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How Long Do Concerts Usually Last?

This is a little like trying to answer, “How long is a piece of string?” The simple answer might be between ninety minutes to three hours. However, within this time frame, there are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration. 

So, to answer the question, “How long do concerts usually last?” we need to take a closer look at some of these variables. Let’s do that, and then hopefully, you’ll have a clearer idea. 

How Long Do Concerts Usually Last

Musical Style 

This isn’t something that you might think could change the average length of a concert. But, stay with me and let me explain. 

Some bands, by nature of the music, tend to have short songs. A good example of that is Punk bands and even a lot of Pop bands too. Think back to bands like The Clash or Green Day. It’s not unusual for one of their songs to be less than three minutes. 

Consequently, play thirty of their songs, and you’re all done in ninety minutes. Compare that to Prog Rock bands like Pink Floyd, and after thirty of their songs, you could still be at the concert more than five or six hours later.

Classical Music

Another example of a genre that lends itself to the time length of a concert. Whether you listen to a recital or a symphony, these concerts tend to last longer. This is because the concerts are often punctuated by a break. 

In my experience, with a break included, a classical concert can last well over two hours. And sometimes closer to three.

Number of Artists

If you’re going to watch a major artist, there’s a good chance that they’ll have an opening act. It’s not always the case, but it’s not unusual, especially at larger concerts. 

If the concert you go to does have an opening band, it’s fair to say you can expect it to go on for way over three hours. This is because as well as adding the times for both acts to play, you’ll have to take into account the length of time taken in between for the changeover.

The fact is that in a lot of circumstances, this time can be substantial. It can take an hour or more, so don’t be surprised if you’re still there after four hours. In this situation, it’s not a bad idea to have a portable phone charger with you just in case. 

Back Catalog

Location

In many ways, this might be one of the most important factors when considering how long do concerts usually last. It kind of makes sense when you think about it.

Consider a new band on the scene and consider how many songs they are likely to have written. It’s probably not very many, and even if they played every song they had written, they’d still be unlikely to get close to ninety minutes of playing time.

Now, consider bands like The Grateful Dead or artists like Stevie Wonder or Bruce Springsteen. They could play for a full day straight. And, they would probably have material to spare. That’s why famous musicians’ concerts last so long. With longer back catalogs, they tend to play for longer.

Location

This is an interesting one and not something that you might normally think of. However, it is still important and plays a role in estimating how long a concert will last.

Here’s why…

If you go to a concert in a built-up area, such as a city, the chances are that there will be strict laws and regulations concerning noise. In these circumstances, you can be sure that the finishing time will strongly align with these laws. Therefore, the length of the concert will be more predictable.

If you’re attending a concert in the countryside or a large out-of-town stadium or arena, the rules about noise are less likely to come into play. The attitude to the gig running over time is therefore also likely to be more relaxed. This means there’s more chance of the concert being longer. 

Unforeseen Circumstances

Planning to Go to a Concert

I’ve been caught out several times with factors that were either within or not within the band or artist’s control. The two main factors that can add time to a concert are both annoying. But, only one, in my opinion, is forgivable.

The first possible time delay may be down to technical issues. This can happen at any concert and is usually centered around problems with the sound. After all, no sound = no concert, right?

This happened to me… 

It was in 1981 in the UK when I went to see the Punk/New Wave group, The Stranglers. At the start of the second song of their set, the lead guitar and bass fell silent. 

The problem was that both guitars were using a wireless setup. This was still a pretty new technology and, at this time, also pretty unreliable. 

When it worked, it looked super cool to have Jean Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell running around the stage while playing. But, I can tell you that no sound was not cool at all. It took an hour to fix. So, a concert that I’d have expected to last two hours lasted closer to three.

But at least we got a full set…

The second potential time-killer is lateness. I’ve been hit with this a couple of times. Thank you for that, Madonna and Michael Jackson. For whatever reasons, on both occasions, the concerts started well over an hour late. In my opinion, it shows very little respect for the paying fans. 

Even worse, it was raining. Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to pack a rain poncho. Something I’d recommend you take with you to any outside concert. These days, I think it’s also a good idea to take a simple zip loc bag to keep your phone, keys, and charger from getting wet.

Planning to Go to a Concert?

If so, you may want to check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Microphones For DSLR Video Camera, the Best External Android Microphones, and the Best External Microphones For iPhone you can buy in 2022.

Also, if you’re headed to an outdoor music festival, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Waterproof Headphones, the Best Portable Outdoor Radios, the Best Smart Speakers, the Best Waterproof Speakers, and the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers currently on the market.

And, don’t miss our handy articles on How To Find New MusicHow to Find Similar Songs Based on Ones You LikeHow To Find a Music Video by Describing It, and Music Festival Style for more useful tips and tricks.

How Long Do Concerts Usually Last – Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Although there’s no definitive answer to how long concerts last, I hope that gives you a clearer idea in most given situations.

I still think it’s safe to say that ninety minutes to three hours are the norm but just make sure you’re prepared for most eventualities. However, most importantly, go and enjoy yourself.

Have fun at your next concert, and as always, enjoy the music!

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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