The allure of live music and live events is getting harder and harder to resist – even for those of us who’ve avoided going out the past couple of years due to COVID-19. By now, most of us have had the virus and/or have been vaccinated so we know that even if we get it (again), it isn’t likely to be too bad. The profound joy and spiritual release that live entertainment provides is worth the risk. And that goes for both performer and audience. Of course, life happens, and plans can change on a dime due to illness (Dave Navarro just announced he won’t be on tour with Jane’s Addiction this Fall due to long COVID symptoms), rehab announcements (Bauhaus canceled shows due to Peter Murphy’s problems), VISA issues and sometimes, a combo of all of these. These are precarious times, but they also are exciting times, and in Los Angeles the seasonal transition from Summer to Fall, in 2022 anyway, signals more (not less) anticipation for events in venues big and small. Here, we offer a Fall Concert Survival Guide with tips to navigate what’s shaping up to be a very busy season. Rock on LA Weekly readers. We love being out there with you again.
The metro rail practically goes everywhere these days and for locales like The Coliseum, The Shrine and venues at LA Live and Downtown, it’s the no-fuss way to go to shows. Even if you have to walk a bit or Uber to the actual venue from a nearby locale, you avoid traffic jams on freeways and off exits (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for Rammstein this weekend was a nightmare we won’t soon forget) and on surrounding city streets. The B Line begins at Union Station, and has stops in Downtown near Grand Park and The Music Center. It continues to Hollywood, where you can see bands at venues such as The Bourbon Room, further up on the Sunset Strip, and, of course, The Hollywood Bowl. Use their Trip Planner for help.
Speaking of the Bowl, it is and probably always will be our favorite place to see live music for its sound and sights, but also ease. We usually drive to Hollywood & Highland Shopping Center, get dinner and then walk up the hill. If you’re coming from the Valley, there’s also a shuttle at Universal Studios. In fact there’s a bunch of shuttle spots across town. For full rundown click here.
A lot of us aren’t using them much anymore since the wait and cost got bigger, but for live events, ride services are a resource to reconsider. You can build a nice pre-show buzz with your buddies and you can split the cost of the ride. If you need to go by yourself somewhere but feel weary –by now we’ve all had an incident or two, especially women alone– both companies has instituted protections. Read about them here and here.
Let’s normalize asking friends and family for rides and owing each other the favor – kinda like a ride to the airport. Nobody wants to do it, but earning the payback when you need it is worth it!
It’s obvious, but with parking and gas so pricey these days, it makes sense to ride-share with friends and friends of friends if you opt to drive to the venue. Social media is a great place to connect with acquaintances for this purpose. Just go to the show’s FB invite page and see who you know going to your show. If you opt to connect with strangers for this on socials, make sure you share mutual friends (kinda like you would on a dating app).
HOT TIP: Check out Parkwhiz.com to find info on parking anywhere! The app finds spaces near your event and then you can reserve and pay for the spot on your phone.
Take off work a little early (if it’s a weeknight) or make a day of it if your live music show is on a weekend. Plan an early dinner and drinks gathering at a nearby restaurant or bar. A lot of people do it these days, so you’re likely to make some new friends, too – just look for the band T-shirts.
Let’s get into this one, shall we? Purse policies at L.A. venues have gotten a bit out of control. We get why, kinda, but the places that have strict size restrictions also tend to have metal detectors, too, so are they really necessary? Some fellow female journalists have started calling out the new (for some) no-purse rules as sexist and discriminatory against people with health problems who need to bring meds. If you’re a parent who wants to take your kid to a concert, you’re pretty screwed on diaper bag essentials, that’s for sure (either way, don’t forget noise-canceling headphones, mama). Personally, we get chilly a lot so bringing sweaters especially to outdoor venues is our thing; and not being able to put one in a bag has been super annoying. The ol’ hoodie-around-the-waist look kinda sucks, but it’s really the only option if you run cold.
READ THIS: Our first review and rant concerning then-new bag policies at shows (2017)– The Rose Bowl Sucks, but Thankfully Metallica Didn’t Saturday Night
Festivals and large venues including the Rose Bowl, The Coliseum, Crypto Arena, SoFi, Banc of California, Honda Center, Microsoft Theater, and even smaller clubs like The Echo/Echoplex have bag rules now. We were surprised to see a tweet from the latter just before the Momma concert last week that warned “Know The Clear Bag Policy – We will allow clear plastic, vinyl or PVC tote bags no larger than 12” x 6” x 12” and/or small clutch bags (4.5”x 6.5”).”
While we can’t list every venue’s bag rules here (it seems they change for some depending on the event), we can say this – if you remember anything from this guide, remember to check a venue’s website and social media for that night’s guidelines before you get ready! Unless that chic Chanel bag is clear and about the size of an envelope, leave it at home. We bought a clear makeup bag at Walmart for under $6 (see photo) then attached a wristlet strap to it and it’s worked perfectly everywhere we’ve been so far. There are tons of options including shoulder strapped ones and fanny packs on Amazon too.
