Sure, Let’s Talk About This “20-Minute Concert” Deadspin Article

Matt Inman on March 30, 2018

Look, I know websites and their writers put things on the internet just to get a rise out of readers. I get it. But damned if this post declaring that “No Band Should Play For More Than 20 Minutes” didn’t get me going. Mission accomplished, Deadspin. 

So yes, I get that this is what the author wanted. I’m doing it anyway. First of all, readers of this site will most likely agree with me off the bat that concerts can and indeed should stretch long past 20 minutes, but I feel it necessary to dissect the “points” the author makes in the piece. 

The article begins by putting the reader in a crowded, sweaty club scenario and explaining how lame it is that there are four opening acts before the artist everyone paid to see goes on, and no one has played a note before 9pm. Here’s the thing: if you’re in a smallish club with a bill of five bands, no one paid a significant amount of money to see that “headlining” band, and I’d wager the audience members are just as likely to have come for the first band as for the final band. That’s how showcases like that work. 

Speaking of small bands playing shows like that, the author later cites The Ramones’ “famously…killer 20-minute sets” and how those sets “essentially tripled” when they got famous. Oh really? A band played short sets when they were starting out but then got some fame and started playing longer shows? Maybe even in bigger venues? The devil you say! 

Just to be fair, I won’t bring in the paragraph about how jambands are awful—the author specifically and predictably name-checks Phish and the Grateful Dead, with a strangely pointed jab at The String Cheese Incident as well—because that’s too easy in an article on Relix. We know our audience. 

I will, however, take on the final paragraph of the piece, which notes that this 20-minute rule doesn’t apply to Bruce Springsteen or BeyoncĂ© and “probably” doesn’t apply to “anyone who headlines a stadium” (let’s just ignore what kind of venues Phish and the Dead have played). The author seems to say this is mostly a money issue, as we obviously pay a lot for these stadium acts. But how do these bands get to stadium gigs? Are young groups supposed to truncate their shows until they get huge? Is art only worth listening to for over 20-minutes when it’s made by a millionaire?

I could go on about this topic, but really it seems unnecessary as I doubt I could find many people in my life who truly agree with the Deadspin article. Again, I get the troll-factor of the whole thing, but this kind of click-bait, anti-popular opinion online journalism just rubs me in all the wrong ways (see the plethora of “But What If That Thing You and Everyone Else Loves Actually Sucks?” “think” pieces).

Hey, if you want 20-minute concerts, go to a concert and leave after 20 fucking minutes. Make more room for the rest of us. But right now, it’s Friday afternoon and I have some crowded, sweaty, hours-long weekend shows to prepare for.