Bearikson Think Tank: It’s Time to Start Shows Earlier or Cut Some Openers

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In which Leif Bearikson begs concerts to show mercy on his feeble body.

One of your favorite bands announces an extensive tour and, by some miracle, they’re going to be in your area. “Oh man!” you exclaim to yourself, your jowls filling with spittle as you literally drool with excitement. “Oh man, it’s on a week night,” you realize. “Maybe I’ll be lucky and the show will start a little early. At the very least there won’t be 100 local openers, right?” Well not only are you unlucky, you’re WRONG. This bill is going to start at 11pm and feature at least 5 bands before the headliner at this midweek musical display.

If you go to shows with any kind of frequency then there is pretty close to a 100% chance that this has happened to you, though depending on your age or job situation you may not be as salty about it as I am. Perhaps it’s just me being an old homebody, but there’s something instantly deflating about seeing a bill that starts at 9pm and features six or seven bands. I’ve seen growing talk of this on twitter over the past several weeks, and while I certainly wouldn’t call it a problem (or, obviously, even metal’s most pressing issue), I think it’s certainly worth discussing.

Every metalhead I know has a day job or a family or some type of big responsibility that makes it tough to stay out late on a weeknight (unless you’re one of “trve kvlt blood family” type goons that have abandoned all aspects of normal life to wear gauntlets in your treehouse). I’m sure some folks will say “get over it, it’s just a concert,” but I think for most, if not all of us here, the music and show are much more than just something to do on any given night. It’s a hard decision, but most of the time it’s an obvious one: choose responsibility. I think most of us will choose that most of the time. I certainly don’t do my best work when I’m running on fumes, but I need to because money is important here for some reason and I need to keep making it even if it means missing a band I really want to see.

So with that being the case presumably for a decent chunk of people, would it really be so awful to start shows a bit earlier? Or to commit the ultimate act of blasphemy and kill some of the local openers? Is that really that radical or scene altering of an idea? Metal is a genre that attracts as many older people, if not more, than it does young people, so surely there’s some compromise to be had. I won’t pretend to know all of the logistics. I’ve never booked a show or worked for a venue, and I know most double as bars and want to keep you there buying beer as long as they can, so there are reasons to have shows go until 2 am.

While not a perfect example as it’s a bigger package tour/bigger venue, I recently went to House of Blues for the Decibel Tour and it was wonderful. It started at 7, there was only one local opener, everything was wrapped up by around 11 and I was home by midnight. It was a glimpse of the future that I want for metal shows.

What do you think Toilet friends? Am I alone here? Am I just a whiny, old false? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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  • Wet W’s Whistle

    tfw you look at a show’s bill and think about how much your back is going to hurt the next day.

    • KJM, Dr. Disco

      Feet, from standing around for 3-4 hours.

      • Wet W’s Whistle

        It’s usually my back more than my feet, but for the same reason.

        • KJM, Dr. Disco

          I’ve wrecked both my ankles multiple times so they feel it more.

        • James

          especially if you hit the pit at all.

      • There have been times when I thought my legs were going to give out from standing in one spot for too long.

      • Can you find more comfortable shoes? I’ve found those make all the difference for me

        • KJM, Dr. Disco

          I’m perfectly comfy in Timberlands.

    • Leif Bearikson

      I spend majority of my 8-10 hours at work on my feet, so following it up with a concert is murder on my feet and knees

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      Step to the back of the venue, you fragile flowers. I wouldn’t want to see you get cut on gramp’s edge. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a9f87669e553db0dc4217304f4cbfed09afdc9fccea40b91d0b229a11aa29aa3.jpg

  • KJM, Dr. Disco

    I’ll go with everything being wrapped up by Midnight and being home about 1AM(i.e. being able to take public transit home).

  • KJM, Dr. Disco

    I’ve forced myself to stay at local shows until after the MBTA stops running, no fun unless I take my bike.

  • Doc Torluv

    With ya, ‘cuz:
    1 – I’m old
    2 – I get up at 4 to go to work
    3 – Shows in my area (ie: less than 50 mile drive) are nonexistent
    4 – Boobs

    OK, #4 has nothing to do with shows, unless they’re attached to the one female in the audience and, really, no one wants to see her pancake bags anyway, I just like boobs. Sue me.

