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How do *YOU* deal with a bad gig?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Fretless Friday, Jan 30, 2001.

  1. Well, lets talk about bad gigs, and more importantly, how you deal with them.

    I played last wednesday. If you read my profile, you'll see I play regularly on wednesday nights with an acoustic guitarist who also handles vocals. He's a great guy, very talented, but he was having some serious difficulties last week.

    17 strings. Count them. That's how many strings he broke. 17.

    Now, imagine if you will, the stage we play on is about 8 feet wide and 5 feet deep. I stand to the left of the guitarist. Think carefully. The strings (yes, all 17 of them) that be broke all broke at the bridge. Nice clean breaks. Which send the long, now loose end of the string where? Oh yeah. The left of the guitarist. Whelts all over my arms, one fairly nice slice from the E string.

    It was miserable. To make matters worse, one of our monitors died during the second song of the first set (we play two 1-hour sets, often to requests we don't really know and make up as we go along). So, I was without a monitor. Couldn't hear myself. Which wouldn't normally be a problem, except for the fact that I was playing fretless that night, and because the guitarist had to keep restringing, he kept going out of tune.

    I think it was my worst gig yet. The look on the crowds face was less than thrilling. My intonation sucked horribly, because I kept trying to compensate for the out-of-tune guitarist.

    Anyway, after the second set, the guitarist, the bartender and I sat around laughing about how badly the night had gone. We drank. Unfortunately, I also have a day job and 3 children at home. Zero sleep.


    I felt great about the gig the next day. Nothing could feel worse than how tired I was.

    I know this probably wasn't the best way to deal with a bad show, so I wanted to ask you guys here how you deal with a bad gig.

  2. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    only had one BAD gig so far... believe it or not, it was a talent show! The kids who played before us decided it would be humorous to play with our volume knobs a bit... so the guitarist was at 0 and me on bass was at 10. Have you ever seen so many old ladies with such a shocked expression on their faces? It was at my Church. doh.

    Oh, BTW the way that we delt with it... Pray... pray hard for no sudden lightning storms. :)
  3. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    I'll get back to you on this. I need to comb out some cobwebs......war stories at 11.
  4. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    17 broken strings in one night? Is he using a razor blade for a pick?
  5. 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
    A bad gig for us is one in which we aren't so tight. At the end of one of those, as I'm putting away my bass, I say, "Boy, that sucked." That's all.
  6. i would have to go with Munjibunga on this.
    the thing i get a kick out off is that it is up to the player, you could be playing bad with the drummer but if the guitar player is ripping it up he thinks it was a great gig.

    Bass and Drums: wow that blew!
    Guitar: are you kidding they loved me, i mean us.
  7. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    The causes of the bad gig are varied, so how to deal with them takes on variations. Several of them do, in fact, involve the consumption of too much alchohol, but that's a last ditch! :eek:

    Bad gig situation #1:
    Equipment failure. You're all psyched for a good night, and in the first song, SQUONK, FZZZZZZZZZ, HISSSSS, your amp is toast. If you're not lucky enough to have a backup, you wind up do a DI straight to the PA. You probably won't get any monitors, cuz the singer NEEDS to hear himself, so you spend the night hopping and jumping and just praying that what you're playing is making sense. Even though you've done it night after night, it just doesn't seem the same. After the gig, you shake your head at your equipment in disbelief, and head to the bar.......

    Bad gig situation #2:
    Your "wonderful" bandmates. Let's suppose, for example, that one of your bandmates has a "recreational" problem. You try to work it out, and deal with it, but the night when you have to break down the door of his apartment because he's passed out, and you were supposed to go on an hour ago (and it's already 1 a.m. for crying out loud), well it makes for a stern, mechanical set and a very quiet dressing room. After the show, everyone speaks their peace (quite loudly)....and then heads to the bar. If this happens at an outdoor gig, and things are just intolerable, you might (just hypothetically) throw all of your equipment in the car and storm off, only to realize 2 hours later that you have the keys to the equipment truck in your pocket.

    Bad gig situation #3:
    You/We/I suck. There are those nights when not everyone in the band is ON. You don't like turning around as you all kick off a tune, and screaming at the drummer "Wrong song, John!", but there just didn't seem to be a better way to inform him. And forgetting that there's a lead in there somewhere will get you some real funny looks on stage. On the nights where my fingers just wouldn't behave, I got in the habit of mocking myself onstage - better to advertise that something was blatantly off than pretending everything was alright. When the night is over, head to....well, you get it by now!