Bring your cellphone, ID, vax card, ATM card (many places don’t take cash post-COVID), any meds, earplugs, and lipstick. Ladies, if there’s one cosmetic that makes a difference in photos, it’s a nice vivid color. Make sure it’s a creamy formula, not matte, so your lips don’t get dry.
HOT TIP: Tinder introduced “festival mode” on its app this Spring to help people connect at shows. If you’re single it’s a great way to meet someone: bonding over your favorite band.
We don’t advocate trying to sneak anything into music venues but the reality is that cannabis has always been a part of most concert experiences. And it’s legal now. Take a gummy right before, to avoid any stress on this issue. If you do opt to risk bringing something, a vape pen is probably the least conspicuous and intrusive to others.
LA Weekly’s cannabis reporter Jimi Devine’s advice? “Preroll everything.” He also says the headier the show, the more it’s worth waiting to potentially buy and smoke outside. “The Grateful Dead parking lot has facilitated international weed commerce for 40 years,” he shares. “Weed is so cheap right now that these homegrowers that would sell their weed on tour on the lot are basically giving it away. $200 top shelf ounces easy. Maybe even better deals, depending on the show.” We haven’t seen this, but if tye-dye tees are involved, take heed. Also, these days “smoking” should only mean weed, not cigarettes. Please do not smoke stinky tobacco of any kind at concerts or live events (indoors or outdoors), and if you must, go to designated areas.
There was a time in early 2020 when every music lover’s worst fear seemed to be coming to fruition. Controlling the coronavirus seemed like a distant dream and many of us wondered if we’d ever get to stand amidst a crowd and enjoy a concert ever again. Thankfully those fears are pretty much over. From Rammstein to Gary Numan, Coachella to Cruel World, gigs and festivals that were postponed two years ago have returned full-fledged. We’d like to give special shout-outs to bands such as the Foo Fighters and The Stones, who required vaccination to attend their shows when things were at their worst (this surely encouraged more to get jabbed, which has contributed to the level of manageability we’re at now). Officially we haven’t moved from pandemic to endemic declarations yet, but it seems we are close. Now’s the time to remember how to be a considerate event-goer and contribute, not detract, from the good times we’re all so happy to have return. Here are some reminders:
- If you’re tall and near the stage at all, look behind you and allow a few short people to stand in front of you.
- When filming a show with your cellphone, do not film the entire song unless you actually do that for a living and make big bucks on YouTube.
- If you’re behind someone filming too much, curse ‘em in your head for obstructing views, but accept that they have every right to film the show if they want to.
- The above also goes for standing up and/or dancing. Your old ass may want to stay seated, but you have no right to tell people in front of you to sit down at a concert.
- Don’t chat all night during a live music show!
- Just because someone wears a funny T-shirt doesn’t mean they want you to talk to them about it. Keep your cute comments to yourself please.
- By the same token, don’t wear a funny tee if you don’t expect funny comments coming your way.
- Females can and should wear what we want and be free from leers and grabs. If we don’t feel safe, many concerts and festivals are now providing safe spaces and/or security hubs to report problematic people. Don’t be one of them or you just might get kicked out.
HOT TIP: Prep your phone! It’s where tickets are sent & stored now. Use Apple Wallet (iPhone), Passbook (Android), Pass Wallet or Google Pay. Don’t forget to make sure you’re at 100% before you go in or bring an external charger.
Seeing, Hearing, Standing, Seating
In general, the best sound at most venues is dead center and that is usually right in front of the soundboard aka “Front of House (FOH).” Our sightline preferences tend to bear right at most venues (“stage left” from performers view), but we always walk around a venue during a show to assess that evening’s sound quality, stage setup and crowd. Here are more tips to consider:
- Buying the big $20 beer might seem like a good idea so as not to miss the show, but spillage happens and it’ll probably make you have to visit the bathroom during the show anyway. Once you “break the seal,” there’s no closing it. Wine is a safer option for a buzz.
- If you have a bad seat and want to upgrade, check the venue’s website to see if better tickets are available.
- If there’s a pit up front, be prepared for the physicality there, if you opt to stand in it.
- If you’re in the pit, be protective of smaller/younger folk.
- If you’re up front at a show, don’t try to grab at, hug or kiss the performer or you may end up in a viral video.
- Don’t yell out requests to the performer unless they ask for them or it’s before the encore.
- If you take an open seat at a concert and the ticket holder comes late, be gracious and move away promptly. Do not try to share the cramped space with them.
- Wear a mask if you are immuno-compromised and get the latest booster if you are a frequent event goer. COVID is still out there and vax efficacy wanes.
Some of our favorite events spaces were in danger of not making it during COVID shutdowns and we are so glad they’re still around! If you’re wondering which venues provide the best all around experience for watching live performance, here are our professional and personal picks right now.
The Hollywood Bowl
YouTube Theater & SoFi Stadium
L.A. Live– The Staples Center (we’re not ready to call it Crypto.com yet!), Nokia Theater and Microsoft Theater
The Greek Theater
Hollywood Forever/Masonic Lodge
The Bourbon Room
The Whisky Au-Go Go
The Federal Bar
Maui Sugarmill Saloon
READ THIS: Danny Elfman Scores Big and The Fall Music Guide Listings
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