April 1, 2022

How To Get Front Row At A General Admission Concert


Today we’re going to talk about a topic on par with the likes of Bruno, Fight Club, and recent inductee Jada Pinkett Smith: how to get front row at a GA concert. If you’ve clicked on this link, it’s probably safe to assume that you are either 1) dying to know all of my best front row tips, or 2) terrified that I’m about to reveal yours. I have thought a lot about whether it is my place to share trade secrets that have taken many of us decades to learn, and I realized that it may be best to consult someone else who is passionately invested in this topic before publishing this blog. I reached out to the best person I could think of for the job, and after a lot of consideration, we have decided that it’s time to put our differences aside and work together to help everyone get the front row they deserve.

Joining me today is fellow concert addict and front row expert, special guest blogger Caroline. Below you will find a carefully curated collection of tips and tricks that we felt it was time to share with the greater music fan population. We hope that you will use these tips widely, share them indiscriminately, and think of us fondly as you rock out against the barricade!

1. Post your plans to line up in as many public places as possible. You’ll want to show up early, and you’ll also want to make sure that everyone knows what time you plan to arrive. Be as specific as possible; no one likes a Vaguebooker. The best thing to do is share on all your social media accounts and cross-post in fan groups for maximum effect. The goal is to have as many fans as possible know what time you are lining up so that they will admire your dedication and tailor their own plans to arrive after you out of respect.

2. Invite everyone to camp with you. Sitting on a sidewalk for hours (or days) can be boring and uncomfortable, but with the right attitude, you can turn it into a fun adventure that others won’t want to miss. There's also no need to worry that too many people will show up and there won't be enough room for everyone up front. You’ve probably heard front row referred to as a "magical experience" and brushed it off as a figure of speech, but the truth carefully guarded by generations of concert addicts is that front row actually is magic and has expansive properties that cannot be detected from a distance. Fun fact: rumor has it that the creator of Doctor Who was a massive music fan and based the TARDIS structure on the phenomenon that occurs when one touches the barricade in front row and is suddenly able to see its true infinite capacity. Allons-y, y’all! There's room for all of us.

3. Post live updates about your line experience to all of your social media accounts. This not only provides hopeful future front row enthusiasts a step-by-step guide that they can follow at a later date, it also provides a trail of timestamped evidence should anyone accuse you of not waiting in line or not being first. Oh really, you didn’t see me sitting here at the front of the line all day? That’s odd, because here’s me at 6:03 am drinking coffee in my sleeping bag with a backwards three smeared on my forehead that already has 72 likes and three identical comments that say "I'm on my way now!!!"

4. If you are near the front of the line, keep in frequent contact with the venue staff. After years in the live music industry, many employees develop a condition known as Going To Forget Order Syndrome, or GTFO for short. Individuals with GTFO suffer from an inability to remember numeric patterns and often have difficulty with basic counting and remembering the order in which to complete tasks. You’ll want to check in with staff frequently to be sure that they remember which line goes in first and that you are at the front of it.  (A good rule of thumb is to check in at least every half-hour up until doors open.) Your instincts may suggest to remain calm and patient, but studies have shown that the familiarity of loud noises can help release the deeply trapped memories of how to do their job. Do not be afraid to raise your voice as it can actually put the staff member at ease and help restore their ability to retain order.

A second, less common but growing condition among venue staff is the Inability to Differentiate General Admission Fans, also referred to as IDGAF. In this case, the individual has seen so many fans throughout years of concerts that they all begin to blur, and over time they lose the ability to differentiate faces, i.e., the first person in line looks exactly like the last. Research suggests that memory retention of a familiar face in someone suffering IDGAF typically lasts between 10 minutes and an hour, so similarly to GTFO syndrome, the best thing for you to do as a fan is repeatedly remind them of your presence. Don't worry that approaching them too frequently may become annoying and make them less likely to help you in the future as you will be safely forgotten before the show even starts.

