I went to 40 concerts in 2018, here are the top 10.

I Attended Over 40 Concerts In 2018, Here's the Top 10

Yup, you read that correctly.

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It was time to get out the ticket stubs and notes from 2018 and settle the debate of my top 10 of 2018 shows. Reminiscing on these was a lot of fun - I hope you guys enjoy.

1. Roosevelt - Bottom Lounge

If you read favorite show of 2018 (if not, do it!) then this should be no surprise to you. In the middle of the show lead front man, Marius Lauber, addressed the crowd in the middle of the set in saying "Wow. We are so far away from home right now. But, it's great to be here with all of you right now."

2. Childish Gambino - United Center

This one held the rein for the best show until Roosevelt came to town. A pleasant surprise to this show was the full experience itself, something that is not quite tangible enough to describe. Donald Glover gave a top-notch performance in one of my least favorite venues in Chicago, for a concert experience. Now that says something.

3. The Story So Far - The Metro

After a fired up daytime slot at Riot Fest 2017, TSSF returned to Chicago in November 2018 for a tour featuring their newest album, "Proper Dose." I went to this show with the same friend who introduced me to the band – it could not have been more fitting in addition to sitting on the balcony of The Metro, avoiding the sweat pit goers.

4. The Foo Fighters - Wrigley Field

Highly anticipated, my father and I enjoyed a warm fall evening at Wrigley Field to see FF take Chicago to rock heaven. As dad put it in his own words" it was one of those shows you left with a really good feeling inside, and you weren't a bit tired, regardless of what time it was at night!"

5. Alice in Chains - The Riviera

Another show with dad, but it was even louder than FF. Of the top 10, this may have been the best sounding show – including the openers. There's something special about hearing "Man In The Box" for the first time in a live setting. I sang the entire song, word for word, including guitar sounds.

6. Greta Van Fleet - The Vic

The only association I had with Lollapalooza this year was this after show. On a warm August evening, my friend and I slugged a few tall boys of Miller Lite while waiting in snake-like line around the block. We had the best seats in the house – front and center, with black smoke rising.

7. The Killers - Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee

As a lone ranger, I went to this concert solo - with no regrets. The Killers continue to tour and play music that gives you a reason to smile like you mean it.

8. Digitalism - Lincoln Hall

Contrary to most of my friend who went with me, this was a quality show again by the German-duo. It holds its place for one primary reason: the guy who showed me the band back in high school came along with us. Those are the moments that carry a long way with yourself.

9. Goldroom - Anita Dee II Boat Cruise, Lake Michigan

Ahoy shipmates! For a warm summer Saturday in the middle of July, we could not have asked for a better crowd and experience than the Goldroom High Seas experience on the Anita Dee II. For a sold out experience, the breeze and music paired hand in hand to the groove of people moving on the top deck of the cruise ship. Let us say, this will not be my last boat show.

10.  Nothing But Thieves - The Metro

While Conor admitted early in the show he lacked full voice abilities, he still produced a great vocal performance with NBT. The crowd's response and enthusiasm couldn't have been any better as they supported the band from start to finish.

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15 Things To Know When Preparing To Queue For A Concert

It can be the difference between waiting and actually enjoying yourself.
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Waiting in line for a concert can be one of the best and worst things. The whole experience is up to how you prepare, who you're with and the things you should know beforehand.

1. Check the weather.

You never know when you'll be sitting outside for your favorite band and it starts to pour on you. Plan accordingly. Dress for the weather; bring an umbrella (if sunny or raining); bring an extra jacket, scarf and an extra pair of socks. (Maybe even an outfit, you never know what might happen.)

I've waited in line in -10-degree weather and 95-degree weather. It is a different battle every time, and you have to be able to survive both.

2. Get ready for the same question.

If you're a regular concert goer like myself, and you like to get there early—be prepared to be asked, "How long have you been waiting?" or "Why did you come this early?" or "Why are you waiting in this (heat/snow)?"

Waiting in line for my favorite band, Catfish and the Bottlemen, for over 10 hours slightly drove me up a wall, but it also made me appreciate the experience much more.

Less-than-perfect conditions stay with you the whole day, and you can begin to contemplate why you came. But if you remember the concert at the end of the night, it makes it all worth it.

3. Check who you're with.

The friends you bring, or if you go by yourself, the people you're in line with can make or break the time you are waiting for the band. Start the conversation with the people around you early. That way, you can start getting to know these people on a regular basis.

You're going to be stuck with these people for a decent amount of time, so make sure you're ready to talk about anything and everything. It's never any fun when the people next to you have no interest in talking to you.

The waiting goes by much faster when there is a decent conversation going on. At least then you have someone to complain too, and talk about what's going on around you all. You might go crazy if you don't talk to someone else.

4. If you can help it, don't bring a bag.

Venues check bags, and it can hold back on where you're going to stand (if it's general admission). Walking in without anything they have to check, except for your body, then you'll be quicker than the rest with purses, bags or anything that might slow them down.

5. Dress comfortably and smart.

If it's hot, wear shorts so you're not increasing your body temperature too much with clothing.

If it's cold, wear layers that are comfortable that keep you warm.

I've waited for over 10 hours in -5-degree weather, and over 100-degree weather. You pick your battles, but each is different and deserve some attention.

6. Take more than what you need — you can always leave it in the car.

If it's a venue that allows you to go back and forth to your car—do it. You always have a place where you can turn the heat on and get warm, or turn the AC on and cool down.

