Six reasons bands should play 20 minutes or less

boredtomcoates.jpg
Tom Coates/Flickr

Imagine you're on a date and you're telling a story. It's a long one, but you know it's a winner. Everyone always loves this story. Three quarters of the way to the punchline, you notice a shift in your date's behavior. She's glancing at the door, bouncing her leg or messing with her hair. Does she want a cigarette? Does she need another drink to quell the anxiety? Has she been hit with a bout of explosive diarrhea?

Moments like these separate perceptive and considerate people from torturous, self-indulgent-asshole ones. The first will recognize the proper social cues and say something like, "Hey, let's grab another drink, and I'll finish this in a minute." The latter, however, will continue endlessly flapping their tight red gums, concentrating on themselves and their immediate needs.

See also:
7 types of drunks to avoid at the club


The risk with going to see live music is remarkably similar. There's a widespread plague of masturbatory steamrollers out there, lacking the concern necessary to be properly entertaining. Worst of all, these self-obsessed morons don't even realize they're sabotaging themselves as they watch their crowd mysteriously trickle out of the room.

You write music for yourself. You perform it for other people. Anyone who says otherwise has no business playing their meticulous mess in front of anyone but their dejected parents.

Yeah, yeah -- there are exceptions. We get it. Prolific headliners, jazz music -- which is already too esoteric for anyone to enjoy anyway -- and any act taking the stage an hour before the bar closes. But for the rest of you oblivious, plodding know-nothings, here are six reasons no band should play longer than twenty minutes.

6. Everyone Is Bored

Your set started out as a total ripper, but by the tenth minute we're all tired of watching your bassist whip his ratty hair around in circles while you take two minutes to tune your garbage guitar between songs. With that ridiculous pedal board, we wouldn't have been able to tell if you were out of tune anyway. Now, do the right thing and don't play your fifteen-minute Kraut-rock take on the Wipers' "Youth of America" to people who already feel bad about wanting to leave after your fourth song.

5. People Will Miss Your Set

Strange as it seems, there are some sublime advantages to having people miss your set. If they're your friends, you can guilt trip them for missing out while they were standing outside, smoking and talking to some asshole they want to have sex with who has a blue streak dyed into their hair. You can then use these feelings of guilt you've inspired in them for things like free drinks, food, smokes or even drag them out to see you at future shows.

If they're strangers and you actually do what you're supposed to (play from your fucking heart), they'll hear for the next month about how bad they screwed up by missing the legendary time your drummer drank a shot glass full of fire ants and head-butted God.

See also: Six Reasons Employers Should Hire Touring Musicians

4. You'll Look Good Even If You Aren't

Remember that band who played for an hour before you? Yeah. You're not them. You may be ill-prepared and have only one speaker on your guitar cabinet that works, but at least you had the courtesy to recognize your place in the lineup. Play a short set and watch as you evolve from "most hated band" on the bill to "second most hated band" on the bill, as easy as that.

Continue to page two.


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69 comments
mnsoundscene
mnsoundscene

I would have loved to have seen Low's "drone" set at Rock the Garden limited to 20 minutes! IMHO. 

Astronaurt
Astronaurt

Here's to hoping I don't run into you at any show I'm at, sounds like you have a unique talent to suck the fun out of everything.

Dustin Skaalerud
Dustin Skaalerud

Boooooo! If this was read in paper format i'd use it as toilet paper. Written by, what i dub, an apathetic music listener.

NOPE
NOPE

Y'ALL OBVIOUSLY AIN'T PUNX. YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS ARTICLE. 

Robert Hilstrom
Robert Hilstrom

Nice to see CP supporting the music. i guess all of those concert ads and club ads that keep you guys going is ripe for the bashing! Keep printing this and soon all CP will be worth is buttwipe!

James Hall
James Hall

Wow! It must be hard to earn a living writing about local bands. Know what's harder? Driving for over an hour after a full shift at a slave job - Unloading instruments, amps and PA equipment - Setting up - Tuning up and THEN entertaining for 4 sets. Not 20 minutes. 4 - 45 minute sets. And yeah - some of the pub-patrons will be bored. Some will be ecstatic. Besides the owner - it's those ecstatic patrons I play for. I know that I'm an entertainer - not an artist, but still, that article kinda ticked me off.

Nathan Anderson
Nathan Anderson

Figured I'd read the whole article before commenting... that was my first mistake. C.P. made the bigger one by not letting this one fall on the editing room floor. Seriously sad...

James Crimmings
James Crimmings

What the hell is the point of this article? That any artistic expression that doesn't fall into his narrow minded view of music shouldn't see the light of day and that you are a fool if you enjoyed a performance that happens to be outside the box? Musicians are constantly influenced by other musicians that are good, bad, strange, obnoxious etc. You can't tell me that Lennon and McCarthy weren't influenced along the way by much lesser songwriters. And a 20 minute show? If you think I'd haul all my drumming gear to play 4 effing songs, you're crazy.

