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Do you enjoy gigs where the crowd is dead/nonexistent?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by glenb73, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. glenb73


    Dec 18, 2010
    For me, playing at a bar where there's just a handful of people or the people that are there are completely disinterested in the music is a real letdown for me. In fact, rather not even play those gigs at all. My bandmates want to play it anyways because they say they gig for the love of music, but for me , I need that feedback and energy from an audience to really get into it. Just wondering, how others felt.
  2. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    It can be fun, but I ultimately end up feeling like it's a waste of time. The only positive is that you can act as if it's a paid rehearsals.
  3. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I'm with you. It's a lot of effort to play a gig, most of which the audience is unaware of.
    So it's great to get some level of feedback from the audience. In many ways that's the only real reward.
  4. Agree with you, glenb, on enjoying the evening more when there is audience response. The issue you may run up against is the club-owner may feel the same way as the audience and not re-book.
    Showmanship will need to come to play here. If you and your band are watching your playing instead of the audience, you could lose them even though they're willing to give you a chance. Your frontperson needs to try to engage and see if he/she can't get them on your side.
  5. Scottkarch


    Sep 11, 2012
    Well, compared to a couple hundred screaming, dancing people.... I'd have to say no, I don't enjoy it as much. There are a few ways you can think about it that can help.. hopefully.

    1) a paid rehearsal in a realistic setting
    2) getting you used to playing to a small disinterested crowd and learn to still PERFORM

    We had a spring gig out on this bar in the middle of a giant lake.. Mothers day... 50 degrees.. cloudy... windy.. We had 2 boats of people show up. They expected about 200. Bad weather. We played our gig.. the bar owner was in his concrete basement office ( seriously, under the water level ) watching the video feed of the stage. Watching us he had NO idea we were playing to 4 people instead of 240 people and told us he as impressed.. not only did we sound good, we LOOKED like we were performing to a crowd and having fun.... which we were. We'll be playing there again because of that.

    We've also had our singer lose her voice after the first set. It was gone, not even talking.... Rather than freaking out, getting grumpy snapping at each other. We played all the songs we could think of that us guys sang ( we sing about 20% of the songs.. brought up friends from the crowd to karaoke sing with us... we even took a swing at songs we've never played together as a band...

    Of course it would have been better with the singer, but the crowd loved it.. the understood what happened. We closed out the place and got a bonus from the bar owner since we kept everyone drinking til closing time. Rather than quitting or actiing negative/frustrated. It ended up being a great night.

    Lemons try and make some lemonade.
  6. Mark Nye

    Mark Nye

    Sep 18, 2012
    Depends on the paycheck. Obviously, it's always more fun to play for a bunch of people who are really into it, but I'm happy to play to an empty room if I'm walking away with a stack of cash at the end of the night.
  7. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I don't like it, but it happens sometimes. When it does, I tell my bandmates, "Let's give them a show to remember! Make them spend the next week telling everybody they know about what a killer show they missed!"
  8. Runlikegregg


    Dec 31, 2011
    if you are an originals band then get used to it. there will always be gigs like that and always were. (i have seen so many of my idols play to empty rooms.)
    but you never know what it will bring.
    maybe nothing.
    but maybe you'll meet someone that will help you along.
  9. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    When I play bar gigs my goal is to make the bar more money when they have my band there than when they don't. So low attendance is a real buzzkill, but it comes with the job. The only thing to do is try to rock their faces off, and hope they call their friends to come see this dopey ass bass player.

    I really don't mind if people sit and pay attention to the band. One night we had a packed house, and not many people got on the dance floor. They all sat and watched the band. They stayed until the end of the night, and they were spending money, so it was cool with me. It really bothered the guitar player though. I just though it was cool that they were so taken with our musical prowess that they couldn't help do anything but watch. The guitar player disagreed.
  10. you never know if that one person in your audience may end up being your biggest fan.
  11. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Sounds like most of my jazz gigs. ;) I enjoy it because it's an excuse to get together with cool musicians and play some great music. I couldn't care less if anyone else is paying attention. :)
  12. This. Music is a hobby for me, not a job, so I'd rather play to an enthusiastic crowd for free than get paid the going rate to play background music for a mostly empty, otherwise-quiet bar. Now, increase the pay and I might change my mind...
  13. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Nope, I don't like it at all.
  14. Garyth

    Garyth Now What ..?

    Sep 9, 2013
    Punta Gorda Florida
    An opinion from the other side of the fence.

    I prefer small/minimal crowds when out. It feels more personal and relaxing. The band(s) I listen to seem to go off-script more with a small crowd, which I enjoy more. This obviously doesn't help the establishment much as far as proceeds.

    I'm just pointing out that even if that small crowd isn't out stomping and kicking doesn't mean you aren't making an impression.
  15. In the 1980's we had a verbal contract..didn't matter if 2 or 200 came. When Christmas bills and colder weather hit..sometimes it was like a paid rehearsal..crowds were sparse until the next event..Valentines Day..then dropped again and so on.$200/ night ..2-3 times per week..divided by 4...for years...
  16. Let's be realistic..... 20% of gigs are duds, 60% are good, and the last
    20% are amazing. Accept the good with the bad.

    We've done gigs to 20 people, and the singer had 15 of them up and dancing. That's a LOT harder than it looks.
  17. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    It has certainly happened to me. Played a show for hardly anyone, but one guy was way into our band.
    I talked to him after wards, pointed him to our mailing list/facebook and he started showing up at a bunch of our gigs.
  18. mikew31

    mikew31 Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2008
    Superior, WI
    I hate to say it, but being disinterested in the band is feedback:meh: There could be a lot of reasons why the audience is disinterested, sometimes through no fault of the band.
  19. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Of course I don't like it. But it's just professionalism to put on the best show you can for whoever did come.
  20. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Certainly not as much fun.

    Some have already said it, and I will reinforce it: Play so the people that are there will remember you and tell everyone they know how cool it was to be at that show because of how good the band was. Can't control what others do, only yourself. Control yourself to play your a$$ off and have a good time doing it, regardless of the crowds enthusiasm and/or size.

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