bad gig therapy

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Peter Squire, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. I'm an old sweat with many gigs behind me. Currently I play with a couple of young guys who have very little live experience. Although they are very talented, and we sound great together and really "click" musically, they tend to get emotional when a gig goes wrong.

    I tell them that its all part of the business, and bad gigs make you appreciate the good ones, but it gets me down when they beat themselves up over it. :(

    Last night, our FOH went down mid-show, and they panicked. To make it worse, the guitarist broke three strings in one song, and just couldn't go on. Result was some very down muso's at the end, even though the audience loved us and I just put it down to being a bad gig.

    Any advice on how to get through to these guys that a bad gig is part of the deal?? Your stories?
  2. "well, if we are getting gigs, then obviously somethings going right! You can't beat yourself up over some wee mistakes that no one notices, it might feel like a bad gig, but outside the band everyone still wnats more, and they'll be there next week. its only becuase you know your mistake that you think its awful. ask anyone. they probably loved us!"

    being optimistic is best way. they#ll probably get over it in the end to be honest, they'll grow as the experiences come.

    rock on... :)
  3. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    When I first got to know the guitar player(in the band I am with now) IIRC the third gig the sound board vanished(never found either). It wasn't noticed until we were unpacking the van for a gig we had 2-3 hours to be playing. Of course he was livid(I can't blame him) but he dealt with it under pressure and got a new rental for the weekend.

    Had he went off the deep end or anything like that I wouldn't have lasted much longer with the band.

    Unforeseen things happen and you gota roll with it. Not just in the band scene, in life itself heh.

    southpaw1: Bottom line is they are younger than you and will flip out over menial things that don't even faze you. What you request is solved only by time and experience.
  4. Zombass


    Feb 8, 2005
    my band had an awful gig, which we called 'the gig of doom', it was the last gig our old singer was going to be doing before he was kicked out, we also had a fill in singer incase our singer wouldnt perform, it ended up with them both singin, the problem was neither could sing, so the gig started, everything was going reasonable, when one of the mic's went so the started fightin over the one mic, our singer stormed off stage in a tantrum while the other singer forced out a song. the other singer returned and they started fightin again, this time the other stormed off and our singer sat at the back of the stage cryin, so we continued anyway and our singer pulled himself together and started singin again, then disaster strikes as our guitarist snapped a string half way through the next song and the singer stormed off in a tantrum again. we managed to find a replacement guitar and we finished the song off with just the instrumentals, luckily we found a new singer in the crowd who later joined the band
  5. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    You just have to roll with it. The more calm everyone is, the more professional you look. 99 times out of 100, you will look back on those moments and laugh.

    Just a few weeks ago after a few days of winter storm, the power in the club kept blinking off, a quick off and on. Happened 4 times in one set. We just kept plowing through the tunes, though there was always about a 15 second gap where the power amps were rebooting, and all you heard were the acoustics of the drums. Several people commented to us on break that they admired how calm and professional we handled it.

    As for guitar strings, every guitarist in the band should have a spare guitar tuned and on a stand ready to go. Everyone. Anything less isn't professional.

    Discuss ahead of time that things need to be handled calmly and professionally by everyone, or else it just compounds the problem. And remember: even if the gig sucks, you still get paid, and you want to come back at a later date and do it right.
  6. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    Everyone has bad gigs, you just need to learn how to adapt to the problem.

    On a gig two years ago, 100+mi away, my old drummer (emphasis on old) forgot his floor tom, throne, and sticks...we made due by borrowing a throne and sticks and he had to adjust to not using his floor tom but it went fine. We had to calm him down though because when he found out he forgot them he started tossing his gear around in a fit of rage... throwing his cymbals into the stands and kicking his drums around in their cases...

    Needless to say we were all very embarrassed and none of us keep any sort of contact with him anymore because of his random outbursts.

    Just live and learn and you'll look more professional by keeping your problems as low key as possible.
  7. buddahbass


    Dec 22, 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA
    you only have control of so many things when you play. if it is something like a pa going out or a string breaking, there is really nothing you can do about that, so why worry, if it is something that you have control over, like standing stiff or staring at your fretboard, then these are things that you should pay attention to and try and correct. but no mater what, enjoy what you do, thats why you do it!
  8. othefool

    othefool Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Chico, CA
    I think, somewhere in this forum, I read a post that quoted Tuck Andress about everything that could go wrong in a gig...

    Music is a fickle thing. I remember playing parties with hundreds of people grooving to the music, calling out for more, and feeling the high that comes from so many people getting down to the same beat. The very next day, you play a gig and the only people who show up is the bartender and the GOBs (girlfriends of the band members)

    I've played when the power gets blown every few minutes. I've started a gig to a full house, only to have the crowd trickle out, one by one, until we're playing to an empty house, bartenders glaring at us like it was time to stop. (This was the gig where my guitar player reached over and socked me mid-set - a combination of tequila, and maybe I missed a change.) FYI by the second set, the house filled up, and everything was good again...

    I've been there in the winter gigs to Tahoe - sliding through intersections in the snow. One time our U-Haul trailer was stolen, and we had to make 2 trips home to get the band and equipment - in a blizzard (thank god the trailer was empty!)

