In the discussion over which night is the best night for your event in Baltimore, most would quickly boil it down to Friday or Saturday night, barring opportunities provided by certain holidays.
Yet shows happen every night of the week.
Once you spend some time scrolling through baltshowplace, and once you have done something like this for decades, patterns begin to emerge. Here are some observations.
In my neck of the underwoods, there are a lot of Sunday shows. This makes sense on a few levels. Firstly, many folks in my scene work service/restaurant jobs, and those places are often closed on Mondays in Baltimore. Secondly, bars and venues have an “odd night” to book where the stakes are not as high as on a Friday or Saturday night, but their regular weeknight crowd isn’t typically heading out on the town. My pals sneak in and make some noise on those nights and head to bed late, often without work to worry about in the morning.
To put it bluntly, Baltimore is not a major stop on a band’s tour, but it is on the way to a major stop on a band’s tour. Baltimore has long benefitted in many ways from being “mid” (as in Mid-Atlantic), smack dab in the middle of the east coast. So, you play Baltimore on your way to another bigger town (bigger in terms of population, bigger in terms of “money on the table” due to gentrification and show booking empires). Therefore, my friend’s band winds up opening for a touring band in Baltimore on a Wednesday night.
There is a very “2022 conversation” to be had here about Baltimore bands being “too big to play Baltimore” and the cool ways folks like Snail Mail and Turnstile keep coming up with to have memorable and meaningful shows here, building on what bands like Beach House, Future Islands, Dan Deacon and others have pulled off and continue to pull off to make this happen. Any band in that position who has figured this out should be lauded, as the logistics in Baltimore are stubborn. The effort is appreciated and the shows have been memorable.
With the established parameters of Friday and Saturday being the “best nights”, the next problem is a “jam up” of shows on those nights. A younger me would “show hop,” and I try to aid and abet those who still practice this art with online updates on which band is playing, who is up next, and so forth. These days? I study the data like a racing form and place my bet. As I write this, I am weighing many options for a coming Saturday night. After looking over the known landscape, I must decide and stick with my decision. FOMO is real, but, at 46, <a href=“I would just like to sit down now, please.
Some talk happens from time to time of a “show council”, where the underground stops splitting up its audience and makes decisions on what shows happen on these nights. It is always just talk. Each event is its own chain of occurrences, its own weather pattern turned into a Tropical Storm or Hurricane, and it moves with its own gravity. Another factor here is the loss of collectively-run warehouse spaces in the scene that could meet in a friendly way to discuss these matters. I have been to a meeting where bar and venue owners sit down to talk about their concerns, and, logically, their first priority is keeping themselves in business. Shows and events are a way to make money though selling alcohol/ food. The larger scene or community can be a concern, sure, but not having a show and losing money on a Friday or Saturday night so another venue can make more money? Nah.
So, until we create an eighth day of the week just for shows (or something? Ask Ringo), the saga continues. The dead stop of events due to the Pandemic in March of 2020 was necessary but awful and, as shows have crept back into existence in fits and starts, some patterns did change. Others remain. Why, for example, do shows typically run from 9PM-2AMish? On a Tuesday?
But that’s a whole ’nother column. I am just glad we can all get together again, whatever night of the week it might be.