Playing Solo Acoustic Guitar Shows Makes More Sense Today to Devin Townsend: ’You Can Actually Make a Couple of Bucks’

Devin Townsend explained how doing solo acoustic shows makes more sense financially-wise today. Townsend, who’s generally known for doing full-band electric shows with all of his projects, started doing acoustic shows before the COVID-19 pandemic but has continued to do so due to rising costs and logistic issues.

Appearing on The Rockman Power Hour show for an interview, Devin explained how he ended up doing these acoustic-only solo shows. Asked on the matter, he replied (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“Well, a lot of it is convenience. There were certain territories that I was told, ‘Well, we can’t afford to do that, to get the gear in there.’ I was just in Turkey and they said the same thing. And they said ‘We’ll have to cancel your show because there’s a border cost and we weren’t anticipating and it’s going to put you in the hole $40 grand or something.'”

Devin Townsend - Deadhead (Live Acoustic)

As Devin adds, the next obvious step was to just go out and do an acoustic show. What’s more, he claims that this is the more profitable way to go:

“So I said, ‘Well, let me just take an acoustic and I’ll go do that.’ And by doing that, you can actually make a couple of bucks, and you can show up and play in places that I’ve been told that you can’t play.”

And it’s not just about making money now. Discussing his decision to go acoustic, Devin also added that this was an incredible opportunity for him to expand his audience. After the aforementioned Turkey show, he kept doing it in other places as well:

“I did the same thing in India, Singapore, and China. So by doing that you can kind of break into a market. That sounds awful, it’s not necessarily what I mean. But in a sense, it’s the truth.”

“You can protect yourself and say, ‘Here’s me without anything.’ And if this is something that resonates with people, then we can hopefully come back with a band somewhere down the line.”

When looking at the current state of the post-pandemic touring business, it’s not much of a surprise to see Devin going down this path. Plenty of famous metal bands had financial and logistic troubles when going out on the road.

Back in late 2022, Townsend reflected on where things are at now and how the financial struggles are making it almost impossible to go out on the road and make a living. He said in an interview:

“It’s gotten way worse. I don’t think it’s better at all, actually. Because the costs of touring now, with inflation and the cost of gasoline and diesel… Plus, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve lost a ton of really good venues.”

Devin Townsend - Full Show - June 25, 2023 - Atlanta

“I’d say probably 50 percent of the workforce in touring has now left. ‘Cause what’s a guitar tech gonna do for two years? You have to get a job, right? And so the ones that are remaining, not only are they already spoken for with other bands, but they’re almost twice as expensive.”

“I saw this thing about Live Nation the other day, they’re taking 30 percent of merch sales from some of these venues. The costs of airlines have gone up. So artists, the ability to make money on tour is almost completely gone now — at least an artist on my level.”

“So, yes, it’s opened up again, but it’s 10 times as expensive. It’s, like, what do you do? Even little things like, okay, the hotels are more expensive; the food at the hotels [is] more expensive. So at the end of it, you’re touring for what? You’re touring ultimately so you can present your work to the people who care about your work, and that’s worth it to me.”

"Lightworker" - Official Promo Video

“But I think for anybody to think that it’s now easy again, you should investigate that, because I’m trying to set up tours for next year, and there’s no way to keep them within cost — there’s no way. And so you go out there and, like, well, we can’t have this vehicle; we can’t have this backline; we can’t have this production; we can’t have these lights.”

“And then if you show up at a place and the audience comes, they’re, like, ‘The show’s not good. There’s no lights. There’s no production.’ So what should you do? And I think a lot of musicians, their decision is, like, ‘Well, I’ll just stay home then and I’ll just create from home.’”

“I try to go out with acoustic now, because that way I can afford it. If I just show up with an acoustic guitar and sing for people, it’s better than nothing. But it’s still, like, man, it’s a complicated time, brother.”

5 IMPOSSIBLE Devin Townsend vocal lines

One of the big names in metal to cancel their tour was Anthrax. Back in April this year, the legendary American thrash metal band decided to call off their European tour. To make things worse, these canceled dates were already postponed, initially planned to take place in 2022. After announcing the cancelation, the band’s bassist Frank Bello then shared a statement:

“When I saw the numbers, they were literally triple what they originally started at. We would be coming home at such a loss. You don’t mind a little bit of a loss just to play to the fans, but such a loss — we would have been really bad off for a while. So it didn’t make sense.”

Photo: Florian Stangl (Devin Townsend – Santa Rock 2012 – 8.12.2012 Bamberg (8269917322))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.