  • I like to be in bed by 930p. So yeah, lets do this shit!

    GL

    • I have said it before, but, we are going to see Devin Townsend, Gojira, and Opeth in Indianapolis on the 13th. Most def going to skip Opeth, otherwise we would likely fall asleep standing up! hahaha

    • KJM, Dr. Disco

      I’ll stay up until all hours, but I’ll do it at home.

    • Same! And re your comment below about the Opeth/Gojira/DTP tour, I’m seeing that at Red Rocks next Thursday but am already dreading the Friday to follow.

  • Joaquin Stick

    I’ve basically stopped going to shows with 3+ bands unless I really care about 2 of them. Standing through 3 hours of boring music isn’t worth almost any headliner. After every song I’m just hoping they say “We’ve got one more for you” and my heart is crushed every time they don’t.

    Yeah, I could show up late but my paranoia of being too late won’t let me.

    • Wet W’s Whistle

      It’s kinda sad when you’re excited to see the headliner but hope they finish quickly so you can go home.

      • KJM, Dr. Disco

        It’s 1000x worse if you have any kind of social anxiety issues(i.e. me).

        • Joaquin Stick

          Weirdly, at shows is like the only place where mine is lessened. I never have the impulse to strike up a chat with a random stranger, but for some reason I can when I’m around my people.

          • James

            Im suave as fuck at metal shows, then turn into the chittering derp when I return home.

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            99.9% of the time I’m just fine at shows. There’s just that teensy 00.1%.

        • Elegant Gazing Globe

          so you only go to ANb show then?

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            Que?

          • Wet W’s Whistle

            Agoraphobic Nosebleed

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            Hah!

        • Leif Bearikson

          When the music starts I’m fine, but between sets if I’m there solo it is torture

      • Me on Sundays at MDF “Man I’m stoked about Asphyx but honestly I kind of hope they just play 4 songs so I can go to bed”

    • I would show up late if that were the case and if I bought tickets beforehand.

  • James

    The local Agoras shows end around 11 or 12. Way better than Peabodys back in the day, 2 or 3 in the morn

    • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

      SEEM LIKE ALL GOOD SHOW PLAY AGORA & HOB OR SOMETIMES GROG SHOP THESE DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AGORA & HOB ALWAYS END BEFORE TOO LATE!!!!!!!!

      • James

        yep. the scene is old and has work in the morning lol.

        • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

          & SOME HAVE LOOOOONG DRIVE HOME!!!!!!!!!!

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            Gonna be riding 4-5 hours each way to see Tool in a few weeks.

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            ONCE DID 10+ HOUR RIDE EACH WAY TO SEE DIO ERA SABBATH!!!!!!!! 100000000% WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • James

            Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck dat.

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            @brokensnow:disqus JUST FOLLOW THE SIGN OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS!!!!!!!!!

          • James

            I always liked FOTNS

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            ????????????HUH????????????????

          • James

            …….Fist of the north star…….

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            ME DON’T THINK THAT A DIO SONG???

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            Yep, totally worth it.

  • Dental_Damnation

    You nailed the reason in your 2nd to last paragraph. Most venues won’t even host metal shows in the Pacific Northwest unless you have bands going right to 1am.

    The alternative I see a lot lately are shows from 6-10 and then the DJ booth goes in so ppl can pop some molly and listen to trap all night.

    • hmmm interesting. People will loiter after a show?

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    Because I live in the sticks, for me it’s about the drive home afterward.

    • Joaquin Stick

      Recently did a trip back from Walingford at 1:00 on a weekday. Wanted to die by the time I hit Rocky Hill and still had 15 minutes to go.

    • KJM, Dr. Disco

      Yet again, I’m fortunate enough to live where there’s abundant public transit, such as it is.

    • Howard Dean

      For real. Getting home at 3:30 a.m. on a Thursday night is less than ideal when you need to go to work three hours later.

  • The past few shows I’ve been to have started on time and ended at a decent hour. Weeknight shows have become a challenge between making sure the rest of the fam is covered so I can go out and getting someone to go with me. I’ve seen my fair share of forgettable/awful local openers, so I think it’s a promoter’s responsibility to have local that both fits with the rest of the bill and provide an entertaining set.

