That Band/Artist Who Has One Song That Everyone Knows:
Schools love to book the biggest names possible while spending the least amount of money, and one-hit wonders are perfect for this formula. This is the sort of concert you go to only because everybody else is going and only because you want to hear that catchy song that you heard in that Toyota commercial, which the band will inevitably play last because they know it’s the only thing going for them.
Examples: Asher Roth, Matt & Kim, Basement Jaxx, Sammy Adams
Fun Level: 2.5/5 – The crowd is large, sweaty, and unmotivated, and you’ll likely wish you’d been able to sneak in a flask or an oxygen mask after the first half hour.
Punk Cover Band:
So it turns out those two guys that live down the hall from you realized that they were both into pop punk when they were fourteen, which is soooo crazy, right? You’ll likely get a Facebook invitation to some midnight party in a dorm basement, or perhaps a local bar, where these guys will get together and play the only six songs they know while you absent-mindedly listen in the back of the room, wishing you were listening to the real thing.
Examples: those guys that exclusively listen to Green Day or Blink 182 even though it’s no longer 2004
Fun Level: 3/5 – You sort-of know the guys on stage and you know most of the songs. It’s too bad the set wasn’t longer because it’s hard to feel like the show was worth it if it only lasts twenty minutes (sixteen, if you don’t count the four-minute drum solo).
That One, Big Show:
About once a year, your school will splurge on one, popular artist and you and your classmates will rally as if it’s the only weekend of the whole school year. Expect at least one person you know to fall asleep before the concert even starts from partying too hard the few hours before.
The set will start an hour late while the campus’ most notorious drug dealer sells scalped tickets and Pink Floyd t-shirts outside the show. You will probably lose at least one item that belongs to you, whether it’s your camera, your T-shirt, or, in the best-case scenario, your virginity.
Examples: Passion Pit, Drake, Vampire Weekend, Avicii
Fun Level: 4/5 – Sure, it’ll be fun, but when you set your expectations too high for a big show, it’s easy to be disappointed. You’ll have a great time, but will probably enjoy yourself more at the after-party.
Expect a random, acoustic show by a band/artist so small and unpopular that not even the most pretentious people on your campus have heard of them. These concerts are often a monthly, free alternative to your usual weekend plans of studying or bowling or doing crystal meth. They can be fun, but these shows are mostly the same – once you’ve attended one, you’ve attended them all.
Examples: Guy who went to high school with your older sister’s friend’s cousin. Once opened for Jason Mraz and now needs to borrow six dollars to eat at your school’s dining hall
Fun Level: 1.5/5 – It’s hard to commit to having fun at this type of concert, but there’s a good chance there will be free coffee and stickers, so there’s that.
These shows are fun because they’re an actual dance concert, so there’s less emphasis on storming the stage and more emphasis on having fun with your friends. The biggest annoyance is that these guys sometimes forget that they’re making a living by remixing other people’s work, so when you’re stuck listening to the bass-line of “Billie Jean” on repeat for five minutes while the DJs struggle to get you to “raise your hands in the air,” it can get a bit old.
Examples: Super Mash Brothers, Girl Talk, anyone who calls themselves “DJ [random word]”
Fun Level: 3/5 – Does anybody even listen to mash-ups anymore.
When the weather is warm, you can expect a fun, outdoor show that invites the whole school to gather, festival-style, at a transformed campus location. The bands/artists hired for these shows are usually big in niche audiences, so while you may not listen to their music, you probably know at least one person who’s a huge fan.
Examples: Andrew Bird, Childish Gambino, Good Old War
Fun Level: 4.5/5 – These shows have the fun of a big show, but the outdoor atmosphere gives you the freedom to socialize as you please and, you know, breathe air that hasn’t already been cycled through other people’s lungs.
Open Mic Night:
Every school offers up an open mic night for burgeoning artists to show their stuff, or lack thereof, and entertain their fellow classmates. In between one student’s incredibly racist stand-up comedy and another student’s dramatic reading of something they wrote in their poetry class, you’re bound to listen to a few students’ strum their guitars or bang their bongo drums to express their, uh, feelings…or something.
Examples: That guy in your English class that exclusively writes songs about his ex-girlfriend from high school who broke up with him just before college started after cheating on him with a tattooed twenty-six year old named “Spike”
Fun Level: 1/5 – Maybe the music isn’t great, but the entertainment value is still there if you think that laughing at someone isn’t only reserved for bad comedians.