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Nervousness beore the gig.....

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rockin John, Jun 8, 2001.

  1. Well...err...I feel a bit of a dawk posting this but here goes. Just wondering how you guys cope with the above.

    'Thing is...err...back in the old days I used to be crippled by this son-of-a-bitch. Things got steadily worse and at it's worst, I remember one time, I was screwed up for about a week before this gig and I threw up continuously for a couple of hours before we went on - and it was only a silly little gig @ the local church hall.

    Won't bore you all with the gory stuff but things got so bad that I ended up quitting music altogether and I flogged all my stuff. Even then, I was only playing as an amateur, so to speak.

    Now, of course, I'm back playing again. Only jamming for fun @ present but the other guys are talking about gigs. And I know we've supposedly got a couple of things @ Christmas to do. I'm really terrified that the ghost will return to haunt me again. OK, I'm older, (supposedly) wiser and certainly fatter now (!!!!!) so I may be able to cope better.

    But advice from you guys is genuinely sought on this one.


  2. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    I´ll play for the first time in front of a real audience this saturday! i had no intention of inviting friends but the news spread fast here.

    but i don´t feel that nervous... well... that´s what i think :)

    man! now i´m nervous!

    Just kidding...

    getting confidence onstage is part of the musical journey...
  3. Hey John -

    I think pretty much everyone gets a bit jumpy/nervous just before a gig. The trick for me is to channel the energy it creates into a positive form, instead of letting it feedback on itself, y'know worrying about little details, worrying about not making too many mistakes, etc. Instead, think about how good the band sounds when it's clicking, how much fun you're going to be having when you play that tune or tunes you love to play, how cute all the girls out front (or guys if you're a girl...) are, how everyone's gonna love the band (because unless you truly SUCK they will, especially if you look like you're having fun).

    Don't ever focus on other musicians that might be there, you're not playing for them, you're playing for the listeners. Some musicians can be listeners as well, and won't hold imperfection against you, the ones that do, ignore 'em.

    Don't worry about making mistakes. You WILL make a mistake, accept it in advance and it makes it so much easier when it actually happens. I've found through my own experience and talking to many other musicians, some with MUCH more experience than myself, that if you don't immedately let go of a mistake onstage, it'll have a domino effect and cause yet another mistake! You gotta let it go the instant it happens. If someone wants perfection, tell 'em to go listen to a CD (and even most of those have plenty of mistakes on them if you listen closely enough ;) ).

    Always focus on one thing at a performance: Having fun! If it's a paid gig, remember you're not getting paid for the gig itself, you're getting paid (and I'd say underpaid for almost all musicians) for the years of practice, the investment in your equipment, the hours of rehearsals, and the trouble you go through just getting to the gig. The time onstage actually playing is the FUN stuff, always remember that, and it should help.
  4. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    It's good to want to have a good performance. Everyone does. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret of mine. Don't tell anyone though. ;)

    I make Loads of mistakes when I play gigs and the like.

    Well, maybe not loads, but enough. My finger slips here, I get distracted by someone walking by, a lady who had too much to drink dances a tad too close to the band, loses her balance and falls, knocking over the music stands and... you get the picture.

    Whenever I hit a clam, what do I do? I keep a straight face and keep on playing. I am not a machine, so it stands to reason that I shouldn't be expected to perform like one. Here's another secret:

    Mistakes can be good.

    All great players make mistakes. The trick is to make them sound like they were intentional note choices and fake your way back into the bassline. You have an entire fingerboard of notes to choose from, so why would you play the same five frets over and over again? It's ok to stray from the beaten path and take a risk now and then. It's how we improve, by trying new things, no?

    Just keep in mind that you've put in the time to learn the songs and that you're basically doing what you've already done at least a hundred times before; the only difference is that there's an audience. If you can't play for them, play for yourself. Playing live is a lot of fun, and can even be lucrative on a personal level. It's why we decided to become musicians, isn't it?

  5. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    These are kind of simple, but they work for me. If you can share with your bandmates without being embarrassed, and they're cool, try and get the first few songs on the set list to be ones that you are really confident with. Also push for plenty of time to set up and sound check. I get stage fright, and the band I am in routinely starts with the drummer arriving with his gear about 30 seconds before we are set to go on. Freaks me out every time.
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Great advice, guys, especially about the "fun" part.

