What did you do last Monday night? Did you invite all your rowdy friends over to drink cheap domestic beer and cheer on the hapless Dallas Cowboys as they dropped a Monday Night Football game? Maybe the weekend’s time change fooled your body clock into a way-too-early bedtime and you turned in after the evening news?
One thing you probably didn’t do was attend a live show. After all, it was Monday night. Who in their right mind would book, play or attend one? We went to a show at White Oak Music Hall to find out. We weren't terribly encouraged from reading posts on the event's Facebook page. Someone there asked a very natural question – why on a Monday? It’s the beginning of a long work week for many. Some are still exhausted from whatever they did over the weekend. It’s definitely not viewed as the optimal night for live music.
Portland’s Bridge City Sinners headlined the show, with Pauly Creep-O from Oklahoma and Houston’s own Gen Why on as support. We can happily report the upstairs room at White Oak was near capacity all night long. The touring bands met new fans and hustled some merch. The venue sold some drinks. From our perspective, it seemed like a successful show and it all happened on a Monday night.
Is Monday as despised by promoters and musicians as one might assume? We learned that these very adaptable professionals do know the day rolls around once a week. They also know, with proper planning, it doesn’t have to be a death knell for a show.
“If you're going to book touring bands you're going to have to get experienced at making Mondays work. Touring acts often depend on a good Monday spot to get them along while on the road and a booker who can line up a solid early week gig is a hero by no exaggeration,” said Whitney Andrew.
Andrew is a musician and a show promoter whose next big venture, Wide-Eye Music Marathon, is slated for Insomnia Gallery this Saturday. It'll feature three stages and a bunch of bands. Every one of them will be glad they're playing on Saturday evening and not Monday night.
“Though, a Monday night show is just like a show any other night of the week, really," Andrew said. "The 'rules' are the same. Always put together the best bill you can.”
“If you’ve got a good lineup people will come out,” agreed Libby Lux, Bridge City Sinners’ front woman. “Oh my God, the crowd tonight was great. They were wonderful. I love it when they play along, that’s the best part. We played in New Orleans last night. A lot of people were outside, but not as many people were willing to pay to come inside.”
“That was probably the best show of the tour,” Clyde McGee concurred. He's got his own band in Colorado and is playing banjo this run with Bridge City Sinners. “I’m from Grand Junction and there’s not much happening there. A show on a Monday is the same as Tuesday or Wednesday. The expectation here, I think, is a little different.”
Maxwell Downing was in the crowd. He’s a dedicated fan of Monday night's acts and left home in Illinois to follow them on this tour. He also books shows at his own venue in Batavia. He says, as a fan, he generally doesn’t notice any difference in a band’s energy whether they’re playing on a Friday or a Monday.
“Definitely shows on Fridays and Saturdays do better,” he said of attendance. “Bands tend to put on pretty consistent performances.”
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The bands do have accountability in the process. After all, they don’t have to book shows on Mondays. Once they do, it’s their responsibility to rise to the occasion, no matter the crowd size or its level of enthusiasm, said Pauly Creep-O.
“Monday, everybody comes off work and people are maybe still hungover from the night before,” he said. “I definitely feel like there’s a Monday 'thing.' People have to wake up early the next day. I’ve noticed with the audience, a lot of times they’re wanting to be given permission to get into it and have a good time and clap their hands. It’s up to you to give them the opportunity to do that.”
Andrew circled back to the fact that having shows on weeknights helps those who are the foundation of any local music scene.
“Knowing your audience is also key in managing any show,” Andrew said. “Half industry and half nine-to-fivers is the Monday night crowd. Monday through Thursday nights are valuable not just to touring acts and industry folks who miss all the weekend shows, but to local venues and bars that make supporting local music their business. If they can only count on promoters and bands to care about those highly sought-after Fridays and Saturdays then what are they supposed to do the rest of the week? Be at a sports bar?”