One of my mutual Facebook friends put it best: "How can you tell it's spring in Missoula? When hip hop shows get cancelled. Lol..."

Kinda funny, but all too true. Still, this poses a good question: Why do concerts (primarily hip hop shows) in our area get bumped off the tour dates at the last minute?

The "I Am T-Pain" tour was the most recent of shows to get the ax, sending an estimated 160 people back to the box office to get their refund. And while Missoula has had it's fair share of well-attended concerts that went on as planned over the past few years, the jaded memory of cancelled performances has left a bitter taste in the mouths of hungry local rap show attendees.

"I had money in hand for the show tonight, I even drove all the way from Hamilton to be here," said Aislyn Ronald, an anxious teen who was ready to see T-Pain take the stage tonight, "I doubt I'll ever trust any promoter now unless they have a good reputation of (previously) bringing quality acts to town."

"I'm never buying a pre-sale ticket for a show in this town again," said John Siesman, a student from the University of Montana, "I've heard stories about shows getting cancelled before but I thought for sure this show was going to happen."

Promoters are dealing with a new breed of disgruntled concertgoers when they step inside the city limits of Missoula... It's not just the quality of acts most in Missoula tend to complain about, some just not satisfied with the caliber of shows that get routed through this mid-sized market, it's seems more so that the level of trust with hip hop promoters is waning...

"I remember when Wiz Khalifa was supposed to perform here," said Ronald, "And Fat Joe, House of Pain only had their DJ show up, I could go on..."

The long checkered history of 3rd party promoters, ones that route aka. "piggyback" acts from major tours into smaller markets, is the primary reason why attendees hold out until the last second to buy their tickets. One of the more controversial moments occurred in 2011 when a promoter skipped town with all of the pre-sale tickets for a Kanye West show in Billings that never occurred.

But that's not the only reason...

"If I have to sit through 25 opening acts to watch the artist I paid to see hit the stage at midnight for 35 minutes, I'm going to demand a refund next time. Its bulls**t." said Frank Reynolds, a local concertgoer.

The reason you are seeing so many local openers? Promoters know that if a local act has a strong enough following then they will bring more people to the show. Often times they will ask the local acts to push out mass social media blasts, even sell tickets on the streets, all in an effort to lower the cost of promoting the show. As a result, attendees must endure an enormous roster of performers before they get to what they were likely paying for to see.

But sometimes, at least in the case of the "I am T-Pain Tour", the main act simply looks at the numbers of pre-sales and assumes that the show is a bust... What T-Pain didn't know is that we've been burned before...and his last minute cancellation is just one more in a long line of acts that bailed because, quite frankly, we are protective of our money. Justifiably so...

Now hip hop fans in Missoula are dealt with a Catch 22 scenario: Buy the ticket, and take a chance...or wait until the last minute to buy the tickets to a show that might sell-out.

Some helpful tips for the local concertgoer:

  1. Always buy your tickets from a trusted source! If the show gets cancelled, you'll rest easy knowing that your money will be refunded promptly. Ear Candy, Rockin Rudy's and Griz Tix have an outstanding reputation of issuing refunds.
  2. Do your research! If a performer supposedly coming to the area seems too good to be true, search their tour dates on their official website. If the act hasn't listed the show on their own page, or if the shows they are performing at that week are too far away from Missoula for them to realistically make the trip, something might be fishy.
  3. Know your promoters! Who is it that is bringing the show to town? Have they thrown concerts here before? What is their reputation? Be leery of concerts thrown by unknown production companies. Still, allow them a chance to earn you trust... Who knows? It might actually happen! When in doubt, refer to tip #2 again.