How Not to Handle a Double Booking

Why can’t bar owners own up to a mistake? Double bookings happen all the time and there are three ways this mistake can be handled.

Why can’t bar owners own up to a mistake?

This kind of thing happens a lot. A bar owner or booker accidentally double books a show. There are three ways that this can be handled:

  1. The second band that was book in error is asked to reschedule
  2. Both bands are asked to please shorten their sets
  3. The band that was not supposed to play except for this blunder is put on first, plays for twice as long as normally allowed and the other band that was supposed to go on first is asked to cut their set short — as is every band after them.

Take a wild guess at which is the wrong way to handle this.

That is what happened to singer/songwriter Mick Hargreaves this past Friday night at The Local 269 in NYC, a club for which I recently had high hopes. It’s a place that seemed like it could be a haven in the dying music scene of the Lower East Side. But lately I’ve been hearing more and more stories of botched bookings.

I picture whoever is booking these kinds of places being stuck behind a cluttered old wooden desk. Piles of paper obscuring their view. No telephone or computer to be found. Unanswered requests building up and up. Patients wearing thin.

That’s because I’ve seen rooms just like that belonging to people responsible for your listening pleasure. And after some time in that space, they just don’t seem to want to try anymore. So, mistakes happen. And when they do, is it too much to ask that whoever is in charge owns up to that mistake?

On this night, instead of the bar owning up, Mick was told that he would have to wait. You see, this band had people there to see them. Which may have been true. People did seem to like their lackluster covers of classic rock’s greatest hits. But when the band ended nearly an hour and fifteen minutes later, they all left. Oddly the bar was still full, a point not lost on Mick or myself.

The sets for each act following that coverband were all cut short. And with each cut came a groan from the crowd that the bar seemed to think was not there. It was pretty insulting to the bands and those of us still there, buying beer.

Yes, this could have simply been a bad night of bad decisions. I’m willing to give that possibility a chance to linger and hope it is true. Because this very practice of callousness towards bands is what killed much of the original music scene in the NYC area. I’d hate to see it happen here at The Local 269.

Also, they do need to stop with the $10 door and $7 draft beer. You can’t be an underground rock ‘n’ roll dive bar at those prices. Sorry.


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