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Timing Boomer gigs?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by derrico1, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    The Is Rock Dead thread got me wondering about rock cover bands that draw mostly baby boomers to gigs: Is anyone having any luck with early dinner-then-dancing show times aimed at getting an older audience out?

    Around here (central VA), 10-1 is the default window for bar gigs. But we're also unusual in that there are no bars, as such. Alcohol laws mean that all bars are technically restaurants that must do a certain % of the till in food receipts. As a result, except for wallpaper gigs, early start times are rare.

    Are any rock-oriented bands elsewhere making the 7:00-11 gigs (or similar) part of their business model?
  2. jonas_24112


    Jul 11, 2011
    Hey Derrico- Martinsville, VA here!! Couple hours south of you. The alcohol regulations in VA really kill bars...but I digress!!

    I think the play times are pretty much the same, regardless of where you are. Our local venues have the bar separate from the dining area, so there's no dinner crowd to interrupt. They also did this so they can have smoking in the bar.

    We play in NC also, and the closest venues are mostly "private membership". This helps them get around having to sell a percentage of food vs. alcohol. The usual playing times are the same in NC as in VA.

    From what I noticed, people don't start getting to the bars till after 10 and are leaving around 12 or 12:30 anyway.

    There's only one place I know of that has tried starting bands earlier in the evening. It's a place in Roanoke called Schooners. They pretty much are a "live music" venue and have bands all week long. I've seen most start times at around 7 p.m., but don't know how long they run. I think it's been pretty successful for them.

    I've also noticed that some of the larger clubs (mostly NC) will have a band from 7-10 or 11, then bring a DJ in to finish out the night. Not sure what the idea is there, but maybe hitting the boomers with live music, then giving the younger crowd a DJ with hip hop & techno?
  3. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    I had the very same idea , THE late MATINEE , to accomadate the boomers who [i'm guessing]
    are the happy hour only crowd [5 to 7-8pm ] .[using myself as an example]

    Haven't put it to the test yet but it's in the works.
  4. I'm in Indiana and I beleive one of the reasons band crowds are way down is the late start times. The Friday crowd is the younger crowd and 10 is fine but on Saturdays, an 8 to 12 or a 9 start would help.
  5. jonas_24112


    Jul 11, 2011
    Most people will go out to dinner between say 7-10, then hit the bar. That's the reason the largest amount of people tend to show up at bars after 10 p.m., thus bands are booked after 9 p.m.

    On the other hand, if it is a bar that also is serving good food, then there is a dinner crowd. If it's a small place, they don't want a band playing loud music during dinner, so you have to wait till the dinner crowd starts clearing. I played a restaurant/bar last month and we had to wait for the dinner crowd to clear out before we could even set up. That reaeeeallllllyyyyy sucked!!

    But, I also think it would be a great idea for a venue that is set up for it. For example, the dining area is well enough away from the stage that people won't be asking you to turn it down all the time.
  6. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Around here, 4-7, 5-8, 6-9 tend to be "happy hour" gigs that usually have 1-2 "fools on stools" doing acoustic material.

    I think an earlier start time can work well in some venues for some acts. It depends. But sometimes owners can get greedy, and lose sight of the bigger picture. I played one restaurant that wanted me to come in after his dinner crowd had left, so that I could bring in another crowd. His rationale was that the people were already there, so no need to have entertainment for them. The problem was that it was a weekday, and most folks won't go out after 9 in the area his place was in, and there was literally no foot traffic. So rather than entertaining the dinner crowd and getting them to stay for drinks, I played mostly to an empty room and some dinner stragglers. I tried to get an earlier start time, but the guy insisted I play until 11. He wasn't going to pay for the extra hour, so we kept the original hours. In the end, it didn't work for either of us, so we killed that gig.
  7. gjbassist

    gjbassist Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2005
    Kansas City, MO
    I can see it now. "Early Bird Special" band gigs!:D

    In the classic rock band I used to play in most of our loyal fans came early and cleared out well before the end of the night. We usually played either 8 p.m. to midnight or 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  8. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    I like the gigs that are over at 10pm. But then I'm old and sometimes have to work in the morning.

    Around here, things can be getting pretty cleared out by midnight, most bars call it quits when the crowd thins out.
  9. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Quite a few smaller bars here run duo-solo acts 8-11 midweek.
  10. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
    I've seen a happy hour gig work. This reggae band called Bonofide played happy hour/early evening gigs at Gordon Birsch in Las Vegas. I don't know if they still do it but it had a great vibe and the place was always packed it seemed.
  11. Local market dynamics dictate the gig window. Summer in Laguna Beach, CA means that full, loud bands play happy hour 4-8, since nothing must interfere with the town's signature event, the Festival of Arts, and Pageant of the Masters (http://foapom.com/). Here in PHX, my main band's demo is women over 30; we play what I like to call "cougar music," and are mostly acoustic duo/trio. When we do have full band gigs, the time is usually 8:30-12:30. My live band karaoke project goes late; 10-2.
  12. 4StringShooter

