Going to a concert - alone.
May 26, 2007 5:57 PM   Subscribe

What's it like going to a concert ... alone?

To-die-for concert coming up at the Hollywood Bowl. Friends are nonfans, and refuse to be converted (barbarians!). Excellent (I think) ticket for me, at the Promenade II section. Looks like I'll have to go it alone - but before I take the jump and buy the ticket, am I crazy for doing this? What should I expect? How will I entertain myself during downtimes?
posted by Xere to Human Relations (50 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Even if you're not much of an extrovert, it's not a big deal. During the downtimes, you could grab a drink or look at merchandise, or strike up a conversation with the people next to you ... "so, what did you think of the last band?" never fails to break the ice.
posted by fourstar at 6:05 PM on May 26, 2007

You are not alone, you have thousand of like minded people within arms reach.
posted by kanemano at 6:07 PM on May 26, 2007

I met two of my very best friends at a Mountain Goats concert that I went to alone. I went alone because I just moved to the city I was in and didn't have any friends. Just go, enjoy the music, and be free. Talk to people if you want, don't if you don't want to...just try to avoid feeling self-conscious. You'll probably end up meeting some folks because you can always start a conversation about the band or a song they play. Then you can segue into something else and see where it goes.

Try to make some new friends, they might end up being your best. You never know who's out there!
posted by Caper's Ghost at 6:09 PM on May 26, 2007

You are not crazy for going to a concert alone. Go and enjoy yourself.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:10 PM on May 26, 2007

If you were feeling adventurous, you could post to craigslist and get a fan to join you.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:11 PM on May 26, 2007

I've gone to plenty of concerts alone. I usually end up chatting with other folks, but sometimes just end up hanging by myself. Besides, at the Bowl, you can wander around and enjoy the glorious scenery, etc. if you feel self-conscious sitting there. But seriously, it's fine. Buy the ticket.
posted by scody at 6:17 PM on May 26, 2007

It's kind of boring not to have people with you to take the piss out of the support act(s) with, but otherwise it's fine. I usually have my mobile phone with me to keep me occupied in between acts (I can use it to check my email/read MeFi).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:18 PM on May 26, 2007

I'm not sure what your ticket means exactly, but I've been to countless concerts on my own. I am anything but extroverted.

My strategies for keeping myself entertained during lulls have included:
- reading cheapy paperback/magazine I bought that day
- making friends with fellow fans
- listening to my mp3 player and ignoring the world around me

As for what you should expect, it will range from "making really sweet friends" to "being blissfully ignored all evening". I've never been made to feel stupid, ever.

As was suggested you could arrange to meet up with fellow fans but that could go horribly wrong and end in awkwardness so proceed with care...
posted by ClarissaWAM at 6:20 PM on May 26, 2007

And just think of how much easier the logistics are- no deciding who's gonna drive, no losing eachother in the crowd, etc. And as for keeping yourself entertained, just find a good spot to peoplewatch, that can be endlessly entertaining.
posted by jessenoonan at 6:32 PM on May 26, 2007

I've been to plenty of concerts by myself - all of them pretty small.

I think it's nice to get to go alone occasionally, especially if you go to a lot of shows (and usually with other people). If it's a band you're really into, you'll get to really enjoy the music more than you would otherwise.
posted by JacksonEsquire at 6:37 PM on May 26, 2007

I'm in L.A. ... which concert? ... :)

Seriously, don't worry. I had a female friend who's current beau bought tickets to a concert that she didn't want to attend. So I went instead! (who could pass up a Halloween show of Oingo Boingo?). Anyway, close enough to going to a concert alone. It was still a fantastic experience, made friends with the people in the row in front of me, and with the people in the row behind me. (passing around a joint might have helped...).

Don't trip out, just go and pretend that your there with a bunch of friends who always happen to not be around at the moment. Meet people, have fun, and afterwards you won't be worrying about having gone alone.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:39 PM on May 26, 2007

I sometimes go to shows by myself. It's way better to go alone than to go with friends who don't appreciate the music and talk through it. You'll have fun, I bet.
posted by jdl at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2007

I don't recommend it. I have no problem going to restaurants, movies, or museums alone, but for some reason it's not as much fun going to a concert by myself.
posted by donajo at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2007

It's going with friends, but with less banter and stuff during the slow times. Not quite as much fun, but still well worth it.