Jeff Krause
Jeff Krause

Yeah, kept waiting for some substance and never came. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a satirical writing representation of exactly what (s)he is complaining about?... You didn't have anything to say but you kept talking. If you don't have the attention span for more than 20 mins of music then keep flipping through Pandora at home and stay out of the clubs. I don't need to hear your self-important rant behind me at a show. If you don't know any bands that can write or perform more than 20 mins of material then you are going to the wrong shows.

Ryan Siverson
Ryan Siverson

Where was quality control in catching this turd before it was published?

Padre Pienbique
Padre Pienbique

Sweet! It's almost word-for-word the City Pages Minneapolis gave The Big Wu, in 1997.

portoqwerty2
portoqwerty2

Yeah I saw number 1 coming. yes Minneapolis is pretty saturated with shitty bands.. but it is clear who you are talking to here. And there are many bands that will play for three hours and leave them wanting more. Maybe you guys should get over your tunnel vision and check out more music than what fits the hipster status quo. there are a lot of bands I would love to see play for a couple of hours. But I know the kinds of bands that the City Pages writes about aren't the kinds that COULD play for a couple hours. 

Elliot Engebretson
Elliot Engebretson

This is the worst article I've ever read. Seriously, City Pages you should be ashamed you posted this. Go listen to real musicians.

andrewrobertailes
andrewrobertailes topcommenter

easily the funniest batch of comments in a while

Ray Gilman
Ray Gilman

He is oblivious to the concept bands are supposed to get paid. He is probably a guy that plays for little or no money because of his talent level which is lacking like his writing ability.

Banquesha
Banquesha

Bravo! Excellent piece on the tragic state of Minneapolis music. The detractors are so used to being told they are special and talented, despite being the complete opposite, that a long look in the mirror is long overdue. Sadly, many of them appear to dislike what they see looking back at them and are lashing out instead of paying attention. Vanity coupled with stupidity is an ugly combination. 

Mike Thue
Mike Thue

From what I dug up on the internet, Im not 100% sure if this is correct but all signs followed me to the columnist being a member of a band called Brain Tumor. This is what it sounds like so you probably shouldn't be taking this guy very seriously if this is his band https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UeTCoCbi5I

scott1064
scott1064

This article is complete BS. Obviously this guy has never been in a band. People complain ALL THE TIME when a band plays too short. Especially if it's for only 20 min. Also, don't yeah hate on jazz. So ignorant.

Mike Thue
Mike Thue

Terrible article written by someone completely clueless. I can't even begin to tell you whats wrong with all of that because I don't think either of us have the time. That columnist needs to be reassigned to other duties and shouldnt be allowed 100ft near any music scene, venue, festival, or hobo with a guitar on the street corner.

cfalconnier
cfalconnier

Wow. Just. Wow. Way to trash a good percentage of you readers. And I'm sorry, do you have ANY idea how much blood, sweat, and tears it takes to be in a professional band? It ain't no cake walk kid. And on top of it all trashing our jazz scene? Get fucked.

This whole article was poorly written, inflammatory, condescending, tripe.

Time for the artists flying below the radar to stand up, and quit supporting these cliquey, Holier-than-thou, papers, radio stations, and venues.

Reed Wilkerson
Reed Wilkerson

Keep publishing articles like this. Stop pouring praise on every single artist you review just because they're local. Keep them honest. Piss people off. Be bold. Let the haters hate, They're still reading right?

JamesRussel
JamesRussel

This article is spot on. You kids are probably just mad because you secretly know you're one of the terribly shitty bands eating up 90% of the stage time at dive bars all over town. 99% of everyone at any of your shows doesn't give a flying fuck about your poopy music. If you somehow managed to entertain them for 20 minutes, it would be a small miracle. Just because you're an "artist" doesn't mean you're good, and it doesn't mean we should congratulate you even when you suck massive balls. 

Chris Firkus
Chris Firkus

Wretched, go crawl under the rock you came out from.

cenkid
cenkid

Six reasons you shouldve never written this article:

1. Every joke was a cringe take.

2. Your drunken good time does not trump an artists attempt to perform.

3. Youre a writer. Youre an artist. At one point you couldnt spell Macaroni but your parents didnt take away your crayons. You were given a chance and what did you do with it? Write up some nonsense at citypages meant to annoy musicians and up your credibility as a "cool, outsider" who doesnt follow the beaten path. Typical journalistic ego drivel.

4. I dont need six bullet points in order to fulfill the minimum word count for this website while attempting to completely dump on the arts. I could just trash this article via twitter like an adult. With this amount of time spent on innane, grumpy rhetoric shouldnt you be uncovering political corruption?

kwg_612
kwg_612

Almost the dumbest article I've ever read. 

Lora Thompson
Lora Thompson

City Pages Minneapolis just got knocked down a notch in my book. This isn't even an article....it's a Personal Rant & it's crap. Booo! Unlike!