    The key to the bad gig is to do everything in your power to make it work, and deal with it emotionally later. A couple of drinks AFTER the show aren't going to hurt, and it may help you (in some cases) laugh about the pain you just went through. At the point where you give up on the night, you will lose your audience - now, and maybe forever.

    ...however, 17 strings? Do you guys call him Hacksaw? A little advice for next time - if the set is already that damaged, pull off early, get things right, talk to the club owner, and get right back up after a short break and do a long set. You guys were digging your own grave up there. Better to quit early, apologize to the crowd, and come back strong.
    Hmmm....just read your original thread. This was an acoustic duo gig? Very weird.
  8. It didn't bother ne as much after I got the "I'm just going to have fun" attitude. Hey, I really sucked tonight, but I covered my a$$ enough that the audience didn't notice.
    I had fun, and that's all that mattered.
    An equipment failure can be a pain. Bring backup gear, if at all possible. Makes for a much less stressful gig.
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Turn it into a good gig or quit.
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Me? I could rationalize all night in my bed, (if that's where I end up), and the next day about how it was the guitarist's problem. But it's still going to gnaw away at me anywho because when someone on the same stage has a problem it's my problem, too. (I think that's why some acts are called "bands").

    The only way I can deal with it effectively is to get up there the next time and be a stone monster.

    Just curious- were you guys playing next to an all night music store? I never met a guitarist who could replace 17 strings at a gig, much less their picks!!!

  11. Well, After taking a seriously good long look at "Hacksaw's" guitar, I realized what the problem was. The saddle was too low, leaving the strings passing over at a rather shallow angle, and what was happening was that through strenuous strumming, he was basically sawing through the strings at the bridge, as they'd slide around.

    Against his wishes, I took the guitar to my luthier, who immediately corrected the problem. And laughed.

    The craziest part of it all was that the crowd was getting a kick out of all the broken strings (got this from the bartender last night).

    Oh well, I've had gigs where I wasn't tight (I practiced alot the next day), gigs where the equipment failed (made sure I had backups in the future), guitarists with "recreational" problems (got a new guitarist) and gigs where the crowd got violent (ever seen what happens to a rugby player when they get hit in the head with a P-bass?). Those were bad, but I could deal with it. This.....17 freaking strings!....,was just nuts.

    It all turned out well, and the club manager was happy with us regardless. I guess we managed to entertain anyway. Which maybe makes it not so bad a gig after all.


    [Edited by Fretless Friday on 02-01-2001 at 01:45 AM]
  12. Actually, I insisted a long time ago he bring 4 sets of extra stings. Just like I bring a backup bass and two sets of extra strings.

  13. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Another guideline:
    Bad practice = good gig.
    Everyone is so nervous after that practice, that they are especially conscious of what they're playing on the job.
    Nice to hear that the crowd was entertained to some degree. Did you guys try to work the crowd while this was going on, or did you kind of slink into the background? Like I (and others) have said - when you're in a hole, exploit it to get yourself out of it. Turn your problems into opportunities. The fact that the audience was amused is ample fuel to get a good vibe going in the midst of disaster.

  14. Well, actually, I got a fair amount of solo time in, mostly messing around with 12-bar blues and classical stuff while he was almost constantly restringing. And luckily, the guitarist is a born entertainer, he was telling stories and jokes alot of the time while he was tuning. I'm thinking, in retrospect, the gig really wasn't that bad, but it sure felt like it while we were onstage.

    I guess the best is that we packed the club last night, and alot of the faces were ones that were there the week before.

  15. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH

    Were any of them packing calculators?
  16. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    To answer the question: I yell at the drummer. :D
    Okay, I'm kidding.
  17. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    In all seriousness, our rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist is the least musically inclined of the lot, which is not to say he's bad, he's quite good. But when he has an off-night, he turns to us and says, "We sucked tonight." The drummer and I usually retort with, "We were fine, thanks." Unfortunately, he adopts the attitude that if he was off, then the whole band sucked, when in truth, the rest of us were tight. Fortunate for us, we really are tight enough and good enough that even when we feel we're off, the crowd still loves us.
  18. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    How do I deal with it? Quite simple actually. I simply have 2 beers and kick the drummer in the balls. After that its allllllllllll better!
  19. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Dr. Mike- I'd appreciate it if you would refrain from the Gray's Anatomy terminology. All that Ramen has impaired my neurotransmitters.
  20. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000

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