    Imagine all the other things you could be doing other than playing in a band, on stage...something 99% of the people couldn't do and would love to do. Mistakes?...BFD, let them roll off your back. I've been involved in my share of absolute train wrecks and unless you're playing in a bar with a stage surrounded by chicken wire, nobody dies!

    Have fun! Realize how cool what you're doing is, to other people and hopefully, to yourself.
  7. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Take and apply all you can from the above give advice, its as good as you will find anywhere. If that doesnt help, just kick your drummer in the balls till you feel better.

  8. This is really good stuff, guys. I'm going to print these replies and read 'em good and proper.

    One of the gigs (if you can call it that) is @ my lads school Christmas party: he's only 6 and is really looking forward to showing-off his dad's band to his mates. There'll also be loads of parents and stuff there so that might be a good way to ease myself back into the gigging thing. Should be a late night, too.....@ least 8.30 pm!!!

    Keep the comments coming in guys.

  9. I get really nervous when I have to make a speech in class. I mean really nervous. But when I play bass in front of people, I only get a little bit nervous in comparison. I'm trying to figure out why and I guess there are a few factors involved.

    Well, the first thing that comes to mind, and this goes for all types of presentations is being prepared. Lack of preparation can make a person unsure of him/herself. Even if you're going to improvise, you have to be "prepared to be unprepared" so to speak. I guess I get nervous when I made speeches in college because none of them were from the heart. I've had to make numerous speeches in my marketing and management classes in college. There's one word which sums all of it up. Baloney (the nicer word). I felt like I was just saying a bunch of other people's ideas and I was pretending to be a real critic on it while trying to look and act presentable in the "business school" sense of the word.

    But music is different. Play from your heart and don't hold back your feelings. When you're on stage or when you're playing you have the right to feel free and comfortable. The hours of practice you put in and the love you have for music should be right up there with you reinforcing your confidence. Just be the bass and be the sound and do the best you can.

    I have screwed up badly at a "gig" before. I joined my high school jazz band in my senior year, and I had never read music before that. All the brass players and the keyboard had been reading for years. But I was just starting. We had a show in a couple of months. I was basically trying to read on stage because there was no way I could memorize walking basslines to all the tunes because I didn't really understand the theory back then. I royally screwed up and I beat myself up for it. But by the next show, I had my reading down so that I felt comfortable with the tunes we were doing.

    Well, hope this helps in some way. Good luck! :)
  10. Hmmm...
    How about in checklist form?
    1) Be prepared
    2) Expect the unexpected
    3) Have fun
    4) Don't get too cocky, it can screw you up
    5) If you screw up, keep on going like nothing happened
    6) I know I'm missing stuff, but it's 2:30am and I should be asleep. :p
  11. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Here's a trick that a lot of public speakers use:

    When you get nervous your body starts working overtime. Your heart rate speeds up and your muscles tighten. All this hinders your ability to play, and more importantly, to relax. Many professional public speakers, (I'm one of them, and it works great for me), is to engage in some type of physical activity before going on stage. (If you find someone cute at the bar, this could be a good time to....never mind). Anyway, some people will walk around the block a couple of times, do some push-ups or sit-ups, or something of that nature. Doing this gets some blood flowing through your muscles, and helps loosen them. It should also take your mind off the stress a little.

    Someone also posted some great advice in another thread about running warm/hot water over your hands and wrists. I love this technique! This will also help get the blood flowing through your hands and wrists, and might relieve some of that tension in your muscles.

    Since I know when most of my gigs are well in advance, I usually try and schedule my lessons for the same day. When I come out of my lesson is when I feel the most cofident and upbeat. My best live performances have come when I had a lesson earlier in the day.
  12. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    first time i played a gig.. i was shaking when i got up on stage.. i mean my arms weren't moving and i my legs were shaking .. had sweats all over my face and only thing i can do is just play.. but after doing shows.. its not bad... i have lots of fun! I still have a problem looking up at the crowd cuz i dunno where to look at. :) but i don't get nervous.. when i get in to a song i get this adrenalin (sp?) rush and it feels GOOD!!

  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    For most kids dad being a bass player is even cooler than him being a fireman. Maybe not as cool as being a Backstreet Boy...but close;)

    Should be a blast.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I used to get REALLY NERVOUS all the time, I sometimes still get REALLY NERVOUS, and I always get somewhat nervous whenever I play with my main band, The Nerve! (pun wasn't intended but what the hey).

