Calling time on late (and early) bands

How late is too late? And how early is too early? These are the vital questions I frequently find myself pondering as I set off for another of my oh-so-exciting gigs.

Bleeding’ hell. They’ve finished. Missed ‘em again.

Yeah, in recent years I’ve failed to see quite a few bands/artists I’ve intended to catch because I was just too damned slow in getting to the church on time.

Or was I? How do you know when bands are actually going to be starting their miserable little 25-minute performances anyway? Forget the laughably inaccurate “stage times” notices you sometimes see at venue entrances. Nearly always wrong. And don’t pay too much attention to what promoters sometimes (but usually only if you go to the trouble of asking them via Facebook or something) might tell you. Again, it’s nearly always wrong.

No, there’s no reliable way of knowing. So what happens? In my case, more often than not I get it all hopelessly wrong. Arriving just as the band I’d fancied seeing are finished their last song. Or, getting to the sweaty little pub/basement bar to find nothing happening and there still being two bands to go before the one I’d actually come for. At this point, in a typical display of my almost Buddhist powers of rigorous self-control and transcendental patience, I normally go straight back home again (especially if it’s in my local east London patch). Bye. Who wants to wait around while lackadaisical band members drink at the bar or fiddle around endlessly with their equipment on stage before … going away again for another 20 minutes?

Then of course there’s that other variation on lateness … not showing up at all! Twice this year I’ve been to see a specific band I’d had my eye on (ear on?) only to find - on both occasions - they’d “cancelled”. Right, keep that up and no-one is ever going to watch you play your rubbishy songs …

So how late is too late? Good question. I’ll leave the answer to the inimitable Howard Devoto …


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