However, the most important thing is that if you are dependant on friends coming to be able to do things, you will spend your life missing out on things you want to do. Friends are great when they're there, but they can't always be there - never, ever, get into the habit of not doing things you want to, just because people aren't interested or flake out at the last minute, or whatever.

It may seem like little things - but over the years, they add up. Once you've gone to this concert, lower the bar and start going to similarly no-friends-interested things you are merely tempted by and are not to-die-for. It doesn't cost you time with your friends, it just means you get to do more - being effortlessly independent is simply a better way to live.

Lastly, being alone, especially if a woman, may increase your chances of being hit on, which may or may not be an advantage, depending on whether you're single+looking or enjoy attention :)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:46 PM on May 26, 2007 [13 favorites]

For some irrational reason, I still try to avoid going to concerts alone, and always bring a friend.

This, despite the fact that the few concerts i've gone to alone have been some of the absolute best.

I went to see my favorite band last year by myself because I couldn't find anyone else to go. I felt so much more free to move around, dance, sing, scream, or do whatever and just enjoy the music -- rather than being slightly concerned in the back of my mind that my guest was having a good time... it was awesome.

I need to go to more concerts alone and overcome this irrational avoidance of it. It's actually a great experience.
posted by twiggy at 6:48 PM on May 26, 2007

I dont like going to concerts alone, i tend to buy 2 tickets and try my best to convince someone to go with me. if the band is good it usually aint too hard.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 6:55 PM on May 26, 2007

It's not like you're going to want to talk to someone during.

To be honest, I've gone to most of the concerts I've been to in the last few years by myself, and I'm at the point where I kind of don't like going with other people. I enjoy concerts a lot more when I can dance like a freaking lunatic, and it's not as fun to do that when you've got a friend with you who'll tease you the next day (yes, my friends are the squarest people imaginable...hence my going to shows alone in the first place). And I don't have to bring my phone in case we get separated, and I can miss/not miss the opening band depending solely on my preferences, and if the show blows I can leave, and if I like the show I don't have to feel bad if my companion doesn't like the show...man, why would anyone choose to bring another person into this? It's like herding cats.

Of course, I like doing pretty much everything alone except eating at restaurants. If you don't, then the joy of the experience may be lost on you.
posted by crinklebat at 7:06 PM on May 26, 2007

Oh, I forgot it's at the Bowl so you won't be dancing. Whoops! But if you want to miss the last song to best the rush out to the parking lot, you don't have to negotiate with anyone, and you can weave through crowds to get in and out like a freaking speed demon. I haven't ever done Bowl solo, but I think it would be great.

Also, the fact that it's at the Bowl means you're expected to bring in a picnic basket anyway, so just tuck a book in there and you're set for downtimes. You may end up next to someone else who brought a book - happened to me once at the movies and I ended up in a long, weird conversation about theology.
posted by crinklebat at 7:09 PM on May 26, 2007

I don't mind going to concerts alone. It gives me the freedom to arrive and leave when I feel like it. When I go alone, I like to hang by the exit during the last encore, so I can be the first out and avoid all the traffic. If I go with someone, I end up shuffling out with the rest of the crowd!

Going alone is better than missing a great concert.
posted by kdern at 7:34 PM on May 26, 2007

Word to the wise about bringing a book: drunken, extreme extraverts who spot you reading will be almost offended that you are doing so, and will come over to take you to task for such. So, you'll need a powerful "kiss off" face to go with it.
posted by adipocere at 7:37 PM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

It can be a very empowering experience. I always thought that going alone to events was something i couldn't do -- well, the past couple of years I have learned that I was wrong. My first solo adventure was the theatre - much to my surprise, it was a wonderful evening. Since then, I've gone to festivals, movies, and concerts, including outdoor blanket events alone....and it all has been fine. Far superior, in fact, to a boorish lackluster date -- or even better than a friend who is doing you a favor by attending. Intermissions have never been a problem -- in fact, they are a time to mix and mingle. When an event is over, I am careful to walk in proximity to a group for safety's sake. Going it alone - is all a part of learning to love and like yourself.
posted by peace_love_hope at 8:23 PM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Of all places, in LA you'll actually have more fellow concertgoers going stag themselves than in other cities... in particular because it's an industry town. A lot of people have to go to those concerts for their jobs. Either they work for the record company or are reviewing it or whatever. I've had to do that before, and sometimes it's not easy to find people to go at the last minute so you just end up going by yourself rather than stress out about it. It's fine. You can meet people easily there if you try. Have fun!

