Band guest list etiquette?
January 19, 2014 9:49 AM   Subscribe

We're going to a gig tonight that is massively sold out … and we're on the guest list. Are guest lists completely at the whim of the venue, or are there general guidelines that apply to most venues? We want to enjoy the show, but don't want to be “that guy” who ruins it for those nearby.

(We have tickets, incidentally. This is the kind of venue that nobody gets in without a ticket.)
posted by scruss to Media & Arts (18 answers total)
Don't really understand what you're asking about here. If you have tickets, you just show up like a normal show. If you're on the list, you tell the door guy or box office or whatever that you're in the list and they let you in. It's kinda like having will-call tickets in most places. Sometimes they have a separate line, but not always.
posted by empath at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

What's your question, exactly? How are you going to ruin anything for anybody?

Typically, the "guest list" gets you free admission, and is built in to the total capacity of the venue. Getting back stage is something else entirely. If you are admitted back stage, just drop by and tell the band that it was an awesome set. You don't need to hang out; just make an appearance, unless it's clear they want to hang with you (long lost cousin, former housemate or whatever).

If all you have is a ticket, you're just going to sit (or stand and sway) with everyone else, and then go home.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Guest lists are usually some combo of venue and act (at least, from what I know of venues I have been to). Nthing that I don't quite understand what you're asking.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on January 19, 2014

Some venues will have a roped off area that is for people on the guest list only, so if it exists, that may be the best place to watch the show from (particularly in a sold out crowd), unless your goal is to mosh 'n mingle. That said, it's not like it's up to you whether people get to go into that area or not, so I don't see any way that you could ruin it for everyone else by availing yourself of that perk, either.
posted by telegraph at 10:01 AM on January 19, 2014

I also don't understand what you're asking or what your situation is.

You have comped (free) tickets? Or you're on the guest list? If you have physical tickets then you just go in like a normal person with tickets. If you're on the guest list, you go up to the box office and tell them you're on the list and show your ID. They'll probably hand you actual tickets, then you proceed to the door guy as usual.

Either way, what kind of "that guy" are you worried about being?
posted by radioamy at 10:11 AM on January 19, 2014

I'm also not quite sure what the question is. Are you asking about what will happen before/during the show in terms of where you'll stand/sit? Or are you asking about what happens after the show in terms of whether you'll go backstage, how you should behave, etc.?

Each of these can depend on various factors, including the size of the venue, whether it's general admission or reserved seating, and how you got on the list (friend of the band vs. won a radio contest, etc.). In the absence of that info, my advice echoes the others: just mention it when you go in. They should tell you what to do, whether you need a wristband, etc. I'm guessing by "that guy" you mean you don't want to be seen as obnoxious? In which case, just be discreet.
posted by scody at 10:13 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you have tickets, you just walk in and give them your ticket. No need to announce to anyone that you're on a guest list (mostly because no one cares and it will just serve to out you as a noob). Enjoy the show as you normally would. There aren't any secrets of the guest list.
posted by quince at 10:42 AM on January 19, 2014

I'm also not sure I understand what the issue is, but if you're on the guest list or have comped tickets, by all means go and enjoy the show. There are usually a specific number of guest list spots for a show, and not using your spot on the list won't free up a spot for anyone else. If it's a sold out show and you're on the guest list, the "that guy" move would be to not go to the show.
posted by zombiedance at 11:21 AM on January 19, 2014

I guess I've been beanplating this. We have paid-for tickets. We are friends of the band. Unless we see something otherwise at the door, we're going in as general admission. I don't know if the (huge barn of of a) venue has a guest list policy, roped-off area, or anything. I'm not expecting after-show or backstage access. I was more asking if there were typical right things to do (like be early, or?) which, seemingly, there aren't.

For those who can't see how someone can ruin a show for other people, I guess you've never been elbowed out the way by a drunken lout who was hollering I'M WITH THE BAND!!! who then proceeded to jump around (and land on people), yell loudly about how fucken great this scene is, shout out requests for obscure back catalogue tracks, try to grab the singer's feet, throw up noisily over several people, pass out, and eventually be dragged out by security. And this at a painfully twee indie show, too …
posted by scruss at 11:24 AM on January 19, 2014

The perks of being on the guest list are usually one or both of the following: 1) You don't have to pay for your ticket. 2) You have band-, backstage-, or VIP access.

So if you already paid for your ticket and you aren't expecting #2, then I'm not sure why it matters if you are on the guest list at all. Ask your friend in the band what being on the guest list will get you and what the protocol is when you get there. You might have a different line you should stand in or a special ticket you should get before-hand, or a special bracelet or stamp. There's no way for us to know. Give your friend in the band a call or call the venue directly.
posted by greta simone at 11:54 AM on January 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

So it sounds like you know how to not be That Guy, so don't be That Guy! All good. If you're uncertain if you're on some kind of list that gives you access to a special seating area, it's fine to ask at the door, and if the door people don't know, they can point you to someone who does. Or you can call ahead, probably. When we go to shows at the Fillmore, there is Special People seating in the mezzanine, and a venue person who controls access right next to it, but you enter the overall venue with everyone else, as far as I've been able to tell (never having been a Special Person). So it's likely pretty venue-dependent. Have fun!
posted by rtha at 11:56 AM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Drunken obnoxious dudes shoving people out of the way and grabbing the singer's legs and throwing up on the audience are very often not really with the band at all (and even if they are, you're not going to do that anyway).

