One of the worst feelings is to show up to a club and find out that one of the bands on the bill dropped off last-minute. What’s even worse is when two bands do it. And what’s worse still is when three bands do it, you’re from out of town, it’s a Tuesday night, and you’ve never played there before.
Bands hurt everybody when they cancel shows, but most of all they hurt themselves. Yes, emergencies come up, and yes, life gets in the way of rock and roll ambitions. But the smart response is to find a way to make things work while honoring your commitments. Did your drummer have a death in the family? Play an acoustic show. Did you book a show and then find out one of your guys has to work? Get a friend to sit in, or find some other way around it.
Whatever you do, honor your commitments. We were in Raleigh a few
months ago and the local headliner, a really strong band called Dakota
Darling, lost a few members not long before the show. They did a
two-man acoustic set and killed. Then there was the time in Baltimore
when a local band lost a drummer the day of the show but instead of
canceling, they programmed his beats at the coffeeshop down the street
and pulled off the set brilliantly. Those guys were warriors.
A warrior work ethic pays off. It tells people you’re dedicated to your
commitment and your craft, and it makes you that much more appealing.
So, if you’re ever tempted to cancel a show, exhaust every possibility
before you pull the plug. Be warriors.
John Zaremba is the guitar player and tour manager for Say When, a rock
band from Boston that has been touring the country independently for
two years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.