Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How to see a gig using the digital tools of the trade

Roger Waters: "No flash photos, no flash...aww, forget it." 

Say you want a (digital) revolution. 

Q Magazine recently covered how gig-going has been changed forever by the preponderance of smartphones and digital media (ironically, the article "The Show Must Go On(line)" is unavailable online, but you can find it in the July 2012 paper version). 

The premise: "a wave of innovations is revolutionizing what shows you see, how you find them, and what you do when you're there." Amen, brother. As a veteran of well over 500 shows, I'm living the digital revolution every time I even think about going to a show. Here's how: 

1. Find your shows

Probably the greatest app I've found for this purpose is Bandmate, which takes the music on your iPad and iPhone and tells you which of these artists (or artists like them) is coming to your town. 

Even better: the concerts get listed earlier than what's announced in the funny papers, which is how I know that Paul McCartney was booked - and then cancelled - at the Winnipeg Stadium last year. Booo!

Also worth checking out: the Pollstar website, the Live Music app (powered by Pollstar), and iLike Local Concerts app. 

Q Magazine namechecks the Thrillcall concert-information app (it's U.S. only, so it's good for Minneapolis shows) and Pepper for what looks to be a very limited stable of artists.

Of course, don't forget to follow your favorite bands on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where you sometimes get concert tips well in advance of official announcements. 

2. Buy your ticket

Not too many choices here. For the most part, you're stuck with the Man: Ticketmaster (website and app), Live Nation (an app that appears to have tickets set aside just for people who use the app).  

If you're an artist who wants to sell tickets, Q says that Topspin and Eventbrite may be the places to go. 

3. Check in

For bragging rights, no concert is complete without checking in on your mobile device. Warning: there may be other people there who have checked in on their mobile devices, and now they know that you're in the house, they can look for you. 

Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter, of course, are the big places to go. 

Q likes LoKast, an interesting app that allows bands to share content and promotions with fans at their shows, and Flowd, a social network and app based around the bands you like. 

4. Stream and upload

It seems that only Prince cares about concert attendees taking photos and shooting video. 

So, for everyone other than him, you've got your mobile phone and the ability to shoot video and load it directly to YouTube, which could ban you for life thanks to its hypocritical copyright policies. Instead, you can use Bambuser to stream the show, or Twitvid to upload video to Twitter. 

For photos, forget Flickr, which only allows you to upload 200 photos for free. Instead, go with Facebook or Instagram, and use Twitter to tweet your best photos as you take them. 

5. Review and remember

After the show, you can write a review on your blog (it's common for people in Minneapolis or Calgary to search for reviews to find out what happened in Winnipeg the night before), leave a review on Ticketmaster (though that feels a lot like working for the man), or visit to see (or post) the setlist. 

Q likes StagePage, where you can create a digital scrapbook with other people who were at the gig:

And you also want to visit my pals at StubStory, where you can post your ticket stub and the story that goes with it. 


Three words: Justin Bieber hologram.


What other gig-going apps and sites am I missing?


  1. ...and NEVER forget that Iggy Pop likes it when you throw stuff at him whilst he performs! in fact i think it makes him perform even better...

  2. Thanks for the Bandmate tip...I'll never miss another Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti gig again!