When is it okay for musicians to cancel their shows?

Cuco, a young Chicano musician, canceled his Halloween show in San Francisco, leaving many fans wondering why. GRAPHIC BY TIM TRAN/GRAPHICS CENTER

Mia Palacios is a junior media studies major

While I do enjoy October and all of its festivities, Halloween typically isn’t something I look forward to. However, I thought this year was going to be different because I was going to see Cuco, a 20-year-old self-produced artist of Mexican descent who uses his background to be a voice for the Chicano community. I discovered his music earlier this year and was looking forward to experiencing his hypnotizing visuals and poetic lyrics live. But then, he did the unthinkable — he cancelled his show. 

When I heard the news, my heart immediately dropped into my stomach. Not only did Cuco cancel his concert scheduled for Halloween, but also the entire rest of his tour. The jarring news got me thinking: Why do artists unexpectedly cancel their shows?


The jarring news got me thinking: Why do artists unexpectedly cancel their shows?


Concerts bring many of us immense happiness and exhilaration. The thrill of seeing your favorite artist or band live for the first time gives you moments to cherish forever. So, looking forward to a concert for months only to find out that the artist has cancelled the show shortly before the big night is frustrating. But it’s important to remember that celebrities are only human  and have bad days, just like the rest of us. They could be sick, going through mental health problems, or dealing with personal loss. 

Additionally, sometimes it isn’t the artist’s fault for cancelling a show, but rather the venue’s. While you may initially want to blame the artist, there are some circumstances that lead to venue coordinators cancelling shows, such as scheduling or staffing conflicts. 

However, although artists and venues may have valid reasons to cancel their shows, or even the rest of their tours, when is doing so the right call? Yes, musicians are human beings who are not immune to struggle, but it’s their job to create and entertain — especially when fans have paid sometimes upwards of hundreds of dollars to see them perform live. And if they’re not doing their job, then people feel entitled to get upset. 

In the past, some artists have had obscure and seemingly invalid reasons to cancel shows. Take, for example, when Kanye West infamously cancelled his “Saint Pablo” tour in 2016 after his controversial on-stage rant at a show led to him being booed by the audience, which then drove him to cancel the rest of his dates. Or when Iggy Azalea cancelled the rest of her shows simply because she didn’t like the songs she was performing anymore. Or when Justin Bieber raged off of the stage after being grabbed and dragged by fans in the front row when he was cleaning up spilt water, which provoked him to cancel the rest of the show he was already performing at. 

I can admit that if one of my favorite artists cancelled a show for a reason like this, I would not be a happy camper. In fact, I would first think, “How can they be so selfish and disappoint all their fans?” However, after putting myself in their shoes, I realized that, obviously, they’re putting on these shows because they love what they do, so it must cause a lot of distress to cancel their shows. And it seems clear that one of the most common reasons for cancelling a show is illness, whether it concerns one’s physical or mental health. After all, these are musicians, not actors — they can only play the part for so long until they need a break.

I’ll probably never get a proper answer as to why Cuco cancelled his show this past Halloween. For now, I’ll just have to accept the fact that it’s a musician’s right to put their own happiness and well-being before their fans. 

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