The music world is always abuzz with talk surrounding one topic or another. The latest talking point just recently revolves around bands and venues sharing set times for gigs. It seems such an innocuous thing to end up becoming a divisive topic and prompting arguments, but even so that seems to have become the case. While I can understand the reasoning from both sides, I’m of the mind that sharing set times does far more help than it does harm.
The argument against sharing set times is that it prompts more people to skip the support act at a gig. On the face of it this seems like a fair and well intentioned reason. Most great acts began their journey opening for someone else, so why shouldn’t venues and established acts do their bit to support the next in line. When you stop and think about it though this reasoning starts to fall apart.
If someone is so determined to skip your band that they make sure to arrive once you’ve finished playing, then they aren’t likely to be all that won over if they hand to stand through your set for the main event. Playing a full room with half the people there just waiting for you to leave isn’t any better than playing to a room half full of people, who have an open mind and are willing to listen.
It’s a little cynical to assume that people would only want set times to skip the opening band. There are a whole host of reasons why that information would come in handy. As anyone that has been to gigs alone can attest, just standing around for excessively pedantic soundchecks for half the night is bloody boring. Maybe people have better things to do and want to arrive for the opening act minus all the waiting beforehand.
Set times are even more useful when you’re actually at the venue. People can go to the bar, or the toilet, or the merch stand etc. without the fear of missing out when the music starts. (There’s still the ever-present danger of losing out on a good place to stand, but you’ve just got to weigh up your priorities in that regard). Is it worth sacrificing all that convenience just to get a few killjoys to stand around a little longer, when truth be told everyone would be happier if they weren’t there for the opening act anyway. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, sometimes the support act either isn’t up to a sufficient standard or is not in-keeping with the target audience of the band they are supporting.
Refusing to share set times just to get a few more people in to see the support act is a heavy-handed approach to a very minor issue. Much like the debate surrounding phones at gigs, there are always going to be a few bad eggs that will do whatever they please, but for the most part you’re better giving people the benefit of the doubt. Most of the people going to gigs are music fans, so maybe just treat them as such.