Six Reasons Your Band Should Not Play Longer Than Twenty Minutes

Categories: Nitpick Six

boredtomcoates.jpg
Tom Coates/Flickr

Imagine you're on a date and you're telling a story. It's a long one, but you know it's a winner. Everyone always loves this story. Three quarters of the way to the punch line, you notice a shift in your date's behavior. They're glancing at the door, bouncing their leg or messing with their hair. Do they want a cigarette? Do they need another drink to quell their anxiety? Have they been hit with a bout of explosive diarrhea?

Moments like these separate perceptive and considerate people from torturous, self-indulgent-asshole ones. The first will recognize the proper social cues and say something like, "Hey, let's grab another drink, and I'll finish this in a minute." The latter, however, will continue endlessly flapping their tight red gums, concentrating on themselves and their immediate needs.

The risk with going to see live music is remarkably similar. There's a widespread plague of masturbatory steamrollers out there, lacking the concern necessary to be properly entertaining. Worst of all, these self-obsessed morons don't even realize they're sabotaging themselves as they watch their crowd mysteriously trickle out of the room.

You write music for yourself. You perform it for other people. Anyone who says otherwise has no business playing their meticulous mess in front of anyone but their dejected parents.

Yeah, yeah -- there are exceptions. We get it. Prolific headliners, jazz music -- which is already too esoteric for anyone to enjoy anyway -- and any act taking the stage an hour before the bar closes. But for the rest of you oblivious, plodding know-nothings, here are six reasons no band should play longer than twenty minutes.

6. Everyone Is Bored

Your set started out as a total ripper, but by the tenth minute we're all tired of watching your bassist whip their ratty hair around in circles while you take two minutes to tune your garbage guitar between songs. With that ridiculous pedal board, we wouldn't have been able to tell if you were out of tune anyway. Now, do the right thing and don't play your fifteen-minute Kraut-rock take on the Wipers' "Youth of America" to people who already feel bad about wanting to leave after your fourth song.

5. People Will Miss Your Set

Strange as it seems, there are some sublime advantages to having people miss your set. If they're your friends, you can guilt trip them for missing out while they were standing outside, smoking and talking to some asshole they want to have sex with who has a blue streak dyed into their hair. You can then use these feelings of guilt you've inspired in them for things like free drinks, food, smokes or even drag them out to see you at future shows.

If they're strangers and you actually do what you're supposed to (play from your fucking heart), they'll hear for the next month about how bad they screwed up by missing the legendary time your drummer drank a shot glass full of fire ants and head-butted God.


4. You'll Look Good Even If You Aren't

Remember that band who played for an hour before you? Yeah. You're not them. You may be ill-prepared and have only one speaker on your guitar cabinet that works, but at least you had the courtesy to recognize your place in the lineup. Play a short set and watch as you evolve from "most hated band" on the bill to "second most hated band" on the bill, as easy as that.

Continue to page two.


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12 comments
jeffreyallendaigle
jeffreyallendaigle

Six Reasons This Blog Shouldn't Be Longer Than Twenty Sentences 

Jaibird13
Jaibird13

Eh, I think the current average of 30-35 minutes is fine. Besides, with introductions and banter it ends up being about 25 anyway.

We ARE talking about the openers, right? A headlining band really shouldn't stop playing after 20 minutes unless it's someone who is just too old to carry on much longer than that per show, or it's a DIY punk show and 20 minutes pretty much covers their entire album.

I'm not in a band, but I've been around the music scene enough to know that bad sets just come with the territory, and there is no magic formula to being revered here. I have seen some really, REALLY talented bands fall by the wayside while some truly awful groups got big(ish) followings. Not just "they're not for me" kind of bad, I mean Barn Owl with a microphone bad. I doubt any of it had to do with the length of their set.

