10 bad habits every gig-goer makes: How many gig gaffes are you guilty of?

10 mistakes every gig-goer makes
(Image credit: Getty Images/baona)

You want to make sure that every gig you go to has the potential to be the best you’ve ever attended. However, in order for the stars to align there are a few major pitfalls you need to avoid. Lack of earplugs, too much alcohol, and being late to the show are all rookie errors that might sound depressingly familiar. So, I've assembled a crack team of gig-going experts to advise you on some of the mistakes they’ve made down the years, so you and your friends can get the most out of every single show. 

1. Not wearing hearing protection

I get it, there's little to compare with the visceral thrill of loud amps enveloping our senses at a concert. But on the flip side, few things are as worrying as loud ringing in your ears or even temporary loss of hearing the next day. 

One of the Louder team told me about his experience attending a Swans gig a few years ago that was so loud, it blew a fuse at the venue - and almost blew out his eardrums. At the bar, they were giving away foam earplugs that only served to muffle the cacophony. Days after the show, he was still in pain and could still hear the ringing in his ears - so he decided to invest in a robust set of earplugs as he didn't want to go through that experience again. Wise move!

We’ve tested and rated a wide range of plugs for every budget in our guide to the best earplugs for concerts. Not only should ear protection be a priority, plugs can cut away a lot of the fuzz and make the gig sound a lot better anyway. Not only should ear protection be a priority, earplugs can filter out unwanted noise and deliver quality audio into your lugholes.

2. Drinking too much before the headliner 

Take it easy at the bar

(Image credit: Getty Images/SolStock)

I love to have a beer or two when watching live music, but myself and some friends have definitely been caught out in the past by having one too many and missing parts of the show. We should really know better, after all, we go to a lot of effort trying to secure tickets to see our favourite artists. Just think of the time we spend preparing for the mid-week pre-sale, the disappointment of getting shunted out of the queue at the last minute and then the frantic, last-gasp dash on the morning of the general sale to try and buy a ticket.

Keeping tabs on my alcohol intake at a gig is definitely a thing for me now - I want to enjoy the gig and remember it for all the right reasons. Alcohol in venues is always really expensive too, so by all means get a buzz, but maybe do what I do and save your cash for a few post-gig pints. Speaking of which…

3. Throwing your beer

First off, you or your friend has spent their hard-earned cash on that overpriced drink. Look after it. What on earth would compel you to throw it over the crowd or, indeed, at the stage? One of the Louder team remembers going to see Iron Maiden at London's Twickenham back in 2008 and recalls being greeted by a "bottle and beer" fight during Avenged Sevenfold's support slot and getting soaked in the process.

Start chucking your beer around and not only will fellow fans - and the band - get angry, but security could also take an interest and turf you out of the venue. Hold on to your drink, cherish it, don’t lob it.

4. Forgetting your pit etiquette 

Gigs are again the special place where you can go absolutely bananas within the confines of a mosh pit and get an overwhelming, cathartic release. But as every band stresses: if someone falls down, pick them up. Look after crowd surfers too, and if you do insist on doing your best Tekken and Street Fighter impressions with all those spin kicks and wild punches, don’t aim for people on the edge of the pit who are just watching. That’s just a dick move.

5. Standing too close to the pit 

10 mistakes ever gig goer makes

Watch out for flying boots (Image credit: Getty Images/dwphotos)

As the last point illustrates, rock and metal shows can be belligerent affairs. If the idea of being dragged into a pit, becoming collateral damage to a wandering mosher, or having your head whacked by a crowd surfer’s boot doesn’t appeal, just come back and hang near the sound desk. It’s calmer, sounds better there, too - and you'll be able to take in the whole show without any fuss.

6. Chatting throughout the show

Going to the cinema, theatre or a comedy gig and talking is completely taking away the point of you paying money to be entertained by someone. It’s doubly stupid if you’re determined to have a chat at a concert where you’re competing with the PA. It’s disrespectful to the band and your fellow patrons – especially during quiet parts.

One memory that springs to mind is a Godspeed You! Black Emperor gig, where someone behind me chatted throughout the sprawling Anthem For No State. It was so bad, I had to turn round and politely ask them to button it! They weren't happy, and neither was I, but they decided to watch the rest of the show in silence.

Yap away and you also might ruin your chance of discovering a new favourite act if you’re not watching the support. If you’re determined to chat about last night’s TV, head to the foyer or save it for the pub after.

7. Getting to the merch table late

We’ve all been there: You get a great spot to watch the show and when the house lights come up, you excitedly head for the merch stand and end up joining a massive queue of sweaty people with the same idea. By the time you get to the front, that t-shirt you had your heart set on has sold out, and so is everything else in your size.

Instead, head there as soon as you get in or between support bands. You can always drop your merch in the cloakroom or tie it around your waist like it’s the glory days of the 1990s again for the rest of the show. 

Also, make sure you take cash with you. Most merch tables take cards, but don’t be surprised by how much everything is – this is one of the main ways artists make money on the road, so be prepared and show them as much support as you can. 

8. Spending the whole gig on your phone

10 mistakes ever gig goer makes

Can we please stop this? (Image credit: Getty Images/MNPhotoStudios)

We understand the need for you to let your social media followers know you’ve seen an awesome show, so it’s understandable to take a pic or a quick video - we've all done it. But you don’t need to film the entire show on your phone. Chances are you’ll never watch it back (it'll look terrible anyway) and you'll annoy the person immediately behind you. And you don’t need to look at your phone every 15 seconds either. 

I vividly remember going to see Rush on their R30 tour - five rows from Mr Geddy Lee if you must know - and the dude in front of me just stood there, phone in front of his face, filming the majority of the show. No air drumming, no jumping around, so singing along to Subdivisions - he just stood still the whole time, watching the gig through a Perspex screen. I'm also sure I saw Ged squinting disapprovingly at him at one point too.

So please, take a couple of pics, pop your phone in your pocket, live in the moment, make a lifetime memory and enjoy the performance.

9. Not checking the venue's policies 

Many of us will head to a concert straight after work or get their after travelling across the country in planes, trains and automobiles. That’s all great, but if you do intend on bringing your work/overnight bag to a show, make sure you know what’s allowed inside in advance: You don’t want to have to needlessly bin something before you’re allowed entry. Also check to see if the venue is having a crackdown on pitting or crowd surfing – it’s sad to see an unknowing surfer be ejected during the support band because they didn’t know the rules.

10. Buying tickets from touts

You need to get to see your favourite band but it sold out months ago from one of the many concert ticket sites. So what do you do? Ticket touts can grossly inflate the prices and are much riskier. If the gig gets cancelled, you lose out completely - and you run the risk of the ticket being fake.

So what can you do? Ticketmaster, for example, have a resale service, where people who have surplus tickets can offload them through official channels. Alternatively, if you really must see the gig, and it's not too far away, wait until the last possible minute and try and buy one when someone outside is frantically trying to get rid of a surplus ticket. In my experience, this happens fairly often, and I've yet to find anyone who wants more than face value for the ticket - they've always just been happy to recoup some of the cash. 

You might miss a few minutes of the start of the band but you won’t get ripped off.

With contributions from