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Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by lawnpatio, Oct 4, 2000.

  1. lawnpatio


    Jun 27, 2000
    My band is just about to start gigging and we could use ANY advice you have. (I do stress the "any" part). I just want the first gig to go well. Thanks a lot.

  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Well, lawn, there's a lot of advice to give, and I know that a lot of the senior members here can probably offer a lot of advice, probably better than mine, but just off the top of my head, I would say:

    1) Practice practice practice. Have a couple of practices with the band where you simulate a gig. Don't stop inbetween songs or in the middle of songs. Pretend like there is a crowd. In fact, invite a friend or two if you like.

    2) Know your songs inside and out. To the crowd, it should look like what you're doing is easy.

    3) Remember you are playing to a crowd. Never compromise the integrity of your music, never, but keep in mind that people are there to be entertained, and the degree to which you can entertain will become a factor into how you are received. (Read: entertain does not necessarily mean dancing on stage and the like, I mean making sure the crowd likes what they hear).

    4) Don't blabber in between songs. It's really easy to get caught up in joking with each other on stage or having near conversations. Avoid that at all costs. Little quips to each other tastefully, and moderatley done, are fun and show that you're relaxed, just don't overdo it. Don't kill the momentum of the music.

    5) Show up early.

    6) Bring extra everything if you have it. (Extra cords, extra batteries for tuners or pedals or pickups, extra set of strings, picks if you use them). Anything that can go wrong, will. If you're prepared for it, you're in good shape.

    7) Settle money, payment method, and when payment will be given before hand. Is a contract necessary? Don't get caught being stiffed for your pay. (Assuming you're getting paid).

    8) Know if a soundcheck is necessary. Is it a small gig at a club and bar where that's not necessary? When does management expect you to be there. This goes back to #5.

    9) Be polite and respectful on stage, but have fun. Don't be one of those bands that drinks away their pay and acts like pompous asses on stage.

    That's the best off the top of my head right now.
  3. I think you missed a very obvious one...
    Play though your mistakes.
    that was almost the death of my band at one of our gigs. Seeing that the drummer wasnt used to haveing a bag of "extra" sticks on hand, and didnt know to just grab one if he drops his... he fumbled it around while we continued to play, and adventuly realized to grab one of the other sticks (cause his stick flew over by the guitar player once he was done batting it in the air) seem'd longer then it actuly was, but when your on stage it will come across your mind to pause playing and look over to whast going on.
    Know the lyrics.
    If your a singer this applys to you, if not, then just ignore this one. At my first gig, durring the sound check, my mind when completley blank and i started singing the second verse first, and mumbled my way though the chourus. very very embarrising if that happens.
  4. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    you got some good advice here, and i will ad my biggie: HAVE FUN!!! this sort of dovetails with the earlier mention of entertainment, but if you guys are having fun on stage then the audience will sense that and join in. so....go for it!
  5. fishonbass


    Sep 21, 2000
    That's good advice from Muttluk. The band I'm in is relatively fresh and we've only gigged a couple of times. So, I'm still totally learning. But one thing I've learned the hard way is that it's really important to ignore mistakes and fight through them. There will invariably be a bit you miss or a note you muff or someone else in the band will screw up. Don't do what you might normally do in practice (i.e. throw looks of disgust, make comments, stop playing, etc.) Because the thing is, unless it's way, way obvious, most of the time the audience doesn't even pick up on the minute screw-ups that you notice as a member of the band. They don't know you're supposed to hit that E four times instead of three or that the drummer's supposed to fill with a roll between chorus and verse or whatever. They're caught up in the experience of watching the band AND listening to the music. Our first gig, I was just mutilating the bass line on a couple of our newer songs. Just nervous as hell and tight and ham-fisting it. I must've had this horrified look on my face because after the gig people came up and said "Man, you guys sounded great, but what the hell was wrong with you up there? You looked miserable." The only thing that told them something was wrong was my blatant reaction to my own mistakes. So, like Muttluk says, play through your mistakes. And fake like they never even happened.
  6. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    Ummmmm.... Ditto what everybody else has said, it's all sound advice.

    Here's one that hasn't been mentioned, and I feel that this is of utmost importance: Stay sober!!

    There is nothing more pathetic than a drunk or stoned musician making a complete jacka** of him/herself in front of a crowd! They not only embarass themselves, but the other band members as well. The real trick is to maintain a balance between musical professionalism and the nitty-gritty band life.

    But most important: RELAX and HAVE FUN!!!! :D
  7. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    Do not stand there like a bump on a log for sure. Looking back at our first gigs on video, I saw myself just standing there looking (though I wasn't) a bit bored. Now, looking at our latest video from a festival outdoors, I saw our guitar player laying on the ground while I did number destoying an old guitar. We jump around, run around, and ooze high energy. But you don't have to do that. Just look like you are having fun. If you look like you are not happy, the crowd won't be happy.

    Eventually, work little gimmicks into your show. A great band in my town does the coolest thing. About 3 times in the show, the bassist hands his bass to the rythm player/singer and goes and dresses up like someone. He's put on an afro wig and vest to do Bon Scott. He's put on a Gene Simmons mask and Kiss outfit for Rock N Roll all night. Then the whole band puts on beards for ZZ Topps La Grange.
  8. lawnpatio


    Jun 27, 2000
    Thanks everyone....this is very helpful!