    • promoter responsibility is KEY. we need to be better.

      • I feel like it’s improved here in the NJ/NY area. Less bands on the bill and you want to see them all.

        • Sid Vicious Promos

          Not in Poughkeepsie.

          • I should say metro NJ/NY, no idea how things are run elsewhere

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            Here they have a lot of bands on every show. Yngwie Malmsteen has 3 local openers here.

  • 5 band shows should be the absolute limit for weekends, 4 bands the limit for weekdays. Anything starting after 9 PM on a weekday with 4 bands is stupid.

    Now for the other perspective (because I reached out to venue owners to find out)

    For a show on a weekend that start at 9 PM, 1 am is the ideal time for a show to end from a small venue’s perspective. Why? Alcohol sales. If you’re in a band and you want to be able to earn the most for you and your friends bands, AND want the venue to earn the most possible so they dont’ go under and get replaced with LiveNation venues.

    Also like don’t suck and quit booking shitty bands, or put them last and tell them it’s a headliner slot so people can go home if they don’t want to stay. There’s plenty of tricks to still start at 9 PM and make everyone happy

    • Sid Vicious Promos

      I’m seeing Moto Grater on the 26th and theres 3 local openers on the bill as well as having Hed PE headline. I hate the local openers here because they’re all FFDP ripoffs or shitty deathcore

      • James

        That sounds like a caca show.

        • Sid Vicious Promos

          I am a fan of the Grater. I hate Hed PE though.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        You could fill the grand canyon with FFDP/Godsmack/bro rock ripoffs.

        • KJM, Dr. Disco

          Dust off, nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Open 7, finish 11, is pretty routine in the UK and it works great. Other than booze profits late night shows outside of weekends seem like a sorta weak idea to me. I mean, even if you aren’t doing too much the next day, getting to bed at 2 or 3 AM just isn’t that helpful.

    • This sounds like the ideal system.

      • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

        The tightness can be a strain on the nerves getting there/major bummer if you have travel woes, and because there’s often licensing/zoning/whatever law involved crazy late night shows couldn’t happen much even if people wanted them, which is a shame but yeah, in general its decent.

    • doors at 7 or show at 7?

      • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

        Usually doors at 7, show at 7.15 or 30. And for bigger deal stuff doors are almost always earlier rather than finish being later.

        • show at 7:15? YOu better have some QUICK door dudes to get people in there that fast

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            Yeah, give people at least 30-40 minutes to come in.

          • 30 minutes is good IMO, at that point fans can blame themselves for showing up too late

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            7.15 isn’t the norm in my experience but I’ve come across it a few times. I’ve generally been very impressed by London door dudes. Only long wait I ever had was dodgy show organisation. Also there’s just kind of a weight in favour of people getting tickets in advance and turning up on time.

    • James

      6:30 for national international acts.

  • Sid Vicious Promos

    Amen. My local venue always has a ton of local openers on each show.

  • tigeraid
    • Óðinn

      Upvoted for Obama.

  • JWG79

    OTOH, once I went to a gig with only two openers and one ‘middle bill’ act, doors at 8 with first local act on at 9…

    Locals were done by 10. Middle act was still going at near midnight when I decided to throw in the towel, because my last bus home was looming.

    I gathered after the fact the headliners started right at 12, and played for just slightly less time than the mid-billed act. I chose to ignore any quality assessments though because as far as I was concerned the copybook was blotted.

    • What kind of ‘middle bill’ are we talking about that gets to play for over an hour?

      • JWG79

        Much hyped local up and comers who seem to have long since ceased to exist.

        Had the most generic and impossible-to-find-on-google name, too: Growler. And yes, were total buttrock.

        • Man I am all about slaying entitled fans for unrealistic expectations, but small entitled bands/musicians are even more fun to cut down. 99% of people do not want to see any band for more than 20-30 minutes, even some of their all time favorites.

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            I love long shows, but I also love knowing that I won’t have to walk 2-3 miles to get home during Winter.

          • James

            Headliner should never play for less than an hour. (festivals is diffrent.)

          • How many local shows do you go to?

          • James

            as in local bands only? very few, but the ones with national or international acts headlining always have the headliner play for an hour minimum sometimes more.

