Going to a concert is always so exciting. You get to see an artist you listen to, in person, live. Growing up on a small island in Kauai, I never got to experience that. We had the occasional reggae concert, and even then it was small and in an outdoor venue. So when I moved to the San Diego, that has a population of 1.42 million people, for college, I told myself I was going to go to as many concerts as possible.
So far I’ve been doing well. This semester alone, I went to an A$AP Rocky concert, a Gunna concert, a Lil Skies concert, and a Playboi Carti concert. I’ve mostly been going to only rap concerts, as they come into San Diego pretty often, and that’s the genre I listen to the most often.
My music however is very diverse, and I listen to pretty much every genre but country and some extremities of metal, like death metal. Otherwise I listen to everything, so I have a ton of opportunities for concerts and festivals, because I often know the artist(s).
Concerts are super fun, but some types of concerts, like rap and rock, are a whole other type of experience. Having been to a few rap concerts now, I’ve gotten to learn and figure out what works best for them, the do’s and don’ts, etc. There’s a surprising amount of stuff I have learned and think what I’ve learned could be useful to other girls, especially girls planning on going to an intense concert with a high concentration of people, and a mainly male crowd.
- Hair: First and most importantly, how you do your hair for a concert is immensely important, and can make or break your experience. I have very long hair, and the first time I went to a rap concert, A$AP Rocky, I thought it was a good idea to wear it in a high ponytail. As soon as I got into the pit, I joined the growing crowd around the stage extension. While waiting for Rocky to start, the crowd grew and grew and the person to person proximity shrank and shrank, going from a few inches of space around me to chest to back, shoulder to shoulder spacing.
You become so close that your arms become either pinned to your sides, or stuck above your head. You can’t move, turn around, or tie your shoe. So since you’re so close to everyone else in the concert, having hair in a tall ponytail is not only inconvenient, it’s also obnoxious for anyone behind you, as their face will be constantly getting your hair in it. I kept apologizing to the person behind me because of my hair. It eventually, throughout the concert, fell down, and I took the hair tie out and let it completely down. This was another mistake, as now it also kept getting caught in between people in the crowd, thus yanking me around. Not a good experience. The next rap concert I went to, Gunna, was a much smaller venue and crowd. I wore my hair down, again not thinking about what would happen once the concert started. It got stuck and caught and pulled so much, and was super annoying to other people, especially since I am so tall. I left the concert with a low bun on my head, which worked for the time being. At Lil Skies, I did hair down again, I ask myself why until this day. I learned that boxer braids are the way to go. For Playboi Carti, which is my most recent concert, I did two boxer braids that stayed behind my head. It contained my hair and it didn’t get pulled and yanked in the mosh pits and crowd. Boxer braids are the absolute way to go for styling your hair for a rap concert. They’re comfortable, convenient, and cute af. A definite baddie vibe. Plus they don’t get in the way of other people’s views.
- Clothes: Clothes matter a lot for rap concerts. People always put on their best fits for the concerts, whether it be their merch from another popular rapper, or their expensive af shirt that they think is a flex. My first concert I wore a sheer white blouse that was thin and see-through and yeah it was cute, but just wasn’t good for the concert. When you’re in the pit, you’re being thrashed around, you’re squished, and you don’t have room to breathe. I learned this. You also don’t have time to be constantly adjusting your blouse, or pulling up your pants. Make sure to wear something that fits comfortably, and isn’t too warm. You get insanely sweaty in these events, because you’re in a tight crowd pressed against someone else’s sweaty body. You don’t want to wear something that could get caught or ripped. A good t-shirt or tight fitting crop top works well, and jeans, leggings or jean shorts work best for your legs. You get super sweaty, and any other material just wouldn’t do well in the crowd. I usually wear some kind of cropped shirt and pants with a belt, and comfortable bra or bralette.
- Timing: Depending on the popularity of the artist, it’s good to be an an hour and a half to two hours early. When I went to A$AP Rocky, we got to the venue at 4, when doors opened at 7. This was because he was in a bigger venue, and I loved him so much I wanted to get as close as possible to him in the pit. We were probably about 40 people from the door, which is really good, especially for a big concert like that. Smaller artists like Gunna and Lil Skies, I got there an hour before the doors opened and still got really good placing in the pit, and was pretty close to the rapper. If you don’t care about being super close to the front, or want to be in mosh pits, you can go whenever you want. I prefer to be in the front, as I don’t like getting stuck in the mosh pits, so I usually get there pretty early.
- Height: I am pretty tall for a girl, standing at around 5’9. I often complain about being so tall, for reasons like awkwardness or the cute guys are always a little shorter than me. But from going to concerts, I am now so grateful to be my height. When you’re below 5’5 in a tight crowd, you are being squished into someone’s back, and may not be able to breathe. I’ve seen lots of small girls get pulled out from the front by security guards, just because they are so light headed from being so thrashed by the crowd, and not being able to see or breathe behind everyone’s backs. Please be careful and be wary of this. When you’re super short you can easily get knocked in the head by wild elbows or fall to the ground when the crowd starts swaying back and forth. So if you are super short, make sure you go with someone tall that you can stick with to make sure you have space and room to breathe.
