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Experiences playing music festivals?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Da LadY In Red, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Well my band Reelfoot has gotten into a few festivals this summer in the Missouri area (as well as Wakarusa) and having only played in 1 smaller festival last summer, I'm a bit clueless about the whole experience.

    So I figure this would make a great thread, both funny and informative. Let the games begin.
  2. Don't take the brown acid, man.
  3. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    I would say the experience depends on the festival.

    I've done them when they where small and no different from any other outdoor gig and I've done them that where fully staged, lit, re-inforced and back-lined.

    One, you have total control, the other you show up with an ax and hope the event staff and sound crew doesn't suck.
  4. wingnut


    Apr 18, 2007
    Las Vegas Nv.
    Just remember, if they say be there at 10am for a sound check, be there at 9am and you might actually get to sound check about noon, maybe...If they provide backline, bring a bag with a tuner and an extra cord and a spare set of strings. Bring a spare set of strings and some picks for your guitar player too. Have a bottle of asprin and a roll of tums and three bottles of water. Sometimes when you get there, none of the vendors are set up and you can't get a drink to save your life. Have a pen and paper and write down any important info, especially the name and cel number of both the guy running the show and your sound man.
  5. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA
    bring business cards
    festivals are network gatherings

    if it's a multi day fest...make sure you have sleeping arrangements
    know where the hospitality tent is
    use the rented backline
    have a good time!

    oh...don't forget the GOLD BOND..it has saved many summer fests!
  6. I have MC'd and helped to organize quite a few festivals. Both for a radio station I used to work at and in a few other situations.

    Some other advice (not necessarily bass specific).

    Be liberal with the merch, give out some of your stuff. It is a good way to get people to remember you after seeing a few bands.

    It was said before, but still needs saying: Be early. Time is a resource that is in short supply. Manage time like money. If you say you are going to be somewhere at a certain time- be there. The organizers are managing time. The crew is managing time. You need to manage it too.

    Be flexible. We had a band scheduled who's guitar player was a heavy drug user. He decided not to show. The band that was scheduled before them stepped up and played a much longer set to include an improvised acoustic jam. It worked out great and the band that stepped up really helped everyone out... and was booked for the next year. We took care of them. Capitan Cocaine and his band were never seen again.

    Keep track of your gear. Label everything. Cables too.

    Bring a DI box.

    Give yourselves over to the crew. Especially if you are one of the later bands... they usually have any sound issues worked about by the third or fourth band. It is a good idea to watch the band(s) before you so you can get an idea of what you are dealing with. Ask the soundguy/gal "what can I do to help". He/she will tell you... and everybody wins.

    One last thing: Don't bad mouth the organizers, other bands, tech crew, or vendors. On stage and off the stage. They invited you, be a good guest. This seems to get a lot of younger bands into trouble. Festivals are great places to meet other people and generate more gigs/business for you. Think about it like it is a business meeting. It is the wrong place to burn bridges. Getting up on stage and saying something bad about the guy that is paying you is not a good idea... but I have seen it happen.
  7. Finally I have one for this thread. My band was playing a 2 day metal festival in BFE Michigan a few years back. We had played with the organizer's band before and had gotten a really good response from them and their fans.

    Preface: it had been dumping rain for the two days prior but was really nice the day of the show

    We were set to go on around 10PM. I had decided that it would be a good idea to drink and entire 18 pack of silver bullets... so I did. I finished off the beers around 5:00PM and passed out. I woke up around 9:00 to flashing lights.... cops. They really didn't have a beef with the music or the excessive drinking, they were mostly concerned with crowd control. So after a short stay of about a half hour they decided to leave and got their cruiser stuck in the foot deep mud that was now everywhere. We managed to get them pushed out and on their way, securing the fact that they would not be coming back out in the crown vics.

    We get all of our gear ready to go, I was now somewhat sober with a raging headache, and our singer is nowhere to be found. During the visit from the police, he and his brother (on probation) were smoking a bit of whacky tobacky in their car. Well, needless to say this freaked them out and they took off. Neither one of them had a cell phone and they were long gone, only to be found at home the next day. We never did play, I wish we would have, and I never set foot in that area again. I have since moved on to better things.
  8. Any more? I might have some stories soon from my experience in Iowa.
  9. dj150888


    Feb 25, 2008
    Belfast, Ireland
    Played a pretty small festival in Athens there a few weeks back.

    Beautiful city, we were over for about 4 days, night one was a rip of the drink, day two was hangover/sightseeing/festival warm up show. Festival began on the 3rd day, was all going great. Went back to the hotel afterwards (we were playing the next day, decided it wasn't the best idea to head home at 7am...again) only to hear a lot of noise and a series of bangs. Paid no heed, went to our hotel room, heard more bangs. Went downstairs, seen everyone running and got a face full of tear gas.

    Turned out there was protesting/rioting going on pretty close to our hotel and the (poorly trained) police dropped wayyy to many canisters of tear gas.

    Up the next morning, coughed up some blood, admired the small blisters under my eyes and played a bloody great gig.

    And I'd do it again in a heartbeat, tear gas and all.

    Theres also a thread somewhere on a festival we played in Germany which was a bit of a disaster at the start, but got back on track.
  10. Lazylion

    Lazylion Goin ahead on wit my bad self!

    Jan 25, 2006
    Frederick MD USA
    Sunscreen! Don't forget to bring it. And put it on, don't be a tough guy.

    Water is good, too, as Wingnut pointed out.
  11. justabass


    Nov 7, 2006
    Nashville TN/Old Hickory TN
    Endorsing-Trace Elliot,Peavey Basses,PedalTrain,Starkey inears
    Mark all your gear with your bands name!
  12. Alright, so last summer my old band Space Moose played this nightmare of a festival ironically called "Better Than A Dream" festival. A really cool band that we were friends with called Papa Smiley and the Brain Bannanas had an old school bus for a tour, so us playing our first festival were stoked to be rocking the long 8 hour drive like true rockstars. It was pretty hot in the bus with no A/C, but we quickly fixed that problem by cracking the windows open.

    So given that this ride was 8 hours and we had to stop and refuel every 3 hours roughly, we made sure not to stop for pee breaks in between refueling. If you had to go, they'd open the side door and you'd have to just piss with the 60 mph wind hitting you in the face. Easy for the gents, right? Well for the girls there was a pee bucket that you'd have to then empty out of the door after the dead. One of the girls didn't pay enough attention when she emptied the bucket and made this journey one of the most miserable that any of us would go on.

    The wind kicked the piss up, which then re-entered the bus from the cracked windows. I was fortunate to be on the other side of the bus, but my friends weren't so lucky. The piss bucket quickly became the puke bucket as my drummer got some right in the face. Others limped away with just a little pee on their clothes.

    And the festival only got worse.
  13. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    LOL :)
  14. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    Red, i see you won the winter classic, congradulations. my band (greensugar) won chicago. i am pretty stoked but i can't wait till the 16th to see if we won the online vote.

    good luck
  15. Yeah right on. We'll definitely have to meet up down at Mulberry Mountain. They just posted the schedule and it appears we're playing right when Gov't Mule starts.... oh well. That's pretty sick that you guys are opening the festival though.
  16. If you don't already have a SBBDI or a Radial Tonebone, get one - they are a must for backlined festival gigs. I kept running into the same beat-to-sh!t SWR rig in festival backlines, so I picked up a SBBDI and bypassed the tone stack on the SWR. It's become my "standard" for backlined gigs.
  17. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    thanks man but i don't know about noon on thursday. we are leaving wed around 8 or so & we are planning on arriving in the morning. so i guess we are getting there & playing right away. at least i will be able to see the rest of the fest.

    & i am really looking forward to jimmy herring, he is going to have Matt Garrison on bas!!!!!

    where did you see the schedule? i saw one on jambase & i am wondering how official that is. cause if it is official we might have won the onlive voting since we are on the revival stage.

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