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The Differences Between a British and American Concert


     Some people are obsessed with fashion and others will cry for days if their favorite sports team loses a game, but my favorite way to spend my time is going to concerts and music festivals. As a seasoned concert goer, I wanted to make an effort to see some of my favorite British musicians during my time abroad. Through the help of Craigslist, I lucked out and purchased face value tickets from a fellow fan to witness the sold out performance of Alt-J at London’s Alexandra Palace. The English indie quartet did not disappoint, incorporating songs from both their first album and their newly released sophomore album, This is All Yours. The songs blended seamlessly all while the band showered their fans with appreciation and thanks for supporting them at their home base. Although Alt-J’s performance was of course the highlight of the night, I was also amazed by the different mannerisms and customs that happened during the concert. There are three things that really stuck out to me that the English do a lot better than the United States when it comes to providing a fantastic overall concert experience.

1. The Ticket System

     When I received my ticket, it noted when the doors would open and stated that those who are under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. This is something that really stuck out to me because back in the United States, I had never seen this before. I think it is important that venues take a person’s age into consideration, especially in a concert setting where people are more likely to participate in recreational drug use or underage drinking. After attending many music festivals and seeing how some people do not take care of themselves properly during a show, maybe it’s a good idea to require an adult (not necessarily a parent) to accompany a young teenager. With many young people overdosing in the United States at music festivals and concerts, it seems like an obvious way to increase concert safety.


2. Water Before, During, and After the Show

     Another difference was how frequently security workers at the venue gave out cups full of water to the concert-goers. It began before the show started and continued throughout the night even after the concert had officially ended. In my experience at attending American concerts, it usually takes an attendee to faint or pass out for security to finally give them water to cool them down and then take them off to a medical tent. Here, they actively passed out water cups and the crowd cooperated by passing the cups all the way to the back rather than hogging the water in the front. I was surprised at how seriously they take dehydration here and taking early measures to prevent a catastrophe from happening. Drinking water can also slow down people’s drinking, which is another common problem at concerts. Maybe this is another thing American concert venues should start taking into account as well.


3. Shuttle Busses After the Show

     The last and most important difference I noticed was that the British sure love to queue. Right after the show ended, the concert workers made an announcement saying that they would provide free shuttle busses back to the tube stations. I was very hesitant about taking these shuttle busses because I feared that everyone would be charging for the busses at the same time, causing a riot, or at least a very high probability of getting knocked over. However, once I walked outside to find the busses, the crowd formed nice and orderly lines. I was baffled and amazed. I had never seen a large group of people form a queue so quickly and efficiently. If it had been the United States, I honestly would have expected a more “every man for themselves” approach.


     Although these three examples show how the British like to take care of their concert goers, I am not completely writing off the American concert experience. I enjoy both of them very much and the great thing about music is that regardless of location or culture, it brings fans together. Seeing Alt-J made me feel comforted, knowing that I was in a room with other fans who admired and appreciated their music as much as I did. There were people from different parts of the world in the venue that night and although we did not speak the same language or share the same culture, we all shared the incredible music of that night.


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