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It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Going to Shows Solo

If you go to shows solo, you go to the front.EXPAND
If you go to shows solo, you go to the front.
Melissa Fossum

Welcome to It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, a bimonthly column focusing on dating (kind of) in the Valley, but ultimately, being responsible for yourself. Check out our last entry here and enjoy this week's column.

As someone who is often by herself, you’d think I’d be totally hype on doing a load of activities solo.

WRONG!

I’m only keen on grocery shopping by myself and staying home and watching shitty teen rom-coms with my cat. Shouts out to the multiple rewatches of The Kissing Booth and SPF-18 that my cat Greta has sat through (sorry, girl).

Anyway, I do enjoy my own company. But I enjoy it in spaces where I’m most comfortable (Sprouts and my apartment, naturally).

It doesn’t come as a surprise that it took me a minute to warm up to the idea of going to shows by myself. I was so used to having someone with the same Anthony Fantano-esque taste in music as me (I know, how quirky and not at all hard to find in someone else) to drag to all over metro Phoenix every weekend to see shows.

You might think: Why doesn’t she just ask her friends to go?

Well, duh, I have. But most of the time, I don’t prefer it. It often results in them either being lukewarmly interested in the artist, wanting to get there or leave at a certain time, and worrying about whether or not they’re having a good time since you dragged them there in the first place.

We don’t have time for that.

The first show I went to by myself (I think) was Shame / Iceage at The Rebel Lounge last year. You know when you’re new at the gym, and you think everyone’s watching and are hyper-aware of every movement you’re making? That’s exactly how it feels like to go to your first couple of shows by yourself. At least, that’s how I felt at that show.

Spoiler: No one’s watching, and no one cares. If they are, then they’re weird.

Flash-forward to my favorite solo show-going experience: when I saw Helado Negro at Club Congress in Tucson. After the show, I sat outside on the patio, sipped the remnants of my vodka Sprite, and scrolled on my phone before I was ready to Lyft back to my Airbnb.

I’m so glad I didn’t leave right away like I normally had been doing. I ended up meeting a couple of people, one of which I stayed in contact with via Instagram. We bonded over having gone through a recent breakup, we tore up the dance floor, and we took shots together.

It's an experience I wouldn't have ever had if I continued to follow the precedent of holding myself back. It was also the first show that I had gone to by myself that completely melted away all of my fears and my inherent awkwardness of attending shows alone.

Going to shows alone can be intimidating at first, but it’s a good way to challenge yourself.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re at a show alone:

Tell a Friend Where You’re Going and When You Plan to Be Home

It's important to always remember: safety first. While you’ll have the freedom of moving through a crowd to get to the best spot, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that someone on the outside will have your back if you need to talk on the way to your car.

Find a Comfortable Spot

If you’re tall, this isn’t hard for you. I only assume this because I’m really short. I’m not jealous. For me, I like to go against the exposed beam wall by the bathrooms at The Van Buren or nestle in the corner stage left at Crescent Ballroom. When you’re by yourself, it’s a lot easier to find a spot to camp out in because you don’t have to worry if the person you’d be with would also have a comfortable view. We can be a little selfish at shows, as a treat.

You’ve Got Freedom, Baby

Don’t know the opener? Great, you can show up an hour late. Have work the next morning? Cool, leave after the band plays your favorite song. Hungry? Go order those chips and molcajete salsa at Crescent. Do your feet hurt? Sit on the ground against the wall at The Van Buren and give those puppies a rest.

Most obvious, but most important: Have fun.

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