Concert dates are tricky. On one hand, they’re low-pressure situations, since the loud music and large crowds inhibit conversation and keep things from getting too intimate. But planning a musical date means putting your tastes — and all of their accompanying cultural baggage — on display. A lot can go wrong.
Here’s a guide to five artists you should and shouldn’t see on a date.
Drake: Dating is awkward, and no one knows this better than Drizzy. The Canadian phenom doesn’t really rap or sing — he chats like he’s at the psychiatrist, sharing hang-ups everyone has but no one talks about. He reminds us how screwed up we all are, and because his music is as moody and contemplative as his lyrics, you won’t embarrass yourself trying to dance.
Metallica: Flying the ‘Tallica flag is risky, but next to the other mutants in attendance, you can only look good.
Belle and Sebastian: Proposing a B&S date says all the right kind of things about you: You’re smart. You like animals. You voted for Nader in 2000 but feel really, really bad about it. Best of all, by choosing this band over lower-tier twee acts like Camera Obscura, Hospitality, Tennis, or Allo Darlin’, you show you’re willing to own your wussiness.
Bruce Springsteen: The Boss will take you on a heart-stopping, life-affirming journey from despair to redemption, altering your consciousness forever. Then, when he finishes playing “Promised Land,” he’ll do 35 more songs. Ideally, your date will get caught up in the spirit, but if not, it’s better to find out now they have no soul.
The Roots: America’s house band guarantees a good time, and while you might have to bust a move, Questlove will be there to guide you.
Avoid at All Costs:
Gwar: This is a no-brainer. One of you is going home with fake blood on your shoes; the other will spend the night pretending it’s not funny when these brilliantly crude theater-metal godheads dismember or otherwise desecrate a puppet resembling Obama or the Octomom or whoever they’re into skewering these days.
Dave Matthews Band: The twirling, the flailing, the sandals — the horror! Your date doesn’t need to see you among your khaki-shorted brethren, and believe us, he or she will be less than amazed to hear about how they haven’t played that song since Pittsburgh ’97.
Wilco: These guys are great and all, but if you’re vying for indie cred, you’re about 10 years too late. (See also: the Shins.)
Justin Bieber: If you’re a guy, you’re going to get upstaged by the Biebs. Regardless of what people say, everyone likes him. He’s the Justin Timberlake for his time and place, and no amount of finger combing in the men’s room will make your hair look like his. If you’re a woman or gay dude, you’re going out yourself as (or discover yourself to be) a Belieber. Steer clear — then blast “Baby” when you get home.
Kanye West: Take the raw, self-analytical tone of Drake, add the epic length and grandeur of a Springsteen show, then mix in ballerinas, Auto-Tune, lasers, and covers of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” and you get the bat-shit multi-act spectacle that is a Yeezy concert. It’s a lot to unpack, let alone sit through, and reactions will range from exhilaration to boredom to sudden weeping over mommy/daddy issues. Once ‘Ye makes with the beautiful, dark, twisted fantasies, there’s no telling what might happen. Isn’t dating unpredictable enough?