Outdoor Concert Checklist

Everyone here looks so chill (Photo: lollapalooza2011.com)

What is summer without outdoor rock shows? You can just show up and mosh, or if you’re like me…prepare well!

The last outdoor festival I went to (which wasn’t an overnight camping weekend) had this rules list:

  • No coolers, chairs or umbrellas
  • No outside food or drink (excluding 1 sealed bottle of water no larger than 750 ml)
  • No re-entry
  • No weapons
  • No professional cameras (still or video)
  • No skateboards or bicycles
  • No dogs
  • All bags will be checked prior to entry

Sounds fun, eh? What is left to bring?

Using one's lighter app is not cool any more

Using one’s lighter app is not cool any more

First of all, the same items you’d bring to an indoor show:

  • Keys
  • ID
  • Tickets (printed or on phone)
  • Smart phone / cell phone
  • Digital camera if not using phone
  • Contacts instead of glasses if you push your way to the front
  • Ear plugs for loud shows, so you can still hear concerts when you are almost 50 like this writer
  • Lighter for old-school sing-alongs
  • Money for drinks and snacks, band merchandise, and parking/transit
  • Sharpie so band members can sign your gear!

Then, your outdoor kit. This is very dependent on how many bands are playing, and your ability to tolerate discomfort.

Suited up in rain ponchos for U2 360 show

Suited up in rain ponchos for U2 360 show

Hot weather basics: sun block, sunglasses, hat, another layer to cover up with (or maybe a beach towel)

Wet weather basics: rain poncho, rubber boots or Crocs

Why you need yr rubber boots

Why u need yr rubber boots

If you’re really unlucky when you check the weather forecast, you’ll need to bring all of the above!

Us oldsters bring these to sit on

Us oldsters bring these to sit on

Or we might get away with these

Or we might get away with these

My list of allowable outdoor stuff is:

  • Bottled water (the only occasion I buy it)
  • Tissues, because you know the PortaPotty will not have any TP!
  • Hand sanitizer (likewise)
  • Seat such as garden kneeler or stadium seat (which all Canadians own for watching hockey games in ice rinks)…or if you are a youngster, just a blanket to sit on
  • Everything in: old backpack

Oh, the horrors of the portaloos! (Photo: 5thvillage.me)

Finally, you need some interim entertainment. You will be spending an hour waiting to get in because they are checking everyone’s bag for contraband food, and then you’ll be waiting 45 minutes between every set. You could spend all of the breaks lining up for food or toilets. But if not, you can decide – will you entertain yourself with your phone, or be sociable with the people you are actually with? I like old-fashioned past times like collaborating on a crossword or sudoku, or even playing cards! But in the rain, you can only huddle under your poncho and share your earbuds. If you are maxed out on music, you can bring some pre-loaded podcasts! Now this is assuming you are sober folks. There is always the alternative, in which case, all bets are off.

If you go to rock shows, do you go to outdoor ones? I have friends who say they’re too old! I draw the line at weekend camping festivals, but I go to outdoor gigs. The last one I attended was 3 evenings from 4 pm onward. There are none scheduled so far this summer, other than the Canada Day show I attended which was only 2 hours and not raining, so very easy! I hope there will be some later in the summer, though. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer day and night!


  1. I’ve never been to a ‘festival’. I’ve been to one or two concerts in sporting stadiums, so they are semi outdoors, but totally civil with real toilets! I’m not a huge fan of crowds/crowding so I tend to avoid big events. Recently I was interested in a line up for a festival and a friend talked me out of it, saying it’s a particularly ‘loose’ festival and she knew it wasn’t my style! The rain would make it the pits, for me!

    • I know you mentioned before that you were not into the illicit drugs scene and same for me; that is one reason I don’t go to overnight camping festivals. The U2 show I attended had 75,000 people in the rain but the skies did clear by the time they came on! I would rather a rainy festival than a blazing hot 30 degrees. I don’t know how you Aussies manage at those Big Day Outs!

      • Me neither! There’s so many scorching hot then drenching stormy festivals! Lots of sunburnt ‘kids’ to be seen afterwards.

      • Lisa

        Big Day Out – that just brought back memories! I went to one in Melbourne, Australia in 1995. It was very hot, but I was a young and foolish backpacker back then. 🙂 Saw Ministry, The Cult, The Offspring and many others.

        I went to a lot of indoor/outdoor concerts and festivals in my teens and 20s, but not so much now. My husband says my musical tastes are stuck in the 80s.

        Last weekend though, I went to the Mariposa Folk Festival here in Orillia, Ontario. I’m older now so only attending the Friday afternoon and night was the perfect amount for me and cooler. Saw some great new (to me) acts including Bahamas, New Country Rehab and The Fretless.

      • I’ve heard of Mariposa; it’s great that you could go. I like a mix of old and new music but I do find it a little disconcerting when I go to a show and I’m one of about 5 people over 30, LOL! Not that it keeps me away.

  2. Great list! After one of your comments on my post about going to a concert and being nearly deafened from the loud music, I now take ear plugs with me when I go to any kind of show and it has been a lifesaver!

    • I wouldn’t have thought of this a few years ago, but now I see that a good percentage of the audience does the same thing, so I don’t feel self-conscious about it!

  3. Fiona

    I have a co-worker who still does every camping festival she can (even 3-day ones) and she’s almost 60! Never too old 🙂

    I really regret missing one last summer. It had some classic Aussie rock bands all together…probably won’t see that line-up again! It was pretty costly though, but I’m saving for the next one so we don’t miss out. Have to print your list as I *always* forget something!

    • The flaw in my plans is that I usually prepare for either sun or rain, but not both! My only other tip would be to check the website for their list of banned items – I’ve seen so many people have to abandon their umbrellas!

  4. I used to attend every concert that came to my area,most were indoors. I don’t like the crowds at the outdoors ones, and the rules!!! I don’t think we are ever too old, but I quit going when the prices got so high.

    • I don’t mind the crowds at outdoor shows, but maybe it’s because I’m in a small city. People tend to sit on blankets on a hillside and let the rabid fans push to the front. I wouldn’t go to an outdoor show with all-standing crowds and hundreds of thousands of people, like they have in Rio!

  5. What ever happened to just relaxing and enjoying the show. Concert going was never meant to be a competitive sport 🙂

  6. I went to my first festival a couple of years ago – the Woodford Folk festival. They have a system where if you volunteer for five hours a day, you can go (and camp) for free. It’s a really good idea, but it wasn’t the best timing for me: I had done fieldwork in a tent for a month before it, then spent Christmas at my boyfriend’s parents’ place, then gone straight to the festival, so I was completely over camping!

    I may give it another chance in a couple of years time!

  7. Pingback: 500 | An Exacting Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: