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Drummer is nervous about a show/probable stage fright

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Comrade Momenta, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Comrade Momenta

    Comrade Momenta

    Oct 5, 2013
    We've been asked to perform at a wedding of a family friend in two weeks. I decided we would only do six songs (30 minutes roughly). I'm confident the singer, guitarist, and myself are ready for the performance and even the drummer but it seems he has a lack of faith in his abilities.

    I'll be the first to admit that our drummer is average at best but the rest of us can more than make up for it. Even the few times he messes up in the six songs it is not noticeable enough as the rest of us got it down good. I think we're ready however our guitarist won't perform if the drummer says no. The singer and I are on the same page. I told him this Thursday at band practice we would make the final decision.

    I guess what I'm looking for advice here is how best to reassure him that even if he makes some mistakes it will be okay? The singer and I tend to play good parent/bad parent with me being the bad parent, making sure everyone has their notes down and pointing our any flaws in our performance. That being said I do get the sense that I intimidate the drummer at times and come Thursday I don't want to act that way again. I haven't even told him that we'll probably be performing in front of 200 people for that matter. This is going to be among friends so I don't want him to worry too much if we mess up, plus it will help deal with his anxiety when we actually perform in front of strangers. Any advice guys? Thanks.
  2. Hit an open mic first. Don't let him drink.

    "Friends of friends" sounds a bit removed to be casual about it.
  3. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    If you've got an anxious drummer you can probably look forward to an 18 minute set. Unless he plays to a click track (and if he's average he certainly wont) he'll be almost certain to race off on you. Hopefully you're the type of bass player who has gotten used to tempo taming him.

    You've really got to take the attitude of this gig as a bit of fun for the time being. I wouldn't be trying to play 'bad parent' as you phrase it, because this will add pressure from you guys on top of the the pressure he's feeling about the audience.

    If you've been operating under a rationale of 'mistakes = consequences/scolding' then no wonder the guy is worried about getting up in front of the audience. On the other hand if the guy is the kind (like I admit I am) to beat himself black and blue for every screw-up I'll be the first to tell you that there's nothing you can actually do bar trying to have a really good time.

    Additionally, and this is a more holistic piece of advice, if you treat someone like they're average, or if someone believes that they are only average they will always remain average. One of the raddest things about being in a band for fun is being able to stretch, adapt and enjoy the activity without being measured by people. I know that for some working bands you have to employ a yardstick because money is on the line, but unless you're playing for sheep stations you shouldn't be sizing people up by their ability. You should be trying to have the most fun you can.

    Also when it comes to the gig night, save the beers til after the set.
  4. BAce


    Jul 31, 2012
    I too was pretty nervous on my first gig, years ago. Not so much about playing bass, but I had to sing a song in front of public. THAT scared the crap out of me--even the first time I sang that song at a practice, it took me 20 or so bars of "intro" to even utter a sound. And that was only in front of my bandmates. As time went on, I got more used to, even starting looking forward to singing. Nowadays at a gig, gimme that mic, I'm gonna let it RIP! Relay stories like these to your drummer, re-assure him that it's normal to be nervous and that everything will be OK---and that he'll grow to love playing out---who doesn't?
  5. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    Honestly, if you are expecting the band to make mistakes, I don't think you guys are ready to do wedding gigs. Maybe my area is more strict, but once you get to the level of doing wedding gigs, mistakes are no longer acceptable.
  6. pgolliher


    Apr 27, 2010
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Anxiety and excitement are the same emotion- it's just how we choose to process them. Here is what you need to help your drummer.
    1. Tell him to say out loud why he is anxious. Example- I am anxious that I am going to mess up.
    2. Tell him to say out loud how he would feel if he wasn't anxious. Example - if I wasn't anxious about messing up I would be stoked to play a gig.
    3. Have him repeat out loud and over and over in his head how he would feel if he wasn't anxious - but excited. Example- I am stoked to play a gig, I am stoked to play a gig.....etc
  7. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Oh wow. I missed that this was a wedding gig. Mistakes aside, you're prepping 30 minutes of tunes for a wedding? Usually you'd need at least 4 or 5 sets (3-4 hours worth) plus a strong ability to play requests to even approach wedding territory. Please tell me you're a warm up act or something like that. Maybe your drummer has good reason to be nervous. You might be out of your depth.
  8. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Dont' sweat it. This is a perfect example of a "first world problem". You're a cover band playing a few songs at a wedding. Of course the nervous drummer is gonna screw up. Everybody screws up. Nobody is going to die, the world won't end.