  9. pierce

    pierce freethinker

    May 25, 2000
    San Francisco, Ca
    bring duct tape, a leatherman, and a notebook with a marker.

    the first two items will fix damn near anything, and the notebook is good for starting a mailing list. im not kidding, i work for a MAJOR financial institution, and they have done studies that prove that it is much harder and less profitable to get new customers, than to get repeat business from existing ones. substitute the word customers with fans. plus it makes them feel "special" to get an email telling them where your playin next. most savvy bar managers actually notice when bands build fan databases, and they will sometimes make booking decisions based upon it (depending on the circumstances, of course).

    and by all means, if you have band propaganda (especially flyers for your next gig) bring plenty and distribute, distribute, distribute.

  10. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    It's all good advice. I like to start the gig on time, to the SECOND. The instant you go past the time, the crowd's mood begins to deteriorate, 'til it gets so bad you can't recover. Late starts are totally lame-a$$, no matter how big of a name you are.

    At our last gig, we came as close to melt-down as we have in the last six years. It was on Wynona's "I Saw the Light", and one of the other backup singers, for some reason, sang a long note about a quarter step off pitch. My brother and I, on the other two backup parts, each stopped singing momentarily to make sure it wasn't one of us, but the culprit just held the same danged note. We struggled through to the end, only on the strength of our stage experience. This has never happened to us before. I was pretty hot about it, but waited until after the show to vent a few expletives, which I almost never do.

    Also, don't let on that you've made a mistake. No frown, no lip-syncing "f---", just that little brain-dead smile. Most of the time the audience is clueless.
  11. Hey lawn, In the movie "Swing", Clarence Clemmons (Springsteens's Sax man) says, "It's not that you play a bad note but what you do after you play a bad note." Know how to get out of a misplaced note, chord, word, and kind of do some runs with integrity to mask the obvious. Know thy scales. (Sorry, Socrates). Don't grimmace when someone else errs, just keep going, glance over real calmly and see if he knows where you are and what's next. Help him out. This is a team. Please, have a lot of fun and let the crowd see you're enjoying it. Try not to be a pillar of salt and just stand there deadman playing. Be natural. Be cool. Find the groove and set it up. I've also done some single guitar/singing soloing and hell, I get frantic before the set, but after the first 60 seconds I just climb into it and become the songs. I've forgotten words, misplaced chords and started on the wrong note on the harmonica. Don't make it obvious and maybe just the ones who are listening will notice and give you a casual eye to see how you handled it. Be a champ. They'll love you for it. Best of luck. Break a string!
  12. Smith -

    Excellent advice on being a "team". You'd be amazed at how many "professional" gigs I've done with guys that didn't have that concept. The thing they forget is that EVERYONE looks bad in a situation like that, especially if you "evil-eye" the lost soul. A simple gesture, turning so that they can see where you are on the fingerboard, holding a finger up to relay which chord you're on, these things are small, and the people watching will not have a clue as to what's happening onstage 9 times out of 10. But the jack@$$ that gets bent out of shape over a mistake just told everyone watching what happened.

    The guys I work with now are wonderful about this. I'm completely in the deep end with them, they've been working together in the vicinity of 20 years and their list of songs is immense, about 500-600 tunes. I'm paddling as fast as I can to get up to speed, but sometimes I go over the falls no matter what. When that happens, someone is always there with a "net" to catch me. There is never any attitude from them, just "here's the chord, man". Even when I get turned around in a tune that I know (happens because of information overload...:rolleyes: ), there's not a dirty look to be found, just a smile and a laugh, and an unspoken understanding to get it right next time. They know I will, or I wouldn't have the gig. :)

    The result: they're the busiest band in the Baton Rouge, LA area, because they're the best variety band in the state. Why? Because they're not big on attitude, they're big on entertainment and music. I'm both lucky and thrilled as can be to have this gig. :D

    Bottom line: always try to have fun onstage. You're not getting paid for the gig (if it's a paying gig), you're getting paid for all the other crap you have to go through to get to the gig and be able to do the tunes. I think Count Basie said, "You don't get paid for the 2 hours onstage, you get paid for the other 22 hours". Use that other 22 hours to get your $h!t together, and have fun with the 2 onstage, that's generally the only benefit (in the vein of health insurance or 401k plans at least) that being a musician will bring you.
  13. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Its not how a band or any organisation reacts when things are going well that matters.

    I once did a gig in a prison and the prisoners worked out that my bass amp was on an extension plugged in right by some of them. They thought it funny to turn it off and on.
    I put up with it safe in the knowledge of 2 things. 1 the warder that sorted them was frightening. 2 I was going home to my wife that night. As it happened we got mobbed in a nice way after the gig, in fact that gig had the worst and best reaction I have ever had from an audience. (captive at that ha ha )

    Hope for the best plan for the worst and enjoy yourself.
  14. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Maybe this is silly, but if there is any way, any way at all, you can get the name of your band painted on a sign or printed in large letters so that when you play, the name is prominently displayed, that will do wonders for helping with name recognition. Not everyone will know what your band is called. Let them know all the way through the set with that name displayed so they can see IF the place where you play will allow it.

    Another thing...I hope this isn't belaboring the obvious...is have your set list printed out in order of the set. It is also a good idea to have the key of the song written prominently beside each song. Have a copy of the set list placed where each musician can see his list. If you plan ahead, even if it is just five minutes ahead, the order in which your songs will be played, you won't be fumbling around between songs deciding what to play next.

    When you are done with your set, thank your audience and tell them one last time the name of your band. If you know where you will be playing next, tell them that, too.

    Jason Oldsted


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