Going to your first EDM concert? CV's Raina dishes the DL
So, you've decided to go to your first EDM concert? Avicii may have let us down here at Bucknell, but there's no doubt that the past year has been incredible for the rise of electronic dance music (EDM) in general. EDM encompasses music that is passionate and dancable, ranging from familiar genres like dubstep, house, or trance, to niche-genres including psy-dub, hardcore, and glitch. Ravers and electronic fans have been enjoying this music for decades, so as a newer fan, you might feel like you've been dropped into a different universe when attending your first EDM concert. That being said, these shows are an incredible experience, between the music itself, the lights, and the diversity in the concert-goers. So, what are some things to expect from the average EDM concert? From the moment you walk in the door, or even approach a venue, you'll notice the people. Costumes and accessories are a huge part of rave and electronic music culture, with a wide range of styles. Bikinis, furry legwarmers, head-to-toe glowsticks and light-up wire, arms lined with plastic beaded bracelets (“kandi”), and crazy masks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the outfits you'll see.
What does this mean for you? Go all-out with your craziest costume idea, or just bask in the awesomeness of the brightly-colored people around you. Most importantly, don't feel intimidated by these veteran ravers. Even the guy with 250 piercings and glowing demon-eye contacts will be happy if you genuinely compliment his outfit. No matter what you wear, the most important thing is to stay comfortable so you can enjoy the show!
You might also notice the crazy crowd, and even the venue itself. No matter how big the club is, crowds are packed as you move even remotely close to the stage. Combine that insanity with constantly moving lights, lasers, and absurdly loud music, and the show can get a little stressful. If you're dead set on making it to the front row, it's not going to be easy. Make an effort to smile at people and push past as politely as possible, and they are MUCH more likely to let you through. The worst people to deal with in a crowd are ones who violently push past without a word. You're all there to enjoy the show, and it's likely that people in the middle of the crowd are fine staying there. At the end of the day, it's not a race or competition to see who can get the closest. Just find a place where you can see some lights and enjoy the music without going deaf. Most big artists have ridiculously cool light shows and setups, so you'll be able to see that from anywhere.
How about the reason you came to this concert, the music? You've heard a couple songs by this artist, or maybe you know them all by heart! Either way, their concert set might feature all those songs, or a couple interspersed with totally new material. Most of the time, these guys are hand-picking and mixing songs on the spot. Don't be too surprised if you hear other popular EDM songs mixed in, or even mashed up with the DJ's own music. If the DJ is experienced, the transitions between songs should be smooth and exciting, getting you amped up for the next melody or bass drop. Don't be disappointed if they don't play all of their most popular songs, or play them all the way through. You could do that at home, but this is an entirely different experience. Go with the flow, and enjoy the fact that you could be hearing new releases, original songs only played at shows, and generally an awesome mixture of the artist's latest work.
Finally, it's important to discuss safety at these shows. An important trait of EDM culture is that fans take care of one other. For example, rave culture has a stigma of being associated with drugs and crazy partying, and you could encounter some people at EDM shows who are out of control. If someone is making you worried, either by throwing themselves around like it's a metal show and hurting people, or barely standing due to intoxication, don't hesitate to enlist your peers or even a bouncer to make sure they're okay. Everyone's there to have fun, and no one wants their fellow fans to be hurt or sick. Similarly, if you feel like you're dehydrated, too tired, or not getting enough space, do something about it! Ask someone you came with for a drink from their camelbak, or preferably bring your own, move to a different part of the crowd, or go hang out on the second floor for a more laid-back experience.
The main takeaway is that there is no right or wrong way to experience an electronic music show. You can wear whatever you want, dance if you want, or choose to stand quietly. Most importantly, respect the fans around you, look out for your friends' safety as well as your own, and enjoy the music!