BY RYAN MARR
Like any respectable college-age, ex-suburbanite suffering from a self-described “unique” case of alienation at the hands of a “suppressing” force vaguely referred to by other ex-suburbanites as “modern society,” there are few things I wouldn’t do to get to a live Radiohead concert- short of selling my Wes Anderson DVD collection.
Even if you’re not a particular fan of the band’s music, you know the deal: over-hyped band tours about once every century, ticket prices sell out in a matter of minutes, chaos ensues (see Daft Punk, Hannah Montana).
There just is something so immediately gratifying about the idea of witnessing a favorite band to the tune of a high-dollar Ticketmaster rip-off that simply lowers anyone’s typically reasonable judgment to that of a crack fiend.
So for all you music junkies out there, I’ve laid out a few ground rules: Ryan’s Guide to Concert Survival, if you will- which might have saved me a few dollars and a little dignity.
Join the fan club. Most top dollar bands have resorted to distributing their premiere tickets to fan club constituents in order to bypass scalpers with a penchant for jacking the ticket price to absurd heights.
I, however, spent the better part of a Saturday morning repeatedly logging on to Ticketmaster so that I could be the first to grab the few Radiohead tickets that hadn’t already been sold to fan club members. At $80 a pop and the blood pressure of an anxious prom date, I’m not sure it was worth it.
Check traffic and weather reports. A friend and I left Richmond at 4 p.m. for what should have been a leisurely two-hour drive to Nissan Pavilion- leaving enough time to park the car, maybe buy a t-shirt and catch the opening act. Liars.
At 10 p.m. we were still in the car, two miles from the venue, in deadlock traffic while flash flooding washed out the one road that led to the amphitheatre. Too impatient to wait out the traffic, we parked the car, grabbed ponchos (for all the good they did us), and made a run for it. About a half-mile into our sprint we were soaked to the boxers and running in a pack of Radiohead-crazed zombies like a scene out of 28 Days Later.
Trust the concert staff. Yes, it might seem like a good idea to follow an exuberant fan who claims they know a short cut through the woods when you’re an hour late and soaking wet.
However, when a staff member directing traffic politely insists that no such route exists, do not “stick it to the man” by trucking for the woods anyways.
Submitting to the will of the man would have been infinitely better than standing waist-deep in muddy water, lost in the woods, the muffled piano chords of “Videotape” drifting to me through a barbed wire fence.
Don’t try to climb a barbed wire fence. I don’t feel I need to elaborate on this rule.
Know when to seek emergency medical help. After more than a few skeptical looks by security, we did manage to scan the remnants of our tickets and gain entrance to the amphitheatre for the encore. We shivered out five songs in the pouring rain with the few fans that hadn’t already fled for the safety of their cars, and managed to lose feeling in all of our extremities.
It just might have been worth it if I could have at least heard a few of the songs. But the acoustics lose quality when you’ve got your hands over your ears to rub the blood back into them.
Bring food for the road. When you’re driving home stripped down to your boxers, your soaking wet clothes in the trunk, 7-11 isn’t always an option.
That is unless your younger sister keeps her skin-tight field hockey warm-ups in the back seat- and I, for one, decided my masculine dignity was worth a jumbo bag of Funions and directions back to the highway.
The next morning I was still pulling twigs out of my hair and draining the mud from my shoes when I logged on to the Internet to check Radiohead’s website. Apparently Thom Yorke decided to reimburse all of the fans who never made it with free tickets to see Radiohead in New Jersey. For a moment, I considered jumping off a building.
But what doesn’t kill you only makes you more likely to enjoy future concert extravaganzas, right? Not exactly- too much planning can make for a boring dud of a night. I wouldn’t want the set list before a show any more than I want to be master of my own destiny. But catching re-runs of “Man vs. Wild” shouldn’t be necessary in preparing for your next concert trip either.