I will not be writing about the band I went to see recently because the show was cancelled at the last minute. After driving over forty-five minutes to get to The Outpost in Kent, Ohio, I arrived to an empty parking lot and locked doors. I called the venue to confirm the show was off, while standing under a marquee that still listed the date and band I came to see in two foot letters. Outside the venue, I quickly checked the websites for the band and The Outpost, both listed the show, with no notice of cancellation. Ticket Fly still allowed purchases for the show.
Where is the back-up plan? A growing trend in the club circuit has been cancelled shows. While I understand (and sympathize) with break downs, illness or injury, and serious issues back home, I wonder why so many shows are being cancelled. Booking a tour is hard work. It takes hours and quite a bit of back and forth to get the shows lined up just right. But do young musicians plan for the unexpected? Life on the road is fraught with unpredictable challenges that must be considered before leaving for tour. Recently, the most common reason a show is cancelled has been vehicle troubles. The van breaks down in the middle of nowhere, repair costs soar, and a new crowdfunding campaign surfaces to help defray the costs. In the meantime, the shows that are cancelled have a far reaching effect on more than the band.
No show means no revenue. The Outpost was closed, locked up tight on the last Saturday before school starts in one of the largest college towns in Ohio. They lost money, but their staff, who all have families to support and bills to pay, felt the loss as well. My photographer rearranged his schedule to make the show, as a favor to me, passing on a paid job for the night. I spent two hours researching the band, half a tank of gas, and postponed celebrating a family birthday to get there. A group of Kent State freshmen were at a nearby fast food place lamenting the no-show and wondering what to do with their last day of freedom before school started and how to get their money back. While it is incredibly fast and easy to purchase a ticket online, it is a long, drawn out procedure to get a refund. If you are not from the immediate area, or the venue does not provide a refund on site, it can be next to impossible to get your money back, taking upwards of thirty days or more.
Cancellations should not be a secret. Two of my classmates were on their way to Kent when I called (from the empty parking lot) and told them the show was cancelled. Most cancellations are posted immediately on the band and venue FaceBook pages with an explanation, apology, and usually a promise to return at a later date. The only notice I could find when I searched later that night was the event page listed the show as cancelled. You know, the event page that you reply to as ‘I’m going’ and get deluged with huge amounts of comments and posting until the event date. Where are those endless announcements when the show is cancelled?
Now what? I will not lie, I left the empty venue more than irritated that the show had been cancelled without proper notification. So, on the way home, I entertained myself with finding alternatives to seeing the show that never showed up. Here are my top ten things to do when the show is cancelled:
1) Binge watch Breaking Bad and hope Walter lives in the end.
2) Dye your hair an interesting purple color.
3) Order pizza from the shop that has the cute, emo delivery guy.
4) Shop online for weird items you will never use.
5) Listen to every Disney soundtrack on your playlist.
6) Post videos of the last Beer Pong Tournament at the frat house.
7) Snapchat your friends in California with videos of the snow in Ohio.
8) FaceBook stalk the kids you went to high school with.
9) Make bracelets out of plastic bottles.
10) Dance around the house to any music that is not the band that cancelled.