For the most part, being a college student is the best. You’re young, you’re meeting new people and you’re expanding your knowledge about the world. But every once in a while, you have to deal with uncool doses of reality that prevent you from engaging in activities best suited for these years. Studying is one of those uncool things. Rushing to turn in assignments before midnight is another. So is “getting a good night’s sleep.”
Sometimes these decisions will prevent you from doing fun stuff. This includes hanging with your friends, going to sports events and for the focus of this column, seeing live music. It’s the man telling you, “Hey, don’t go see that cool band that will give you everlasting memories. Don’t do it.”
You do not need to listen to the man.
There’s probably never been a better time to see live music in Phoenix. With venues and festivals popping up left and right, you can bet more bands are coming down to the Valley than ever before. Most of them like it, too, especially as touring becomes one of the best ways for a band to make money doing what they love.
But seeing every show has its drawbacks. Adding up all the shows you want to see can take a hit on the piggy bank, for instance. Some artists will play only after a slew of openers do their sets, eating up hours of your time even before you see who you came for. And for the younger ones among us, a venue can make a show 21 and over and tragically shut the door in your face.
It’s possible to create a concert-going calendar that pleases you. All it takes is a little scheduling, some sacrificing and a lot commitment.
YOUR CONCERT-PLANNING GUIDE
1. Plan ahead of time
Oftentimes, a show is announced months before the artist takes the stage. Promoter sites like luckymanonline.com, statesidepresents.com and relentlessbeats.com bring all the information together for most of the bands coming to the Valley. Aggregators like silverplatter.info, songkick.com and the mobile app Bandsintown can also let you know about a concert the moment the tour is announced. Check these sites regularly so that “sold out” is never a reason for why you missed a show.
2. Think about what you love
So you’re checking out the sites and concert calendars and are a bit overwhelmed—so many good shows and so little time and money. The best course of action is to prioritize which bands you want to see. Do your research. What are their live performances like? How many songs do you know? Are you looking to dance the night away or relax holding your drink in the back? Weighing the possible benefits of each show against each other can lead you to make the best decision on a tight budget.
3. Come again soon?
Bands usually tour after releasing an album or body of work. There are also some bands—usually rap or punk acts—that tour around the country all the time, coming at least once a year to the Valley. If for some reason you are unable to make a show or don’t have the necessary funds to buy a ticket, remember that there is a pretty good chance they’ll come back. You’ll catch ‘em next time. Of course, local bands play around the state all the time, so missing them will never be an issue.
4. The “blow-up” factor
Going to a concert is all about the experience, and there are times when intimate settings can lead to a more memorable show. It’ll be quite a story to tell if the band you saw later becomes too popular.
Take Chance the Rapper, a Chicago rapper who “blew up” after the critical success of his 2013 mixtape Acid Rap. His first show in Tempe was later that year, at the relatively small Club Red. Since the release of that tape, he’s collaborated with the likes of Justin Bieber and appeared on national television. The next time he came to Tempe was for Summer Ends Music Festival in late September. The ticket fare? $135.
This story also reminds me of the time when indie-rock darlings Arcade Fire once played in a small art gallery in Downtown Phoenix. That same band is now one of the biggest arena acts in the world. Catching your favorite band before they blow up will give you an experience you may never forget.
Once you’ve picked out all the shows you want to see in the nearby future, lay them out in writing. Put them in your calendar, and plan other meetings or events around the show. Maybe even get someone to cover your work shift for a night. The show is the most important thing. Music is life.
The Phoenix metropolitan area is huge. There are dozens of venues both big and small here, and it seems more are opening each year. With the success promoters have had in securing huge acts for festivals like Summer Ends and Mad Decent Block Party, the number of acts coming to the Valley can only increase. By using your better judgment and carefully planning your calendar ahead of time, you’ll secure plenty of good times for the upcoming months. Just make sure you respect those around you during the show.