          • Internationally, I can think of only a few bands I’d genuinely want to see for more than 45 minutes. Rhapsody, maybe Twilight Force,

            I saw Candlemass and wish they had played one or two songs less.

            Point is, I would much, much rather have a 45 min headliner slot that I really want to see that gives a compact, but extremely intentional and compelling performacne that makes me crave seeing them again vs. a 1h 30 m set where I’m bored at 45 min and never want to see them again

          • James

            your the minority.I’m seeing HevyDevy tonight at the HOB, if he dosent play for at least an hour I will be a tad disappointed considering his career spans 25 plus years and a cornucopia of sounds. I cant see my favorite or 15th favorite band on a thursday all the time and both myself and Devin are getting older.

          • I’ve talked about it with friends, and part of it probably has to do with how many shows I play/attend. It has no magic for me anymore unless i REALLY like the band

          • James

            That makes sense. I get to Cleveland or Pittsburgh maybe 6 to 8 times a year to see an act that might be in my top 50 of any genre if im lucky. im naturally an introvert and dont drive so this has only recently( the last 4 years) been a thing for me. I havent hit the wall yet, so to speak.

          • If the only shows you’re going to are ones you really love, then you have a lot more to gain from shows than I do haha

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            BLIND GUARDIAN & RUSH BOTH PLAY WELL OVER 2 HOURS!!!!!!!!! GORAK WANTED MOOOOAAAARRR!!!!!!!!

          • Yeah I saw both, BG was a religious experience, and Rush was fine because i could sit in the grass

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            All I wanted was maybe a few edits in Rush’s set list.

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            EARTHSHINE, FAREWELL TO KINGS, RED SECTOR A, THE NECROMANCER, THAT JUST SCRATCHING SURFACE OF MOAR SONGS!!!!!!!!!!!

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            It’s a shame that they don’t really care for Caress Of Steel even now.

          • KJM, Dr. Disco

            Bands like Rush aren’t exactly a dime-a-dozen.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Seconded. Hit the audience hard and wrap it up in an hour or less.

          • This is also why I am much more inclined to attend punk/grind/thrash shows blind

        • CyberneticOrganism

          OF COURSE a local buttrock band is overhyped

    • Howard Dean
  • HessianHunter

    The too-many local openers thing is a product of “pay to play” schemes, right? Like, get 4 local openers to tack onto a 4 band touring package and they have to agree to sell 50 tickets as a band. It’s a shitty system that encourages bands to guilt friends into paying to see them play, even though they won’t “stick around for the headliner!” because that’s 5 fucking hours away and the headlining band is in a completely different genre they probably don’t even like anyway.

    • Wet W’s Whistle

      I think the old promoters here used to do that. Seemed every single touring act would still inexplicably have four local openers.

      • Why advertise your show when you can convince four local bands to sell 50 tickets each (half of which they buy themselves, and end up being no one in the door for thos etickets) and do all the financial work for you?

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I once seriously considered paying a $1k entry fee for Milwaukee Metalfest. Thank god I didn’t actually have that money.

  • Howard Dean

    I’ve heard the most effective way to get shows to end earlier is to tell the local antifa chapter that the headlining band once bought a used copy of a Burzum album in a record store.

  • Count_Breznak

    ’round here most weekday gigs have to end at midnight (not quite sure of the actual reason, noise&neighbours ? finances, cause new day new pay ?). This also happens to a lot of weekend gigs, makes them really predictable.

    23:30 band anounces “last song”. Band leaves the stage.
    23:35 band returns, plays first encore.
    23:45 band leaves again.
    23:50 band returns, plays 2nd encore and the one song everyone wants to hear.
    0:00 end.

    (examples: satyricon, 23:50 mother north; devin townsend project, 23:50 something from SYL)

  • Fine Sexy Ladies

    I love going to shows and seeing bands. I have to commute 2+ hours to and from shows, if not more, but I still suck it up and do it. But I can’t do that shit any more; I work too much and too long throughout any given day to run myself ragged just getting to and from shows alone.

  • Sight Vnseen

    I’m 33 and made 16k last year. I pay my bills, buy records and merch, and average 2 shows a month. I’m poor out of necessity.

    • James

      living the dream, lol.

