How to Successfully Order Drinks at Shows Without Pissing Everyone Off

Categories: Music Etiquette

You're going to want a plan.

Every week Gavin will be presenting a guide to basic notions of common sense he feels are sometimes lacking from various aspects of the world of music. Also, he's British, and they're polite, right?

Besides one or more musicians making a sound, what is the most important aspect of live music? Those of you who said "friends and loved ones" are out. What did they ever do? It's clearly alcohol. Alcohol makes a bad gig entertaining and a good gig a life-affirming memorable experience. However, actually obtaining alcohol at a gig can be a situation rife with hidden social norms and problems to overcome. Here's a quick guide to the etiquette of ordering a drink at a gig.

See also:
-Bands: Please Stop Annoying the Shit Out of Everyone on Social Media
-How to Behave at Quiet Shows: Shut Up and Put Your Phone Away

• First, if attending a large venue where either the venue or beer is corporately sponsored, remember to re-mortgage your home before coming to the venue. Nothing is worse than having to wait behind someone who is hunting through their pockets for the extra $293 they require to buy a Bud Light, the only option at the bar.

• When at the bar, be aware of who is around you, and the order in which they arrived at the bar. If you are selected to be served before someone who was there first, gesture that the bartender should serve that person. Don't get two beers while thinking about how lucky you are. You're only lucky the person who should have been served hasn't started flinging limes at you.

• Know what you want before you get served. If I have to stand at the back of another line headed by a person occupying the sole barman by going "um ... er ... what drafts do you have again?" they will find me babbling and naked in an alley somewhere, holding my knees, rocking back and forth and muttering about the Illuminati.

• Volume is the most important consideration. At a quiet gig, shouting "A SHINER BOCK PLEASE!" will immediately result in the band stopping their song and the bartender glassing you. At a loud gig, however, you must strike a balance between being loud enough to be heard and not so loud that you are damaging the bartender's ear by shouting into it from half an inch away, covering their poor hard-working face in your drunken spittle.

• If such a balance is not possible, as it is not at quite a few gigs, then there is a sliding scale of options available to you. Mouthing your drink slowly and deliberately, as long as it is a common drink, is a tactic that often has great success. Less common drinks, maybe throw in some charades, or point at a particular tap or bottle. However, if, like mine, your hands are small and fingers stubby, then these tactics may also not result in the desired beverage.

The napkin strategy can work, but try to keep your frustration to a minimum.

• In this case, don't get frustrated and shout louder and louder. Douchebags do that. Gesture for a pen (everyone can gesture for a pen), and write it down on a napkin. You might be frustrated by this point, so remember to leave space on the napkin for the actual drink as well as the inevitable curse words. Tip generously, always.

• Last of all, never ever attend a gig at a dry venue unless you absolutely have to. Last year, I saw Primus' 3-D Tour at McFarlin, a venue that in keeping with student traditions that they've just made up, refuses to sell any alcohol, or, as would be appropriate for a Primus gig, anything stronger. It went on for three hours. It was the worst.

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If your a hipster twat you'll simply shove the 40 year old woman in front of you out of the way.


You should have shared your weed with someone who had a pint of tequila in the smoking area outside like I did. That was after chugging a couple SN Celebrations and a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout on the way in. 

Also, common sense went out the door when the Iphone/twitter/facebook thing happened.

Rick Mitchell
Rick Mitchell

I have found that if I get up and go to the bar to order and tip the bartender well, then I have no problem. Most of the bartenders know my drink of choice (diet coke) and start pouring when they see me coming.

Wendy Harrison Goyen
Wendy Harrison Goyen

I used to actually keep a napkin with my drink of choice written on it when I was going out all the time in Deep Ellum, for those times when the band was blaring away on stage! I'd just bust it out with a grin, & the bartenders actually seemed to appreciate it. My drink was always made correctly, I was happy, and I'd leave a good tip. Everybody won.

Jon Alexis
Jon Alexis

get more than one drink at a time. maybe even a double.


@Mervis_Earl I'm bringin' it back, Merv. All the way back.

Also, drugs? On my visa? I'd be deported before I sobered up.


Never thought of that visa issue. I use Mastercard. ha ha

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