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f.a.o gigging bassists - pre-gig nerves?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by project_c, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    i'm wondering whether any of you get nervous / anxious before playing gigs, and if so, how you deal with it. does it affect your playing in a negative way, or does being a bit nervous bring out the best in you? the whole 'have a few beers before the gig' thing doesn't really work so well for me, beer slows me down and messes with my timing, but i feel like the anxiety may be affecting my concentration and the way i play. i have 4 gigs over the next 4 weeks, and i want to play as well as i do when i'm fully focused at rehearsals, do you have any wisdom / experiences regarding all this?

  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I've never been nervous playing covers, or playing at church. But when playing originals, for some reason, I am always nervous. My drummer always had to take a nervous poop right before going on stage.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    For me getting nervous means I don't know my stuff well enough... or I'm in the wrong place. Over the years I've learned how to get through the gig feeling that way. AND... I've also learned that the best way to get over nerves is the work I do practicing and rehearsing. Once you're standing there ready to go on stage, its way too late to really do much except survive. Be prepared.
  5. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I used to get nervous..... Maybe exited is a better word. I miss that feeling, kind of like sitting in a roller coaster waiting for the ride to start.

    Last time I was truly nervous about playing, I was doing a solo bass thing at my mother-in-law's church. J.S Bach was never played so fast.........:rollno:
  6. NS2A


    Apr 3, 2008
    I learned this in my previous competitive hobby: Think of something calming and positive. For me, I'd look at a pic of my daughter. I'd also stretch out.

    Now, I just stretch out as my hands need to be ready. :)
  7. Yes, I still get anxious or nervous.

    Granted, it depends on how prepared I am or how much I've hyped the show in my mind.
  8. I find making sure I'm completely prepared removes most pre gig nerves. If you have the material dialed there really should be nothing to stress about.
  9. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    One thing that helps me is to check my equipment out thoroughly after I've set it up and walked away for a few minutes. Recheck tuning, wiggle all my cables and connections, check FX settings, make sure my amp(s) are warmed up and running... all of it, Then I walk away for another few minutes to clear my head. Nothing sets off my anxiety about being on stage like an equipment malfunction; I have a recurring dream about it.

    I DO NOT drink alcohol to relax before a gig; once the gig is happening, then I may drink a beer each hour long set. No more.

    NEVER LOOK BACK. When you screw something up (and we all do), recover as quickly as you can and don't think about it again. Dwelling on a mistake you just made will only lead to more mistakes, a condition I have come to refer to as "cascading f###ups". Trust me; no matter how bad you think it sounded when that clam escaped, when you listen to the recording (and like Jack Black says, ALWAYS record!), you will invariably find that the screwup was nowhere near as obvious as you thought it was at the time.

    And lastly, concentrate on having fun. When we play for the last time on stage with a band, we almost never know it when it is happening. Live in the moment and play each gig as if it could be the last one, because it really could. Many more people yearn to get up there and play than actually get to, you lucky dog!
  10. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    thanks for all the good advice. very true about screw-ups and never looking back, and it's true that nervousness gets in the way of enjoying yourself, and that translates to the music without a doubt.
    big gig for us tonight, i'm fully focused, prepared and ready to play, let's hope the rest of the band are also good to go..
  11. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    "F.A.O."? Not up on my interntet lingo...

    Not been nervous ever playing bass, but that six-string thing with the skinny strings does intimidate me on occasion.... Be like a Cub Scout- do your best. Don't accept mediocrity, but don't kill yourself over mistakes. LEARN from them, and focus on basics- time, LISTENING to everyone else on stage, and having fun.

  12. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Two years ago I had a real bout of anxiety over it.
    Fortunately, TB'er Jive1 PM'ed me a picture of Jenna
    Jameson that totally took my mind off of it. I love that

    Lately I have been playing out a lot and I can report that
    the anxiety does go away, and that you can relax and
    have fun. I am now to the point where I really enjoy
    getting the chance to play and am looking forward to
    it every time. It's pretty addictive once you get used to
    it. I am not the front man, but I make my mark for sure.
  13. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    Personally, I have always had stage nerves, which is different from the paralizing fear, called stage fright. I have gotten so used to it, that now I welcome it like an old friend. I have to make some allowances (previous poster talked about nervous poops), but generally I make jokes about it and move on. Just keep smiling, unless that is out of genre for you. The best solution is a positive attitude and preparedness.
  14. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I get a little nervous before gigs where I have to read and I don't know the dots well enough. But usually the nerves go away once the playing starts - I'm too busy concentrating to feel nervous.
  15. Joey3313


    Nov 28, 2003
    See, I don't get that. I would be more nervous to do covers...

    I mean, if you screw up your own song, whatever, who really knows?

    You screw up a song that everyone knows, EVERYONE notices.

    That being said, I've not fallen victim of nerves yet.
  16. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Jenna Jameson is no guy. You need to get out more. :D
  17. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Jive1 was the subject. Jenna was the object. And what an object...
  18. ForestThump


    Jun 15, 2005
    Channel all the fear and practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more.
    Record rehearsals, analyze and improve.
    Try to get an efficient and good soundcheck.
    No booze before the set.
    Keep a stiff upper lip no matter what happens-No one in the club knows your songs as well as your group, so just get on with it during and after.
    Enjoy because after all you are doing music to share it with others.
  19. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    thanks Joe !!
    there's some great advice in that blog ...

    sometimes i still get a case of " Nerve's " before doing a show :D,
    { even after over 35 years of constant gigging } ,
    but , i've learned to make them work for me , not against me .

    i try to keep these thoughts in mind :

    * i've practiced long hours , now is my time to SHINE .
    * i don't worry about the material , i know it by heart .
    * i don't worry about my bandmates , i trust them .
    * i don't worrying about the crowd , because
    i know they're gonna enjoy a good show .

    focus on breathing , pay attention ,
    and SMILE at the crowd !! :D
  20. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I think everybody gets nervous to one degree or another, but we learn to not let it plague our attitude, over time.

    for me, the antidote to stage fright is feeling confident that I know how to play the song, both in terms of how to correctly execute my part as well as how everybody fits into the dynamic contour of the arrangement. I know how to play it, but also have internalized how the song goes , if that distinction makes any sense. Also, knowing I can recover from any mistakes in short order.

    The only way to get there is to practice the material (on your own), and rehearse it (with the band.) until its a natural as walking.

    Once I get on stage I do my best to surrender to the situation, and try not worry or think about it. Onstage, its all about being in the moment, and giving yourself completely to the music. If you are devoting mental effort to worrying about the situation, then you are taking attention away from the performance.

    In a way, we practice so that when we perform, we don't have to focus on how to execute the material, and we can simply perform.

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