Set Times: Why You Should Always See Concert Openers

By Jordan Cooper
Music Journalist

In today’s social media driven age, finding out set times for shows you are planning to go see has become increasingly easier. Many venues, production companies, or even bands themselves will post times online for the upcoming concert that evening. This is a relatively new phenomenon, as it was only a few years ago when the best you could hope for was a time for when doors would be open and maybe if you were lucky all of the opening bands would be listed on the bill. With that information, you could at least attempt to guess at what time the headlining act would actually go on.

leon
Jordan Cooper with Leon Bridges in Austin, Texas during a concert. Photo by Amanda Simonton

Typically, there is a “local” opening band that performs first (sometimes two), followed by the opening act that is also touring with the headliners. When the venue posts that doors open at 7 p.m., typically the first headliners will go on by 7:30 or 8 p.m. They play short sets, around 30 minutes long, followed by a 45 minute set for the touring opener. This was the math I would try to compute in my head when trying to determine when the headliners would go on.

Now, I admit that I myself used to be guilty of trying to make that guess so that I could avoid getting to the venue too early. The goal was to time it just right so you got to the venue right after the last opening band ended, so you could get a good spot and catch the entire headlining set. However, after a few failed attempts that left me missing some of those headliners first few songs (and a terrible view in the back of the crowd), I decided I would start showing up earlier to the venues to ensure I got the perfect spot. What I found was that by showing up late, I had been missing some incredible opening bands.

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Jordan Cooper with Twin Shadow in Austin, TX during a concert. Photo by Amanda Simonton

If you are going to see a band you really like, more than likely the openers will consist of bands that have a similar sound, or at least a similar genre. Even more, I have found that a lot of times the headlining band will actually choose to tour with bands they really like to listen to or are friends with. This essentially means they are screening that band for you, making your job easy when it comes to discovering new music. If you really love the band you bought the ticket to see, chances are you will also love their handpicked opener.

Often times, the local openers are an up and coming band that are aspiring to be headliners someday. This means they have something to prove. Although I think there is some unwritten etiquette that the opening acts are not supposed to outshine the headliners, believe me when I say that rule is not always followed. These bands primary goal is to make you remember them. This can lead to some epic performances in the short windows they have to perform.

Sometimes, showing up early can lead to getting to meet the headliner as well.

 

If I had continued only trying to make it to the venue to see the last band play, I would have missed seeing some of my now favorite bands perform for the first time. Check out the list below of bands I would have missed if I had only gone to see the (headliners), and listen for them on KTSW!

So next time you are thinking of showing up late to that concert you bought tickets for, consider getting there early and seeing what magic you might find from the opening acts. What are some of the best opening bands you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

James Jordan II

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