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Band/Bar dispute over end/playing time. Your take?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BurningSkies, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Here's one for you. I'm interested on your take. We had a gig last Friday that was stated to be "8pm to midnight". It was at a bar that does a bunch of music, but also acts as a sport's bar.

    It became obvious that with the NCAA tournament happening and our local team (Syracuse) slated for a 7:10 start time, the schedule was going to be disrupted. We contacted the club morning of the show to find out what the story was, and asked if they indeed wanted us to load in for the usual start time and they said yes, but you won't play until after the game ends.

    Upon showing up at 7pm, (as normally scheduled and planned) I was greeted at the door by the owner who not only said 'you're going to wait until after the game' (duh), but also could we minimize our load in/setupto not be a distraction. All of which we did.

    Once the game ended at 9.15, we were ready and 'on stage' to go. We waited until 9.30 for them to turn off the game sound and give us the OK.

    We played from 9:30-12:15, with a 15 minute set break in the middle. Upon finishing and being half packed up, the 'bar manager' (owner long since gone), came up and complained to us that we were supposed to play until 1:30 since we got a late start.

    I said that we didn't know that, and that no one had mentioned playing late due to the game and that we were loaded in on time and had been in house since 7. As 'contracted' (verbally) we were there and ready to provide music during the allotted time period. She ended up calling the owner and we 'settled' on a compromise that hit us for 50$ of our night's take. By the time they even said a word to us, I had the backline half broken down anyway.

    I was a mix of angry and also trying not to burn a bridge for a place that wants us to book every other week for the summer. How would you have handled this, and are we being unreasonable, given we played with THEIR delay...and it seems ridiculous to me to make us stay an hour an a half later because they couldn't plan appropriately.
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    My answer would not set a good example for other bands.

    Let me just say they are lucky they hired YOU and not US.
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    The funny thing is we just squeezed these guys for extra cash...only 50 bucks, but still. So, we ended up with the same cash that we've gotten in the past gig or two there.

    I also don't love a place that asks you for FOUR HOURS of stage time. To me 3 is enough. We're not a cover band. And one of the little secrets is that we'll give you the same number of songs either way. Some will just have much longer dub sections than at 3 hours. ;)
  4. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Although I've found club owners generally won't do it, a contract in such a case would have helped with the red flags going up and all. I'd just say, live and learn. We had a similar thing happen when Univ WI played Ohio State football several years ago. Ball game was same time as the dance portion of a banquet we were booked to play at the Univ itself, ironically. There was a small-medium size room adjacent to the ballroom. They put a tv in there. We played from the ballroom stage to zero - nobody. 300 or so people crammed into this tiny room to see the ballgame. At 10pm after the game, people started filtering out into the ballroom. We had gotten pre-paid so it was a no-brainer. We finished at our contracted time, near 11, played a couple encores, then packed up and went home. But we had a contract, too.
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    For gigs like that we would. For most bar gigs, we don't...and probably won't since just having one would scare off some of the owners/bookers, who don't want the extra layer of hassle and/or 'rules'.

    In my mind they decided it would be great to have the band on hand and waiting in the wings at their beck and call.
  6. Twocan

    Twocan Living the Dream Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Medway, MA
    This happens to us a lot with sports and the venues we play - lay out the plan BEFORE you start. Heck, if you see an event that's getting attention, call them before you get there and feel out what's going on. It's about money to them - help them make it and you'll be valued.

    Don't let a single gig ruin future opportunities - take your lumps if they're light, seeing the big picture. Bands are a dime a dozen and you only have to tick them off once.

    Oh, and take longer/more breaks!!
  7. shinybass


    Aug 22, 2004
    It's not fun to be in anything like this, and responding, rather than reacting, is always better. Rule #1: They are always the enemy. (of course there are exceptions to this rule). They wanted people to keep buying beer while you entertained. It's not your fault, obviously, that the night was cut short, and it sounds like your band handled the gig as pros with load in, duration, etc. Communication saves a lot of hassle, and assumption on both parts creates friction. So you broke (relatively) even, you learned a lesson that only took $50 out of your collective pockets, and by going back repeatedly this summer (for the $50 more), then you'll make your money back, and use THEIR venue as a place to promote YOUR music. Don't let ego get in the way. If they cut your cash in half, (or even less) with a 'Well what are you going to do about it?' attitude, then yes, put it on the 'list'. Just like any worthwhile relationship, there may be a speed bump or two in the ramping up process. Stay the course, and conquer the world, one club at a time.
  8. flatfender

    flatfender Ad eundum quo nemo ante iit Supporting Member

    Depends on a few things.

