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Gig stamina - both in terms of playing and movement

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by AndyLES, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    Hey guys,

    As you've probably heard in other threads, I've started a punk tribute band. We've been fortunate in getting gigs in the crowded NYC scene, and we've gotten good feedback on our "concept" and our playing.

    My issue, though is with overall stamina. We typically open shows with other bands on the bill, and play a straight 45 minutes. Thing is, by the last 2-3 songs, we're all DYING and practically faking our way through them (not that the audience has ever noticed). As you'd expect, the music is very fast and intense - my picking hand (even when following the Carol Kaye method recommended here) gets cramped, and my whole body feels so worn out to the point where I've almost fallen over when the set is done.

    Part of the problem, of course, comes from the fact that we want to get the crowd going and put on a SHOW - to that end, I'm jumping around and whatnot. I hate bands that just stand there and look boring, but now I think I understand why they do that. ;)

    Any advice? This problem concerns me because we may be doing longer sets in the future. :bag:
  2. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    I play both fingerstyle and with a pick. I would try playing a few of the songs fingerstyle, about halfway in the set, then switch back to the pick...and yes, I realize that most punk players use a pick exclusively.

    Other than that...the only thing else that you can do, is get your picking technique so good that the show speeds aren't that fast for you. Also...a general cardio workout program to get in shape.

    If you don't change something...you may be headed towards tendonitis---and that will end your gigging.
  3. Physically pace yourselves because it's no different than any other exercise. I'm a firm believer that people in general go to "see" a show and not "hear" a show, but you don't need to spend all you have on the first couple songs.

    Hand cramping has been an issue with me in the past, but that's all about technique and show prep. If you are in the same situation as I was, a combination of adrenaline and wanting to put on a good show changed the way I was playing...I'd end up digging in way harder than I would during a rehearsal or practice and gripping the hell out of the neck and my hands would be spent after half a set.

    Stretch out your body before hitting the stage and a bit of warm up on the instrument in the back does help. Don't drink as much alcohol prior to playing (it dehydrates you, then sweating like a fiend dehydrates you, not good for cramping). My secret anti-cramp weapon...eating a banana or two in the hours prior to the show along with a sports drink within the last hour. Now that I'm getting a bit long in the tooth and still playing high-energy shows, it's become ritualistic.

    For digging in and gripping so tight, I just had to learn to not do it while still be active on stage...it's an odd thing to have your body flying all around while keeping your hands loose, but being aware you've got the death grip on the instrument is the first step to stopping it. :)
  4. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    Thanks for the advice, guys. I have found that playing some of the stuff fingerstyle (the Clash stuff, mostly) actually helps. Gotta try the sports drink trick next gig.

    I do find that, unconsciously, I'll hit harder than I should at a gig. I'm gonna try turning up and hitting lighter.
  5. ^THIS^was my biggest issue back in my formative(punk)years- I was poor & had cheap, crappy equipment, & I'd hit HARD because the stuff wasn't loud enough. I used to break strings- E & A strings!
    I've mostly gotten over that, but still try to play w/the same intensity(I just turned 48 but still GTG w/my oldest, PUNKEST lineup once or twice a year & kick it HARD). I can play a pretty hard 45-60 minute set, but I've stayed in reasonably good shape- I MTB 3-4 times a week, eat fairly well & don't drink much.
    What kind of shape are you in beyond playing?
  6. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    hmmm, try to switch "being active" with the guitarist.

    if he is freaking out 60%, try to relax put on like 30% of your energy... then when your guitarist is resting ... go crazy, while pacing yourself of course.

    if both of you are tired, the song would sound really sloppy... so its a good thing if one guy covers the other.
  7. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    I'm actually okay...stress from work/grad school plus jumping around like said lunatic onstage has helped me lose weight. :hyper:

    Judge for yourself - Punk 77 | Facebook. I could probably stand to work on the cardio aspect of my health, though.

    Thanks for the replies...keep 'em coming!
  8. makkE


    Jan 19, 2010
    Normandie, France
    How about you go for a Band-Jog once in a while ?
  9. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    Part of becoming a mature performer is learning how to pace yourself. If you're "putting it all out there" from note one, you've got nowhere to go. Think of what you do on stage as having dynamic range, just as a good piece of music does.

    If you're going nuts every second, it not only gets tiring for you - it's tiring for your audience to watch as well.

    Punk tribute band? God, I'm getting old. Any proper punk would either spit at you or punch your lights out for doing that.
  10. AndyLES


    Aug 25, 2008
    New York
    They all retired and moved to Connecticut. The ones here in NYC that haven't come to our shows. :)
  11. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Just like any other intense physical activity, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
    Like the old saying "No pain,no gain". Do you do much exercising? This can lead to better stamina on stage.
  12. Sounds very familiar, my secrets (described for right handers):

    Avoid Death grip - by practicing without using thumb on left hand and only use fingers on left hand. Use right forearm to secure bass' body against your body (or outside of right thigh)

    Play lightly - use a boost pedal or volume pedal to help get used to it.

    Set up - get your speakers up near your ears and stand closer to them. Hearing better allows you to play with lighter touch.

    Energy - Avoid drops in blood sugar: avoid sugary foods/drinks and have complex carbs or better yet protein. Continually snack and hydrate yourself thru gig with crackers, nuts, etc.

    Exercise - rest before gigs, no exercise for at least 3hrs before hand. Learn proper diaphragm/abdominal breathing whilst playing bass - bad posture or bad breathing habits will stop you getting enough O2.

    Moving on stage - dramatic poses mean you can stand still, catch your breath and look interesting all at the same time.

    Pauses in playing - take any chance you can to NOT play
    eg. Play intro, rest verse, play chorus.
    Rest first half of guitar solo, then come in loud second half for added impact.
    Play and hold a note for a bar or two, whilst doing something else interesting (face gesture, interacting with crowd, acting silly with bandmates, etc).

    Just a few ideas...

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