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Where to Sit for a Concert: Indoor Arenas

Published Jul 19, 2018 / by Tyler Perkowitz

Whether you're a fan of rock, country, electronic, or folk there is always something special about seeing some of your favorite music performed live. In an arena setting, there are thousands of fans with a love and passion for the music being played. Unlike sports there aren't any lead changes, injuries, or intense moments, but instead there is an energy and enthusiasm that creates one of my favorite atmospheres.

harry styles sold out concert at the forum
Sold out shows can sometimes have just as much energy and excitement as the most intense playoff games, but where you sit does make a difference on the experience you'll get.

So your favorite artist announced they're coming to a city near you, or maybe you're traveling to see them, where do you sit? Concerts can be very pricey, and making sure you get the experience you are looking for is important. 

The Floor

Best for: Die-hard fans, being close to the artist(s), best memories

No matter who is performing, there will almost always be a floor section. The floor is normally where a hockey or basketball game would be played during a sporting event. During a concert, the area is converted into seating. Since this area is not a permanent structure of the venue, it is also the most customizeable area and changes depending on the performer.

For most standard concerts, the stage will be placed at one end of the floor with seats taking up the rest of the area. Floor sections are for the biggest fans of the artist and these fans want to be as close as possible. They are some of the most expensive seats for this reason as well. If you are on the shorter side, be careful when purchasing floor seats. There is not elevation on the floor, so as the rows go further back there will be more fans to compete with for sight lines.

blake shelton concert setup at american airlines center
For this show, the floor consists of several seated sections. The seats are portable and can change for each concert in the arena.

For many pop, heavy rock, and country artists the floor will have general admission sections closest to the stage. These sections will not have any seats in them, but instead are intended for fans to stand as they dance, jump, and enjoy the concert. While this freedom can be great, it is not for everyone. If you get a general admission ticket on the floor, be prepared to get there early for the best views. Also, be prepared to be very close to other fans as these sections can be tightly packed.

Similarly, some concerts will not have any seats on the floor, but instead just open up the area as a general section. This setup allows fans with tickets to stand wherever they would like in the section, giving them control over the distance and angle to the stage. While this is a great advantage, fans with GA Floor tickets should be prepared to stand for the entire show.

Best Venues to Sit on the Floor

B-Stages and Runways

To be closer to more fans, many artists will travel with a custom stage that is set up and taken down every night of the show. This can be in the form of a runway that takes them to the center of the floor, or an entirely separate stage that is placed somewhere else on the floor.

justin timberlake sold out concert at the united center
Justin Timberlake's "Man of the Woods" tour features a winding runway. While he spent most of his time on the main stage, he would run up and down the stage to get close to many fans. For a few songs he even played on the end closest to where this photo was taken.

These separate stages are usually called "B-Stages" and "Runways". You will see them most often located on the opposite end of the floor. Performers use these stages to get closer to the fans at the opposite side of the arena and play a couple songs to create memorable experiences for them.

While most of the concert will still be on the main stage, sometimes just having a couple songs right in front of you is all you will need for those close-up memories while saving on the price of the ticket. If floor seats or lower level sections close to the stage are a little outside your budget, look for sections closer to the secondary stage.

Upper Levels

Best for: Lower budgets, taking in the atmospheres, seeing the full production

sold out crowd at the forum in los angeles

If you're looking at the seats closest to the stage and experience sticker shock, you're not alone. The lowest priced tickets are almost always in the upper levels at arena shows. This is due to their distance from the stage. Don't let this make you think that it's impossible to have a great experience in these seats. In fact, some of my favorite concert moments have been in these areas of the stadium. Larger artists playing arenas usually have large productions and have gotten good at bringing in every member of the audience no matter how far away. This includes lights, video boards, and sometimes even wristbands that light up to the music, making concert goers themselves part of the show.

Depending on the show, these seats are most likely to see a seated crowd, but it varies every show. If you are someone who likes to stand and dance during the show, be aware of this, as other fans may get upset with you for blocking their view. On the flip side, if you want to be able to sit the entire show, look in these sections as they are usually the last to stand.

Behind the Stage

For some shows, you will notice seats that are being sold on the side or behind the stage. Often times these will be associated with limited or obstructed views of the stage. The upside to these seats is that you can often get very close to the stage at a much lower price. However, there are several reasons for this. To start, the artists on stage will perform to where the majority of the crowd is sitting which is in the opposite direction of these seats. 

behind the stage at a harry styles concert in los angeles
These seats are extremely close to the stage and also come at a low price. So, what's the catch? The performer will be playing to the majority of the audience in the opposite direction. There are also band members, lights and screens that may get in the way of your view at times.

The biggest complaint for fans sitting in this location is that they felt removed from the show which is why it comes at a lower price point. There is also the possibility that the artist will have a setup with screens, instruments, or props on stage that make it more difficult to see for fans on the side or behind the stage. To adjust for this, there are typically video screens located for the fans, but it creates a much different atmosphere compared to the intention of the production.

If you are worried about being totally ignored in these seats, know that performers usually make their best effort to include everyone in the audience. For fans behind the stage they will usually come around during a song and give these fans some attention. If you are someone who just needs to see a song or two really close, these could be the perfect alternative without having to reach too far into the wallet. One of the most popular shows that always has behind the stage seating is Billy Joel's residency shows at Madison Square Garden.

Center Stage

If you see the stage in the middle of the floor section this is referred to as a center stage. Many times, popular artists will set up their stage in the center of the floor and sell tickets in every section of the arena to allow as many people to see the concert as possible. This leaves many people confused as they are unsure which way the artist will be performing and are worried about being behind the action. Typically for center stage shows the artists do their best to make their way around to perform on all sides of the stage. Sometimes the show can be creative and even feature a rotating stage so that all areas of the arena are treated equal.

center stage setup for winter jam concert at amalie arena
This is a center stage setup at Amalie Arena. Seats that would normally be behind the stage no longer have that designation.

This does create a bit of a difference for the permanent seats when compared to an end stage setup. With a center stage, the seated sections in the middle of the arena (same as mid court or center ice sections) will be the best and closest seats. With center stage shows there are no longer any seats considered behind the stage. Seats that would be behind the stage for an end stage show would carry equivalent views to the seats on the opposite ends.

Head on Views

If proximity isn't of top importance to you, some fans like to have a head-on view to the stage. A head-on view means that your seats will directly face the stage and you will not have to turn your head or body to see the performance. Since most arenas are set up for sporting events, most side sections will require you to adjust to see the stage.  If you want to avoid this you can use a filter on our website to find seats with the "Head-on" designation.

No matter where you sit, or who you see, it is most important to have fun and enjoy the music. Most artists only come around once every couple of years so it is important to make the best of the night.

U2 concert at the united center in chicago
No matter where you sit at this concert, these massive video screens will help you see. This helps even the furthest seat feel like a more intimate experience.

Every concert is different and each artist has a unique way of reaching their audience.  While the locations described above will fit most arenas they won't always fit every show. Some artist will get on flying stages, others will use cell phones as an interactive part of the show. No matter where you sit there is only one aspect that is the most important.  HAVE FUN!

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