As you may have read, live music is back. That’s great news for musicians and venues who went through financial hell during our ongoing pandemic, and it’s a bit of a lifestyle recalibration for fans of live music awakening from lockdown slumber. But, as we learned with commuting to the office or not wearing sweatpants in public, some unpleasant pre-Covid elements of life should be reimagined.
Like staying out until bar close to hear your favorite band’s full encore.
My proposal: An off-the-books agreement between artists, venues, and fans that things wrap up by 10:30 p.m. Every day of the week. Sharp. As all parties involved are narc-skeptical, the state/city will not be involved; this is simply something we all start doing by… how about… this weekend?
Avoid the Dreaded Concert Bell Curve
We don’t have a graphics department, so I’ll explain this with clumsy, ill-chosen words. Basically: You slog through opening acts you may or may not care about, enduring endless set changes in between. (Quick aside: All touring bands should share gear to speed things up; I’m not a musician and not interested in why this idea is unfeasible). The enjoyment arc begins to climb as the headliner starts hootin’ and hollerin’ up there, and it likely peaks around song, let’ say, five. By now, it’s 11:15 p.m. Then comes watch-checking time: They’ve got how many more? I’m tired! I gotta pee! My legs hurt! I’m 6-foot-2 and everyone here hates me for it! Lyft and Uber are evil, yet I’ve gotta hail one! The enjoyment arc nosedives.
Lifestyle Improvement for Touring Musicians and Crews
If Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive” taught us anything, it’s that life on the road is tough and full of cowboy iconography. Loading in, memorizing lyrics, knowing chords, bantering with the audience about “only having a few more left,” loading out, finding your Airbnb: This all seems taxing, especially after midnight. But I’m a dork journalist who’s usually in bed by 11, so, instead, listen to the musicians interviewed below for better insight on this subject.
Get Properly Buzzed
This here? It’s drinking country, as this alarming heat map displays. (Thanks for taking some heat off us, Wisconsin.) Those duller hours before seeing the 90 minutes of music you bought tickets for can lead to overconsumption. And that can lead to varying degrees of hangover for you, the polite concertgoer who can hold a drink, or much worse, disruptive asshole behavior from some guy who can’t. Also, you see what some of these venues are charging for booze these days? Bar tabs like that can climb to Accomplice-tier Racket subscription heights, though only one of those products keeps you entertained and informed for a full calendar year… provided you don’t jar your urine a la Howard Hughes and, uh, teach it to blog? Just don’t do that.
Good for Dogs and (I Guess) Kids
If you’re anything like me, you own two questionably behaved Siberian huskies who struggle to go 5+ hours between bathrooms breaks. Let’s say you leave for pre-show drinks at 6 p.m. and don’t get home until 1:30 a.m. That’s far too long for dogs you neurotically fuss over and project human emotions onto! Also I’m told parents have to hire babysitters, and making them hang around until the wee hours seems expensive and/or unrealistic. And you hear about these “clubs” some babysitters are organizing? Sounds too close to union agitation to this profit-minded small biz owner…
Don’t believe me? Consult this link to hear today’s leading scientists confirm as much. Don’t believe them? All right Joe Rogan, then at least listen to the convincing anecdotal argument made below by Gully Boys, who also rock.
But maybe I’m wrong! (I’m not.) I ran this “Concerts Should End by 10:30 p.m.” hot take by an assortment of musicians, venue workers, fans, and critics, all of whom were too Minnesota polite to dunk on it. Here’s what they had to say.
“If it’s on a weekday? HELL yes. If it’s Tuesday night, why am I out here at 12:57 in the LORD’S a.m.?” says rapper Nur-D. “If it’s a weekend… if you’re good, and that’s the caveat here, then I won’t even notice how late it is.”
“Hahahaha. OK, that’s my immediate reaction,” says Ashley Ryan, VP of marketing at First Avenue. “I get it, we all got a little bit older the last two years, BUT there’s nothing I love more than being able to catch two shows in one night, when the stars align between set times. If every show starts and ends at the same time, there’s no chance of that. First Avenue just hosted Best New Bands, which is a seven-band bill, and the energy from the crowd was fire from 7 p.m. through midnight. An early bedtime is nice, but you’re missing out on a lot of magic after 10:30 p.m.”
“UMMM! WE AGREE!” says Nadirah McGill of Gully Boys. “There is nothing sexier than being fully loaded out of the venue and tucked in bed by midnight. It rocks. I think the pandemic has made everyone sleepy babies!”
“Most rock shows in town last summer actually did end around 10 p.m. because they were all outdoors, and thus subject to curfew,” says Star Tribune music critic Chris Riemenschneider. “I remember thinking my grandpa Floyd, who never missed the 10:18 TV weather forecast, would’ve loved it. But I’m not a grandpa yet. I still feel a little more electricity and edge watching bands play as midnight nears. Of course, it helps if it’s loud, fast, booming music keeping you awake and not all the soft, chill, introspective stuff the kids these days are into. Maybe they’re the ones who are too old to stay out late.”
“Personally I like an early show,” says Brenda Peters, venue operations/entertainment manager at Amsterdam Bar & Hall. “Leaves more room for activities. You have the option to call it a night after the show, or you can go out and chase the night, maybe even catch a second show!”
“I see no downsides to early shows,” says photographer Darin Kamnetz. “More time to edit photos instead of being up until 2 a.m.”
“Just a few days ago, I experienced what I believe to be the perfect show,” says fellow small business owner Em Cassel. “This was a Monday night gig at Amsterdam with four bands I was equally excited about—Touché Amoré, Vein, Militarie Gun, Scowl—that was also all-ages with an early start—doors at 5, music at 5:30, whole thing wrapped up by 9. In a word: transcendent. Not only do you get to fib your way out of work a little early (not me, faithful Racket supporters—I did not stop working one second before 5 p.m.) but I think Touché actually finished their set before 8:45? We were definitely sitting down and eating gravy frites and rehashing the show before 9. Which brings me to another old-person point: Venues should have food. You know how great it is to head next door after a show at First Ave and inhale some curds? Expect my follow-up to this story next week.”
“Gone are the days of five-band bills that start at 9 and end at bar close,” says serial concertgoer Kyle Matteson. “Headliners starting no later than 9 and shows ending by 10:30 on a weeknight and 11:30 on weekends is such a more manageable timeline for fans, venue workers, crew, and artists alike.”