Braving the Concert World Alone


Cynthia Gonzalez

Bad Bunny during his stellar performance at sold-out Nationals Park, DC on August 23, 2022.

Imagine being in a crowd of over 40,000 people, alone, with an aura of anticipation floating around, everyone yelling at the top of their lungs. As the stage fog lifts, Bad Bunny begins performing his opening song, and you can feel the deafening bass in your chest.

For some, that may be their worst nightmare, but for me, it’s my favorite place in the world. No matter what, that same concert will never happen again, making that outrageous Ticketmaster price worth it. At least that’s what I tell myself every time I spend a paycheck on concert tickets… Unfortunately, those criminally high ticket prices mean that I can’t always find someone to buy a ticket and join me, and have had to become accustomed to going alone, although it is a trade I’m willing to make for the incredible shows, and something I’ve mastered during my solo concert-going experiences this year

During my last year of middle school, my art teacher, Mrs. Brown, encouraged me to go to a Harry Styles concert after telling me about her experience going to one. I spent my study hall blocks sitting on the floor of her classroom by her desk talking and listening to Harry Styles. 

Until COVID-19 shut down schools across the nation- that is. I spent the next year and a half periodically searching Ticketmaster, verified fan presales, and surfing countless reseller pages to find tickets to Harry’s DC show for his 2021 tour, Love On Tour. Simultaneously, I was becoming more and more involved in the experience of being a fan during a time when I had nothing else to do but obsess. 

Finally, I got it. Three days before the show, I secured a ticket to the show of my dreams, the smallest venue of Love on Tour, Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Unfortunately the $500 that I spent on the ticket practically reduced my summer job’s earnings to zero, but I was more than happy to pay that. My major dilemma, though, was realizing that I could only afford one ticket, and neither of my parents were willing to pay for another one in order to come with me. Nonetheless, I (somehow) convinced my parents to let me go to the concert alone, since we were already in Connecticut to visit family. (I think that my crying to my mom about not having been able to go to the DC show had been what tipped her over the edge.)

This wasn’t just a regular concert, not just because it was my first time seeing an artist I had looked up to for years, but also because his fan base makes concerts an experience like no other. Complex, colorful costumes complete with feather boas, and intricate hairstyles are standard dress code at the concert whether you are at the barricade, or the last row in the 300’s section, everyone dresses up.

Of course, I abided by the unspoken rules of ‘Harries,’ (the name given to die-hard Harry Styles fans) and curated my own outfit, although I only had 72 hours to do so, thank goodness for next-day prime shipping.

The concert experience was like no other. Aside from being one of the only concerts I’ve gone to that I was not just tagging along to, and was actually excited to go to, learning how to navigate a venue, and manage my time alone taught me more than I thought it would. Of course, I had the time of my life, and every penny was made worth it when Harry waved to me (TWICE!) I jumped at the opportunity last year to buy tickets to his next tour early on. No, seriously, I went home from school early to get into the Ticketmaster verified fan presale. 

After me and my friend finally secured two face-value tickets, we were set. This time, the show was the opening night of his 15-show residency at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A 5 hour train ride was nothing if it meant getting to see him a second time. Luckily, I wasn’t alone this time, however neither my Dad or my childhood best friend who were with me knew their way around these large concert venues, or more specifically a Harry show. Luckily, it was much easier for me to help find our way around after having gone to my first show, although this time, it was a sold-out venue of over 20,000.

Me at my solo Harry Styles concert in 2021 in Uncasville, CT. (Cynthia Gonzalez)

Of course, this time I knew I was going all-out for my outfit. I spent all the time from when I bought the ticket until the week of the show, planning and putting together the outfit. After hand-gluing countless rhinestones, cutting and ironing on patches and vinyl, and multiple trips to Michaels Craft Store, it was finally finished. 

Overall, the show at Madison Square Garden was a better fan experience than the show at Mohegan Sun. Since the 15 sold-out shows were all happening at the same venue, MSG laid out multiple photo-ops, Harry-themed food stations, and a plethora of merch booths. My friend and I were able to sit together, making the concert not only just an incredible experience, but it also formed a bond between us, and we already plan to go to the next tour together. I later found out that Mrs. Brown, the teacher who started my obsession with concerts, had actually been at the same show, just a few rows in ahead of me.

While I did have a more fun experience at MSG getting to spend time with a friend during the concert, looking back, I appreciate the experience of going to a show the year prior, alone, because it changed how I viewed my more recent show, and I felt much more relaxed going through the process of getting into and around the venue, and finding my seat.

Now, while the first two concerts I went to were packed with people and I was able to navigate with little stress, the true test was my most recent concert. Bad Bunny, one of Spotify’s most listened to artists of all time, was coming to DC as one of the shows for his 2022 “World’s Hottest Tour,” including music from his new album as well as most of his previous albums. 

Although this time I had the opportunity to go with a group, the $600 price tag on the tickets they bought wasn’t too appealing to me, and since my parents can’t stand reggaeton music, I had two options. Either I went alone to the concert at Nationals Park (a stadium with a capacity of over 40,000) or I didn’t go at all. 

After having gone to my previous two Harry concerts, my parents trusted that I could handle myself in a crowd, so, of course when I managed to snag a fifth-row seat for under $250 off of the official MLB website (for face value), they knew there was no way I was going to let that ticket go to waste. I had been slowly accumulating an outfit for the concert prior to having bought the ticket with the mindset that if I didn’t end up going, I could always return the items, but secretly hoped that that wouldn’t be the case. While going to concerts with friends is incredibly fun, going alone can still be *almost* just as great of an experience, especially if you can make friends with the people around you.

If you want to go to a concert, but don’t have anyone to go with, this is your sign to buy the tickets, and do it! However, here is some advice I have after having gone through it a few times:

  1. Buy your tickets in advance, preferably during the presale so that you don’t end up paying triple the price from a reseller like I did.
  2. Do your research: every venue has different policies regarding covid-19 vaccines, bags, food and drinks, age requirements, and door-opening times, be sure to look these up prior to the concert.
  3. Check the weather: if it’s an outdoor event, make sure you dress for the weather, however even if it’s indoor, also be prepared for the weather, lines to leave venues take a long time to get through.
  4. Prepare before you leave: Bring water, a portable charger, earplugs if those are something you like to use, a jacket, and extra cash.
  5. Make a plan: decide on your transportation to and from the venue at least a few days in advance, especially if you’re planning on taking an Uber or other similar service. If you’re being picked up, decide on a place to meet up in the case that for some reason you cannot communicate with whoever is picking you up.
  6. Safety: Make sure to stay safe, and be aware of your surroundings, especially if alone
  7. Most Importantly: HAVE FUN! Be yourself, and make friends with those around you, you’re all there for the same reason!