This article previously appeared on Crossfader
In this seasonal series, the good people of Crossfader detail what they want pop culture to get them for Crossmas this year. This time around, it’s . . .
Earlier Start Times for Concerts
I’m a music fan.
That four-word declaration is central to my identity. I should get it tattooed on my body—maybe not on my face, but perhaps on my chest or arms, somewhere people can see it regularly without it one day hindering my ability to get jobs when I’m 40.
But supporting music, and, more specifically, the artists that make that music, is hard. Given that the rise of digital sales and streaming have resulted in musical careers (mostly) being defined now by constant touring, I try and go to as many shows as I can. Concert tickets make up a disgusting percentage of my yearly entertainment budget, I own too many band tees, and if it’s the holidays, there’s a good chance you’re getting physical media or band apparel as a gift. Support musicians because, God knows, they’ve supported you with their music during both good and bad times.
Jonny Pierce gives playing shows early one thumb up
The live music scene can be shitty for reasons beyond ridiculous ticket fees and 13-dollar tall boy PBRs—those are things I’ve come to accept and try to avoid at all costs. What could be avoided is the start time of concerts, which is why my Crossmas wish is that in 2018 artists can take the stage at reasonable times so my nine-to-five working class ass isn’t dog tired the next day because your band didn’t go on until 11:30 P.M.
We all have had THE experience. You know the one, where you were already tired and considering not going to the show, only to force yourself to the venue and find out the artist you were stoked to see wouldn’t be done with their set until the very early hours of the morning. It’s the experience that’s so maddening that it breaks a part of your soul, leaving you wishing that you wouldn’t have gone at all. Mine was in January of 2016 at a GZA show. Hip hop as a genre already has a bad reputation for artists going on later than the billed time, and the billed time for this show was 11:30—late, but passingly acceptable for a Friday night. The artists and DJs that led up to his appearance were average, middling talent, more annoying than entertaining, and lacked the “hype” element that most openers are supposed to bring to the main talent. The tiring dog and pony DJ show had already drained me of any desire to be there, but LIQUID SWORDS is a masterpiece, so I prevailed. And then 11:30 came and went. So did midnight. After the Wu-Tang rapper didn’t show up until 12:30, my friend and I would end up staying for three songs and leave. Even for a Friday night, this was too much.
“One night, the Shogun sent his ninja spies to our house / They were supposed to kill my father but they didn’t / He wasn’t home — he was still out late seeing the Wu-Tang Clan”
Over the weekend I saw Brooklyn goth-surf rockers The Drums—to be sure, a pretty stark 180 from GZA. This was my first time seeing them for a venue show and, by proxy of a sold out Friday night, they’d added two shows on Saturday, one early and one late. The early show featured doors opening at 5:30, two openers, and the headliners starting their set at 8:30. The band played a tight hour-and-fifteen-minute set, and I was nestled on my couch with my girlfriend watching Hulu’s FUTUREMAN by 10:10 P.M. It was a magical experience.
My plea is a broad one. Asking a rapper to start at 9:30 instead of 11:30 is probably a jump, and I am also never going to ask The Cure to not play for three hours, so no matter what time they end, it’s going to be late. But for the smaller bands out there? For the LOCAL bands out there? I think it’s essential to allow your audience to work your performance into their schedule, and for most people who spend money on concert tickets, their schedule involves waking up early to get to a job.
What I’m asking for is, admittedly, not very rock and roll of me. But I’m not saying I can’t hang—I can fucking hang. I’ve spent too many nights getting home at 1 A.M. because I wanted to support you. But please (Insert Your Bands Name Here), think of the dad in his 50s who can’t justifiably have the 14-year-old sitter down the block over past 12:30 on a school night. Think of the graduate student who has a three-hour lecture at 9 A.M. the next day. Think of the couple who had to drive two hours to get to the show, and are going to have to drive another two hours to get back. And think of me, the average working class schlub who just wants to pay you to keep doing cool shit but doesn’t want to go to bed past 1 A.M. Please.