Music is integral to keeping my mood up; I love it more than I love cheese and almost as much as I love life itself. Being able to go to gigs and concerts and any form of live music, I recognise, is a huge privilege. With unpredictable pain, fatigue and injury patterns, however, it’s crucial that I care for myself the best I can; maximising my ability to enjoy the gig and minimising any unpleasant after-effects. Here is what I do in these instances.
- Plan ahead
This usually consists of making sure I rest beforehand (particularly if it’s a standing gig), minimising the amount I put in my bag if I’m not using the cloakroom, and taking my full complement of naproxen, starting a day or two before, with other painkillers to top-up as needed. I also do some back stretches before I go, as it’s my back that tends to cause a problem pain-wise.
If the gig is a last minute one and I’m not having a great week, I’ll get seated tickets. Better to sit than not go at all!
- Wear comfy clothes and shoes (particularly shoes)
I’m aware that I sound like a nana. By comfy, I mean supportive. I continue to be amazed at the difference this makes, even between wearing a pair of Converse and DMs (it’s DMs for me EVERY time). Have you ever tried to twist your ankle in Doc Martens? I still manage to occasionally, but they do their best to make it bloody difficult.
- Try and bop about a bit
I am drawn to sad music, which is one of the many reasons that I should not be let loose on the playlist at a party. It also means that a high proportion of the gigs I attend involve standing still and nodding pretentiously. Even just swaying a bit (trying my best to avoid looking like a Dad) and shifting my weight or changing the position that I stand can prevent my back from stiffening up, and helps alleviate ankle and knee pain.
- Stand near the back if needed
I have more space for me and other people are less likely to bump in to me. I’m also about as far from any mosh-pit as is humanely possible (and I’m potentially closer to the bar).
- Sit down afterwards
I’m invariably in a little bit of a bad way after a gig, and it’s not unusual for my friends to have to prop me up until my joints wake up and loosen up. Sometimes I need a bit of a rest before I set off home. There is also the added benefit of having a de-brief and a pint with your mates, rather than getting on a sweaty tube as soon as the encore is over.
- In bad situations, give the support act a miss
Or watch while leaning on the bar at the back. I really enjoy the support acts, and many of the bands I love I originally saw supporting someone else, but if it’s going to be a struggle to make it through the main event, there is no point in making it even tougher.
- Take it easy the next day
Anything fun I do the next day has to involve sitting down. It’s the only way.
I’m lucky that I’ve rarely had to miss concerts for pain, although during flare-ups I tend not to book them for fear of not being able to go. Either way, when I do go, taking these steps help keep everything under control. If anyone has any other tips to get through concerts (pain related, not ‘I had to go see Cliff Richard and it was awful, take earplugs’), please let me know. As I’ve said before, learning to manage these conditions isn’t always easy, and any extra advice is always appreciated.
P.S. Picture 1 is from a Gorillaz gig, because I love Damon Albarn, and they were brilliant. Picture 2 is from a Big Thief gig, and they’re amazing. If you like sad and beautiful songs, check them out 🙂