Music History

A Modest Proposal: Should Concerts Start Earlier?

I’m okay with the start time of most concerts. If the headliner gets on around 9 and plays to the (almost standard) 11 pm curfew, I can be home by midnight–late, but doable for a work night and certainly fine for a weekend. But anytime a gig has a start time after 10 pm (especially on a weeknight), I’m out. I gotta be up at 6:30 the next morning and I have no interest standing around waiting for a band to come on at 10, 11 or even later. I suspect that I’m not the only one.

Toronto’s NOW magazine has this modest proposal. Instead of pushing last call further and further back, start gigs earlier.

A motion by the city’s Economic Development and Culture Committee was approved in November to look into extending bar licensing hours past 2 am to help music venues succeed.

But here’s a thought: what if we started concerts earlier?

While later opening times are beneficial to club culture, and having legal options for those who want to rave till dawn is a great idea, when it comes to strengthening Toronto as a live music city, extending licensing hours isn’t much of a fix. The core audience who stay out till 1 or 2 am regularly will be the same group who stay out till 4 am, so extending last call won’t necessarily bring new people to bars or live performances.

However, starting shows at, say, 8 pm and having them end at 11 pm on weeknights could make the city a place that more diverse groups of people can enjoy. Right now, those with day jobs often can’t enjoy the music Toronto has to offer.

I like it. You should read the whole article.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38061 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal: Should Concerts Start Earlier?

  • Starting concerts earlier will deter the show-goers coming in from the burbs. It’s a huge challene getting off work at 5 pm, driving in GTA traffic and getting to a venue any earlier than 7…and that’s if you skip dinner. When my wife and I head into Toronto for shows, we like to make an evening out of it.

    I would much rather be tired the next morning for work than be rushed like a maniac to get it a show that I miss the beginning of.

  • I am all for it: I knew I was getting old when I had tickets to see Robyn Hitchcock on a Tuesday night at the Horseshoe Tavern and decided to skip it after hearing he wouldn’t hit the stage until after midnight. It was somewhat refreshing to see Wilco at Massey Hall last month: opening act started promptly at 7:30 and the headliner got on well before 9 and finished a little after 10:30.


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