    Once my drummer us he had a "special" introduction to our set. He arrived 1/2 an hour late, showed up with a shaker, and proceeded to exclaim to the whole club that they should be ready - because he was the second coming of Christ. Screaming at the top of his lungs - "Do you hear me!? The time is nigh!" - needless to say, this was not well recieved. We played out of that one, and he eventually got better.

    Add to that list equiptment failure of every stripe - electronics frying, amps exploding (smoke coming out of the speakers,) vehicles breaking en route... given enough time, anything can happen.

    For some reason, we tend to remember the bad instead of the good, and the vast majority of playing music is a good experience - that's why we do it, right? Well, let me tell you what worked for me.

    I decided to quit trying to be a professional musician.

    The turning point was the gig in Santa Cruz, where we jammed out, packed up, and at 3 AM we said to our band leader (who told us we had a place to stay) - "Uh, where are we staying?"

    "I don't know, I didn't book us a room..." :(

    Needless to say, every hotel in a 20-mile radius was booked solid. We spent the night in the car by the side of the road. I gave the band my notice.

    Since then, I took a brief sabbatical, started on the URB - last night I jammed with a sextet doing Ellington, Holliday, Gershwin, etc. and had the time of my life. I'm loving every second of it.

    Obviously, if the pro game is what you want, I say go for it. I'm just saying that, sometimes being too serious about the whole thing can make one cranky. Getting through the bad gigs can be rough, but I think age and patience makes a difference. For me, the answer was to return to my source - why I play music in the first place. Can you tell that to a kid? Probably not...
  9. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Here's three pieces of advice I heard when I was younger, and I still hold on to.

    1) When it feels like you're wading through nothing but weeds, remember that from the heavens it looks like a garden

    2) Get over yourself, nobody is paying as much attention to you as you are

    3) You bring your sound with you. Whether it's in your fingers or your amp, you bring it with you.

    Other stuff I picked up is:
    1) Always bring a backup
    2) Have a plan in case bad things happen. Most people panic because they don't know what to do. Have plan, and you'll reduce the panic.
  10. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    SouthPaw1, what is the name of your band?

  11. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Well if the bad things are caused by memebers of the band learn from it and don't do it again. If it's things you can't control then why worry about it. All guitarists should bring two sets of strings, lesson learned. FOH going out, if it's the house PA you can't controll that.

    As far as advice you can tell them till your blue in the face, they will have to see for themselves if they don't take any advice from a gig vet like yourself.
  12. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Hear are a few gems from my experiences.

    Last sunday, I had a sweet superbowl gig ($$$), playing original hip hop with some inspiring cats on fender rhodes and saxaphone (guys from the Ills for you Okies out there). However, our MC decides to get smashed, forgets rhymes, disregards choruses, and for the coup de grace, decides to smoke some weed on stage. Well, later that night, he got our sax player to take a puff in the back of the club, which ended up getting him arrested and nullified our pay for the night. On top of that, my bandleader who had been smoking onstage (idiot), got off scott free.

    All time favorite:
    A friend of mine is unfortunately one who does not mix well with binge drinking (who does) and who is known to do outrageous things from time to time. Well, he was attending a show in which he preceded to get **** faced and yell at the band the entire evening; "you guys suck", "this is the best group in the f@#$'n world", etc. etc. His crowning achievement for the evening was when he went out to his car, and came back in the club in nothing but underwear and a cowboy hat; oh, and a football which he threw at me, hitting me in the groin in the middle of a bass solo. Had I reacted on my first instinct, a certain 78 pbass would have demonstrated the meaning of the nick name "axe". Instead, I resisted the urge to vomit and played a decent solo.
  13. Zombass


    Feb 8, 2005
    oh and we got it all on tape, very funny to watch
  14. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    I've played with a lot of guys who get thrown off their game fairly easily. The trick is to convince them that there is no such thing as a "perfect show". Something will go wrong. Once they accept that, everything will go much smoother.
    When something bad happens, fix it and move on.

    I also make it a habit of talking through the set with the band after the show, talking about the good as well as the bad. After we work through the "bad stuff" (missed intros/endings, playing out of tune, falling off the stage), we're done with it. No point in talking about it the next day or dwelling on it. Just focus on the good stuff.

    At some point, everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. If you play long enough, you get to experience all of it firsthand, and you'll know what to do. I'm not nearly there myself, but in my short career, I've experienced:

    Broken strings, blown speakers, loss of power, dead batteries, cables shorting out, falling off the stage, playing out of tune, playing in the wrong key, playing the wrong song, playing the wrong song in the wrong key, electric shocks, getting hit by drumsticks, having underwear thrown at me, terrible FOH, constant monitor feedback, drunk bandmates, hecklers, feeling ill, having had 5 drinks too many, forgetting lyrics, not being able to play my way out of a wet paper sack, etc. And that was just ONE SHOW.

    It's all part of the fun.
  15. ... not to mention, when a robot takes your sandwich and you have to play hungry. :D
  16. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    It's a growing problem. We have enough to worry about as bassists as it is, without the added threat of sandwich stealing robots.
  17. thanks guys, just about everything you have said is echoing what i told the band.

    i think they just set themselves such high standards that its a real letdown when things go wrong. they never have a go at me, just seems to be each other. anyway, things seems to be getting better now that the drummer and guitarist don't share a house also
  18. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Yeah, personal problems that have nothing to do with the band have a tendency to sneak into the mix and make things tougher.