Five tips for getting through this morbidly depressing (but potentially fun!) situation.
So you’re going to a show by yourself. Who knows how you ended up in this solo situation? Maybe nobody wanted to see that post-freak-folk jazz fusion band whose classically-trained methodology you respect enough to look past how much they suck. Perhaps you finagled your way onto the guest list but couldn’t get a plus-one because the venue doesn’t totally realize just how much influence you maybe almost sorta have. Or, maybe you’re just in between friends right now. Whatever the reason, you’re at the show surrounded by happy people and you’re completely, totally, utterly alone. It’s cool. I’m OK. You’re OK. Everything is chill. This doesn’t have to be a massively depressing experience. Follow these five simple solo show tips and the night could very well be a goddamn delight.
Tip #1: Stop staring at your screen.
Let’s get this one out of the way. Look, screens are pretty cool. I totally get it. I have one myself (NBD). The screens they make these days (2014 A.D.) come with so many very different ways to mildly amuse you. And if you’re discerning enough to know how and where to swipe to properly harness its networking power, screens can instantly connect you with all kinds of cool, talented, and super successful people you will never meet, hook up with, or get a somewhat tolerable job from. But your screens are doing you zero favors at a show. Screens of all shapes and sizes (I’m a big phablet man myself) prevent you from being bored between bands. That’s not good. Because you might get so bored watching some dude on a stage check the same wire for the fifteenth time you’ll actually talk to a random stranger standing nearby. And who knows what that might lead to? You could meet a very interesting person, maybe they’re an inventor, a marine biologist, an astronaut, or even a social media brand strategist. Perhaps you’re exchanging your first few words with the future Mr. or Mrs. ________, or you might simply discover you share the same dentist with another dude in the very same room as you and what are even the chances of that? Any outcome is better than staring at that screen. Because screens aren’t real life. Somebody had to say it. I’m just glad it was me.
(Please note: if you stare at your screen during a band’s set, why did you even come out tonight?)
Tip #2: Remember the Golden Rule: “Nobody cares.”
Nobody cares. Nobody cares. Nobody cares that you are by yourself at a show. I can’t emphasize this rule enough which is why I just repeated it a bunch of times. Most people won’t even notice you have come to a show without anybody to talk loudly to. All the happy show-goers will be too involved documenting their happy good time via their screen and uploading it to the World Wide Intra-Sphere for all their cool talented super successful screen friends they have never met to quickly scroll past. They won’t see you standing over there by yourself. Why? Well, because people can be pretty self-absorbed. You heard that here first. And even the rare ones who will notice you’re at the show alone won’t care. Why? Because nobody does.
“Ha! Check out that jerk over there standing by himself.”
“Yeah! That jerk totally doesn’t have any friends. Ha ha! Let’s laugh about that jerk some more.”
Nope. Not happening. Nobody cares. Sure, this idea can bum you out should you choose to think of it in a bummed-out way. The cosmos is so big. We’re so small. My existence is meaningless. Mono No Aware. Dust in the wind, dudes. Or, this Golden Rule that “Nobody Cares” can free you up to do whatever the hell it is you want to do with your life and become a happy, confident, and delightful person. So consider tossing this particular and understandable insecurity right outta your brain waves. If you forget everything else I have told you, please don’t forget this. Nobody. Cares.*
(*Except for maybe three people—you know who they are)
Tip #3: Don’t drink just to have something to do.
Drinking is too expensive. If you are a budget-conscious (poor) individual like me, you know the show drinks can add up pretty quick. Just recently, I went to see one of those emerging buzzy bands I’ve been reading so much about on the leading alt music blobs and was charged more for a canned domestic than Yankee Stadium charges. Yankee Stadium! That hallowed ground whose smartly chic interior recalls your favorite local upscale Williams-Sonoma store. If your primary focus at a show is to tackle the cans rather than see bands, might you perhaps be more comfortable sipping and chilling on your couch and enjoying something delightful that you demanded from your screen (“Frasier. Season 6. At once!”)? If you’re at a show by yourself, chances are good you’re just drinking to keep yourself mildly amused between bands, as you’ve already done the swiping thing and have reached the end of the World Wide Intra-Sphere. See tip number one. Go talk to somebody. It’s definitely cheaper. However, if money isn’t an issue at all for you, cool! Let’s go to a show together sometime and you can tell me how interesting your lifestyle is. You may also buy me several drinks.
Tip #4: If you don’t want to stay, leave.
Guess what? You’re all by yourself out there. If you don’t like the soundzzz that band is slinging from the stage, you can go home. You don’t even have to introduce the idea of your early exit to anyone four to seven minutes before departure, either. And you certainly don’t have to morph from a generally chill person into a big fat liar. That happens sometimes. You want to bail but you also want to avoid staring at your show-going pal’s bummed out face when you declare your intentions, so instead, you say you’re going to the bathroom knowing full well "bathroom" means "cab." It’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it too much the next morning when you feel extremely guilty and proclaim yourself A Terrible Person. Just work on yourself and try not to do it again, man. But you don’t have to try or work at it tonight. You’re flying solo. You want to leave after one song because your screen has already snapped and posted that filtered-up pic that perfectly captures just how hard you rage for all the cool talented super successful people on the World Wide Intra-Sphere to quickly scroll past again? Guess what? You can. You’re all by yourself. Nobody is going to know you bailed at 8:20 PM. Facts are fluid and there is no historical record when you’re only hanging with you.
Tip #5: If you don’t want to leave, stay.
Go to a show with other people and you learn pretty quickly that just about everybody will find a reason to bail out and you’ll feel pressure to do the same.
“I have to get up early tomorrow and do some super important shit on my phablet.”
“I had scoliosis as a child and my back still flares up sometimes when I’m watching bad bands.”
“I’m fucked up, I... gotta... go to... home and... water my cat.”
“I’m doing permanent and irrevocable damage to my hearing right now.”
Excuses. They make the world go ’round until everybody is dizzy with despair. Stay. Stick it out. See it through. That’s what winners do. And guess what? You’re at a show by yourself. You’re a champion.
There are your five tips. I hope you keep them in mind the next time you go solo to a show. And if you never have? Try it. I do it all the time as I’m currently in between friends. I’m telling you. It’s the best.*
(*when it’s not massively depressing)