Once in a great while, I go to concerts. Here’s what the experience of actually getting to the concert venue is like. For the record: the venues themselves and the shows played therein were all excellent.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
[There for: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Fall 2009]
Getting there, Option 1:
CityRail Sydney Trains CityRail to Circular Quay, then a delightful walk along the Harbour. When I was there they hadn’t rolled out the Opal contactless farecard yet, so whenever I found myself taking the train to Circular Quay I would buy a return ticket for about $6. Expensive, yes, but when you’re eighteen and stupid and only had a passing experience with mass transit up to that point it was worth it for the novelty.
Getting there, Option 2: Bus to Circular Quay. I lived in Ultimo, so this was occasionally an option as well, if I felt like using a TravelTen pass (then available at all good convenience stores). Cheaper, but it took a bit longer.
Getting there, Option 3: Hoofing it. An wretched hour-long shoe-destroying slog only attempted when truly broke and desperate.
Best Buy PlayStation Best Buy Theater, New York, NY
[There for: Blackfield, May 2014; Steven Wilson, May 2015]
Whenever I go to New York I always, always, always take the bus. No reasonable person attempts to drive into the Great and Terrible City. It’s ~$60 round trip from where I live, yes, but if it means I don’t have to deal with tolls, traffic, and parking, it’s worth it.
The theater itself is well-signed and located smack in the middle of Times Square, so it’s easy to get to (short walk from the PABT and nine subway lines) and fits right in, but it’s also located smack in the middle of Times By God Tourist Hell Square. You don’t go to Times Square unless (a) you work there or (b) it’s just before sunrise and nothing’s open.
Or you’re there for a concert.
The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA
[There for: Frank Turner, January 2017]
Whenever I go to Philly I drive to one of the stations on the R5 (yes, I still call it that) and take the Regional Rail in. $14, round trip, plus $1 in quarters for parking if you’re there on a weekday. When I was there to see Frank I didn’t get back to the station until around 1 am, which brought no small amount of wondering precisely when one “day” ticked over into another in SEPTA Parking Land (even though this was late Friday night and Regional Rail parking is free on the weekend).
The R5’s off-peak frequency isn’t completely execrable at 2 tph but it ain’t turn-up-and-go, either. From Suburban Station, though, it’s a walk through the still somewhat gloomy pedestrian concourse to the 15th Street MFL station. The MFL, meanwhile, is delightfully frequent.
The Fillmore, a six-minute walk from the Girard MFL station, is separated from the rest of Fishtown by I-95 and way too much parking. In a better world those lots would still have homes and businesses on them. Many of the other people there for the show were also from the suburbs, and I was shocked and dismayed by how many of them drove in. Somewhat ironically…
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
[There for: Feed Me and deadmau5, April 2017]
Columbia, halfway between Baltimore and Washington, currently has no rail transit to speak of, and I can’t speak one way or the other about the frequency of the local buses because I drove there. The Pavilion is five to ten uneasy minutes’ walk from the mall and is surrounded by edge-city office buildings and the parking garages for those office buildings. What I’m saying is Columbia isn’t exactly walker friendly.
Naturally, access to Merriweather is autocentric, and here’s where things get interesting. When you buy your ticket on the website, you have to select which parking lot you want to reserve a space in. Problem is, 90% of Merriweather’s parking is actually parking for the surrounding office buildings (and thus not actually signed as Lot 4 or Lot 6 except on removable signs and banners), and because of that I wasn’t sure now they’d enforce having a space reserved, or whether I’d have issues because the time on my parking pass said 5:30 and I pulled in at 2:00. In addition, the lot I parked in actually isn’t one lot, but three separate garages sharing one office complex between them, something I wish the website made clearer. As a consequence, during the show I had this constant worry in the back of my head about whether I’d go back to my car and discover it had been ticketed or towed.
What I’m essentially saying here is that taking transit to concerts is awesome and driving to concerts is for the birds.