Has there ever been a concert you were just dying to go see, but by the time you got through on the phone with the box office, the tickets were all sold out? Well get in line! No, really! For some shows, you have to camp out at a ticketing box office overnight to be in line early enough to grab a ticket.
So often today, the demand for concert tickets is larger than the ticket supply. So, if you want those tickets, you have to be one of the first people in line. Of course, there is always the phone and Internet, but in my experience, I’ve always had better luck, and better seats, camping out in line.
First, and most importantly, after you’ve picked the concert you want to see, you need to find out what date and time it goes on sale. The most common on-sale date/time is Saturday mornings at 10:00 am. But, of course, this may vary, so double check. For many performers, there are pre-sales. However, the codes for those sales are usually provided by a fan club membership, which costs extra money. And in today’s economy – who has that?
Secondly, you need to figure out where you’re going to buy the tickets from. There are usually only two options here: Ticketmaster, or the venue box office. You could always get your tickets from a secondary ticket broker, but I’ll get to that later. Ticketmaster has box offices all over the place. So, it would be best to find out which is closer to you: a Ticketmaster location, or the venue itself.
Okay, so now you know where you’re going and when you’re going! Good! But you’re probably still wondering how early you need to get there, huh? Well, that all depends. If it’s a super popular concert, and it’s sold out the last few years in a row, or in the previous cities, where it went on sale first – it’s probably going to be an overnighter. And that’s why you’re reading this anyway – right? So, get your bags packed and grab some friends!
Plan on getting to the location the night before the tickets actually go on sale. In some cases, you may need to get there at least 24 hours before, but let’s assume it’s just an overnighter, and you can get there in the evening, when you get off of work or school, whatever the case may be. The most important thing is a lawn chair! Get that first! Below is the list of other necessities, and any notes I can think of.
Lawn (or camp) chair – once you wake up in the morning, you’ll probably have to take your tent down, but there will still be several hours of waiting ahead of you. Yes, you can stand or sit on the floor, but trust me, after about two hours, you’ll wish you had one of these!
Tent – you might want to check with the location before you bring this. Some places have ordinances against using them in public places, like outside of a store. But, it is helpful to have, in case you are allowed to have one.
Sleeping bag/blankets/pillow – again, how many you need will depend on your comfort zone. Some people only need a sheet to be able to sleep anywhere, some need a little more, so bring whatever feels best for you. And remember, you can always leave stuff in your car and get it only when you need it. No use in hogging the sidewalk if you don’t need to
Water/food/drinks and a cooler – Again, the amount you’ll need to bring depends on you. Just remember though, you probably won’t have access to a refrigerator or any heating device (microwave, oven, toaster), so bring stuff that doesn’t need to be heated up.
The cooler, obviously, will keep things cool. Bottled water, sodas, juice boxes, sandwiches, chips, pretzels, and dip are all great things to have. You could always call for pizza delivery, but I have found some chains don’t deliver unless you have an actual address for them. You could always use the location address, but again, keep it simple.
Money – Yeah, don’t forget you have to pay for those tickets
Friends/cards/games – You will get bored. And if you’re standing in line by yourself, you’ll get real bored around all those strangers. Although, conversations are usually struck up and people tend to bond over their shared experience, it’s still best to bring someone you know along with you.
Alright, so now you should be packed up and ready to go! Another great reason to bring a friend is that you’ll have someone to hold your place in line. So, grab your friend too and get to the box office! As soon as you get there, stake out your spot in line. Set up your tent, or whatever you have. Then, get comfortable.
I did wait in line once for HFStival tickets, and the woman at the front of the line had been doing this for years. So, she started a list – as soon as someone else got it line, their name was added to the list. This helped to keep things fair in line – there was no “cutting” the line; everyone knew who everyone else was, and where their spot was. You could do this, if you’re first in line, but don’t feel that it’s required.
So, assuming you’ve made it through the night, wake up early and put your tent and other bulky items back in the car, or out of the way somehow. Once those doors open, you don’t want to be tripping over someone’s stuff, trying to get in the door. Conversely, you don’t want your things to be trampled. Also, once all the bulky stuff is gone, the line seems like it gets shorter – YAY! It doesn’t actually – you’re just closer to the people in front of you, but by then, any seeming success feels great!
Set out your lawn or camp chair, and get ready to wait some more. Hopefully, someone in line will offer to make a coffee and bagel run, or you could do this yourself. Again, if you have that friend with you, he or she can hold down both of your spots while you go to the coffee shop, or wherever.
Once the doors open, get your butt moving to get those great tickets! Once it’s your turn, the ticket agent (the person behind the counter at the ticket machine) will ask you how many tickets you need, and then will tell you what seats are available. Get them! The seating options only get worse the longer you wait. Then, pay the money and enjoy the show!
For those who were unsuccessful, or who don’t feel like doing all that work: The secondary ticket broker will be your best bet. A secondary ticket broker is not affiliated with the box office, performer, or venue in any way. They are a company that buys and sells tickets on the secondary market. So, the prices for the tickets will probably be higher, but you’ll have a variety of seating locations (want 3rd row on the floor? No problem!).
There are many secondary ticket brokers out there. However, make sure, if you decide to purchase tickets this way, that the broker is registered with the Better Business Bureau, and the National Association of Ticket Brokers. You want to make sure you’re buying from a legit place, after all. Also, let’s say you waited in line and got those great tickets you wanted, and for some reason, you can’t make it to the show after all.
Ticketmaster and most box offices do not have refund or return policies. Again, this is where secondary brokers work to your advantage. Most brokers also buy tickets. So if you can’t make it to a show, call a broker, and see if you can’t at least get your money back by selling them your ticket!