    I enjoy playing music so I wouldn't have been put out. On the other hand my drummer is pretty grumpy and throws a hissy fit if we start late or play one song past our scheduled quit time. Be it midnight or 1:30 or whatever.

    Was there still a crowd there? That and your relationship with the bar are probably the most important things that would determine my answer.

    Sounds like a good gig to have if they wanna have you there every other weekend in the summer.

    Some of the owners we play for have lots of friends and will refer them to us for other gigs like private parties & weddings. It pays to kiss a little a$$ sometimes.

    If it's a local gig I try and to load in mid afternoon before the evening crowd gets there if possible. Less stress for the band, the bar and the patrons already there to eat or whatever.
  9. hopturn


    Sep 19, 2010
    Charleston, SC
    that same thing happened to me the other night, but oppositely. the bar usually wants us to start around 10:30, but the game ended at 11:20...we played from 11:30 and the bar lost an hour. since they were at capacity anyways for the games they didn't even care. win some lose some. i was in another bar a few weeks earlier with a similar set up - yet different results. sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. THAT'S LEBOWSKI.
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I try to balance the benefit/cost. This is a money gig that helps pay band rent, but won't ever do anything to advance the band's 'brand' in a meaningful fashion. During the summer at 2x a month, it will generate between 6-800 in cash a month, mostly playing to people who won't be long term fans or active followers.

    I feel like if they knew we weren't playing until 9 or 9.30, they should have said upfront what the end expectation was and also pushed our load-in time back by 1.5 hours. With 6 people in the band, that's 9 extra people-hours of wait time.

    And yes, last time we played there we did 3 sets with 20 minutes+ in between. ;)
  11. Well without a contract stipulating such things as how many hours you must play for $X, you're screwed. They may have assumed you'd make up the time on the back end but it wasn't discussed, so, yeah. Nobody's perfect. More due diligence next time. And it goes without saying that it's a buyer's market.
  12. emf818


    Dec 27, 2012
    My favorite has always been:

    Booker: Hey your set is at 6 alright
    We get there
    Sound guy: Your set is at 7
    Time we actually ended up starting: 7:30ish
  13. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    It's a bit of an oddity of a gig for us...slightly out of town and not a known 'music hangout' bar. I don't think we'll end up getting much of a 'bump' from it. During the summer they open one of the walls (big garage door style things) and they have a big outdoor patio and host Volleyball games all week.

    They like us because we're a reggae band, which during summertime, is a fit. We're also 'non-threatening' on a booking level, given we only have two 'black dreads' in the band (you'd think we'd be past that socially, but not necessarily so).

    To our credit, the bar was full for the game (with a crowd that certainly wasn't there for a 'reggae' vibe), with Syracuse tanking the ending and the mood being sour...we altered our song flow to engage people and raise the 'mood floor', and actually kept people there until the later 'bar crowd' came out. They also enjoyed it. Several self-identified 'regulars' said they were going to tell the owner that we were 'way better than the other bands that play here'.
  14. that's def on the bar and not the band, unfortunately if the bar doesn't see it that way you're likely SOL, they don't have to be amenable, you do [to an extent].
  15. kbakerde

    kbakerde Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2012
    I guess once he said you wouldn't start til after the game ends, you should have asked what his expectation was for an ending time.
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I'll also add that not only would we have played with a different dynamic for the extended hour+, but we would have also played some instrumental pieces to give our singer's voice a rest. 4 hour gigs are taxing on her for what she does, and we have to plan accordingly.
  17. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    As a salesman - which you are - you never want any sale to be your last. Take your lumps, smile and look forward to the next 10.
  18. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    We have had that happen several times at several venues...last one was when there was a playoff baseball game going on. They wanted us to wait till it was over and we did, but we played to the original end time. The owner wanted us to take less but the singer in my last band was having none of it. She was very confident, and good looking, so the owner caved and payed us the full amount.

    The OPs band was there on time and its not your fault you have to sit there until its over.
  19. Nagrom


    Mar 21, 2004
    Western Canada
    I always try to compromise in a situation like that. For instance, even though the show started late, it will still end on time.
  20. Noonan


    Oct 27, 2011
    I'll throw in my two cents from someone who has been doing paying gigs for 25 years. Whether it's a bar, club, or private party, I always know that set times will not be set in stone. You have to be somewhat flexible. That being said, if someone asks to push the start time back, my first question is "When are we done?" Everyone should agree on this before the show starts, then you don't have a controversy later.

    Now, I also think you need to have a fixed amount of time that you are going to play on stage (ours is two 75-minute sets). Four hours of stage time is too much IMO. We haven't done that since college days playing frat houses. I would probably do it now if there were a bunch of lovely coeds in the audience, but sadly those days are gone :crying:.