Sometimes, you’ve just got to hear your favorite songs played in person. You’ve got to get out of the house and dance. Concerts are where stress is banished, friendships are forged and memories are made. Unfortunately, they’re also where wallets are drained.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you give yourself permission to let loose a little, that doesn’t mean you have to throw financial caution to the wind. A few simple strategies can keep you from wincing at your account balance while your ears are still ringing.
Set a yearly budget.
Allocating a certain amount every year for shows and other entertainment events can keep you under control. Checking your budget first can keep you from clicking “Buy” too quickly. Do you really need front row seats to an arena show? Or would you rather see three smaller acts for the same price later on in the year? It’s all about priorities.
Be on the lookout for free shows.
Up-and-coming bands, veterans and local acts play at parks, museums, outdoor shopping centers and sports venues on a regular basis. Sign yourself up for alerts and check websites for shows in Columbia, Jefferson City, Kansas City and St. Louis – and your only expense is the gas to get there.
Learn to love smaller venues.
Places like Kansas City’s RecordBar and St. Louis’ Baha Rock Club, among many others, will rarely charge you more than $20 a ticket – and prices are sometimes as low as $5. Seeing bands in a small venue versus a big arena is a more intimate experience: standing next to the amplifier, chatting with the band after the show and being able to get home without getting trapped in a traffic jam.
Shell out for your ticket – and nothing else.
The merchandise table is so alluring, isn’t it? That T-shirt will be a badge of honor! Oh, they have limited-edition vinyl! A poster I can get signed!
Just don’t tempt yourself. Stay away from the merchandise at concerts. In your adrenalized state at a live show, you’re likely to make impulse buys you’ll regret, and you can probably find a shirt or CD cheaper online later.
If you like to have a few drinks with your music, try to have them at home beforehand and designate a driver. Club tabs can skyrocket quickly, and there’s nothing worse than having one too many in public. You paid for the show, after all – so make sure you remember it. If you usually have a few beers at a show, consider taking Uber or another ride service – way cheaper than a DUI.
Buy tickets in person when you can.
Before buying online, see if you can purchase tickets at the venue or a local grocery store that doubles as a box office. Because hefty service fees add absolutely nothing to your experience. At all.
Get into the festival scene.
If you find the right festival for you, it can be a great deal. Fans of all sorts get an intense dose of sound every year at Buzz Beach Ball in KC. Indie fans will have three stages to pick from at LouFest in September.
Many festivals are family-friendly, rural events where you can bring your own food and camp out under the stars for a few days. It’s an easy way to combine your entertainment and vacation budgets while bonding with friends. Just make sure you’re going to see more than one or two bands you like, and you’ll get your money’s worth.
Don’t despair when you hear “sold out”
If you have your heart set on seeing your favorite act at the Sprint Center or Memorial Stadium but don’t want to shell out hundreds to a scalper, be patient and check eBay or sites like StubHub closer to the event date. Prices can plummet, even to below face value.
Spending your money the smart way on concerts means staying plugged in to cheaper locales and the local scene. You’ll end up seeing acts way before or after they make it big, and you’ll hear more diverse sounds. Concerts are tied to a lot of nostalgia for music fans, but once you get there, the memories are free.