Food&Drink Editor Chloë Hyde discusses how she embraced attending concerts on her own

Written by Chloë Hyde
Food and Drink Editor, MA Literature and Culture student and probably Mob Kitchen's biggest fan.

There are very few things in the world that I love more than live music. So much so, that I somehow managed to overcome the anxiety that comes with going solo to a gig. Living only an hour away from Manchester growing up, my friends and I would always be rushing to get the train after school so we could arrive for a small gig early. We did this so often that our after-school plans almost ran like clockwork every time we wanted to see one of our favourite bands perform. However, moving to university inhibited these plans as we were always in different locations and life got in the way.

I often found myself at a loss when my favourite bands came to Birmingham, since I had nobody to share that experience with. While there was always the option to search for people who are also going through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, this idea also seemed too daunting for me. It was only when Sam Fender was coming to Birmingham in 2019 that I decided that I would overcome my anxieties and fears of experience a gig alone.

This was initially a very nerve-wracking experience. The concert was in Digbeth, an area of town I was much less familiar with in my first year of university. I made sure to do lots of Google Maps research beforehand, so I knew where the nearest transport links were, so I could plan for after the gig was over. I also got to the concert an hour or so before door opened for two reasons: 1) to ensure I got a good place and that I could see, but also 2) to see if I could make any friends who I could stand with.

I was proud of myself for combatting any social anxiety I was experiencing

I was lucky enough to be able to make conversation with the people in the queue around me, helping to repress any feelings of awkwardness or isolation I had. Undoubtedly, this not only settled my nerves, but also meant I could use this opportunity to meet new people who were interested in the same kind of music as me. Finding people who are willing to chat to you and let you stand with them makes the experience even more enjoyable. I was proud of myself for combatting any social anxiety I was experiencing, which only turned into more adrenaline which I could throw into the concert experience.

Something else I realised, and soon embraced, was the need to only rely on myself. As a solo gig-goer, you do not have to worry about anybody else, what they are doing, where they are, where they want to stand, and the list goes on. This was truly an independent adventure and I found that this really helped me to find my feet as a student who was spending her first ever year away from home. The whole concert was completely liberating for a multitude of reasons.

One of the main downsides, however, was trying to get transport back home. Digbeth can sometimes feel quite intimidating for somebody by themselves, so I made sure to stay in a lit-up area near the venue and therefore near security. On other occasions, I have asked to walk with larger groups towards New Street Station to ensure I was not by myself. My phone was fully charged too, keeping in close contact with the people who knew I was attending the concert by myself to reassure them I was okay. It is important to have a good awareness of your surroundings, and I myself probably would not go to a venue that I have never been to alone for the first time.

I should not miss an opportunity of seeing my favourite bands live

Depending on the genre of music you are going to see, the solo experience can vary. Seeing another of my favourite bands, Corella, supporting indie rock band The Reytons in Birmingham was very different to seeing Holly Humberstone, whom I was writing a review about for Redbrick. Some concerts allow you to easily slip into a crowd, like Holly’s, as her music is slower and more intimate, but Corella and The Reytons required lots of bouncy energy instead.

The typical audience of The Reytons also seemed to be quite a bit older than I was since they are a very Oasis-inspired band. I felt quite out of place initially as the venue was less busy and a predominantly male audience. Luckily, I managed to find the courage to speak to another person who seemed like they were alone. We then spent the rest of the night jamming to music, making new friends together and having a great time. Considering it had also been years since my last gig thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pre-gig anxiety was so strong that I nearly talked myself out of it. It is fair to say I am relieved that I pushed through those boundaries and made myself extra proud that night.

I do not usually regard myself as an anxious person when it comes to concerts since I have been privileged in being able to go to so many but going alone definitely seemed scary. I decided that I should not fear others’ opinions about me going alone, I should not miss an opportunity of seeing my favourite bands live and finally, I most definitely should not prevent myself from doing the things I love, just because I would be doing them a little differently. This is not to say that I prefer to attend concerts alone, but knowing I am now able to do so is a new feeling. The elation felt from overcoming such fear is indescribable.

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