5. If you are unable to wait in line, have a friend save you a spot until you arrive. All they need to do is save you a number and vouch that you are "coming soon," or better yet, “coming back any minute." There is no need to ask those behind you in line if this is okay; music fans are known for their kindness and generosity above all else. They will respect the fact that you have more important things to do than sit on a sidewalk for hours and will instinctively trust that you have a good reason. Be careful not to mistake perceived standoffishness for rudeness or dislike. More than likely, they are simply too intimidated by your front-of-line connections to speak to you first. A well-timed wave and smile as you step ahead of them will be greatly appreciated, and many friendships have begun this way.

6. If camping out isn't an option for you, you can try faux camping. Not all of us are cut out for sleeping on sidewalks, and there's nothing to be ashamed of if you are one of the thousands of fans that suffer from an allergic reaction to prolonged exposure to sidewalks commonly known as "sidewalk intolerance." Sidewalk intolerance affects roughly 1.5 in every 10 fans, and common symptoms include increased irritability, heightened sensitivity to hard surfaces, and a sudden, intense need to be literally anywhere else upon exposure. There is no known cure, but faux camping can offer a safe alternative to traditional concert camping. 

For those that don't already know, faux camping is exactly what it sounds like: you show up early, get a number, and give the impression that you are, in fact, going to sleep outside in line (bonus points if you put on pajamas because they do half of the work for you. You don't have to actually say "I'm totally going to sleep out here!" when fuzzy panda bottoms will do it for you). Then you leave, come back in the morning, and imply that you've been there all night. Make a few off-hand comments like "man, that sidewalk was rough on my back" or "I tossed and turned all night," but avoid being overly specific in case you missed something important. If you do a good enough job, no one will question your absence, and you can avoid those awkward explanations about your status as someone who absolutely loves front row but won't can't sleep outside for it. 

7. If you do not have any friends to hold you a spot and can't faux camp, you can use your anonymity to casually blend into the front of the line at the last minute. You need precise timing for this move and should not attempt it any sooner than ten minutes before doors. The goal is to slip unnoticed between groups of friends without leaving enough time for anyone to stop you. If you're lucky, you'll be surrounded by passive fans who either won't notice or won't be brave enough to speak up. This may seem unfair to some, but you know the truth: You are just as deserving of front row as someone else who put in hours waiting in line. It's not your fault that they don't have a life and you do. 

*You should not attempt this method unless you are prepared to fight back or run in the event of an altercation. Exercise caution as results may vary.

8. If you have more cash than integrity, a great alternative to waiting in line is simply buying your way in. This tactic is only for the brave, but if you're a good judge of character and can spot the right like-minded person, you can open a lot of doors for yourself (namely, the one into the venue). Some would call it bribery, but really it's just being resourceful enough to use the tools at your disposal. Remember: Just because it's not for sale doesn't mean it can't be bought!

(Pro tip: Be sure the staff member you approach does not suffer from IDGAF or GTFO. They may be on board in the moment, but you will be no closer to front row if they've forgotten what you look like when doors open, or worse, they think you’ve paid to be let in last.)

9.  In the event that you cannot secure a spot at the front of the line, get to the barricade by any means necessary. With a little determination, acting talent, and brute force, the literal end of the line doesn’t have to be the end of the line for you. Try looking for gaps in the crowd and shout a random name followed by "Excuse me! I'm just trying to get back to my sister!" while forcing your way through as though she's up front waiting on you. Oh, there she is! Right between the two people in front row center. 😉 

If your hand-eye coordination is strong, another option is to double fist two open drinks in the air while shouting "Sorry!" and sloshing them dangerously. The key is to slosh just enough to make someone want to step back, but not so much that they want to punch you in the face. If you're not successful the first time, simply turn around and try another route in the crowd or another method entirely. The possibilities are endless; be creative!

So there you have it. Nine tips and tricks to help you get front row from experts who have witnessed the effectiveness of each method countless times. Remember, you deserve front row regardless of how you get it, and don't think twice about anyone that says otherwise because they are not worth your time.

For more concert hacks & live updates from future events, you can follow Caroline on Instagram @rowzb4hoez.

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