Traveling to see concerts is my biggest passion, I spend most of my time traveling, planning new gig trips or documenting past shows and festivals. Nothing compares to the energy of live music, experiencing the atmosphere with like-minded people and the feeling of belonging coming from that. After eight years of traveling I meet people I know or at least feel I know at every concert. It’s our world, we all have something in common.
There are several ways to plan traveling around music. A lot of people focus on events and festivals in certain areas. Distances in Europe are short and it’s easy and inexpensive to take trains or plan road trips and maybe camp at festival sites. Some people prefer urban traveling and book flights to different cities and search the local music supply like clubs after that. This is a stress-free way to enjoy the genre they like and discover new, maybe still unknown artists and gives a possibility to use flight bargains and offers.
Third way is to focus on one artist or several artists and travel wherever they tour and perform. I listen to a few artists but I travel only for one as I’m a huge fan and want to see as many shows as possible and that’s already expensive enough. Traveling for one particular artist means I can plan my final travel schedules only after every show is confirmed and that I need to buy concert tickets in good time to keep my options open while waiting for more announcements.
As everyone who queued for Adele tickets (I did that for friends) know buying tickets to see internationally known artists can be a huge stress. Most times it’s easier than that but it’s still a good idea to follow social media around interesting artists to be alerted for new tours and to be sure to have concert tickets before booking flights and hotels. Just a couple of years ago it was easy to buy tickets even for popular events. Being prepared, knowing the system and having a good computer and fast fingers was enough; these days is more about luck and a lot of tickets go to scalpers (using advanced technology) who in turn sell the tickets at high price on unofficial sites.
If the artist is popular and for that reason expected to sell quickly the best advice is to buy tickets the exact moment they go on sale and use time to learn the buying system in advance. Work with friends and help each other but avoid using unofficial ticket sites and that way supporting the unhealthy ticket business. I’ve bought an over-priced ticket only once (from a private person and not professional scalper) and everything worked fine but that’s not always the case and tickets bought from random people can turn out to be fake. Remember that true fans sell their tickets the same price they bought them and not to make extra profit.
If the date and destination are already fixed it’s not always possible to find special flight offers unless living in a city with lots of low-cost options. Instead of using time trying to find the cheapest option for every trip it can be more useful to concentrate flights on certain airlines (for me it’s Finnair) and certain online agents (I use ebookers.com for flights and booking.com for hotels) to get loyal customer offers and other advantages in the long run. Artists cancel shows only if no other option but there can still be little changes in schedules so I search flights early to have an overview but buy them as late as possible. I choose hotels with a cancellation option even it’s a bit more expensive so I can easily cancel or change my bookings (again cheaper in the long run).
Following tour schedules means there’s rarely time for typical sightseeing. I don’t see that as a disadvantage, every concert is an inspiring experience and my thoughts are always focused on the gigs and I enjoy the traveling, seeing venues, sitting in cafes and chatting with local people more than running from an attraction to another. Of course, traveling to destinations I’ve been dying to see and not using the opportunity to look around would be ridiculous so sometimes I save a day or two just for getting to know the place. I’ve seen concerts almost in 30 countries in Europe, North-America and Asia. At first I didn’t collect countries on purpose but after seeing many I’ve started to add a new one whenever it’s possible.
Talking with locals and observing the vibe in the audience is an important part of every concert experience so next time you decide to see a concert abroad (even if it’s just a last minute idea and not the purpose of the trip) have a little chat with people in the line and pay attention how the audience behaves. It’s a fascinating way to learn local habits. Sometimes the audience is relaxed and people leave space for dancing, sometimes it’s extremely pushy and fighting over spots looks almost like a part of the fun. Some audiences sing beautifully together, some just scream.
The photo above is from Japan. As soon as the music started the audience moved like a giant mass of water and threw me from the second row towards the barrier. The wave was like a force of nature, totally beyond control but surprisingly not scary at all. There was no aggression, no violent pushing. Just some big scale polite excitement. Looking forward to seeing my next concert in Japan in February, this time traveling also to Korea, Hong Kong and China.