    4StringShooter Banned

    Jun 26, 2011
    London, Ontario, Canada
    GBX Member #1
    Bands in my area DON'T cater to younger knuckleheads. They (knuckleheads ) stay at home, drinking till 10:30, then hit the Bars. They DONT dance (cause they never learned how), but just stand in huddled groups, bobbing up and down, looking stupid. SOME....are discovering Classic Rock (cause they listen to thier Parents RECORDS). Barring that....Bands here play from 10 PM till 2 AM, because the Bars are open till 2 AM.
  13. jonas_24112


    Jul 11, 2011
    Aaahhhh, the young knuckleheads. That explains it. We noticed a much younger bunch at our gig last Saturday night. Much younger than the regular cougar crowd there. And you're right, they came late, some of the ladies danced in their chairs and I saw some heads binning, but none of them hit the dance floor.
  14. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    When I was putting together an Arena Rock band doing 70s and 80s stuff for a one-off gig, she said told me that if I could manage to keep the band together we might have a pretty decent act to play in the nursing homes someday.
  15. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Hey, you might have some competition. The Stones are still playing! I expect to see them at the assisted living center any day now!!! :bag:
  16. When the Spice Girls hit the scene, in the mid-90's, many feminists lamented how they were setting feminism back by 2 generations, by using their bodies to get ahead. Many musicians lamented the direction that pop music was going, as a result, because it meant that bands were going to see less and less of the pie, on the charts, and that meant that the legions of us playing in coverbandland would see our opportunities diminish.

    It has all come home to roost. Today's under 30 crowd in gig-land, for the most part, does not know any better, because of what they grew up with. It got no better, in the aughts. A live band karaoke gig on an ASU campus, earlier this year, saw myself and gui**** miming to tracks, for most of the final hour, as the Adele, Gaga and Bruno Mars stuff carried that time. It won't get better, I'm afraid. Pop music, itself, must change. Even some of my friends of color are lamenting how hip-hop (never much for using real instrumentation, to begin with) has "decayed" into a parody of itself.

    The country scene will continue to flourish; it has become the new classic rock, in many respects, but is also still caught up, for the most part, in a certain socio-political/cultural/ethnic identity. It's still a very viable option, and the market is still large, but in the long run, it is limiting.

    What could change pop would be none other than Stephanie Germanotta, herself. Wait 'til Gaga turns 30, and her looks start to go. If she does a "serious" album, with real instruments (yes, she can play her own, too), then MAYBE, her iconic status can help to cause a paradigm shift. I will not hold my breath, however.
  17. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Some of the groups I work with draw mostly young audiences that have to be chased out of the bar at 2:00. But I also work with a couple groups that feature mostly '70s-style R&B (Isley Brothers, Bill Withers, Meters, etc). Those bands tend to do really well at wine festivals and other late-afternoon or early evening events, but then the 30-40+ yr-old crowds seem to turn into pumpkins after 11:00.

    With one of those bands, we played a couple times early evenings at a club that was set up for dinner and dancing. Both times, both the dinner business and the bar receipts were pretty much maxed out for the venue. Rather than diners being scared out by the music, we had at least 15 tables (including some 4- and 6-tops) that were folks who were regular fans of the band who came out for dinner and then made an (early) night of it, rocking it middle-aged person style.

    This just seems like a niche that would work, given the right physical space.
  18. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    There's a club around here that does 8-11. I love it. I wish I could get booked more often there.

    I think there needs to be a shift, or at least an alternative. In some parts of the country, and for some age groups, staying out late isn't a ready option. But, by staying in the 9-1/10-2 world, we're eliminating an audience for live music that may actually spend at the bar. I sure know I have more disposable income at 40 than at 21. I wish I could say that about disposable time....but I digress.

    The problem is that bar owners want to fill that 9-1/10-2 time slot so that the place isn't empty. But, with an earlier start time that keeps the dinner crowd you may be able to get the same revenue while reducing your overhead. If I sell 100 more beers from 8-11 to the 50 people already there, vs 75 from 9-1 from the 30 people that the band drew, you can make more money while being able to close early. Closing early will save you on staffing, utility, and other costs. Who cares what time the money is made, it's more important that you make it.
  19. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    I get varying types of time slots here in my neck-o-da-woods (5 county area all with in about 1 hour drive time);

    Regular Bars (beer/wine pubs and full liquor bars/clubs - no food): 9p to 1a in the counties that cut off @ 2am & 10p to 2a in the counties that cut off @ 3am. Fri & Sat only

    Bar/Restaurants, Restaurants w/large bars, & lounges (bar/rest - "Holiday Inn" type Venue) - all full liquor: 8p to 12a Fri, Sat & some Thursdays and some 4p to 8p on Sundays. (Alcohol sale cut time irrelevant)

    Lodges, VMW's, etc: 7p to 11p Fri & Sat + some 3p to 7p or 8 to 4 on Sundays - all are full liquor & most serve food. (Alcohol sale cut time irrelevant)

    Plenty of options available assuming your band is a bit flexible with the set list. ;)
  20. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    2/3 of our set list is pre-1980. No way do we just play to boomers. Kids love us!

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