[This was my column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
The Beatles played Toronto three times (1964, 1965, and 1966), all at Maple Leaf Gardens. Demand for tickets was huge and the band was on a tight touring schedule. They needed to get in and get out while performing for as many people as possible. Adding a second night wasn’t in the cards so the only thing they could do is play two shows on the same day: the usual evening gig preceded by a matinee performance. In between, they grabbed a bite to eat and held a press conference.
Matinees (usually as part of a doubleheader) were common back then. All the early rock pioneers — Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Rolling Stones, The Who et al — did them. It was exhausting for the act but the effort made good business sense. Not only did the scheduling of a matinee double a fan’s chances of being able to see a show, but if you were too young to go out at night, there was a chance your parents would let you attend an afternoon show.
Matinee concerts continued for years. I recall in the 1990s when some bands insisted on playing an early all-ages show followed by a licensed event in the evening. Punk bands were especially good at serving their younger demo with early sets. It was a great way to satisfy both the adults (who could avail themselves of the bar) and the kids (and the venue didn’t have to worry about underage drinking because the bar was closed to alcohol sales).
But as the rock business matured, afternoon performances slowly disappeared. Today, they’re all but gone.