    • Howard Dean

      I’m 19 and made $7362 last month working from home. *#@&#%^$^@# Sell precious metals and jewels 4 huge markup and enter to win gold government bond deposits from central Africa. You 2 can make $ per day selling bonds transfer please $100K USD to my bank and I promise guaranteed return of +500% in frist week.

      Sincerely,

      Adeyemi Michael
      Prince of Nigeria

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Local Metalheads HATE This Guy And His One Weird Trick For Making $7362 Per Month From Local Shows

      • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

        ME WOULD IF PROFILE PIC WAS HOT MILF!!!!!!!!!!! BYAAAAAHHH MAN GETS NO HARD EARN SMASHED ANIMAL CARCASS!!!!!!!!!

      • Sight Vnseen

        Sounds better than temping for Honda for years, only to get hired on and die on 2ND shift. Not many options for uneducated people in west central Ohio.

        • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

          SANDUSKY????

          • Sight Vnseen

            Marysville area.

          • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ

            SORRY, NEVER HEARD OF IT!!!!!!

        • James

          2nd shift in NE ohio. The feels.

  • Depechemodeisgangsta

    But doesn’t that depends on what kind of show you’re going?
    Because down here in Miami, it really depends on the Venue, because of curfews depending on Area of the show.
    Per example down here, if you go to Miami Beach or Downtown Miami shows are basically done by 11PM but those kinds of shows are more “Popular acts” one place can hold up to 2,500 and other venue up to 10,000.
    If you go to FT lauderdale, where you get like the establish metal shows, bands that are more recognizable, like Testament, Soulfly, those shows normally done by midnight.
    If you go to “Underground show” sometimes there is like 3-4 bands on tour and with the local support they start around 8PM and main band comes close to 12 and finish set around 1AM, which is too much for me, i need to be in bed by 11:30 since i got to get up around 6:30AM.

  • Morbidly Obese Angel

    I haven’t encountered this problem too often. It seems most shows, at least in my area, start around 6-7ish. But I remember when Benighted came through town and they didn’t play til 2AM, this was on a tuesday. Shit was weak, last train leaves downtown at 12:30 AM, couldn’t do it

  • Stockhausen

    LATE SHOWS SUCK EARLY SHOWS RULE ANYONE WHO DISAGREES IS WRONG.

  • sweetooth0

    One issue we have here in Saskatoon is one of the main venues for hosting metal and punk shows is also a restaurant, so no shows actually start until 10pm, no matter what day out of respect for the diners which are served until 9pm. That said, I think I’ve only been to one of two shows with 5 bands and they were a special mini “fest”. Generally 3 bands tops. But it always goes till bar close which is around 2-230am

    • sweetooth0

      essentially this means I will only go during the week if it’s a mandatory attendance type band, and I book the next day off (since I’ll generally be hung to the tits making work a “fuck no” prospect).

  • Óðinn

    I left a Judas Priest concert early once. Not to get home, but to go get drunk somewhere else. We had already seen Megadeth and Testament, and we were satisfied.

  • NDG

    The ideal solution is arvo shows. They rule. A venue near my house used to do Sat arvo shows in the mid-2000s and it was great.

    Also saw the Supersuckers do a country show last year in the afternoon. I was back home on the couch by 7pm.

    Perfect.

    • Another Australian! You guys are everywhere. In the US we call em matinee shows and agreed, great for weekends.

  • gacharicmeatspin

    Live in Russia, been going to shows for about 5 years, always started at 7-8 PM. Some lasted to 1 AM, when there were, like, 9 bands.

  • drug_genosh

    YES! SO MUCH THIS! my band (dont worry, no plug) recently opened a 5 band show on a Wednesday night (maybe we should’ve been cut??) where I was really hoping to catch the last 2 bands-not yuge ones but from outside the local area. Well the show didn’t even get started till 9 (no PA, insert hardtimes article here) and i had to leave at midnight because i had to be up at 2:30am for work. THOSE 2 BANDS DIDNT EVEN PLAY YET

  • My perspective, from the opposite end : in Japan, many shows start at 6pm on weekdays ( before most people finish work ), and there is only a single band, the headliner. I got to a Carcass show a few years ago just before 7pm, and got to hear a total of 2 songs before they called it an evening – and that was $80.
    I wouldn’t mind having first world problems like too many bands again …