Don't miss a show you'd enjoy just because your friends are lame. You're actually reminding me that I should do the same thing too, so thanks.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:36 PM on May 26, 2007

I've gone to many alone, and had fun. Standing room, seated, you name it. Obviously bringing a book doesn't work well if you're front and center on the floor, but it's just fine when seated. Sometimes I chatted with people around me, sometimes not.

Above it all, don't worry. Going to entertainment like concerts and movies alone isn't the stuff of losers and introverts some people make it seem like. It's better to go and experience these things than regret not doing so.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:42 PM on May 26, 2007

The only times I've been to concerts alone was when I was living in London and didn't have many friends with similar musical interests. I went to see Stereolab, Ui, and Diamanda Galas and it was terribly boring to be there alone. Another time Warp Records was having its 10 year anniversary and had a three day set of concerts and I went to all of them with friends except the second one I went to alone. That time, I met some awesome people in line waiting to get in and had a blast hanging with them. So, it is a complete mixed bag in my experience.
posted by Falconetti at 9:48 PM on May 26, 2007

I'm lucky to have one of London's best small live venues just up the road from me. I'm also single and live alone, so I often just decide to walk to the Luminaire, pay up the dues and then find out what I'm in for.

(The last time was at the end of the roots week they held. I was one of maybe 10 people there, and certainly the youngest by 10 years, but that didnt stop me asking the bearded bloke at the bar what kind of music I might expect that night. Cue a long and wonderful conversation about this guy's travels across the US in search of new music. The main act that night, and the reason I was so pleased I went, was an awesome artist called Ponty Bone who, frankly, rocked.)

The best part of going somewhere by yourself is you have a story only you can tell to your friends of your adventure. Being a lonewolf is, sometimes, a hell of a lot of fun.

Reiterating what peace_love_hope said: "It can be a very empowering experience."

Have a great time.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:55 PM on May 26, 2007


The biggest (concert-related) mistake I ever made was NOT going to the 1994 Pink Floyd tour, because I couldn't get a friend to commit to go with me. I regret it to this day.


I am pretty extroverted, but you don't even need to talk to anyone else to enjoy it. I just went to the final Jazz vs. Golden State NBA game by myself, and had a great time without even saying more than a few words to those seated around me.

One more thing:

posted by The Deej at 9:59 PM on May 26, 2007

Story #1: Went to a concert in Arcata, CA, 'cause I needed to get out of the house. It was a crazy alt-country band with only one snare drum for percussion and all of their songs went ninety miles an hour. I danced my ass off, hung out with the band, met a couple of friends, and had a great time.

Story #2: Went to a Mamet show in Austin, TX that I couldn't interest anyone else in. I was literally the only audience member and the actors gamely decided to get on with the show anyway. I felt like Queen Elizabeth, with my personal performance. It was terribly awkward and wonderful and I remember it fondly today.

We're all so in need of acceptance (me included). It's hard to go and just be a single unit. I have always found it terrifying and in the end completely worth it. Go.
posted by lauranesson at 10:15 PM on May 26, 2007

Another semi-frequent, solo concertgoer here.

Most of my friends don't share my musical tastes, so when it comes down to skipping the show, 'cause I have no one to go with, or going it alone, I often go alone.

Haven't been to many shows lately, but in past years I've seen Pigface (Twice even, both times alone. Once in SF, once in LA.), Sisters of Mercy, Diamanda Galas, Kraftwerk, Tom Waits (Guess that one wasn't *technically* alone, as I bought someone's extra ticket, after begging for a spare ticket on a newsgroup.).

All were good shows, and I'm a pretty introverted guy. One of the shows (LA Pigface show) I even ended up striking up a conversation with a really cute girl, who sat down at the table I had managed to snag. I seriously doubt that would have happened if I was with friends. Too bad I was too much of an idiot to make anything of it, and failed to get her number before we parted ways, after chatting outside the venue.