    I welcome the nervousness with The Nerve because after years of giggin and getting comfortable with my bandmates I've learned to channel that energy into the performance. It fuels me to jump, run, dance and roll around, and that makes the show a whole lot more entertaining.

    I've been paralyzed with fear though with a couple of bands I've been hired for. Usually when it was a gig I really wanted to hold on to. I was becoming phobic of blanking out on stage and just getting totally lost. Here's some stuff I did and do that works for me.

    I think of all the bands I've seen in my life, and I try to count the times I've seen a guitarist screw up. I can't remember if I ever did, why?- cuz I don't frigging care! Just as nobody cares if I screw up on the bass (cept maybe the band members). I'm a musician and can rarely tell if someone is screwing up. As long as I keep a straight face I can probably screw up royally at a gig, and nobody's gonna know. Non musicians rarely know when someone flubs, and if it's really obvious they can almost never tell who it was that did. They just think it's the whole band :)

    More importantly, I practice the songs on my own till I'm sure I can get through them all with no major mistakes. I give em a once over the day of the gig too.

    Most importantly I pray like crazy (seriously). I'm not a religious freak by any means, but there's certain situations where prayer has been the only answer, and it worked for me. I ask the God of my understanding to dole out all the help It can and keep me and my fear from getting in my own way. I pray for acceptance of whatever the outcome is also.

    I've gotten through all my gigs and I'm still a happy, productive bass player.

    Good luck.
  15. The first time I played in front of an audience I was a drummer. A TERRIBLE drummer, to be honest. I mean bad, I've seen a video tape of the performance and I was about a beat and a half off of the rest of the band for about the first 10-12 bars. Yikes! In fact, the whole band kinda sucked.

    I was incredibly nervous before the show.

    The thing that helped me was that when I screwed up for the first time (the first of many, in fact), all the pressure to have the 'perfect' show was gone. I was able to concentrate on having fun, and that's what I did. I made every effort not to mess up again, but when it did happen it wasn't any kind of earth shattering event. In fact, after the show people I'd never seen before (I knew most of the audience) came up to me and told me how great the show was and what a fantastic drummer I was. That helped a lot for the next show.

    Anyway, just try not to put too much pressure on yourself.
  16. 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
    Gard hit the nail on the head. One of my favorite parts of a gig is the drive to the venue, when all that anticipation is building up. I really like that naturally wired feeling.
  17. It is hard not to confuse anticipation for nervousness, still happens to a lot of us. Still happens to me and I spend most of my time now playing parties and putting down bass line on my freinds digital recorders. In front of people I try to grab hold of the feeling and use it, kind of hard to explain, if I can make the first song sound good the rest of the night is a breeze. Play something you know for the first song, it will also help to warm up your hands and get you to remember how you over came when it happens again. I rember geing on stage just before the set and thinking "Hmm, how does road house blues go?" Even an easy song can make you double think your talent, that is when you have to realize that your mind is playing tricks on you.
  18. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i always get nervous out of my skin before a gig - the whole "7 string bass, huh? you must/better kick ass" thing compounds the natural jitters.

    i just focus on preparation right before a gig - i have a little ritual that i go through with my basses, make sure they are in tune and intonated properly, make sure all my cables in my rig are set up properly. it's sorta funny - i have this fairly complex rig, but i've gone through a very meticulous process so that, when i get to a gig, all i have to do is plug in just a few cables, and then i spend the rest of the time going over all the patch cables and making sure they are plugged in properly and everything is hooked up properly. sounds bizarre, but it gets me in the proper frame of mind - i'm there to play my bass and perform properly and professionally, i'm not there to show off. helps me calm down and focus so that i can show off properly :D.
  19. TonyS


    Dec 13, 1999
    What are the indications for kicking a singer in the balls. I'm looking for a reason, ... pardon ... I meant physical symptoms. Could my irritation with his lack of commitment be a reason, I mean symptom.?

    Any help is appreciated.


    As Ed said earlier, if you go in prepared, it's a no brainer. I've heard (what I thought) was some questionable musicianship over the years and interestingly enough, the crowds still managed to have a good time.

    There's good news for ya.

  20. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    JT, I should order a 7 string, then people will <B><U>THINK</U></B> Im good. And also, I can also be more like JT! :D :D :D :D


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