Fangirl is a term that is laden with implications of obsessiveness and hysterical behavior with relation to a celebrity or artist. While I admit to having my fair share of squealing and joy-induced tears, I'd like to think that there isn't a person on this planet who doesn't have an important figure in their lives who they wouldn't lose their shit to if ever brought into the same proximity. For me, it's Imagine Dragons.
Over the course of my loyal fanship, I've had the privilege of meeting them countless times, attending multiple concerts, being in their music video and winning sweepstake contests for special events and prizes. None of this has been coincidental. It is all based on strategy and determination which includes a lot of time, energy and research on your part. Besides the ridiculous stereotypical fangirl antics such as sneaking backstage, here I provide 10 helpful tips and tricks to increasing the chances of meeting your idol(s) and having a memorable concert experience.
1. Research the Venue.
Being able to navigate the spatial organization of a venue is critical to understanding where you can and cannot be. Remember that even as a fan, you still have to respect boundaries and regulations of restricted spaces. Aside from that, looking at a physical map of the venue allows you to determine the seating composition (if it's seating or standing), where the nearest exists are (for sprinting out of the venue after the show), and where the artist entrances are (to wait to meet them).
With the assumption that you will be at the venue hours before the concert, you can do a thorough walkthrough of the perimeter to observe where the tour buses are located aka where you can potentially spot your band/artist. This is the prime location you want to be at once the concert is over, and you should be the first out the door because it only takes a matter of a few minutes for artists to enter their tour bus and move onto the next stop on their tour. It's as simple as googling the name of the venue and "seating map." Boom.
2. Arrive Bright and Early.
This is a major component to efficiently using the valuable time you have between the time you arrive at the venue and when the show actually starts. Make a schedule the night before, and stick to it. I know it's going to hurt getting up at 6 a..m to get ready for a concert that starts at 7 p.m., but it will be worth it. Some people don't feel the need to take the drastic measures my cousin and I take by getting to the venue at least 12 hours ahead of showtime, but to each his own. Arriving early ensures your spot in line, and more importantly since many concerts are general admission standing, it ensures a spot at the gate. They didn't say it would be easy.
3. Pack Accordingly and Lightly.
Like any grand odyssey necessitates, being well-equipped can make a difference in the outcome of your success. Packing only the essentials is critical for preparation and making your concert experience safer and more enjoyable. It is important to pack light because you need to allow for quick mobility and being ready for unforeseen changes such as weather conditions. The essentials are as follow: charged phone (for optimal photo-taking capacity and communication), portable phone charger (no one wants a dead phone), drawstring bag, food money, merchandise money, photo ID, portable lawn chair (for waiting in line) and water (because crying dehydrates you). Other optional items include an umbrella, tissues, pen and paper.
4. Adopt a Concert Buddy.
Preferably one who is just as obsessed in love with the music as you and isn't afraid of a little adventure and some possible gate-hopping. Strategize to optimize results. Find a concert buddy and cling onto them for dear life. Having two sets of eyes on the ground makes it more likely that one of you will spot one of the band members. My buddy happens to be my adorable little cousin whose pint-sized form and adorable charm has on many occasions allowed us to maneuver our way to the front of concerts and a good amount of impromptu meet and greets. Just look at that face, who could resist that adorable face?
5. Utilize Social Media.
Twitter is the social platform for globally connecting people across a virtual landscape and bringing to you live updates from news media and more specifically, music figures. I can't stress enough how important--if not crucial-- it is to have a twitter account in this day and age. You can get on the minute updates from your favorite artist(s) about upcoming concerts, sweepstakes contests and daily nonsensical tweets. Twitter makes it simple for you to interact with your favorite artist and the fan base in real time, wedging the hierarchal gap between artist and fan and thus creating better opportunities for actually meeting them off the Internet. Taylor Swift is a perfect example of the fan/artist dynamic. Through my crafty use of Twitter I've managed to be followed by Imagine Dragons, exchanged tweets, and not to mention won a handful of contests for events and prizes. Aside from the obvious perks of being followed by your idols, the application of Twitter helps you connect to other fans in your local vicinity and creates a sense of solidarity amongst the fanbase that is unmatched on any other social network.
*Note: Your twitter account must be public in order for your favorite artist to follow you or view your tweets.
6. Enter All of the Contests.
Many people feel discouraged from entering contests or sweepstakes because they are intimidated by the odds put against them, but I believe it is still important to press your luck and apply to them. By not applying, you are removing yourself from any chance at winning the grand prize or anything for that matter. I never thought I was going to win anything when I applied for tickets to be in Imagine Dragon's Grammy Commercial Music Video, but a day before the event I received an email stating that I was chosen. Next thing I knew, I was in Las Vegas having my hair and makeup done and only a few feet away from my idols touching the stage and went home with a drumstick and priceless memories. Companies are constantly holding contests that many don't apply to, so make the most of it and apply, multiple times if it suits you.
Photos from the 2015 Target Grammy Commercial/DTLA Secret Show
7. Make Fan Art.
This, of course, is highly optional and intended for more diehard fans. However, we can all agree that it feels more fulfilling to receive a handmade gift rather than a store-bought gift. It holds a more personalized gesture of appreciation. Like I mentioned before, Twitter is the perfect platform for showcasing your artistic abilities and sharing them with a wider audience. So if you don't get the chance to personally give your favorite band member/artist their gift in person, the next best thing is tweeting it at them on Twitter. Artists are creative individuals and always appreciate the personally crafted artistic work of regular folks such as ourselves.
8. Become Acquainted with the Roadies/Management.
Don't be pressing and annoying, but be polite and act like a normal human being. Do not squeal, I repeat do not squeal if you see the band's manager or their wives. Just introduce yourself, and hold a light conversation then ask them if the band is coming out, or if they can relay the message to the band if they can come out and meet you. While this may not work for A-list artists who's fame requires heavy security, this works very well for lesser mainstream bands or artists. It doesn't hurt to become acquainted and known on a first-name basis with the band's management team; it increases your chances of meeting them at future shows and they will more than likely remember your face and name. Awesome right?
9. Be Prepared for the Worst.
Not everything is going to go according to the plan as there might be rude fans, delays, or the band might just be in a hurry to skedaddle after the show. Realistically, some things are just out of one's control. Worst case scenario is you may find yourself waiting outside in the pouring rain to realize they're just not coming outside at all (ahem like above). Simply accept that you did more than others would have done, and know that there will be a next time. Unless the band breaks up. Then you're screwed. But let's hope that time never comes.
10. ACT COOL!
When the glorious moment finally comes, when you are finally face-to-face with your idols, do not panic or freak out. Now, I can't say this is an easy task, especially for my little cousin pictured above. But try to remain cool, calm and collective. Sometimes these moments happen within seconds and it becomes difficult to formulate any sort of coherent thought or word. However, always ask before taking photographs or videos, hugging, or any other form of personal violation of space. They are human beings after all. Simply put, don't be a weirdo and all will be swell.
It's not an easy or cheap option to live life as a fan. However, it is well worth the extensive amounts of time, money and energy spent on creating memorable experiences centered around the celebration of live music. Through the connective experience of being in a fandom, friendships are established on an intangible level by the music artists pour their soul and heart into. This priceless connection is the true fan experience.