NXNE In Depth: Concert Positions/Stances Analysis

Best Coast, NXNE, June 17, 2010, The Great Hall

NXNE is over, by now, everyone has probably gone to anywhere from 15-45 shows over the course of the past week. Of course, Toronto Jazz Fest, Luminato, TURF, ALL CAPS and Riot Fest are all festivals happening over the next few months so guess what? Lots of shows to attend still. Of course, a struggle for everyone at the show is actually getting to a good point to where they are comfortable enough to fully absorb the show. So to this, I have decided to provide you with the first ever analysis of concert positions. Let’s go.



This is the most common concert position. You just stand there and watch the show. It’s usually the best option if you want a close/central view of the concert. It is probably the only option in a packed show.

Pros: By standing, you are most likely maximizing your viewing height. It also allows you to move easily and also, dance if you want to.

Cons: If you are old, then your back will start hurting after awhile. Your pure enjoyment from standing can be completely obliterated when a taller person stands in front of you, obscuring your view. You can always move to change this, but this is hard at a packed show. You have to hold whatever beverage you have in your hand. You have nowhere to put your jacket.


Forward Lean

The forward lean might just be my favorite concert position. Basically, you are either on a balcony or at the front against a rail and you can just lean forward. Either way, your view is probably wonderful because what the hell, there’s nothing in front of you. One of my favorite forward leaning places is in the vip area at the Filter Showcases at Cedar Courtyard at SXSW every year. Such a great forward lean.

Pros: Good back support, you can also switch the standing position if you want. Also, because you are leaning forwards you create additional space for yourself, giving you more breathing room. The view is probably pretty damn good too. You can also nap between sets. You can also put your jacket on the rails and there might be even a spot for your beverage.

Cons: Its hard to lean forward and dance at the same time, so you are restricted to head bobbing. If you are in the front part of the stage, you will most likely have to deal with annoying photographers who are constantly moving around all the time. If you are in an upper balcony because of VIP, then you will have to deal with the people beside you, who are most likely there to talk shop and not actually go to the shows. You will also get paranoid that people will try to take your space, because you know it’s a prime spot.


Side/back lean

This is usually reserved for people who want to see the show, but have the opportunity to remain comfortable. The side/back leans are always available at any venue, as you can just stand beside the wall. However, several venues have coveted pillars near the center of the stage that are super prime spots to get for a good side/back lean. The Horseshoe, Dakota and Sound Academy are such examples of these spots.

Pros: Once you find yourself alongside a wall or pillar, there are so many options – you can lean with your shoulder against the pillar, you can lean with your back against it, or you can even stand beside it. Either way, you know you can have a good buffet of options available to you whenever you want it. Also, you know that on at least one side of your body, there will be nobody there to bump into you, spill beer on you or get uncomfortably close.

Cons: The downside of getting such a prime spot is that you basically can’t go to the bathroom if you are at a show by yourself. Hell, even if you are with a friend, you risk losing this spot to them if you leave. You are basically stuck there. This feeling of entrapment can be a downfall for a long show, but you can always bring 2 flasks and piss into an adult diaper. Much like the forward-lean/guardrail/balcony position, you will always get overly defensive if you have this spot – giving mean stares to people approaching, taking an aggressive stance on anyone who starts to stand closer – it feels like you are an animal fending your den. Probably not the most attractive of traits. You are also screwed if someone taller stands in front of you in which you have to ask the age old question – comfort..or view?



Sometimes by choice, sometimes out of sheer laziness, sitting is always a mixed bag at shows.

Pros: You will always be well rested. You can buy popcorn and rest it on your leg. If everyone else is sitting, you have a good sight line. You have a place to put your jacket.

Cons: If the seats are uncomfortable (like Massey Hall’s gallery, which was surely designed for midgets), then you are screwed. If the show is an energetic one, and you want to get up and dance, you risk pissing off everyone else behind you. If it is a seated venue and you have assigned seating and your assigned seat sucks, its hard to move up.


Sitting on Floor

Sitting on floors is usually reserved for some artsy local acoustic show at random organic coffee shops or people singing without mics at really loud outdoor parks. It’s not a common concert position, but Toronto has seen it’s local scene flourish over the years and there are a lot of independently promoted shows of this nature. My friend Joe at Mechanical Forest Sound seems to go to all of them. I’ve been to a few.

Pros: When everyone sits on the floor together, it feels like a really communal experience, like at camp or the Betty Ford clinic. The sight lines are great and most likely the show is quite intimate, making it a unique experience. Sitting so close to the floor, you don’t have to hold your beer in your hand either, since you can just put it on the floor. Same with bags and jackets and stuff.

Cons: Sitting cross legged is nice for awhile, but eventually you want to shift positions or stretch out your legs and sometimes it’s so packed in these places you can’t really do that. In essence, you are stuck. I think for floor shows, I would like to sit like this:


A classic lounge position where you can stretch your legs or bend them as pleased. This really isn’t too ideal for this type of concert since I’m six feet tall so by sitting like this, I am effectively taking two spaces. Plus, it sometimes look like you aren’t really paying attention. Also, in this type of spots, you feel guilty standing up to go to the bathroom. Then you hold it in. Then you start doing calculations as to when the band will finish playing. This ruin your enjoyment.

These are the only ones I can think of, feel free to add!

Posted on by Ricky in North By Northeast

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Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.