Another bonus, for me, to going solo: parking and traffic is a hell of a lot less hassle on a motorcycle.

The only disappointing one had little to do with the fact that I was alone. Saw Diamanda Galas, at the Wiltern, where she played about a 35 minute set and then walked off stage, and the lights came up. Not even a single encore. Felt like I'd been robbed. Wasn't a cheap ticket either.

With the exception of the Pigface show, where I didn't want to lose my killer spot, and had an attractive conversation partner, during lulls I generally wandered around, bought a drink, or just people watched. Never felt particularly conspicuous.

Based on my experience, I'd say go for it. If it's a show you really want to see, there's no point in missing it just because your friends aren't interested.
posted by zen_spider at 10:32 PM on May 26, 2007

I've been to a concert or two alone in my lifetime. Once at the Hollywood Bowl, in fact. Truth be told, I had a great time. I'd just quit my job and was about to set off to Europe for some head-clearing. It was great because I was able to just people-watch. I could do whatever the hell I wanted whenever it suited me.

I didn't bother trying to make friends with others. I just enjoyed the moment. Just bring something to do that'll keep you entertained during the downtime and you'll be good to go.

Which concert is it, if I may be so nosey? :-)
posted by arishaun at 10:40 PM on May 26, 2007

Nthing "GO!" Good things will happen! I ran into an old friend at a Mountain Goats show and now we're new friends again! Also: I find that with music I love love love it's sometimes better to go alone than with someone who only sort of likes the act—I can get into it as much as necessary without feeling self-conscious. And no post-show "OMG THAT WAS AMAZING" "Yeah. I guess." You know?
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:57 PM on May 26, 2007

Going alone isn't so bad. If you really want to see the act, the less distractions the better in my book.

I write reviews from time to time, so I always make sure I have a pen and notepad with me. If I start to feel awkward I'll begin to write as if I was really reviewing the show.

Makes for an excellent collection of memories later, and I find I feel less freaked out if I can do something I find comfortable, like writing.

Sometimes you get people coming up to you asking what you're writing, I just tell them I'm writing a review for one of the street press papers or a website. Then if it was a good show I try to get the review published afterwards. Other than that I could just put it on my blog.

Best way I know how to conceal your shyness at shows :)
posted by gerls at 11:21 PM on May 26, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. I bought the ticket and I'm going! I figure I'll park nearby and then catch one of the Bowl's Park-and-Ride shuttles. And pack some nibbles to snack on during the concert. I'd love to swig on wine, as I'm told that's a great Hollywood Bowl tradition ... but I have to drive back home later.

The concert: Rufus Wainwright!! I missed out on Coachella due to worrying about being alone (Bjork and Rufus Wainwright on the same day, and I missed it!?!?!?), but hopefully the other-person thing isn't going to be an issue from now on. The concert's a little different from his usual concerts: it's going to be a song-by-song recreation of Judy Garland's Carnegie Hall performance.

I can't fully describe how excited I am to be going! Whee!!
posted by Xere at 1:25 AM on May 27, 2007

The last show I went to was Rufus and I went alone! Cried during Gay Messiah! Really! He did a couple of pieces from the Judy Garland set, too. *SWOON* IT WILL BE AMAZING.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:58 AM on May 27, 2007

Response by poster: Aagh. Not Judy Garland's Carnegie Hall performance. I meant, her Hollywood Bowl performance.
posted by Xere at 2:23 AM on May 27, 2007

I'm glad you're going. None of my friends like my music, so I end up going to shows a fair amount by myself. I've never once regretted going, even though I'm a "likes-to-have-friends-around" kind of guy.
posted by Alt F4 at 5:07 AM on May 27, 2007

I agree - as a member of the older/married set, my wife no longer is willing to go to a show where the headliner starts at 11pm. So I go alone. No big deal. The only problem is often I go right from work which means that at Tuesday's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show I'll be the only one wearing a sweatervest. Sigh.
posted by scblackman at 7:50 AM on May 27, 2007

-harlequin- is spot on with this:

the most important thing is that if you are dependant on friends coming to be able to do things, you will spend your life missing out on things you want to do.