- Shoes: Shoes are surprisingly important as well. You may be tempted to wear your fresh AF1’s, or some kind of new shoes to flex at the concert. This is not the move. At concerts, your feet are constantly being stepped on and you’re being kicked, etc. I have a specific pair of shoes I sacrifice to the concert everytime I go. They’re green platform old skool Vans, that are pretty thrashed and therefore ok to wear to a concert. Another thing about shoes is to ALWAYS DOUBLE TIE YOUR LACES. I cannot stress this enough. At my first concert, A$AP Rocky, I wore my flame old skool vans, my favorite shoes. I didn’t double tie the laces, and in the first 15 minutes in the pit during the concert, they untied and fell off and I lost them. I was in only socks for the entire concert. My feet got stepped on so many times, and I was wishing for my shoes the whole time. The next concert I went to, I made sure to tightly double knot my laces. I’ve seen people struggle to bend down to tie their shoes multiple times, and they have to have friends make a circle around them to have space and not get trampled on by others. So when you go to a concert, make sure you’re wearing shoes you’re okay with getting thrashed, and that you double knot those laces to prevent having to tie them or even losing them in the crowd.
- Moving up in the crowd to the stage: So the doors opened, you got your ticket scanned, and you walked into the pit. You’re about 15 people from the very front. The best thing I’ve found you can do, is to just slowly inch forward with the crowd. You slip into the spaces that open between people, and fill in whenever a new space opens. It’s easy to also get pushed back, so make sure to stand your ground. Once you get a good enough space, you will have to make sure to stand close to whoever you came with, and not leave spaces for other people to push into. Once you’re pretty close, and think you can’t get any closer, is when the fun begins. At the Playboi Carti concert, I was with four other friends. We slowly made our way to the front, and eventually were about four people from the front bar. Once more and more people get into the pit and started filling it, it gets super squished. People start this big swaying mosh, where the entire crowd sways aggressively from side to side. I don’t know why or how people do this, but it always happens at these concerts. It’s so dramatic that you can be lifted off your feet and pushed one way or another. My experience with this is when the crowd moves to the left and spaces open up in people you push your way into those spaces. This is how I always get to the very front. I wait for the swaying to begin, and this is when people make their way forward. The people that are already at the bar normally don’t move, as they have something solid to hold onto, but the people behind are normally constantly moving around, because it’s just how the crowd moves.
- Bathrooms: One thing you cannot do is try to use the restroom once you’re near the front in the venue and in a good spot for the concert. The best time to go is when you’re in line, and when you finally go through the doors and are walking to the pit. It’s best to go before, then in the middle of the concert or something like that. It’s just too difficult to get back to where you were when the concert has already begun. I usually go before I leave for the concert, and then once while in line or as soon as I walk through the front doors.
- Groups: Before even buying your ticket to the concert, make sure you’ve got a friend or two to go with. Going to concerts alone sucks. I usually put the concert dates on my story and ask “who down to go” and usually a good amount of people are down to go, and then I normally go with 2-4 people to a concert. In the venue, make sure to stick together and hold onto each other, or else you can get separated super easily. Be wary of other people trying to make their way in between you. That can separate friends and then the crowd swaying will pull you even further apart. It sucks losing your friends in the concert and then just being alone. Also when you’re with a group of friends, you’re safer. I have gone to a concert before and had a guy come up behind me and then just stay there because of how squished everyone is. It’s uncomfortable and they often won’t move, so I advise staying with a girlfriend or two throughout the whole concert.
Just little pieces of advice:
- When taking videos of the concert for your insta and snap, record on your actual camera, not the in-app snap or insta camera. They are better quality, and you can choose what you want to post for people to see after the concert, while not spamming everyone with your concert snaps, and having high quality videos
- Keep your phone in your front pocket, not back pocket. You will most likely be super squished, and not have room to reach your arm back to grab it. Also if it’s in your back pocket it’s easier for people to steal from you, so keep any cash or cards in the front too
- Don’t be afraid to deny people space in front of you. Some people will try to squish their way in front of you, often rudely, and it’s ok for you to move so they can’t. If you have a good spot and don’t want to lose it, don’t let someone else take it. You’ll never see them again and can’t stress too much about what they’ll think about you.
- Don’t blow up your entire snapchat story with videos of the concert. Yes it’s exciting, but no one wants to see the whole hour long concert on your story. For me the max I post is 5 snaps.
- Pechanga Sports Arena: Huge Arena, fits about 15,000 for arena concerts. It’s where the A$AP Rocky concert was, and the pit was pretty big, but still got super squished.
- House of Blues: Much smaller venue, can fit around 1,000 people. I saw Gunna there, and got pretty close to the stage.
- Soma: Medium sized venue, fits around 3,500 people. I saw Playboi Carti here, and it got super squished at the front. The back stretches pretty far back, further than I thought it did. There are also ledges on the sides you can stand on to get a good view and not have to die in the most pits.
- Bassmnt: Small venue, it fits around 1400 people. I saw Lil Skies here, and was at that the front bar. It didn’t get too squished, and I had enough room to breathe, unlike other venues.
- Observatory North Park: I wasn’t here for a rap concert, but for a school band slam event. It has super high ceilings, and isn’t too big. It fits around 1,100 people, and is pretty nice.