The point that some bands really should limit the length of time that they play is certainly valid. Listening to a bad band torment the crowd for nearly 50 minutes can be horrible. And even decent bands can play too long, cutting into the set time of someone else.
 Trying to reset the standard to 20 minutes, however, is a bit much in my opinion. 

jazzmac251
jazzmac251

What is this silly fucking bullshit? The DO music page has been putting out some garbage lately. First that awful Snarky Puppy review and now this? Whatever gets the hits, I guess.

First of all, I think most of the issues this article brings up only apply to bands full of amateur or hobbyist musicians. How many different bands have been nominated for DO Music awards in the last 5 years? They're out there grinding out gigs just like anyone else. Should they limit their sets to 20 minutes? Is everyone bored at a Midlake show? Should Sarah Jaffe consider the upsides of people missing her set? Should the Funky Knuckles play 2 tunes and leave while patting themselves on the back at the brilliant mind games they're playing with the audience? Should Snarky Puppy ask the audience for permission to play their next song after their first 20 minutes is up? Assuming your answer is that these tips are for a different "class" of musician, my retort would be this: With all the truly top-level music out there in Dallas, why the fuck is DO or any of its writers wasting their time with writing posts criticizing shitty garage bands and teenagers?

Well, I'll say this for Mr. Drew Ailes article. At least it didn't take up more than 20 minutes of my time. :\

willy
willy

unless you're a completely un-established and new band playing a 20 minute set is barely worth hauling the gear for. people will be pissed if you only do 20 minutes, not the audience necessarily but the bar manager or promoter who put together the show and gave you a 40-60 minute slot and expects you to fill it. now their schedule is fucked.  the band playing after you is pissed too because now they have to play earlier...who ever wants to play earlier? nobody. they're still waiting on their people to show up or maybe one of their members is running late, now thanks to your diva-esque 20 minute set, make-the-wolrd-revolve-around-me bullshit amateur antics their friends who were assuming the schedule is running late, because its a bar and thats how it works, well...now the schedule is early and their people missed their set or the bar manager is pissed because the next band will refuse to play erailier to now he's got 20-40 extra minutes of dead time on his hands, time when there was supposed to be entertainment...thanks asshole. this writer has obviously never played in a band or worked in a bar that draws decent acts and has no idea what the realities of lining up gigs, networking or maintaining good relationships within the musical community are like.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

Not judging this post at all....but this is it? for the day? a blog named after that great song should earn it. just seems like the spirit of the title got lost a long time ago. (but I keep coming back)

Todd_VW
Todd_VW

This article rules and everyone who thinks otherwise is probably in one of those bands.

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

It's astounding to me how seriously people take music.  To each his own, I understand, but even the most socially conscious performers are entertainers first.  Relax.  Enjoy.  Life won't end if you actually like something. 

sighhh
sighhh

Are you kidding me? This has to be satirical. This article is an insult to the many musicians in Dallas who have dedicated their lives to the trying, heartbreaking career of an artist.  


To actually *get* a gig in Dallas is a miracle. Even moreso when you are allowed to work for more than, say, 20 minutes. It is wholly inappropriate to limit a set to those constraints, especially when the musicians are often not even paid appropriately, for starters. 


I wouldn't chime in if I didn't care, if I wasn't invested, if I didn't have the experience to back me up. When people react like this to the material that is being put out by the DO, then don't you think it's time to listen? 


Not to mention that you, Drew, have written a paper-thin argument. How about we try these headlines:


"Six Reasons Your Movie Shouldn't Run Longer Than Twenty Minutes"

"Six Reasons the Rangers Should Only Play for A Half Hour"

"Six Reasons The Dallas Observer Should Limit It's Articles to 100 Words."


I hope this highlights how inane the nature of this piece is. 

Why_Do_I_Read_This
Why_Do_I_Read_This

Here's all the validation you'll need as an aspiring writer than ANYONE can get a gig as long as you force an edgy counter-culture persona.


I would suggest you stop using 'Vice' as a style guide for your blog. 

tgtg999
tgtg999

This is the absolute stupidest article I have ever read in my entire life.  

Steeeve
Steeeve

Bored WITH, not bored OF.

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