    Play the gig. Enjoy it. It'll pass.
  9. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    have you guys played out at all together?

    I once had a drummer that we had rehearsed with for 3 months straight bail before a fairly high profile gig due to stage fright…three days before a gig.

    After scrambling around to find someone else and paying them out of pocket the original drummer calls while we are on the way to the gig saying that he can make it after all… :eyebrow:
  10. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I don't think the OP is talking about doing the "wedding band" thing. This is more playing for friends. I wouldn't sweat it.

    My suggestions; +1 on nervous drummers (or any nervous musicians) rushing the set. GET HIM A METRONOME if he doesn't already have it, and have him check the tempo before each tune. There are some that you can plug earphones into and make it a click track. The first open mic I played (first time playing in public ever), we did Green Day's Basket Case, and the guitarist/singer who led it off was nervous as all git out - it's already a hyper fast song, and he rushed THAT...

    Speaking of which, also +1 to taking your set to an open mic to break him into playing in public. If he's done it once or twice the wedding will be less of a big deal.

    Also, stress to him to keep it simple. He should NOT attempt any fancy fills if he's nervous or lacking confidence. KEEP THE BEAT.

    Apart from that - it's OK to suck. Everybody's been there. If you don't play a set that sucks, you never get to move on to one that's good. Got to start somewhere. May as well start now.
  11. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    I don't know what to say that will help him. We all need to deal with the first gig jitters our own way. I took thirteen and a half craps my first time out and I think I puked a few times before the gig too. It took a few years of gigging to get that out of my system. I still get nervous twenty plus years later, but I have just learned to deal with it. Singing was harder then playing. I took baby steps. I sang a few backing vocals then added a few songs that I was singing the lead on. Time and experience cures all. Just go do it! What is the worst that can happen? I would bet that no one will die.

    Good luck!
  12. Comrade Momenta

    Comrade Momenta

    Oct 5, 2013
    As Rod said this is just among friends. To get into more detail said friend knows we haven't been playing long and asked if we could do a few songs at her wedding. I told her we could do a thirty minute set and she agreed. If we were flat out terrible I would tell her we are not ready, but we just have minor mistakes which I think our friend would forgive us for given and probably wouldn't even notice.

    That was what I did for myself a while back. Unfortunately I don't think it will be possible to go to an open mic sometime before the wedding.

    Yeah IPYF I usually keep the pacing of the song in check and I'll tell him if we are playing a song too fast during practice but he has that down for the most part. The metronome idea is good as well for dealing with that. I try not to be overtly critical, but being the band leader I've seen that I have to keep everything in order otherwise we'd never get any real practice done. We do get along great though I mean we give each other hugs after practice. :p
  13. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    Is there another band playing at the wedding? Because if not, and you have to lug in and set up all your own gear/PA, I just don't see the point. You will be spending more time moving and setting up gear than you will be playing. And I understand this is for "fun".

    Also, has the bride heard the current version of the band play?

    And finally, to those who say "what is the worst that could happen", I guess the worst that could happen is that in the course of 30 minutes you could take a kickin' reception that is designed to be a joyous celebration of a (hopefully) once in a lifetime event for two soulmates, and turn it into an uncomfortable, sonicly painful trainwreck.
  14. Eight_Stringer


    Feb 22, 2009
    Rare to know the exact moment your ready for live firing, for some the day never seems to happen, unless they are shoved onto the stage. In the case of your drummer, simple can be soooo effective in drumming. You say he is average, in what regard? 4 on the floor drumming can be all that is needed, the bass instrument and drums leaning on one another for correct tempo. He may need to lean on you during the gig, show him your faith in his straight drumming, often out of the bad comes the good..... a simple tight tempo, the clever bits can come later.... Regards.