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Should people go to opening acts?

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

They’re part of the experience

Opinion by Kennedy Erhart

Opening acts are an increasingly significant factor of the concert-going experience. 

While opening acts often lack in performing experience, they shouldn’t be undermined when it comes to concert attendance. After all, everyone’s favorite artist had to start somewhere in the industry; like most jobs, many people oftentimes start at the bottom of the food chain. The same goes in the music industry.

Opening acts are quintessential to the music industry and concert experience because it allows for fans of a particular band or artist to be introduced to another artist in the same genre or one that sounds similar. Sometimes, fans can even be introduced to other genres that aren’t typically in their peripheral field of music tastes. To ultimately broaden one’s musical horizons, people need to be introduced to new artists and support up-and-coming artists that they might find enjoyable during the show.

Opening acts also make the concert experience more intimate if they have been picked by the headliner. When an opener is chosen by the artist because the artist is a fan, it gives fans of the headliner an insight into the artists’ taste in music and allows for fans to feel like they connect with the headliner more. The main purpose for an opener is to prepare the crowd and get them excited for the main act. This makes for a livelier, more engaged crowd and thus a more memorable, boisterous, and visceral show for everyone present. 

Even if the opener isn’t the most engaging or experienced performer, showing up for the opening act allows for fans to get settled before the show. Attendees have an opportunity to find a decent spot, or their seat, in the venue, buy merchandise to support the headliner, buy refreshments, and relax before the headliner makes their debut on the stage. 

Opening acts, while some aren’t completely remarkable, are still artists trying to make a living in the music industry and should be respected as such. Openers are a fun experience for the whole crowd to get pumped up for the headliner and be introduced to unique music and artists. Concert-goers never know when they’ll be introduced to their next favorite band.

They’re a waste of time

Opinion by Abby Wehrman

On a list of the most awkward situations a person could ever put themselves in, trying to sing the words to a song they don’t know seems like it would be in the top 10. So why on Earth would someone want to go to an event where the first half is people onstage trying to get them to sing along to a melody they’ve never heard before? In a nutshell, that’s what the opening acts of concerts do. 

Opening acts are just the commercials of a  concert. And no one likes sitting through commercials. That’s why DVR was invented: To fast forward through the salad and get to the meat. People don’t pay for boring opening acts; they pay for the headliners. 

The majority of the time, opening acts are hired to make a label money. They are one big money grab for record labels. Knowing this puts people off to going to opening acts, especially if the opener is clearly mediocre compared to the headliner. 

The opener’s whole job is to set the tone for the rest of the show, and so often the artists clash. Either they’re too much like the artist or so far off it’s clear it was set up by a promoter. For example, someone thought back in 1985 that it would be a great idea for the Beastie Boys to open for Madonna. It was not a great idea. Even Prince was boo’d offstage when he opened for the Rolling Stones. 

Sure, maybe the audience will discover some cool new music, but at what cost? This band they’ve never heard is painfully trying to get the crowd to dance along to their music, when all the audience wants is for them to get off the stage and let the headliner play, and it’s terribly uncomfortable for everyone. 

Congratulations, you’re paying for the most awkward experience of your life. The muffled, scratchy microphone cries of an opening-act lead singer going “C’mon everybody!” and “Make some noise!” and everyone’s favorite “Sing along if you know the words!” are often followed by an uncomfortable silence that haunts everyone in the crowd.

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