by Karissa Perry
Photography by Victor Frankowski
Dozens of people, a small space, forceful shoves, eardrum-shattering screams and the constant competition to inch up closer may cause people to question how big of a fan they are to purchase and experience general admission seating. Die-hard fans and seasoned concert-goers understand the stress and excitement of opening up multiple laptops and devices, constantly refreshing browsers and waiting for the exact second when tickets go on sale.
While it is possible to play it safe and opt of an assigned seat, attending a concert with general admission seating is, for better or worse, a necessity for any music lover’s bucket list.
“The thing with general admission is that taller people definitely have the advantage,” said Ally Chang (COM ’20). “If you’re short like me, you’re most likely going to end up with a blocked view, especially if you’re stuck in the back. As someone who goes to concerts frequently, general admission is great because if you get there early, you have a chance to get really close to the artist.”
Depending on how famous the performing artist is, purchasing a general admission ticket online is just phase one in having the best experience possible at a concert. It essentially guarantees a spot in a crowd of people just as eager and desperate to see a band or singer as close as possible.
Phase two of getting the most out of a general admission ticket is waiting in the line to enter the arena or pavilion. This is truly a test of dedication and will power, especially if the weather is less than ideal. People come prepped with foldable chairs, portable phone chargers, bags of snack food and any other necessities to wait for an extended period of time on a hard floor.
For one thing, it is impossible to be too early. Imagine how early people will start lining up and subtract a good three to five hours from it. Camping out the night before is optional, but very common.
Once a spot is secured on the concert floor, everyone is quick to fill any gaps because getting to the rim of the stage is the only thing on their minds. Put simply, it is a battle of strength, where some fans give up and slowly drift from the stage, and others know every inch counts so they keep pushing to get even closer.
A concert in the general admission section is not glamorous or comfortable. However, the benefits of experiencing a live performance in such close proximity outweigh all the negative repercussions.
Similar to a crowded party, there is little to no wiggle room, which can become extremely uncomfortable and possibly disastrous, especially when the music starts and people want to dance. Personal space does not exist in the general admission section and with all the sweat, body contact and screaming, it may be hard to understand why general admission is even enjoyable, let alone worth the work and money.
“I would say a big pro to general admission seating is that you really get a chance to meet other people,” said Adrienne Cabral (CAS ’20), who often works concerts at Agganis Arena. “I've gone to concerts with general admission floors and I have had a lot of friends go to concerts and we end up leaving having made friends with the people standing next to us. It really is great for fostering a sense of community within the group of fans.”
Being shoulder to shoulder with strangers who have the same musical taste is bound to ignite conversation. In a concert, proximity is everything, especially since most fans are used to streamed performances. There is always the chance that an artist will risk a few high-fives with the first row and fans will do any abnormal, flashy move necessary to get a glance. Truth be told, receiving even the slightest form of interaction makes for an unforgettable night.
"In my experience, general admission tickets provide audiences to get as ‘up-close and personal’ to performers as possible,” said Angela Egger (Questrom ’20), a member of the Pep Band. “The high energy of the rest of the crowd is more apparent at a general admission show, which also adds to the atmosphere.”
The reason why general admission tickets are usually the first to go once the box office opens is that the ticket not only sells the performance, but it sells the highest possible opportunity to interact with the performers. Concerts, like any other form of live entertainment, are intended to connect performers with the audience in a way that bright, electronic screens cannot.
Being a part of the sea of hands in front of the stage allows the audience to be present, in the moment and focus solely on the music. The concert-goer is not simply attending a concert, but is invited to become a part of it.