Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Call to punctuality in live music shows.

When I was on the road playing as the opening act for much bigger artists than I am, I heard a great piece of advice from the headliner: I don't care what time you start your set; I only care what time you finish. In other words, if you start late, you're still finishing at the same time. The show is not going long or off-schedule just because you're on "musician time."

Today's blog is an idea for both musicians and audiences, of which I have been both. You know I am a bit of a stickler for starting a show on time, and I should probably relax a bit. But when people come to my shows, they are paying for entertainment. It's my job as a professional to give them a show, and give it to them at the advertised time -- not half an hour or an hour late.

So now for a totally innovative idea: Artists, let's start our shows on time -- as in at the time they are advertised. Don't put 9:00 on the poster, then start at 10:00. Put "Doors at 9, show at 10." Just think of it as a job. You're being paid to perform, so don't be late to work, okay? The audience is paying to be there -- either by a cover charge or by buying expensive drinks -- so respect them by getting to work on time.

Before you musicians get on my case and say, "But the crowds show up later because they think we're going to start late anyway," let's make an agreement with them as well. Audiences, let's agree that we won't show up an hour late, unless we are okay with missing the first set. And we won't yell at the musicians when we walk in an hour after the advertised start-time, and the band already played our favorite song. Likewise, audiences, let's respect the workers by not reserving a front row table and then talking incessantly the entire set. If we want to talk, how about we sit at the bar?

Okay, for leniency's sake, maybe we can agree on a 15-minute window -- like airlines do -- before the show is considered officially "late." I understand sometimes you just need to hold the curtain for a broken cable or a late bass player or because the basketball finals just went into overtime or because Grandma's not there yet, but let's let 15 minutes be the absolute most. Like with previews at a movie. After that, it's Grandma's problem for being a latecomer. But remember, on a multi-band bill, when the opener starts late, that pushes the whole night back. That's bad for everyone involved.

Ah, let's imagine that, by some miracle, all of this magically and immediately worked out. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to pick up a LEO and plan your night on the town based on the show schedule? You could catch a 7:00 show at an art opening, then at 8:00 set at Clifton's, head over to Headliner's for a 9:00 start, and then catch a late set at the Nach Bar.

Do you think this will ever be possible, specifically in Louisville? Do we create an online petition or a Facebook group or a letter to the editor? Or can we just maybe all start showing up to work on time, and showing up to shows on time, and the Zeitgeist of the Louisville music scene will start to change?

That's all. Someone had to say it. I've got a louder mouth than most, I guess.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree Brigid. And I think I know exactly who the headliner you are referring to is. :)