Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finding Music: Live Music

{A new little, hopefully reoccurring, series about discovering music}

When I first moved to the East Coast I kept  missing concerts. By the time I found out my favorite band was sashaying through the Capitol City, tickets would already be sold out. Heart crushing. I guess I was still living in the stone age of hearing about shows from fliers in record shops.   So I spent the next little while perfecting my online show finding and ticket procuring skills. By the time I said so long to the E.C. a couple weeks ago I had a great system. I not only was on top of all bands/musicians/one-man jamborees coming to the area, but I also had no trouble getting tickets before shows sold out, and I never, ever had to resort to going to a scalper or resale sites like Ticket Stub.

Now, I am in a new town and trying to use all these skillz to make sure that all live Midwest music gets to my ears.  Below are some of my super secret/not so secret tips to getting into shows. I know that some of these may seem a little obsessive, but live music not only is the butter on my toast, it's my bread on my  . . .toast? It's what I do.

1. Find the music venues in your area. There are a couple of different ways to do this. If you read a city paper (congrats! you are a dying breed), there is usually an entertainment section that comes out on Thursdays or Fridays.  This will give you a good idea of the different clubs in the area and what music they spotlight.

Look up the tour schedules of some of your favorite bands on their websites and see where they play when they tour through your area. Also think about how far you are willing to travel for a show (to the moon!) and look at venues in nearby cites. You can also listen to that talking box the old timers call the radio. Radio stations will usually promote upcoming shows.

2. Use social networking to your advantage. If you are a Facebook type person, "like" the local clubs and your favorite bands and bands you want to see live. Bands and venues will release tour schedules and upcoming shows (and new music) on their Facebook pages. Accessing all this in one central location, your Facebook newsfeed, is a lot easier than randomly checking each individual regular website for each band and each venue. Many venues will post "Low Ticket Warnings" on FB  alerting you when  certain shows are about to sell out. Many bands will also post set lists from shows so you can figure out the name of that one song at the concert that you just loved. If you are in the DC area, you should at the very least be a FB fan of the 9:30 Club, not only was it my favorite club in the area, but they also promote many other venues in the area.

 I don't use Twitter, put many bands and venues do, so if you live your life in 140 characters or less, consider following venues and bands that way, just know they usually cross post on both Twitter and Facebook. Also, if you are in DC you should probably be following Bob Boilen of NPR Music on Instagram (he's @tinydesk).

3. Mailing lists. A little old school, but if there are bands that you OMG have to see and especially if tickets to these OMG bands are hard to get/sell out quick (I'm looking at you, Mumford & Sons), I would suggest signing up for their email mailing list (via their website) and the venue they are going to perform at. This suggestion boils down to one magic word: presale. Bands and/or venues usually will offer a very limited number of tickets via an online presale to mailing list fans the day before tickets go on sale to the public. A few days before the presale, the band or venue will email the presale password you will need to use to able to get into the presale.  Sure, scalpers might be sneaky enough to get hold of the presale password, but at least you will double the chance (the presale and the regular sale) of getting hold of some tickets. After figuring out the magic of the presale, I never ever missed a show because it was sold out, even uber popular shows. And in the case of not getting tickets to a sold out show,  additional tickets might be released the day before or the day of the show. The quickest way to find out about newly released tickets is via the social networking tips above.

Now that you got your magic ticket, let's talk a little bit about show etiquette. Short and sweet this means don't be a jerk. Follow all rules of the venue, be nice to those around you (chances are they're awesome  music nerds like you!) and  don't be extra chatty while the bands are playing, especially if you are up front close to the stage.  Talk all you want in between sets and even in between songs or if you are at the bar, but if you are loudly carrying on some ridiculous conversation while some amazing band is playing my favorite song, then so help me George, I will eye evil curse you.

And then there is picture taking. Most venues allow picture taking on camera phones or point and shoots, but not professional cameras, which usually means any camera with a removable lens.  However, if the performer has issued a no picture rule, just follow it. Take a picture in your mind, go home and draw a picture of it, whatever, just don't anger the performer by being a jerk.  So if allowed, go ahead and take pictures, I do. However, never, ever, ever, ever, use a flash (super distracting/blinding to the people on stage), and don't spend the entire show taking pictures and video.  Remember the music is why you're there (hopefully!) it's hard to clap with a camera in your hand and the people behind  you don't want to view the show through your little camera screen.

And lastly, if you know that drunk girl that keeps falling down and embarrassing herself, be a pal, and take her back to her home and let her get some sleep and keep a little bit of her dignity.

See you at a show!

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