Brandon Lee
Brandon Lee

I think he had an idea of a certain type of band but fails to provide much context, it just comes off as a guy who doesn't enjoy music at all. especially attacking jazz like that, yeah it might be considered by some to be esoteric, but it still has an enormous following, and the players are a sight to be seen. Also it makes a vague reference in the beginning that hardley anyone can understand, I'm sure. just poor writing all together and poor effort at an interesting topic for an article. Bad form city pages, bad form.

Ryan Rud
Ryan Rud

Written by a guy who probably has never been in a band or was in a band that sucked so bad nobody could stomach his show...either way....dumb article.

Banquesha
Banquesha

I agree 100%! It's so crazy how so few people have learned this simple lesson that it even needs to be brought up again so many years later. *shrug* the kids these days eh?

ThisArticleRots
ThisArticleRots

@Banquesha  You are just as much of a troll as the person who wrote this article. You don't know shit about the music scene nor do I get what you mean by "looking in the mirror" because you should be doing that right now. Furthermore, how the hell did you get a name like Banquesha? Thats just a tragedy... I'm sorry you are gonna have to go through life being called something thats not really a good name at all.

JamesRussel
JamesRussel

Rather than boring the audience to tears, they seem to at least be putting on a good show, and the people there seem to be having fun, which is what people are paying for when they go to a show. If you haven't figured that out yet, then it's no surprise that this article makes your butt hurt super bad and stuff. 

andrewrobertailes
andrewrobertailes topcommenter

@cfalconnier  to be fair, the jazz part was worded poorly - i meant to refer specifically to free-form and avant garde jazz as being too esoteric

as far as the below the radar bullshit comment goes, if you knew anything about the weird "underground" music in this city you'd be laughing at this article with me.

ThisArticleRots
ThisArticleRots

@JamesRussel  Shut up dude. Just no. If you're gonna insult the scene then don't be a part of it. Yes there are crappy bands out there but lets put an instrument in your hands and put you in front of a mic on stage and we can go from there.

eriknordman
eriknordman

Lol, actually he is in a band and the band he's in is probably a lot better than anything you've been a part of.

Banquesha
Banquesha

@ThisArticleRots @Banquesha  Oh, it's you again. What do we have this time? An attack on my name? Why are you named ThisArticleRots hurdur that must be a tough name to live with hur dur hurdurdur. 7 years of taking band pictures, you said in the other thread? How were you getting into shows to take these pictures when you were 3 years old?

Banquesha
Banquesha

@ThisArticleRots @JamesRussel  You must be a member of one of the plurality of horseshit bands that prattle endlessly while taking small breaks to attempt to learn to play their instruments on stage that are so ubiquitous here. As such, I imagine the sting from the truth being presented to you in such a pure and distilled manner burns terribly. Suck it up and realize you are part of the problem with respect to the topic at hand, and crying about it isn't facilitating any solutions. 

Banquesha
Banquesha

@ThisArticleRots @Banquesha  Strawmen and appeals to authority do not equate to "tear[ing] through" someone little kid. I suppose you didn't have to learn anything about logical argumentation for your GED though so I won't be too harsh on you. Just know that you have embarrassed the shit out of yourself in this thread and everyone is laughing directly at you for your failure and stupidity. 

JamesRussel
JamesRussel

@ThisArticleRots @Banquesha  You go on City Pages boards and brag about how much talent you have, and then you get butthurt when someone tells you you're part of the problem. Here's a tip - If you weren't such an overbearing narcissist, maybe the truth wouldn't be so hard to hear. You don't deserve praise and adulation just for showing up, and you're not entitled to an audience. If people aren't interested in your work, it's not because they're a bunch of meanie-poopyheads, it's probably because your "art" is boring. If you think that just because someone is creating art means they deserve to have an audience, I'm willing to bet that your photography isn't very good. Also, In response to your other malformed comment, I play on stage all the time. It's not that hard. It's probably the easiest job in the universe...  maybe not quite as easy as "band photographer". 


ThisArticleRots
ThisArticleRots

@Banquesha Again, I take good photos of good bands and am a published and established photographer. Ive been doing it for 7 years and know a hell of a lot more about the Minneapolis scene than you do. I also have more talent in my pinky than you do in your entire body. Please talk some more troll smack because Id love to tear through you some more.

ThisArticleRots
ThisArticleRots

@Banquesha @ThisArticleRots @JamesRussel  

You don't know what the hell you are talking about. Im a music photographer and have seen more bands than you and know more legit musicians than you do. Please put your foot in you mouth and roll out into traffic. There is no truth here, only a terribly uninspired, false, and lackluster article by a columnist that cant seem to tell his face from his ass and apparently you can't either. Kindly eat a dick.

yeahright
yeahright

@killyourselfhipster @eriknordman 

You're right! I watched a couple of their videos on youtube. Never mind 20, two minutes is too much of them. Very good at accidental feedback, wasting time and making generic noise though. 

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