It can make or break the way you feel at the end of the day, and it can protect you from getting sick from the weather conditions.

The last thing you want is to feel horrible because it was too hot or too cold. You may not control the weather, but you can plan for it, and that makes all the difference.

7. Bring portable phone chargers, playing cards, a book or anything that will save you later on.

Bring a portable phone charger because it's almost guaranteed your phone will die at one point. It's hard to resist the temptation from checking your phone from boredom, so make sure you plan for it.

Bring anything that will keep you occupied because then you can entertain yourself while you wait. It can also bring together the surrounding people, so that way you can bond on over a game, and make time go by faster.

8. Know the area and the businesses in it.

The businesses around the venue can lend a helping hand—if you know they're there. Many businesses are welcoming with their bathrooms and water if you just ask.

Some will require you to buy, and others will just let you use their bathroom. They can make or break your hydration levels if you're not careful.

They can also save you a trip from leaving and driving to a place with a bathroom you can use. Know the area and that will be your best friend.

You have to protect yourself from the conditions, give yourself a slight break from being outside, and give you something to do.

9. Bring food or you can order it in line.

Bring snacks that won't easily melt or freeze, and you have yourself your meal for the day.

You will be prepared when you start to get hungry, and it won't be a big deal when you want to snack on something.

You can even order delivery to the line. Many people have ordered a sandwich service, pizza, and Chinese food to the line you're in.

It's up to what you're feeling that day, and how much you want to pay for delivery.

10. Sharing is caring.

You'd be surprised how much you share with the people around you. They may have thought of something that you didn't.

They may have extra water bottles and you may have brought extra granola bars.

The possibilities are endless, but be ready to help a fellow concertgoer out. You're all there for the same reason, might as well enjoy the pre-planning things you all brought.

11. Bring extra money and try not to use your credit/debit card.

Cards may be easier to keep track of, but you might not have a way to check your balance on the card.

Cards with chips in them will set off a metal detector, so take them out of your pocket before going through security.

Having cash will make the whole process easier, and that way you can tip accordingly.

Most merchandise tables are cash only, and it makes it easier for the "merch" people working to give you your change and get back to the rest of the line.

12. Always. Always. Always tip.

Everyone who is working inside the venue is working their butts off to please the line of people outside the venue. That is where most of their revenue is for the day, so they are there to help you out.

Even if it's $1, it shows your appreciation and you notice they are helping everyone out.

A local coffee shop was open at my last concert, and they were giving away free waters. They might have been losing money from cups, so I tipped them to make sure they were losing too much.

People are there to help you out, you just have to know who they are and what they're doing for you.

13. People will try to scam you.

If you're anywhere near the front of the line, people will try to come and talk to you.

I can't remember the amount of people who have tried to come sit by me, be my "new pal" just to get in when I get in. You have to tell them straight up, "Line is moving, it's time you go back to your spot."

It's not fair for someone who gets there right before doors open to try and get in front, and then to stand by someone who has been waiting for over 10 hours.

I understand there can be outstanding things that happen, but people earn their spot in the pit.

14. Stay with friends, because it can get dangerous after-hours.

You never know who is out trying to get money, attention, or anything else in the surrounding area. Stay safe, because there are some really sketchy people out there.

If you're going to try and meet the artist/band, try to stay after close to their tour bus.

Sometimes a worker from the venue will tell you that you can't be there, or tell you to leave because they're not coming out. Odds are, they'll be out sooner than yo think so you just have to wait it out.

15. Most of all, have fun. It's what you came for, and you owe it to yourself after the long day.

After all the waiting, planning, and hanging out, it's time to finally enjoy the experience. It's what you came for, and after all, they are the reason you came.

Cover Image Credit: Madison M.

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Pharrell Williams Lights Up Napa's BottleRock

"Yezzir."

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If we want to take a pair of binoculars and zoom into one specific moment in my most recent trip to California, then the focus should stay onto BottleRock Napa. While the name itself gives away where this was located, it does not elicit the weather, food, music, and vibes – as we all know, I have a soft spot for music.

Day 2, Saturday (May 25th), included artists such as Sir Sly, Gary Clark Jr., Cypress Hill, Juanes, White Panda, and Pharrell Williams. A music festival in Napa Valley lives up to the perceived expectation – Michelin-star chefs and food vendors, wine galore, liquor, craft beers (IPA heaven), and a beautiful landscape. This is quite a difference from Chicago's Lollapalooza or Milwaukee's Summerfest, which mind you, there is no ill will for those festivals – but BottleRock poses its experience in a league of its own. Such a league includes an older age demographic of attendees, a "one-of-a-kind" location (for the US at least), and the non-festival route musicians — many of which are included above - and that was only Saturday.

As far as shows of the day, Pharrell Williams takes the cheesecake with his "mini-N.E.R.D. reunion" with Shay Haley, amongst his vocal featured classics "Gust of Wind," "Get Lucky," "Drop It Like It's Hot" and plenty more. His singing, even at age 46, came with grace and passion; start to finish, with little to no technical difficulties. The band was incredibly tight, note for note, and the all-female supporting singers and dancers added an element to this show, which I had yet ever to witness. The art and focus on a "performance" could not have been more prevalent in this show.

Pharrell's show is one that goes in the books with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Childish Gambino, The Foo Fighters, The Weeknd, J. Cole, Drake, and Disclosure. It is like the Men's Warehouse saying, "you're going to like the way you look," except Pharrell says, "you're going to like the way you feel, after my show." And that my friends, is a wrap.

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