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Coachella: How To Get Front Row

How to See a Band From the Front Row at Coachella 2007


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Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

There's a world of difference between seeing a concert up close, and seeing it from a mile away.

When you're up close, you can see all the little details... the musicians' facial expressions, their tattoos, the stickers on their guitars, the political messages on their T-shirts. Personally, I like seeing a show from up front because it's easier to see just how talented these musicians really are, and how hard they're working to give us the best show possible.

At most "big" concerts, the only way to see a show from the front row is to have tickets, which you gotta pay big bucks for (or win them on the radio).

But at most music festivals, it's different. Every ticket is GA (general admission)... the person watching from the front row paid no more for their ticket than the person watching from the corn dog booth 200 yards away.

So how do YOU get to be one of the lucky kids up in the front row? Well, it's not easy... there might be 50,000 people watching a headliner's set, but there's only about 100 right up front. But follow these steps and yes, YOU could be watching your favorite band from the front row this year!

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Things You'll Need

  • Patience
  • Endurance
  • Bladder control
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Water

Instructions

  • STEP 1: PLAN AHEAD. Think about who you want to be up front for. The more popular the artist, the more competition you'll have. Consider going for a front row spot at an act playing at the same time as the headliner. For example, in 2006 I opted to avoid altogether the masses rushing the main stage for Tool, ended up with a prime front row spot for the Scissor Sisters, had a great time, and still got to see the last 30 minutes of Tool.
  • STEP 2: GET THERE EARLY. How early depends on the band. If you want to be up front for a main stage headliner, you'll need to start working at least 2 bands ahead of them. For example, last year on Saturday, I started worming my way towards the main stage towards the end of Kanye West's set, and ended up with a decent view of Sigur Ros (who played after KW). When Sigur Ros was done, I got even closer, and saw Franz Ferdinand's set from only about 10 yards away. As soon as they were done, I wiggled all the way to the front railing, and saw Depeche Mode's set from the front row.
  • STEP 3: BE AGGRESSIVE, BUT POLITE. There's no way you can get up front without squeezing past people and invading the personal space of other fans, and you might piss some people off in the process. But it's like driving in New York City... ya gotta be a bit of jerk or you'll never get where you want to go. Keep smiling, apologize, and keep pressing forward.
  • STEP 4: STAY HYDRATED (BUT NOT TOO HYDRATED). People wonder how it's possible to stand in one spot for hours and not have to go to the bathroom. The key is to know your bladder. If you're the type that has to go often, drink your water just a little bit at a time. The blazing heat, and being crammed in with so many other bodies will make your body sweat out most of the water. Take small sips. But definitely have water on you, don't wanna get heat stroke!
  • STEP 5: FLANK ATTACK! Like Stonewall Jackson in the Civil War, you may find that attacking from the side yields better results than a head-on assault, especially if you're getting a late start and there's already a huge crowd.

Overall Tips & Warnings

  • Travel light! It's hard to slip past thousands of people when you're wearing a big, clunky backpack. Just have some water and maybe a couple granola bars in your pocket.
  • If you're claustrophobic or have personal space issues, forget about trying to get up front. Sometimes it gets so tight up there, you're pressed up against each other like sardines in a tin. And be prepared to be caught up in a mosh-pit situation, especially if you're up front for bands like Rage Against The Machine or Red Hot Chili Peppers. If you find yourself getting crunched and want out, wave down the beefy security officers and they'll pull you over the railing and escort you out off to the side