How many times have we said, “Come on, so what if I’m a few minutes late?” Well, I’m so glad I asked that question. First, let’s speak honestly: Those among us who are habitually late are rarely “a few minutes late”; it’s typically more like 20, 30, or more. Oh, and do get over the notion that it’s “just part of my charm,” cuz, pally, there ain’t nothing charming about it. So join me, won’t you, dear friends, as we examine the ripple effects of being late.
Say the band designates 4:30 p.m. as load-in time. When we show up 20 minutes late, it sets off a domino effect of counter-productivity. First and foremost, it’s disrespectful of our bandmates. Nobody wants to bust their hump to be on time, only to have to get to work without the person whom, it appears, feels the rest of the band’s time and efforts don’t matter. BaBoom! Big ol’ stinky vibe before we even walk through the venue door.
Next, we have missed load-in, which only increases the stink factor. Now we feel guilty, the band is grumbling, and we’re only five minutes in. Clearly, this is rapidly turning into one of those nights when no one looks at each other on stage, musical intimacy is nonexistent, and everyone – band and audience alike – suffer for it.
But wait, there’s more: Sound check is pushed back. Depending on our slot in the show we’re either eating up someone else’s precious check time or we’ve lessened our own. Or both. Now, although it can be argued that, for some inexplicable reason, the sound on stage is never the same as it was at sound check, we’ve reduced that possibility even further by decreasing the time available to get a comfortable onstage mix.
So, let’s recap, shall we? Everyone’s noses are out of joint, the stage is redolent of resentment, but at least the monitors suck. Now we get to race to shove our food down our necks, get cleaned up, and center ourselves for the show.
The solution, you ask? Two simple words (which in theory sound easy but for the punctually challenged are in fact quite difficult): leave earlier. I learned this trick from a punctual friend: Imagine every appointment is at the airport. It doesn’t matter what great players we might be, if we show up late to the airport, that plane is leaving without our great-playin’ heineys.