If you've already paid for your ticket, then yeah, the perk to being on the list is some sort of VIP seating and/or backstage access. Otherwise there's no point of a list.
posted by scody at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have paid-for tickets. We are friends of the band. Unless we see something otherwise at the door, we're going in as general admission.

Yup, you're all good there.

Once you're inside, well, y'know, that's what cell phone and texting are for (yeah, you are beanplating this a little.) Give someone in the band a ring or a text and they can come out to the general audience area and meet you or get a security person to snag you.

You could also ask security or the door guy to pass a message to the band that you're there.

be early

Earlier rather than later is probably a good idea - venue staff will have an easier time connecting you with the band when they don't have eleventy hundred people to deal with. Not before doors officially open, though, unless you've previously arranged it with the band, who can then notify staff that the apparently random dude knocking on the door is actually supposed to be let in.

I guess you've never been elbowed out the way by a drunken lout who was hollering I'M WITH THE BAND!!! who then proceeded to jump around (and land on people), yell loudly about how fucken great this scene is, shout out requests for obscure back catalogue tracks, try to grab the singer's feet, throw up noisily over several people, pass out, and eventually be dragged out by security.

Oh boy, have I . . . . .

But since you're not gonna do that, you're all good. I think we all figured you weren't gonna do that, which is why people were questioning how you were gonna ruin anyone's good time.

And on preview, seconding scody that VIP seating and/or backstage access is entirely the point of a guest list besides free admission. Just don't drink all the bands' beer/liquor/water/coffee/tea while you're backstage.

Go have fun and say "hi" to your friends. You're fine.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:16 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

If it's a big venue and you have a backstage/ VIP pass waiting it won't be at the front door, it'll be at the artists/ backstage parking entrance most likely or it'll be backstage with the band's management or assistant. That's assuming Big Name Band. Don't try to find it yourself, just text them and have them send someone out to meet you. If it's a small venue/ local band set up the doorman will have a list of guests. At small venues it's a crapshoot if you'll be on it, even if you are the lead singers mom because the whole process is pretty informal and the venue tends to severely limit how many people they let in for free. Since you have tickets you're getting in anyway but tell the doorman you're on the list and see if he gives you an extra pass, he might.

Best perk of backstage access is the nice bathrooms so if you can get it take it!!
posted by fshgrl at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2014

Sounds like you know the right things to do or not do, but I'll add:

If they serve drinks at this venue, don't ask that yours be put on the band's tab, or assume that yours will be comped or discounted, because you're WTB (with the band). Even if by some chance you DO get free drinks because you're WTB, remember to tip the waitstaff. If you get to go backstage and hang out, don't order the waitstaff around or expect to be treated differently than a regular patron, just because you're WTB. If you get to hang out for any length of time, leave a generous tip for the waitstaff.

A cool thing to do as a band friend would be to send some drinks backstage, or even on stage if they're the type. Bands don't always get free or discounted drinks.

As much as your friends might really like to see you, don't monopolize their time or expect to hang out all evening if you get to go backstage.

Ask yourself, are you there to listen to the band play, or to talk to them? I could never understand the friends of the bands who would just sit in the back the whole night and never come out and enjoy the show from the front.

Ex-Waitress at a Live Music Venue
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:49 PM on January 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

nthing everyone that this is an odd question that seems confused about what a guest list is or even what a gig is actually like. Just be a normal person like at any other show...
posted by turkeyphant at 9:18 PM on January 19, 2014

Unless you’re saying that you bought tickets and then were added to the guest list. In which case you don’t want to use you tickets to get in, because there are often only so many spots on the list and you’ve claimed some of them, but not used them.
So if you are unclear;
1. Go to the door and see if you are on the guest list for admission, not just access of some sort.
2. If yes, get admission but try and give your tickets away first if you’re feeling generous.
3. DO NOT give your tickets away until you are certain you are getting in, like walking in the door! This applies to any guest list circumstances.

All this could be (probably, but not necessarily) cleared up by asking the person putting you on the list.

It’s probably too late for this to be useful, but for the future.
posted by bongo_x at 12:48 AM on January 20, 2014

Ah, okay, I seriously overthought this. As I suspected, it was more of a “hey my friends are coming to my show!”, and the security knew nothing. It was actually a relief to be just part of the (huge, joyous) crowd. It had been a while since I'd been to a gig, and a decade or more since I'd been on a guest list (which had required talking down a suspicious door security guy, and then getting ushered to a special seating area at the front).

It was a really fun show.
posted by scruss at 1:23 PM on January 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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