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I need to vent. We're about to botch a gig.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Sigurd, Jul 10, 2020.

  1. Sigurd


    Oct 27, 2004
    I'm frustrated and need to type. Warning: long ramble.
    Last year, an old friend who I hadn't seen in years, we'll call him RG, contacts me about a gig he's got. It's covers, and it's him on acoustic, myself, and RG's friend on cajon. Low key, outdoor, and given two rehearsals, went incredibly well. RG had learned some chords wrong, but we fixed them.

    Fast forward to this year, and we've got some time to rehearse. He wants a drummer and a lead guitarist too. The lead guitarist was easy: I called up my buddy, we'll call him LG, from my last band. He was in and couldn't wait to jam again. I drum too, so it was a little bit of a choice. Do I learn the drum parts and call up some bass-player friends that could nail the tunes in 5-6 weeks? Do I play bass and hope he can find a drummer? Hmm.

    The second option is what happened. He knew a drummer. I was immediately suspect when I'm informed that he doesn't own a kit and would need to borrow one. (Well that's interesting; he doesn't ever play or practice on his own). The next thing I hear is, "Can he borrow yours?" Now, I'm not a snob. However, my cymbals are brand new, and really thin. My kit was bought secondhand last year. I don't know the drummer or how he plays, so no, I'm not too keen on loaning out my stuff to a stranger, and having him store it in his garage for a month.

    First rehearsal, he hasn't touched the kit since we got the setlist four weeks ago. He "listened to the songs". He struggles to keep steady time and misses most of the transitions and sections (verse/chorus/hihat/ride/etc). Last rehearsal, he asked me, "Is that a bass?" I remained diplomatic. "Yes, sometimes basses have 5 strings." Whatever, that doesn't really matter.

    Meanwhile, RG has unlearned all the correct versions of the songs, and we're rehashing chords with two rehearsals remaining. A few of the songs have changed key mid-rehearsal. Song roadmap is almost completely gone. It's not consistent from one run-through to another. "I'm not getting that chord." "I skip the solo section when I practice." "What are you playing during the solo section ?" "Ab minor? How do I play that?" Bar chords. "I don't know bar chords."

    LG and I are having a great time playing with each other again. Past that, it's frustrating to see people using band rehearsal time as personal practice, especially with so little time to rehearse. The drummer has not played on his own time at all. The chords are on the internet. The song has been played and heard for 20-40 years. The crowd knows how it goes. It's frustrating. I can adapt to key changes, not instantly, but it takes a verse or two to "re-hear" it. But the leader and everyone else needs to be prepared. I stopped one song because RG was not even close to singing the correct melody on a well-known song, and the drummer was missing every last hit and detail, just plodding along out of style. And it's not like we're covering Rush.

    I foresee a trainwreck, and there's not much I can do about it. I'm really frustrated with the whole situation.
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    It sounds like you're playing with people way below your level. I think you have 2 choices... accept and roll with it, or walk and find people to play with who YOU can learn from. It sounds to me like this is going to only frustrate you till you pop :) . I'd let it go now, or at the very least start start searching for something better as you move forward.
  3. acid bass

    acid bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2010
    As unprofessional as it may sound, I would do as much as I could to stop this gig or get out of doing it. I hate when I'm not at my best on stage and I REALLY hate when my bandmates can't get with the program and affect my performance. It sounds like RG having to find replacement players won't really affect the overall vibe/quality of the songs anyways.

    The way RG is acting reminds of guys I've worked with who are more about the image than being a musician. They're immune to how bad their performance is because all the glory comes from being able to brag to their friends/co-workers about how they're in a band.

