I have attended various concerts over a number of years, from pubs with 30 people through to festivals with over 100,000. Where I want to be and usually get to be is at the very, very front. Often described as the pit, this especially applies to the heavy metal, thrash metal gigs I attend. As I get older and more fragile I have to consider what I do a bit more so here is my survival guide.
1/ It’s not as dangerous as it looks, if you fall people will help you up or if at the front bouncers will rescue you, be prepared to be helped. I have only suffered one real injury which was having a glass bottle bounced off my head from the balcony. Didn’t hurt too much but did cause a bit of blood loss. This is rare.
2/ The front is usually safer and easier to get air. The melee tends to be behind the front couple of rows. If you can get to the front there will be less people there so you can get air, it will be slightly cooler and if needed easier to escape. Also, the sound can be more balanced front and centre.
3/ Be aware of what’s happening around you. I attended a gig where the bass player noticed the person next to me was unconscious but still stood bolt upright. He was rescued and treated. Also watch the bouncers in front of you, they signal each other when they see a crowd surfer approaching and go to catch them. If they approach you duck down and help the person over you to the bouncers.
4/ Take advantage of any water offered from bouncers, even a few sips will help. If there’s enough drink a little and pour a little over your head as this will cool you down quicker. This is another advantage of being at the front as you can reach what’s on offer.
5/ Wear suitable loose clothing and shoes that will help you stand up and that will protect toes a little if stood on. For example, at a Slipknot gig when everyone sits down during one song I realised that no part of me was touching the floor, I was on peoples feet. Be prepared to be very hot so make use of cloakrooms or don’t bring many clothes, it may be better to be chilly after rather than boiled during the gig.
6/ Start from the sides for early concerts, maybe watch and go in to the pit of feel safe. There will be a few idiots pushing through but most people are decent and friendly. Forget the world outside for a bit, sing until your throat hurts and have fun. Everyone around you will be trying to have fun as well.
7/ If going to thrash metal and heavy metal gigs beware of a few more extreme things, this includes the wall of death which is actually banned in some venues. This involves the crowd splitting down the middle and then at a certain command charge head long at each other, this is best avoided. Also, there are circle pits, this involves a bunch of people rotating on mass. Either walking or running in a mass circle, slightly safer than the wall of death but still better to watch.
8/ If going with others try and stay together but this isn’t always possible, arrange a meeting point for after. You need to be focusing on yourself rather than others. Let others look after friends and family if they need help, if you try to watch others you could end up in trouble yourself.
9/ Enjoy and live a little, get in the pit.