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Going to a Gig Solo

Going Solo: How to Get Over Your Going to a Gig Alone Anxiety

Going to a gig solo

Inspired by a recent anonymous Tweet by Fesshole, which tragically read, “Dated a girl once just so I didn’t have to go and see Radiohead on my own. The sex was crap, but the gig was outstanding”, I saw the necessity in drafting a going to a gig solo guide to quash anxiety, normalising the experience and reminding music fans that in 2017 DICE found that over half of 18 – 24 year olds in the UK had gone to a gig alone in the last 12 months. But that is far from the only promising statistic; 98% of the respondents in a survey said they’d do it again, and almost as many said that the music sounded better when they weren’t mindful of what other people were making of the performance!

This is far from the only going to a gig solo guide you will find online, but I can promise that I won’t spin as much hyperbole as The Metro when they posted an article with the headline, “I went to a gig by myself it was the best night of my life”.

Because the truth is, not every gig you attend alone will be a life-affirming experience that transcends all others, and you will be reminiscing on them for decades to come. Managing expectations is key. And let’s face it; there are pros and cons to both going to a gig solo and going with others.

And sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a +1, +10 or you’re heading through the venue doors alone because external factors can easily come into play. Such as when I headed to Echo and the Bunnymen’s 40th Anniversary show at the Albert Hall in 2022 and Ian McCulloch was in a palpable mood to the extent it was apparent he was only there to cash cheques and call his drummer a cunt. Or when I saw Arab Strap and the softly-versed vocals were barely audible above overzealous fans who were screaming the name of the guitarist without a modicum of respect for the rest of the crowd who were trying to tune into the band they’d paid good money for.

My point is that gigs are only as good as the sound, the crowd, and the attitude of the performers. Who you’re with, is only one small part of the equation. So, before I digress any further and put you off the idea of going to ANY gigs, with my years of experience attending gigs alone as a woman, an introvert, and someone who is no stranger to social anxiety, I will cover the obvious, and less obvious benefits of heading to a gig alone and outline a few tips on how to endure your first time.

Benefits of Going to a Gig Alone

Hitting up a gig solo might seem a bit daunting, especially if you have a proclivity towards co-dependency and typically hate to do anything alone, but by buying a single ticket and venturing to a gig on your own, you’re signing up for an escapade that’s all yours, and reclaiming some sense of independence, which will probably do you favours in other areas of your life. Even if you pride yourself on being popular, there’s still no guarantee that your friends will love every artist on your playlists, and honestly, wouldn’t it be better to keep your dignity and not have to sell your soul to get someone else on board?

Then there’s the freedom. Want to bounce to the front and get lost in the music so much that you’re oblivious to the rest of the crowd? Do it. Fancy hanging back and soaking up the vibe? That’s cool too. There’s no stress about whether the group is enjoying it or if you’re all sticking together.

It is always worth remembering that just because you entered the venue alone, that doesn’t always mean that you won’t get to take advantage of the way music brings people together. If you have only ever attended gigs with other people, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there isn’t much mixing once you’re inside. But when you’re flying solo, you’re more approachable, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation given that you have something VERY OBVIOUS in common.

And let’s not forget one of the most obvious benefits. If you refuse to go to a gig solo but don’t have someone to rope into the night out, you’ll miss out. Put your pride aside and grab yourself a ticket. You’ll do yourself a favour, and be supporting live music at a time when so many shows are getting pulled due to poor ticket sales.

How to Make the Most Out of Your First Solo Gig Experience

After you have dipped your toes in the solo gig water, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to embark on the rite of passage, until then, here is what you can do to feel prepared for your first gig alone.

  1. Research the Venue – if you have never been to the venue before and you don’t want to look clueless as you get your bearings, get the lay of the land beforehand.
  2. Arrive on Your Own Schedule – arriving early has its benefits, but if you only want to see the headliner and it makes you feel better about going solo, do your own thing (sorry support bands!).
  3. Hit the Bar, But Don’t Drink It Dry – getting wasted may seem a great way to get over the perceived awkwardness you are inflicting on yourself, but it is only going to sour the experience. If you drink, keep it to a minimum, if you’re tee-total, you can still make a B-line for the bar or break up your time spent staring at the stage by hitting the merch stall or going for a breather in the smoking area.
  4. Remember, No One Cares – No one goes to a gig to pity or mock people on their own. If they do notice, they’re more likely to chat with you than ridicule you.
  5. Occupy Yourself by Documenting the Experience – don’t just be a passive witness to the experience. Hone your gig photography skills or think about how you can bring other people into the experience by posting about it on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
  6. Make a Post-Gig Plan – Getting home safely should be your priority; once that basis is covered, you can always round off the night by ending it on a natural note by grabbing something to eat – go all out on your solo date!
  7. Enjoy the Freedom: Bask in the ability to move through the crowd as you please. Edge closer to the stage or find a chill spot to take it all in — no negotiations needed.

Article by Amelia Vandergast