    On the other hand, maybe RG knows this and booked you for a gig that really doesn't require significant professionalism so he can be himself and just do what he wants without fear of being embarrassed on stage.
  4. Sigurd


    Oct 27, 2004
    This is not an official band situation. I will most likely decline it in the future.
  5. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

  6. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    I would not have made it through the rehearsal. In fact, as a strict rule, I NEVER play with musicians who don't own their own instruments. Period.
    Andy V., mexicant, D Bowden and 46 others like this.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I can't play with people who can't play.
  8. fretlessbass

    fretlessbass Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    Run. Away. Quickly.
  9. Sigurd


    Oct 27, 2004
    There is an element of that. RG is having fun, and having fun playing with others. However, "fun" is subjective. I have fun when the band smokes. LG and I were on fire on our last band, humbly speaking. He's a killer hard blues/rock player.

    I need to remember that, thanks.

    I hate letting myself go there. I hate thinking that. It's so true though.

    To look at it in another way, the leader and the drummer are playing with people better than them. Not everyone in a band is going to be playing with everyone better than them.

    However, I think I've gotten to the point where I'd rather not play than play in situations like this.
  10. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I’d look to get the band out of the gig with RG. Things like this never end well.

    Ive played a gig like this only one time. An acquaintance of mine knew I played and needed a bassist as they could never hold one down (should have been a flag). I took the gig and had to learn all their original songs, and at the first rehearsal I was teaching them how to play their own songs as the guitarist, singer, and drummer never kept a regular rehearsal routine. We got it together decently enough, but it was embarrassingly below my standard of quality. When they reached out to me for a second gig a few months later I told them my pay rate had gone up to a level I knew they wouldn’t pay and got out that way.
  11. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Dang, you're good. Now tell us when this COVID crap will be in the rearview.

    The situation you describe sounds like the hottest of messes. I'd fade.
    smogg, petrus61, DrayMiles and 3 others like this.
  12. In this case, COVID-19 may actually be your friend. Make up an excuse not to do it. Blame the virus. Sounds like some of your bandmates should be more careful out of the house anyways. :)
  13. Phaenomenal


    Jun 12, 2020
    New York
    Personally, I would take LG and start a new band. If bandmates won't take the time to practice on their own and a mate is dragging in people who don't own gear much less practice, all you've got to look forward to is a band that won't be wanted after your first gig which will go badly if your rehearsals are any indication. It's frustrating, but sometimes you just need to cut your losses and chase what you want.
    leftybass54, smogg, Dynacord and 3 others like this.
  14. I can't play with people who don't try.
  15. Good luck.
  16. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    ^^^Beat me to it. Start something new with LG.
    If you have a decent, possibly fun, paying opportunity you might as well do it as gigs are so hard to come by. But don't put yourself into a situation that may cause damage to your reputation as a player.
  17. No. I would not do that. It's music - do your best to have fun and make it sound good, and guide the band since it's clear they are learning from you. But mostly, have fun!
    fenjazz likes this.
  18. Low Down Brown

    Low Down Brown

    Jan 8, 2018

    Been there and I totally feel for you on that one. Those absolutely horrifying gigs to wince through.

    This nailed it.

    And this might be worth considering.
    Miles_ONeal and leftybass54 like this.
  19. FWIW, I was brought in to play drums on an EP by a guitarist... I didn't own a drum set. I played pretty well, although was inexperienced with sound levels and technique - but my actual drum playing, sound, feel, tempo, rhythm, fills, knowledge of song structure, ability to lead and also follow, reliability and predictability were all top notch, since I'm used to playing on other instruments with a group.

    Not owning an instrument does not mean you aren't perfectly capable of playing it very professionally in a gig if needed.

    In my case, the guitarist and his cohorts were much happier with my drum playing in the studio than with their own real drummer (with much better chops than I had back then) whom they'd worked with in the past.

    So I would have made the same decision you did, OP.... with similar frustration in the end.

    I've often play with musicians who were pretty crappy - but it can still be fun if you can all manage to gel somewhat, and not be too picky about chords etc. Let them play the wrong chords - follow along or agree on a simpler chord structure during the solos or whatever, and make it sound as good as you can with awesome bass fills covering the boring parts LoL.

    Good luck!
  20. I've played a few painful gigs that come to mind. Even the worst ones were learning experiences. Don't take it personally and if you end up going through with it, give it your best shot.
    Boomhowertx, leftybass54 and dkelley like this.

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