Xere, what are you worried will happen if you go by yourself? You seem awfully nervous about the prospect of having to keep yourself entertained on the breaks. The worst that could happen is that you will be bored for a few minutes. If you are worried what others will think, consider that many people at other concerts you have been to have gone alone -- and you have never noticed this.

I've met most of my friends through going out to concerts by myself. Look forward to it! It is more fun to go stag than bring a friend to something they won't enjoy.
posted by yohko at 8:42 AM on May 27, 2007

scblackman, bring a change of shirt to work with you. Or better yet, wear a concert shirt under your work clothes, and rip the sweatervest off dramatically at the concert.
posted by yohko at 8:46 AM on May 27, 2007

the most important thing is that if you are dependant on friends coming to be able to do things, you will spend your life missing out on things you want to do.

I'd like to quote this one again to point out a similarity elsewhere:

You know how people say to worry about having things of your own going on in life before dating someone? Same reasoning here. Don't miss out on doing kickass stuff just 'cause you aren't doing it with someone else.
posted by secret about box at 10:45 AM on May 27, 2007

I've gone to many a show by myself. I prefer it sometimes. It is easier to move around in a crowd as a solo, and can allow you to get really close to the action. I once was able to get close enough to catch Adam Clayton's pick. Doubt that would have happened if I had gone with a group of friends.
posted by vagabond at 11:30 AM on May 27, 2007

There's nothing wrong with going to a concert by yourself. Live it up!
posted by Neilopolis at 12:23 PM on May 27, 2007

What's the big deal about going to a concert alone? I mean, really, the point is to experience live music from a performer that is rarely in your town, so why not take advantage? You like the music, and it will be too loud to talk most of the time anyway. So, go, and focus on the music.

I do this often and always enjoy it.

This is not like going to an expensive restaurant alone. You could always go anytime so you probably would want to wait for a friend's company. And food is food.
posted by umlaut at 12:55 PM on May 27, 2007

posted by philfromhavelock at 6:27 PM on May 27, 2007

Sorry. Itchy finger.

It is great going alone. You won't notice you are alone when they are playing. It might get dull during intermission - but that will be short. I've met some people who talked to others at intermission. One guy said straight up - look at all the people who are alone, we all like the music, we don't have friends who like it, so what the hell, I make conversation with people I have one thing in common with.
posted by philfromhavelock at 6:30 PM on May 27, 2007

It also depends on what sort of music the band plays. Some work fine solo and some are more communal. What kind of music is it? Is it more cerebral or more tribal? At standing-room shows, it's nice to have someone next to you who you don't mind brushing up against -- you'll still be really close to some strangers (part of the charm), but not too too close. If you're not large and you want to get close to the front it can help to take a big person with you.
posted by e^2 at 7:07 PM on May 27, 2007

The worst part of solo concert-going is the time between sets.
posted by smackfu at 7:49 PM on May 27, 2007

The worst part of solo concert-going is the time between sets.
posted by smackfu

Maybe, but it's a good time to check out the merch table, the sound and lighting area, and get to know your neighbors. How far did they travel? Have they seen the singer before? Just a question or 2 can start up a good conversation.
posted by The Deej at 12:12 AM on May 28, 2007

You are not crazy for doing this. And, as a general tip for anyone worrying about going to a concert alone...try out the large free concerts offered at parks, churches, public squares, etc. and get a feel for how it will be when you go to your payed-for concert. If you can't stand being at one of those by yourself for even a few minutes, it's probably not worth it to buy a single ticket.
posted by PY at 5:31 PM on May 28, 2007

If by chance this is the Andrew Bird/Decemberists show, you have to go. It's such a huge venue that you can easily lose yourself in the crowd and still have fun, whoever it is.
posted by slow graffiti at 5:44 PM on May 28, 2007

I too was reluctant to go to a concert alone, but then Morrissey came to town on what I thought might be his last run. None of my friends are Moz fans but I just had to do it. My seat neighbor was this big bald tough looking dude (yes, at a Morrissey show!) there with his girlfriend. I thought he might be an issue during the show. Turned out he was just as huge a fan as me and we talked the whole time. Point is you have something in common with everyone there and you never know who you'll meet. Consider it an opportunity!
posted by kookoobirdz at 12:27 AM on November 4, 2007

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