Music isn't just a great way to fill your head with rhythmic/melodic noises. It's also a powerful social lubricant, second perhaps only to alcohol in its power to bring people together and help you make new friends.
Some of our best/most lasting relationships have been forged over the fires of fine tunes and shared love of sound. And with this handy guide of opening lines, now you too can enjoy the power of music to help you overcome that crippling loneliness you feel every night when you return home to a house full of cats you've knitted sweaters for.
With the help of these handy openers and a little courage, you can turn your encyclopedic knowledge of '80s hardcore (or appalling ignorance of it, for that matter!) into new friends, good times and maybe even that special someone to tuck you in after you've had a few too many PBRs.
1) "Who is this playing now?"
This one is an all-time at-a-show classic. It's best utilized for the opener, unless it's some weird local show you've just wandered into and you'd rather not expose your ignorance of who everyone is purportedly there to see. People are always happy to share their enormous knowledge of music, or heck, even to admit that they too have no flipping idea who is on stage.
Follow-ups: "Gee, they're pretty good. Are you a fan?" "I'm going to have to pick the album up. Any idea what it's called?" Variations: Since coffee shops and bars usually pipe in music, you can also ask the band-geek looking folk there "Hey, what's this song?" when they appear to be grooving along to one you enjoy. Similar follow-ups apply.
2) "That's a great record"
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Bust this one out a record store (yes, they do still exist) to the person flipping through the racks nearby when they settle on something you like with that quizzical "Is this any good?" look on their face. With luck, they'll respond with a thanks for the info, or better yet, a request for more info. This is your opening; don't blow it.
Follow-ups: Enthusiastic proselytizing for the album in question (not too enthusiastic -- you don't want to sound psycho), possibly followed by additional/alternate selections from the same band or in the same style/genre. Variations: "The first (or whatever) album is better if you don't already have it"
3) "That's a great shirt. I love that band!"
You can hardly go wrong with this one, not least because you can use it just about anywhere. Sure, it's best utilized at shows and record store areas, where you can feel confident that you're would-be conversational partner is a fellow music fanatic. But don't let that stop you from dropping it at the grocery store, the park, the line at the bank, or wherever. Its flexibility is its strong suit. Just be prepared if they profess ignorance of the band and explain the shirt is a hand-me-down, second-hand pick up or, god forbid, an ironic statement.
Follow-ups: Best case scenario is an enthusiastic exchange about the band in question. Queries about where they got the shirt, the design/imagery of it or the tour in question (for tour shirts) are all good. Comments about the smokin' bod underneath it are best saved for a later conversation. Variations: Also works great for pins, baseball caps or stickers on the laptop. Frequently better actually -- as far as we've ever seen, no one puts a band sticker on their laptop with ironic intent.
4) "Did you see this band's show that one other time? Wow, that was neat!
This is a great one for set breaks at a show, or as an alternate/follow-up to either of the previous two items on this list. It lets you show off your rock cred for the awesome shows you've been to, and it's pretty flexible to boot. If the person you're chatting up seems bored with this show, emphasize how much better the last time was -- if they're rapt with joy at the current experience, you can mention that it's always like this, or that it wasn't this good last time, or whatever.
Follow-ups: If it turns out they were there, you can play "rock show bingo" and start figuring out what other shows you've been to, which frequently leads to the "wow, weird we never met before" line of conversation. If they weren't, you might learn some interesting details about their life that you can use to drive the conversation forward. (Them: "Yeah, couldn't make it last time, I was elbow deep in a dead guy's chest cavity, weighing out his organs" You: "Oh, you're a coroner?" Them: "No, serial killer" You: "Cool! Kill anyone I might have heard about on the news?" etc. etc.)
Variations: "I can't believe I missed these guys the last time I was here!" "I wish I'd seen them when they were still touring clubs instead of arenas!" The flipside of the coin let's others show off their knowledge and experience. People love showing off.
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5) "I really liked your band's set!"
Yep, you can totally use these tips to meet people in real, live bands! Not, like, Lady Gaga or the Rolling Stones or anything, but at a club show with local acts or smaller touring bands, but this is a great way to make some new, quasi famous friends. Why? Because nothing sucks more for bands than people's indifference. Being the one person who seemed genuinely engaged and enthusiastic about their music is a great way to break the ice. Just make sure they didn't see you floating around the audience using lines one through four while they were playing or it will fall a little flat.
Follow-ups "Do you guys have CDs for sale?" "When are you playing again?" "What's your MySpace?" "Of course you can buy me a drink!" (note: last one only comes up if you are an attractive female talking to a guy in a band. And if you are, you don't need any of these tips to meet people). Variations: "I really liked your DJ set!"
Remember: These are just openers -- you will have to talk to people for real once they respond. Get out there and practice, practice, practice and you'll have friends that aren't cats in no time!