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Are bass players awkward?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by El Raro, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. Last night my punk band played our first gig of 2014. Five bands on the bill in total with the other bands being variations of hard rock and metal. I did my rounds before the show and introduced myself to the other bands, shook their hands and spoke for a bit to get to know them a bit better. Its important to build rapport with bands even if they're not in the same scene as yours. I noticed a trend when speaking to these bands...the singers, guitarists and drummers all seemed really open to talking with me...but literally every bass player I introduced myself to appeared to be very reserved, never really made much eye contact and had super weak handshakes - almost like they didn't want to talk to me?

    Come showtime, my band hops on stage first and does its thing. Lots of jumping, thrashing about, a broken guitar neck. A very visual set to say the least. The crowd dug it, we dug it. Mission accomplished.

    The next bands started playing...and I quickly noticed how stiff and awkward the bass players looked on stage. Almost all of them stood far back on the stage, played their notes but without as much as a foot tap. The only exception was a female bass player who seemed to have a bit of stage presence at times but as soon as she hit a wrong note, which I think only I picked up on, she literally walked behind the guitarist and played the rest of the set slightly hidden. As I went up to congratulate the bands after their sets, again, all other members were really thankful but the bass players stuck to their own world and disregarded my advances.

    So what gives? Are bass players becoming an awkward breed of musician or something? I can't really blame stage fright or inexperience with these bands either because they've all been actively gigging for over a year. Just seems so odd that it was only the bass players who exhibited these behaviours...and in all four other bands too.
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    To be honest, I couldn't care less what someone looks like on stage. All I care about is how well they play. I have noticed just as many guitarists, lead singers who were very reserved as I have bass players.
  3. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Maybe your reputation preceded you and the other bass players were in awe of you and were uncomfortable in your presence.
    47th Street likes this.
  4. senp5f


    Jan 27, 2008
    Santa Barbara, CA
    I think it's specific to punk and to a lesser extent most modern rock. A lot of times, the bass player is just some dude who can sorta play guitar who has been drafted into the position. When you see some of the really memorable players -- Mark Hoppus, Mike Dirnt, etc -- you have to remember that they're great musicians, signers and songwriters who in any other circumstance could easily front a damn good band all on their own.

    Moral of the story: When you put together three or four people who are all talented enough to lead a band on their own, you will get a really great group (or a trainwreck of egos, but there's a whole band management thread there).

    When you have one dude who's just there "because somebody or the other has to play bass" then the band is not gonna make it.

    Great bands have great people in every position, even if those players don't happen to play anything crazy or technical. When you're doing something like punk, where the energy of the performance is a key component of the art, then not being able to provide the visual energy means you're not cutting it.
    Ant Illington likes this.
  5. I don't think it was so much about the stage presence but moreso the lack of interraction they were willing to put in with the other bands. I've always been a very social guy but moreso at gigs. I've met great people from other bands who have helped scratch my back just as I've helped scratch theirs. Mind you, I'm not saying these guys were snobby at all...they just seemed unconfident with how to approach me when I would introduce myself or shake their hand after their shows.
  6. devinp17

    devinp17 Guest

    Punk Rock for the win bro!! XD

    I don't think so... I don't really like talking to people and I kinda try to keep conversations short if another person starts talking to me. But I think I'm pretty present onstage. I'm always moving to the music, walking around, headbanging (not too wildly tho). I even wish I could run around lol... except I cant afford a chord-less and even if I could I don't have enough room to run around XD. So I wouldn't call myself awkward onstage but maybe offstage. But that's just me... Most of the bassists I've met aren't awkward at all. Maybe it was just a coincidence?
  7. senp5f


    Jan 27, 2008
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Ah, well, in that case it's more likely just a personality thing. Some people are quiet and introverted, even among the top tiers of bands. They wanna talk through their bass, you know? Also, some players might feel like they should leave the networking and such to bandleaders.

    It also could be the scene in your region. Some times when the gigs and the money are scarce, people aren't as interested in being friendly and helpful because they view you as the competition. That'd be really odd for punk, though, as it sort of goes against the sort of alternative community ethos of the thing. Here in California punk is almost as much a culture and way of life as a kind of music.
  8. A fair point. My band was the only punk band on the bill last night while the rest were hard rock and metal groups. The ethos differences could very well have been contributing factors.

    Money was certainly not an issue. Free gig, no payout, just cheaper drinks at the bar :p
  9. JimmyThunder

    JimmyThunder Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I think the bass role tends to attract "most comfortable serving the background" types of personalities. Of course plenty of guys who are outgoing wildmen play bass too but....if a shy and/or introverted person wants to be a musician, they're probably not going to want to jump into a lead singer role, they're going to be more comfortable in the shadows, and the bass slot afford that opportunity more than anything else except maybe drummer.
    tlc1976 and anderbass like this.
  10. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Yeah, I think the bass definitely attracts conservative players.





    Sub300Hertz likes this.
  11. JimmyThunder

    JimmyThunder Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    New Hampshire
  12. Do you recall John Entwistle?
  13. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Yeah, stood there like a statue. Except his fingers went faster than the speed of light.
  14. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Sample size is too small to make any kind of real determination. After a few hundred shows you should be able to come to a more credible conclusion. Even then, just your experience. Personally IME, I have seen all kinds so, who knows definitively? I suspect bassists are likely as diverse as any other 'group' of people.
  15. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    It could totally be the music you're playing too. In my local punk/rock/metal scene, bass players are the guys who couldn't play guitar so they gave him the instrument where (in the genre), the play one note lines following the rhythm guitar. I was probably one of the most active bassists in our area and I noticed the exact same pattern here.
  16. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Interesting question.

    If I have a vested interest in the situation, like getting paid or trying to get more work from someone who already hired me and/or the band, I'm the very friendly, chatty, look em in the eye type, but it's not my preferred persona. If I'm being paid to entertain, I earn my money by entertaining. Same if I'm angling for work. I think of it as putting on my work persona, not unlike dressing in clothes that best fit the situation. At first I thought of it as being something of a fraud, but later came to realize it was just one of the many facets of my overall personality, that business mode where you should always be closing.

    In most other situations, especially if it's in a group of strangers, I'm more my true self which is a very socially awkward individual who just wants to blend into the décor.
  17. aquamentus


    Apr 15, 2005
    Keokuk, IA
    I have ZERO stage fright but also damn near no stage presence. I'm introverted and awkward. Any jumping around would be forced and fake. And I refuse to "act". I do my part in the band well. The others do their part well.
  18. I must be letting the side down, unless someone nails my feet to the floor, I can't not move about while playing. If the music moves you, you gotta move!
  19. LoTone

    LoTone Leonardo please... behave yourself! Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2010
    Quebec, Canada
    We are like NHL Goalies. You don't talk to us before the gig because we are visualizing... :bag:
    tato62 and Fishyfishfish like this.
  20. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    Does falling flat on your arse because your ankle got twisted stepping on an uneven seam on the stage floor, during a N.Y. Showcase count?
    Ox Boris likes this.