The other day, I beat a few thousand spry college kids to stand at the front of the stage at the Charlottesville, Va., Wilco show. Unfortunately, that was only the first leg of the general-admission triathlon. The second: Maintaining my position—and staying awake—during the monotonous opening act. Though there were times when I wanted to give up and sit on folding chairs with other geriatrics, I remained standing through several two-chord jamfests. Here’s how:

Good posture. You, too, can make it through terrible opening acts back-pain free by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, and feel your body’s weight through your heels. Lift your head and chest as if a string is pulling you up from the sky.

Stretching. Take the opportunity between songs to clap for the bad opening band with your hands above your head. Then, pretend that you are scanning for friends in the crowd, and rotate your torso. Finally, touch your toes and retie your shoes.

Music games. Turn a less-than-enthralling show into an opportunity to sharpen your music-perception skills. Guess the tempo, in beats-per-minute, of the current song, and then check yourself against a watch. Predict the number of chord changes in the upcoming song and bet your friend.

Cell-phone entertainment. As a last resort, break out your cellphone and text
friends about how boring the show is. You can also download and play Chuzzle, a very addictive cell-phone game, that’s somewhere between Snood and a Rubik Cube.

With these strategies, I almost emerged victorious: I made it through the opening act and watched an excellent Wilco set while standing feet away from Jeff Tweedy. Sadly, I came just short of winning the third event of the general admission triathlon, as Pat Sansone‘s guitar pick sailed right past me and into the clutches of some UVA frat boy.