Planning the perfect concert experience
It begins tonight with seeing Journey for the first time in 27 years. (And seeing Heart for the first time ... Cheap Trick for the third time.) But it continues with a small contingent of blog/podcast fans going to Vegas to see Morris Day and The Time on Friday and the Regeneration Tour on Saturday.
Considering the historic significance behind all these shows (Morris' first reunion show in 20 years; a rare U.S. appearance by The Human League), there's added pressure on the planning -- anything to make sure these became ideal experiences.
So without further hyperbole, here's my fool-proof, 10-step "day-of" plan for a great concert experience.
1. TAKE THE DAY OFF: Concerts are better enjoyed when you not rushing to the venue from the office. Plus, at our age, a nice afternoon siesta after a late afternoon, pre-concert feast of Taco Bell gorditas never hurts.
2. NO PLAYING THE MUSIC OF THE BANDS YOU'RE SEEING: Sure, it's OK to overdose on Journey's new album in the weeks leading up to the show, but I have a strict policy against it on gameday. I want the music to feel fresh. (I should say that my frequent concert pal Sean Daly maintains the opposite of this rule.)
3. CHOOSING A WARDROBE: Don't wear the shirt of the band you're going to see. ("Don't be that guy," as Jeremy Piven says in "PCU.") These days, I go with my patented black Tommy Bahama knockoff shirt, usually with jeans and shoes that won't be ruined by sloshing through concert arena muck. But by all means, mentally undress those of the opposite sex who wear the faded baby-doll concert tees from previous tours.
4. BRING A GOOD FRIEND, NOT A DATE: You won't remember the date's name a month from now. But your friend and you will talk about the show 'til the day you're both sitting side by side in the nursing home, waiting for your sponge-baths.
5. ARRIVE EARLY: Back in the old days, when it was general admission to most arena shows, this was mandatory if you wanted good seats. Now it just makes sense so that you can relax and even browse the concert tees (Hint: take then back to your car after purchase, since you parked so close).
6. GO EASY ON THE DRINKS: A shocker, I know, but everyone remembers the tragic ending to my "ziplock bags of rum" story from the Sting concert back in '85. To this day, I rarely have more than one or two drinks before or during a show. Remember, you don't drink beer ... you only rent it. And I hate paying the rent check while missing out on great tunes.
7. KNOW THE SET-LIST: This is a controversial practice of mine, but lately I try to look up the band's set-list on the Web ahead of time, so I know at what point in the show is a good time to grab a hot dog or a final beer. You want to be surprised? Fine. But I was more than happy at the Rush concert to head for my car early rather than listen to the 10-minute, head-numbing encore of "YYZ."
8. MINIMIZE DANCING: At our age, chances are you can't dance anyway. Feel free to stand up, sway around like someone sucker-punched you, but don't annoy your neighbors by pulling out moves best left to the days when you only had to shave twice a week.
9. SING ALONG: I'm anti-dance, but pro singing-at-top-volume. Go figure. Chances are no one can hear you anyway. You honesty think I'll have my mouth shut if Journey plays "Stone in Love?" I'll be in full air-guitar mode as well. Have fun -- it's a concert.
10. PULL A FERRIS THE NEXT DAY: Oh, yeah, the dreaded "stomach flu" (nod, nod, wink, win, know what you mean) -- why does it always strike the morning after the big show? Surely the boss won't begrudge you a few extra hours of downtime. (Oh, he will? Then schedule a phantom doctor or dentist appointment. You'll actually get sympathy for showing up late.)
Will I pull a Ferris the day after this long concert week ends? No need. I'll be vegging in our private pool cabana at the Luxor in Vegas on Sunday with the rest of the die-hard '80s fans. That's my final rule in concert planning: Allow plenty of time afterward to bask in the memories with those who went with you.