Darcy, in a post-CMJ hangover, comments on the lack of double-bills in jazz and why that is problematic for our continuous quest to rope in younger listeners. It's an issue I've run into in the past as well.
A group of like-minded Montreal musicians have attempted to stage double bills over the past few years: Miles Perkin and Sage Reynolds briefly helmed the Mont-Royal Composers Forum, which would showcase new works and bands; Jon Lindhorst of Turtleboy, Alex Lefaivre of Parc-X and yours truly have all organized multi-band shows to varying degrees of success. I like double-bills for a number of reasons. From an artist's perspective, it's always a great hang and I enjoy seeing what my colleagues are doing. I tailor my setlist based on my knowledge of the other band's music, and I find sets from both bands are generally stronger because we can deliver a set full of solid tunes instead of having to fill two or three sets of older tunes or covers or what have you. Obviously, as we all mature as musicians and write more music, both the "strong" pile and the "reject" pile will grow. As an audience member, everything that makes the double-bill enjoyable from an artist's perspective is shared with the audience. If the band is playing stronger material in a concise setting, then it's a better presentation all around. If non-jazz fans happen to stumble in, the commonalities and differences between the two bands might serve as a tutorial to the breadth of modern jazz.
Attracting non-jazz fans is another benefit of double-bills. I can only speak from experience in Montreal, but most of these double-bills have occurred in decidedly non-jazz venues. As much as I love playing at the bona fide jazz rooms, the walk-in traffic that some indie venues (like Casa del Popolo or Green Room) have is truly special and one of the only ways jazz can grow its audience. As Darcy mentions in his CMJ postscript, venues have their own reputation and their own following. If two people walk into one of my shows at Casa del Popolo, people that would never set foot in Upstairs, and they enjoy my music, then it's a victory. We find ourselves staging double-bills in these non-jazz venues because jazz clubs operate in a very specific manner; their clientele has come to expect a night at Jazz Club X to unfold in a certain way. It's difficult to break that mould, especially for a one-night-only affair.
The other benefit, if all goes as planned, is introducing one band's audience to the other band. Sometimes, if both bands are local and of similar aesthetic, the audiences overlap anyway. But if not, then so much the better for everyone involved.