So you’re famous now, Buffalo fans of Justin Timberlake. You made it onto “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” You were granted a personal message from JT, before the eyes of millions. Surely, this will make the loss of last Saturday’s sold-out show at First Niagara Center – now rescheduled for July 9, at the same venue – a bit easier to swallow. If not, there is apparently a consolation prize being offered, in the form of Fallon himself.
“Hi, Buffalo,” Timberlake said as he peered seductively into the camera lens on Fallon’s Friday evening show. “I want to say I’m sorry for postponing my concert. … I know what you’re saying: ‘I don’t want an apology. I want a concert.’ Trust me, I hear you, Buffalo. But there’s no reason to raise your voice. We’ve got a good thing going, and I don’t want to mess that up. So I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m coming back July 9, and you’d better be ready. We’re going to party and … if you’re not satisfied, Jimmy Fallon is going
to come to your house and give you a full body massage. I’m talking hot stones, wax, everything! So I’ll see you this summer, Buffalo!”
I’m guessing most folks will opt for the concert over the massage. If not, they can always get their money – a not inconsiderable sum – fully refunded at the point of purchase.
Timberlake went above and beyond to make the postponement of his show as palatable as possible for the fans who made his Buffalo gig a sell-out in short order. He may be the classiest guy to have delayed or canceled a show in our area, but he’s hardly the first.
• Drake was originally slated to appear at the FNC in October, but he delayed his appearance until December.
• Over the summer, the Tragically Hip was forced to cancel an incredibly well-attended gig at the Outer Harbor concert site due to a ferocious storm (The Hip came back and played a free makeup show at the same venue later in the summer). The Jonas Brothers canceled at Darien Lake the same night and returned in December, sans one brother who left the group in the interim.
• After asking fans to line up for 24 hours at the new Microsoft store at the Walden Galleria to attend a special show at the Flickinger Center in November, Kelly Clarkson begged off because of “illness.” (It turned out to be the kind of “illness” that lasts nine months and results in a baby.)
• Jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall rescheduled her show at UB’s Center for the Arts late last year, after coming down with an upper respiratory infection.
• Even the seemingly unstoppable Jon Bon Jovi faced some tough times at Darien Lake over the summer, with a lengthy rain delay confusing fans, many of whom assumed the show was over and were already making their way to their cars when Bon Jovi returned for an abbreviated conclusion to his set.
Fans often become a bit irked when this sort of thing happens. Postponement can become a problem with some of the more major mainstream pop shows, the sort presented by an artist who cuts across demographic lines via an “everyman/everywoman” appeal. These sorts of shows don’t just draw “kids” – they draw professionals, career-oriented working people, parents. Plans are made, baby-sitters hired and schedules cleared in anticipation of the big show, which might very well turn out to be the rare “date night” for a couple or an even more rare “night out with the girls” for a single working mom, and so forth. For the concertgoer, trying to accommodate a pop star’s scheduling needs can be rough going indeed.
Fan frustration in the area reached its highest point during summer 2012, when fans at the WYRK Taste of Country show at Coca-Cola Field responded to headliner Eric Church’s cancellation – due to the arrival of a rather extreme summer storm – by going berserk, smashing chairs and throwing bottles and cans in a visceral expression of displeasure. This was not pretty. (Church kept his promise and performed a regional makeup date for his fans, though the gig was moved from downtown to Darien Lake.)
Of course, these things happen on a rather routine basis – cancellations and postponements are not the sole purview of secondary concert markets such as Buffalo, though it might seem that way to the hardcore fan at times. What’s far worse than the cancellation or postponement due to an “act of God” – severe weather, illness, an insurmountable scheduling conflict – is the increasing tendency among major pop stars to show up alarmingly late for a performance, as if their own time is worth far more than the time of the folks who have shelled out their hard-earned cash to support the pop star’s lifestyle. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Rihanna – if you ever do come back to our town, you’d better not keep us waiting for two hours again, while you do whatever it is you do to get yourself ready to perform. We don’t tolerate that kind of nonsense ’round here.)
Timberlake lived up to his image as an easygoing nice guy with his Fallon appearance. Many performers of his magnitude simply cancel, reschedule or take the stage ridiculously late for shows without comment. (Rihanna never offered an apology for her tardiness at FNC, nor did she lengthen her show to compensate.)
Still, a rescheduled show is, more often than not, an inconvenience for the fans who pay big bucks for these concerts, often several months – sometimes as long as a year – in advance.
Perhaps Timberlake’s July 9 makeup date just simply won’t work for you. My advice? Take JT up on his offer of the Jimmy Fallon massage. At least that should make you feel better.