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Name: Adam Bernard
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Respect The Flyer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In my lifetime I’ve been to more live shows than I can count, some of which have been fantastic while some have fallen flat. During an eight day span from July 7th through July 14th I went to three events, all of which had at least four acts scheduled to hit the stage. There was a commonplace issue that happened at two of the shows, however; the fans and the acts involved didn’t respect the flyer, causing numerous problems with these shows.

My issue with respecting the flyer, which is my way of saying respect and go by your pre-printed schedule that’s been handed to thousands of people, starts with the fans. For some reason fashionably late has gone from showing up 15-30 minutes after everyone else to showing up two hours after the flyers say the doors open. I can understand why some folks do this, the history of Hip-Hop shows doesn’t exactly include a chapter on doing things on time, but that being said if a flyer says the doors are at nine and the show is at ten and you show up at 11 you shouldn’t expect to see the whole show. This is where the artists come in.

Performing in front of a small crowd sucks, big time. I know this and can commiserate with you on it. Pushing back your start time due to a lack of a crowd when your set is scheduled to begin, however, is not the answer. All this does is cram the other acts together and risks some acts’ stage time. It also makes it so there are very few, if any, breaks for fans to get drinks, mingle, etc. On the 7th one artist on the bill got lost and couldn’t find the venue, but even if he had his set time would have been cut considerably, as would have the headliner’s, due to the fact that rather than starting the show at 10pm they didn’t start until 11 because the crowd was sparse. On the 14th, because the crowd was barely there at ten PM this issue arose again and because the artists kept pushing back the start time most of the crowd was gone by the time the two main acts hit the stage at, I kid you not, around 2am.

There’s a cure for this, but it will take time and a bit of pride swallowing. If you’re an artist scheduled to go on first and very few people are in the crowd suck it up and kick some ass for those people. Make it so they tell everyone who comes in late “you just missed an awesome show.” If this happens enough times people will start showing up on time because trying to look cool by showing up late will no longer be cool if it means missing most of the show.

Since this will be a long process I suggest starting by cutting an act or two from each event’s bill. For event organizers it will mean there will be less people to pay (and yes you should be paying your artists!) and if you still feel he need to start at 11pm your event will still flow well. If enough of these shows go off as planned then you can add an act to an earlier time slot. Hopefully your history of having everything go off on time will draw people in earlier. If not, well, then it’s simply the fans' loss for not showing up.

On the 11th I went to a show where absolutely everything went off at its scheduled time even though the first act was due on stage at the very early performance time of 7pm and there were borderline monsoon conditions outside. Part of the reason for the professionalism was that the show was thrown by BMI and everyone knew they meant business when they said be there at 7pm. The crowd was there, the show went off perfectly, and because it started at 7pm everyone got home at a reasonable hour. Is that too much to ask for out of Hip-Hop shows?

Listen, I know it sucks to perform for no one, but if you’re an opening act you’re not in a position to ask for a full crowd, that crowd should be there for the headliners. Playing for only a handful of fans is part of paying your dues, and remember, if you rock those small crowds consistently you’ll be one of those headliners sooner rather than later.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:53 AM  
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