The Venue’s Too Small

A popular indie-pop band announces just ahead of the beginning of a major arena tour that their show can’t fit in the minor-league hockey venue they chose.

By Ernie Smith

This time a year ago, I had the chance to check out a hockey game at the Norfolk Scope. While not the newest thing around, it’s a pretty good venue, quite large, and it is definitely a great way to bring together 6,000 of your neighbors in a venue to watch a zamboni do its thing between periods.

An ice hockey rink for a professional team, even one in a minor league like the ECHL, is about 200 feet long, and 85 feet wide. You can fit a lot of things in it. Hockey players, for example. Comedy shows. Cultural events. Pretty sizable bands (Journey, as big a band as you can find historically, is apparently playing there later this month).

But one thing it does not apparently fit is scale, something we learned this week when the uber-popular indie pop band AJR announced on the night of its concert that it would cancel the show. The reason? The venue, in the band’s estimation, is too small for the show they wanted to put on.

This is a crazy thing to do. This was not just any show—this was the opener of the whole damn tour. In a local news clip, shared above, it discusses how people traveled from across North America to see this show. And now they’re presumably out plane fare or more, because the band chose to postpone a show that they logistically could not put together.

“We touched down in Norfolk, we thought everything was fine, and we got the venue, and we didn’t know this, but this venue can’t accommodate the show we want to do size-wise,” lead singer Jack Met stated on social media, later adding: “Something got lost in communication. I truly don’t know what happened.”


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Now, let’s take a step back here. I know a little bit about event planning, having covered that space in a journalistic context for many years. Bands don’t just show up at a venue and figure out in real time that their equipment doesn’t fit in the venue, right? That would be a horrible way to run a business!

But it does happen, and even to some of the biggest bands around. Blink-182 cancelled a show in New Zealand recently “due to logistical issues outside of the band’s control.” Jennifer Lopez also had to cancel a significant portion of her tour for similar reasons.

And it’s not unheard of for a show starting a tour to get canceled just before it takes place: Drake recently had to drop a tour stop in Memphis. The reason, per Billboard: “Due to the magnitude of the production of the Drake concert, it is logistically impossible to bring the show as designed to the FedExForum on August 6th. Unfortunately, the show in cancelled.”

(That show, which was to take place at the home of the Memphis Grizzlies, had already been postponed.)

And the size of the venue appears not to be the lone factor: A Beyoncé show intended to take place at a football stadium in Pittsburgh was cancelled for similar logistical issues—but on the plus side, her team gave a month of notice.

Now, to be fair, the bounce-back from the pandemic has caused challenges across the concert industry, with supply-chain issues, challenges finding crews, and sky-high prices factors for bands big and small. But this doesn’t appear to be what happened here. It seems like someone should have done a site tour for this show ahead of time and either did not or got some important details seriously wrong.

(On the plus side, word is that it will be possible to still do the show at the Scope later in the tour!)

AJR, a trio of brothers whose intimate history is so much a part of their identity that their major-label debut was literally called Living Room, really hyped up their tour as “a chance to make a concert into a new kind of thing, a chance to create effects we’ve always wanted to, but never could, a chance to show you something I don’t think you’ve ever seen before.” (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band cancel a show on the opening night of their national arena tour, with fans already outside of the venue, so they’re 1/1.)

One would assume that they had someone doing site tours and research ahead of time, to highlight these logistical issues before they became a problem, but based on the fact that they were completely surprised on the day of the tour, apparently not! (Or maybe, as has been hinted, the band didn’t sell enough tickets.)

I’m not an AJR fan—most of my association with them has been Anthony Fantano regularly trashing them. I have spent too long digging through Reddit threads trying to understand why a band like this can’t make this mid-sized hockey arena work, when freaking Journey has no issue.

But I gotta say, whatever happened here, it is not an amazing look.

Logistical Links

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While AJR is having a hard time fitting into arenas, Adrianne Lenker is out here dropping amazing music that sticks with you for months. Why is AJR having big radio hits and not her?

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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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