is tall, towering, usually a strangely-shaped inflatable thing, and there to help you plan your day. Usually, you can most easily find this schedule by following the flock that is undoubtedly heading toward it. Many tents hand out papers, and some even hand out blank schedules that you can fill in to remember when your favorite bands play. Of course, you can always just type it into your phone or –the more popular option- sharpie it onto your arm, and it works just as well.

5. Bring a Sharpie and a Camera
For above reasons, and for the simple fact that Warped Tour is like and open-range punk-rock carnival where both fans and bands alike roam. Warped Tour is probably the easiest tour in the world on which you can meet bands; as, they are often just hanging around. So, bring your sharpie and camera to be prepared for possible encounters.

6. Scope out the Tents
At Warped Tour, not only can you sometimes meet your favorite bands by coincidental encounters, but sometimes the bands even set up meet-and-greets. I have met many, many bands through Warped Tour M&Gs. Meet and Greet times are often posted at the bands’ merch tents, and some Warped sponsors and vendors also hold meet and greets at their tents. Warped Tour is a great place for worthy causes to get the word out, so check out some non-band tents and get some information as well. A lot of non-band vendors hold contests to help you win sweet stuff at Warped Tour. You wouldn’t want to ignore them and miss any chances!

7. Stay Hydrated!
Another vendor you should surely check out is the concession stand at the amphitheatre or one of the many water-carts at Warped Tour. You are going to sweat; it’s pointless to think otherwise. You’re on asphalt in the middle of the summer and surrounded by thousands of people; it’s HOT, and you need to keep yourself healthy.

8. Give yourself a Break
The heat of Warped Tour is no joke, and certainly not something you in which want to run risks. Find a shady place or somewhere to sit if you start feeling overwhelmed. I promise; a band isn’t going to mind if you’re not watching them in the immediate center of a hot and exhausting crowd. Don’t be stupid like I was and play tough. Let yourself cool down and relax.

9. Don’t Wear your Very Best Clothes
To reiterate: You are going to sweat; it’s pointless to think otherwise. You’re on asphalt in the middle of the summer and surrounded by thousands of people; it’s HOT. Trying to look cute at Warped Tour is like trying to surf a scummy pond in the dead of winter.
Your hair WILL go flat, your clothes WILL get dirty and sweaty, your make-up WILL run, and your clothes are likely to get ripped in all the madness. Look nice, but don’t try too hard. It’s better to be comfortable in a stressful environment than constrained and slowly-melting.

10. Keep your Eyes Open
Lots of odds and ends to trip over, just saying…

__


Basically, think of going to Warped Tour as you would think of going to an amusement park on the hottest day of summer and plan accordingly.

Happy surviving!

XoXo
c.

::More Survival Tips::
Surviving The Line-Wait

3 comments:

Shyla said...

What a terrible, yet amazing story. 2005 was also my first year at Warped and I also unknowingly waited in the pit for MyChem. Though I didn't pass out or anything, I did fall and had several people on top of me. The year after that, I went again and experienced the dizzy, almost passing out feeling.

Warped (or any festival show) can be scary if you don't know what you're doing.

Good tips you gave here. Wish I knew them when I went lmao

(and oh man you met Gerard and Mikey *jealous*)

FelonErika said...

As I was reading through your flashback, all I could think was "this would be me!" Unfortunately, I have done similar things, and have almost gotten hurt multiple times because of it. To be clear, I've never been to Warped Tour (I'm going this summer!); but I've had a few incidents at other outdoor concerts where I've pushed my limits a tad too far.

Such as Bamboozle 2009. I began to feel faint during Fall Out Boy's set (people were getting rough, as expected), and I refused to leave the crowd - or attempt to - until I felt my legs shaking. By the time I made it out I was lightheaded, having trouble standing, and in desperate need of water. I was out of money, and had to plead with people to buy me some. I'm lucky that I found a willing person, or I would have passed out.

Thanks for putting this blog up, I'll keep this in mind the next I decide to try to rough it out - especially since I'm 13, and (about) 5ft 2. Not that I'm going to let that stop me from moshing, getting to the barrier, and achieving what I refer to as a "pit high".

xoxo,
Erika

Cassie The Venomous said...

Shyla,

YIKES! That's intense. At my first Warped, I thought I was going to fall, but the crowd was so compressed that if one fell, we would all fall together. Seriously, we were so packed together that my feet left the ground for a while and I was just hanging between bodies! HAHA!

I guess that's precisely why Gerard alw*ys urges us to pick each other up at shows!


___


Erika,

Good luck at your first Warped tour! Just don't overheat and enjoy yourself! Ha-ha!
You're so lucky to have gone to Bamboozle; I have always wanted to go, but have never gotten the chance. :[
At my 5th MCR show, I had that same shaky-leg, falling over problem. I ended up going to the back of the crowd and lying on the ground, clutching this big concrete wall; then, the band decided to play "Vampires..." and I went a little crazy, got up, and ran back into the crowd. People were looking at me like I was a crazy-lady... Well, I was... Ha-ha!

Have fun and enjoy that magnificent "pit high".


XoXo
c.