[Photo credit: Kay Enagonio]

Going to shows is arguably the best part of being a music fan. There is no experience like seeing an incredible live band play your favorite songs. However, going to concerts can also be tricky. Security, though well-intentioned, can make matters difficult and, as much as you appreciate the mosh, you probably don’t want to get your teeth knocked out. Here are some hacks on how to navigate shows like a pro.

Unmarked doors

There are some great venues out there like Brooklyn, New York’s legendary St. Vitus Bar that are completely unmarked. I’ve even been to an unmarked venue that was secretly in the back of a pizza place. The only way in is through an all-black door that has no signs nearby. It’s like when Captain Jack Sparrow says in Pirates Of the Caribbean, “It’s an island that cannot be found except by those who already know where it is.” If you’re heading toward a venue like this and you are at a total loss of how to get in, either find the black door or follow the other people dressed head to toe in black; they’ll lead you right to it.

Avoiding coat check

It can take years to master exactly what to bring to a show and where to store it—especially for women. Where do you put your purse? If you don’t bring your purse, where do you keep all of the things you absolutely need that should be in your purse? Coat check costs money, too, so regardless of your gender, you might want to avoid shelling out the extra cash.

So here’s what you do: Cut the items you need to bring to the absolute minimum that you need to get through the night; money, keys, ticket, phone, (tampon?). If you’ve got deep pockets, use ’em. If not, ladies can use their bras to their advantage. If you go to pit, DO NOT take any of these items with you. Ask your friend to hang on to it while you get your aggression out and then switch places. Because really, you never know when you might get knocked to the ground—and there goes your $500 phone.

Prescription meds

The way that some security personnel search people rivals that of airport TSA. Some people need to bring prescription medications with them wherever they go for issues such as anxiety or even physical ailments. When security searches you, they’ll give you the third degree about it when they find it. So, to avoid this major hassle, bring the prescription bottle with your name on it with you. However, some security may still doubt you and think you’re sneaking in something you shouldn’t. Personally, I keep the anxiety meds that I need in a tiny pill case and shove it into the depths of my boots to skip the arguing. (Remember: This tip is for necessary prescription drugs only!)

Finding air

It’s no secret that packed hardcore shows can get hot as hell. Sometimes you might even have trouble catching your breath with all the physical activity and body heat. Pro tip: When you see a pit open up, go to the edge of it. That way, you’ll get air that’s created by the open space of the pit, but you don’t actually have to get involved if you don’t want to. Like Pippin says in Lord Of The Rings: “The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm.”

Getting closer to the front

The pit not only opens up for moshing but it opens up the opportunity for you to cut across the open space and make a dash for a better spot in the venue. If you’re stuck in the back and can’t see very well, wait for the pit to open up and slyly make your move.

Do regular surveillance

There are so many people who get clobbered by crowdsurfers simply because they’re not paying attention. When you’re up in the front by the stage especially, you have to be aware of who’s surfing toward you. So if you don’t want to roll your neck or fall down when someone inevitably drops the crowdsurfer, keep glancing behind you every few minutes. If there’s security pulling crowdsurfers out at the barricade, watch them to see where their eyes go—usually one person will lead the group and point to the next surfer. And if you see someone next to you who is totally unaware that they’re about to get hit, warn them!

Use your forearm

Seasoned showgoers already know this, but in case you’re somewhat new to the heavy music scene, pay attention. Your forearm is the best protection you could possibly have when the pit starts getting rough. If you’re on the outskirts of the pit and people are pushing and knocking around and kicking like they usually do, put up your forearm as a defense so you don’t get clocked in the face.