Live music is a great way to feel alive. The experience can range from immediately forgettable to an unforgettable lifelong memory. I personally like amateur musicians (including street performers), local bands, superstar bands, and almost all kinds of music. What I don’t like are paying marked up ticket prices. Local bands and street performers are usually free to very little money, but to see your favorite performer at an arena can set you back hundreds of dollars. For me it is important to pay as close to face value for tickets (unless I can pay less) so I plan ahead for big events. Use resources such as LiveNation and TicketMaster to your benefit. Get on their mailing lists. If you know you want to see particular performers become a fan on Facebook and get on any mailing lists on their website. The odds of getting access to tickets earlier goes up with every connection you make to an artist or a venue. Local radio stations are also a great resource. They have everything from free ticket give aways, to free concerts, to pre-sale codes for LiveNation or Ticketmaster. For small local venues check Google, MySpace, Facebook, and look for their websites too. Small venues are a great place to see an acoustic act. That same small venue may be horrible for a loud band, so don’t assume you’ll like any type of act in any venue.
You should also understand how the venue will affect the rest of your experience. Will food and drinks be outrageously priced? Is parking a problem? Are tailgate parties allowed/common? Will it take 2 hours to get to a parking spot before and 2 hours to get out of the parking lot after the concert? Talk to friends who have been to the venue before, check out other online resources like Yelp to get reviews and tips from others who been there before you.
If you are looking for plans for a very specific night and don’t heard the music of the available acts use Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Google to find previews of their music. Don’t just listen to one or two songs, or you may be surprised. I went to see Alex Band at a small local venue that I completely enjoyed the first time I was there. I listened to his song with The Calling, “Wherever You Will Go” which is a great song and assumed I would like the rest of his music. Big mistake! He was just coming back to live performances and was really unpolished and uncomfortable up there. Plus his style of music did not fit the venue. So if you aren’t familiar with the act be sure to check out as much of their music as you can find.
In the last year I’ve seriously cut back on my NPR addiction and focused on relaxing with the radio and downloaded music. I’ve also been to over a dozen live music events. I really like my NPR and PBS, but I definitely feel more alive at a Dave Matthews concert! So when it’s time to get off the couch, and that is as often as possible, add live music to your “got to do” list.
Update: The advice to connect with artists you enjoy on Facebook and on their fan sites paid off this year.
I got reasonably priced middle of the stage, front row tickets for Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. I would not have had the opportunity if I had not signed up for Sheryl Crow’s fan site last year. I had missed getting tickets to her show at Humphrey by the Bay in San Diego last year and felt she was the one act that I missed that I wanted to be sure to see this year. I got an email from her website about a pre-sale. When I checked it out I noticed that the link to the pre-sale from her site wasn’t working because a mistake in the link HTML. I typed the correct URL in a browser, bought tickets. I think I was one of the first to get through so I got great seats for face value! I went to the show to see Sheryl Crow, but really enjoyed Kid Rock too. He’s an energetic performer and when the music slows down you can tell that he has a really good voice.
Update: 7 September 2012. The “ways to get better seats” doesn’t always work out though. I joined the Dave Matthews fan club… not free to get access to presale tickets. They warned that the tickets available for a given venue could be anywhere including the lawn, but I decided to take a chance. We got tickets on the lawn! Oh well, I probably won’t pay for better access to tickets again, but we still had fun at the concert!