The Show Must Go On, On Time

In Blog by Jonny Levin

In 2007, Kanye West rapped the immortal words ‘You should be honored by my lateness. That I would even show up to this fake shit.’ Four years later I was at Madison Square Garden waiting for Kanye and Jay-Z to take the stage. It had been nearly two hours past when they were supposed to go on and I was starting to feel pretty dishonored by their lack of punctuality. They eventually appeared, put on a mesmerizing show, and any ill feelings I had about their lateness were wiped away like I was flashed by one of those Men in Black neuralyzers. I was riding high on the subway home and not once did I think about seeking monetary damages from Ye and Hova. 

That is until the other day when I read about two Madonna fans who were suing the singer for starting her concert two hours late. On December 13, 14, and 16, Madonna’s shows were scheduled to begin at 8:30 PM, but didn’t end up starting until 10:30 PM and didn’t end until one in the morning . The disgruntled fans claimed they were deceived by the advertised start time and would never have bought tickets if they knew it was going to go so late. The concert they attended was on a weeknight and they allege that the show’s tardiness interfered with their work and familial responsibilities. Madonna is notorious for starting concerts behind schedule and when faced with a similar lawsuit a few years ago she responded, “There’s something you all need to understand…A queen is never late.” 

In no other corner of live entertainment is such blatant disregard for an audience expected and tolerated. Imagine going to a Broadway musical and waiting two hours for Hamilton to start doing his thing. That’d surely be grounds for a refund or at the very least a duel. Yet when it comes to concerts we’ve come to accept that the time listed on the ticket has no bearing on when the show will actually begin. The Madonna lawsuit will likely be dismissed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ask for better from venues, promoters, and the artists we love when it comes to conveying more accurate showtimes. 

A few ideas right off the bat:

Release the Run of Show!

Last year, I bought tickets to see the 1975 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Though the concert was billed as having a 7:00 PM start time, the radio station sponsoring the event tweeted out the real schedule in advance which listed that the opener Black Star Kids would kick things off at 7:30 and the 1975 would go on an hour later. I arrived a few minutes before 8:30 PM and was grateful that I didn’t have to wait 90 minutes for the act I was there to see. I wish all venues shared precise run of show information with ticket purchasers! 

Communicate Delays!

It was reported that at the aforementioned Madonna show there were issues during soundcheck that caused the show to be delayed. Apparently, they were sound checking up until the moment house doors opened. We provide our phone numbers and email addresses when we purchase tickets. In addition to selling that data, it’d be great if they could contact us when start times are being pushed back so we can be in the know and react accordingly. Decisions on when to get to the venue and hit the bathroom/merch table/concession stands could all be improved if we received real-time updates about when the show was set to start. 

Pretend You Have a Curfew! 

This past summer, I saw The Jonas Brothers at Wrigley Field. (Eclectic taste I know!) Wrigley is a special place to see a show for a number of reasons, but for this post it’s most noteworthy for how shows there actually start on time. Since it’s located in the heart of a residential neighborhood there are noise ordinance rules and a strict 11 PM curfew. As a result, shows start right when they say they will. The Joe Bros show was scheduled to start at 7:00 PM and the opening act Lawrence (who I was really there to see) came on at 7:00 on the dot. They played a tight 30-minute set and then the Jonas Brothers went on right at 8pm. If all venues acted as if they had a specific curfew the world would be a better place!

At Live Bash we’re always looking for ways to bolster the artist-fan relationship. One such way is by being more conscientious about shows starting at their listed times. (Be the change you want to see in the world, etc.) While we recognize that delays might occasionally occur, we will do everything we can to minimize them as much as possible and be communicative and transparent with our audience when they do arise. One thing I can guarantee is that we will never delay a show anywhere close to two hours. Not even for high-profile mononymous talent. Unless it’s Oprah. Then we just might. Please don’t see us! 


Jonny Levin

Creative Ops