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Ryan Johnson, Published January 16 2014

Johnson: Follow these simple tips to avoid concert misery

Anyone who’s been to a big concert knows there’s a lot more to it than just finding your seat.

After picking out the perfect outfit, lining up plans with friends and listening to the singer’s albums on repeat for weeks, you’ll still need to be prepared to have the best time possible.

The Pink concert last Saturday showed that even some seasoned concertgoers had to miss a big chunk of the show, standing in long lines while they waited for a restroom stall to open.

The good news is there are a few ways to make the Lady Antebellum concert on Saturday, or the Justin Timberlake and Luke Bryan shows next month, a fun night out, not research into how full your bladder can get before catastrophic failure.

Here are some tips for the first-timers and the concert veterans who haven’t been to a big performance for a while.

Pee wisely: When I embarked on solo road trips in the past, I strategized my liquid intake to prevent frequent potty breaks. By staying firmly in that territory between quenched thirst and full-blown dehydration, I could make it 300 miles between pit stops.

I do the same at concerts, when I don’t want to miss out on the excitement by standing in line for a urinal far out of view of the stage. Instead of chugging beers and having to make my way to the bathroom every 30 minutes, I set a slow pace that will allow me to enjoy the music without crossing my legs.

We all have our limits, and a bathroom break during a three-hour concert might be necessary. If you have to go, be smart about your timing.

Almost everyone will head to the concourse for snacks and a trip to the restroom between the opening band and the main act. Lines become outrageous, people get pushy and it can be miserable.

Instead, the middle of the opening band’s set, or during the headliner’s slow ballad that you don’t care about, might be the perfect time to find the loo.

If you have to go, be patient. Try to ignore the sounds of flowing beer and running water that will echo all around while you wait.

Drink responsibly: Don’t feel obligated to do your part to keep Fargo ranked as the drunkest city in the country. It’s nice to hear our fair community is No. 1, but no one should be proud of this recent designation by Bustle.com based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Go ahead and enjoy a brew or two. It might help get through a concert you’d rather not attend but your significant other or kid is dying to see, and it’s fun to throw back a cold one with friends.

But don’t get sloppy drunk. When people ask how the concert was, it’s nice to have actual memories of it other than the raging morning-after headache or epic puking sessions that were your only souvenirs from a big night out.

Just say no: It happens to the best of us: we’re hopped up on adrenaline, eager to see our favorite singer live on stage, and then we sit through a 45-minute set by a random opening band.

If you’re not prepared, you might fool yourself into thinking this band is great. Without realizing it, you’ll end up in line at the merchandise table, $15 in hand to buy their CD.

The problem is you’ll never listen to it again, no matter what you think the night of the concert.

There are rare exceptions, so try to keep an open mind. I discovered one of my favorite bands, My Morning Jacket, when they opened up for the Foo Fighters in Minneapolis years ago.

But surprisingly enough, the copy of Alien Sex Fiend’s debut album that I bought at a regrettable college concert couldn’t be sold online or even given away for free, despite bearing the autographs of every band member.

Ignore my warning and take a chance if you so desire – the disc can always be used as a coaster.

Even worse are the T-shirts that you just have to have, despite the fact you’d never pay $40 for a cheaply made shirt in any other context. They wear out quickly, and there are few things as awkward as going out to eat months later to find a dozen other people in the restaurant wearing the exact same shirt.

Save your money, skip the lines and just say no to merchandise. Think how many more beers you could buy with that cash.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587