Our first gig in 7 years - Report (long).

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Diggler, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    Well, after a 7 year hiatus, my original band has reunited and begun playing gigs again. Our first show was Saturday, at one of the bars we used to play at.

    All in all, it went great... eventually. Murphy was enforcing his law that night though. I would hate to think how it would have gone if we hadn't had several years of gigging experience to handle all the problems in stride.

    First off, there was a big table of people who were eating right where we are supposed to set up. We were there at 6:30, hoping to set up and do a quick sound check. We sat around and waited... they finished their food, and another couple came in and joined the previous group at the table, and ordered. Second group got their food, then ANOTHER group came in and sat at the table with them, and ordered THEIR food. It's now 8:30, and we're supposed to start at 10. On our new equipment, which has never been played in public before. Nothing is set up. We don't know where to even begin to set the sound levels and were counting on the soundcheck to dial it in. We run sound from the stage for the time being so we don't have the luxury of a soundman, making the soundcheck even MORE important.

    Eventually the owner said that we might have to set up in this little corner because he can't kick out a big group of paying customers. Their bar food/drinks tab was over $250, and that's before the other people came in! One girl we know is sitting next to the offending table and overhears one of the guys talking. Turns out he DJ's at this bar sometimes, and doesn't like competition. He says, "Watch this... we'll just stay here until they get all set up over there, then we'll get up and leave." Laughing about it. Jerk. They were doing it on purpose.

    We get about 3/4 of the stuff set up in the tiny, cramped corner and the whole table finally gets up and leaves. It's now 9:20. I talk to the bar owner and we agree that we should move, even though it will mean a late start for us. The drummer would have been pointing right down the bar, and the tenders would never have been able to hear drink orders. I tell him we'll play through breaks and play till 2, he's fine with whatever has to be done.

    We move all the stuff, and finally get to play at 10:40. In the process, a bunch of people helped us move, so some of the settings got bumped. It was late enough that we didn't have time to check everything again... if the mains and monitors were putting out sound, we had to play. No time to be picky. Specifically, the power cord was pulled loose of the main and monitor EQ's, and the onboard EQ on the monitor mixer had the high freq's maxed out... which of course would occasionally cause hellacious, piercing feedback.

    We play through the first song, and one of our surge protectors SHORTS OUT! Half of our equipment loses power. I send my brother in law to my house to get every extension cord, surge protector, etc... anything that could possibly go wrong later, and I swap some power around so that we get everything on one surge protector. :eek: At least it worked... but we had to unplug our cooling fan that kept the stage temp. below 95 degrees. Oh well.

    Of course, all of this would have been detected and avoided if we could have set up early and had a soundcheck.

    Back playing again. We had no time to make a setlist (thanks again, Chicken Wings Guy, we were going to do this in the hour and a half after soundcheck) so we start with some easy stuff that we've done for years and are known bar-crowd pleasers. I sing well over half of the songs (and all of the difficult vocal ones), the guitar player does the rest, the drummer doesn't sing. Well, three songs into the first set, my voice starts cracking like a pubescent teen. I have no idea why, but I knew that once that starts, it only gets worse until it fails completely. I switched to ice water and got a peppermint mint (all I had), and let the guitarist sing a few. SOMEHOW my voice got better. I don't know how, but my voice came back. It never did that before. Usually, when your voice starts to fail, it goes downhill and never comes back.

    Intermittent feedback occurred until the end of the first set, when I realized the EQ problems we were having and fixed them. Went through the equipment and made sure that everything was set just right, and came back for the rest of the show. Murphy must have been kicked out of the bar for some reason right then, because the rest of the night went EXCELLENT.

    We had one particularly hot little chicky-snack dancing, gyrating, and writhing in front of us all night. Making extended eye contact with me, winking, smiling... turning around and shaking her booty for us. I'm taking my digital cam next time to get some good pics from the stage. She would have hooked up in a second... this stuff never happened when I was single. Ugh. Where were the girls like her 10 years ago? My wife isn't jealous at all, so it was all in fun.

    Lots more cute chicks came in and danced too. It was a great crowd, elbow to elbow jam packed for the rest of the night, no one minded the glitches that happened at the beginning. We played straight through, no more breaks, until the owner turned the lights on at 2am. The dance floor was packed all night.

    The only other notable thing that happened... I was lucky... was that I left my MIDI foot controller for my effects processor on the top of the trailer for the ride home. :rolleyes: I didn't realize it until I saw it when we pulled into the driveway. Somehow it didn't fall off, so I dodged that bullet. This was a small local bar, so luckily I live only a mile away from the gig.

    We worked our butts off to make it work, but we overcame the problems and everyone there, including us had a blast. The owners were happy and made a lot of money, and are looking forward to having us back next month. The owner apologized and promised that The Table Incident wouldn't happen again... he will move the tables before they open on entertainment nights. He asked us to work with him, and he is going to be adding on to the bar to make it better for the bands to play at.

    A bonus... the guitar player's wife had a friend who was visiting them, from some distance away. Well, the friend's husband runs some nightclubs owned by this big money guy, and they hire bands. She calls him from the bar, on her cell phone, to tell him that we sound really good. He says, "Is that them playing or is that a juke box?" It's us. He says "Book them. Tell them not to worry about anything, we'll pay for their hotels if they come out and play here." The money their bands make is about 4x what we would make locally. Nice.

    It was good to see that:
    1) We packed the place on our first night there, and the first night playing as a group after 7 years away from gigging;
    2) We dealt with and overcame the problems as they came up, and dialogued with the crowd enough to keep them patiently waiting;
    2) KEPT the crowd there all night, dancing and fired up, and
    3) sounded good enough over a cell phone (on our first night back) to have a guy want to book us on the spot.

    Lesson to all people in a band... no matter how bad you think it is, keep a good attitude and a level head and work through it. We wouldn't have been able to pull it off if any of us pouted about our hard luck or didn't give 110% to entertain the crowd after things got better. What started out as a complete train wreck ended up being one of the best nights that I can remember. And I'm sure that the people that had a great time will hardly remember the problems at the beginning; they will remember the great time up until closing.

    I wonder how the rest of that jerk DJ's weekend went? Ha ha ha.
  2. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    way to froofin' go, digglah!
    that is one cool story, alla way around.
    (may that metroboy DJ's peepee fall off, btw.)
    and WTG about getting booked, too! :D :D
  3. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Diggler, cool story, good advice about keeping your "head on your shoulders under adversity". Been there done that more times than I care to mention.

    ...man, DJ's can even infuriate me when they're not directly takin' a gig from a group of actual musicians. Nothing will get me boiling more than this exchange:

    Random Dude: "Yo, I see you have a (insert musical instrument t-shirt here) shirt on, are you a musician?"

    Me: "Yeah, I'm a bassist."

    RD: "Cool, me too..."

    Me: "Cool, what do you play?"

    RD: "I'm a DJ!"

    Me: "...you're joking, right?" :scowl:

    RD: "What???"

    ...at that point, I just walk away, because there's no point in trying to get a complete moron to grasp reality...
  4. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    I don't really have much trouble with a DJ who is a REAL DJ... I mean the guys who spin for rappers or clubs who have to know how to adjust the key of the song, the tempo, etc. and match it all up in realtime to keep the whole night as if it were one giant, several hour song medley. Or do a bunch of scratching, switching back and forth between songs on vinyl or even the newer software. I've messed with it for fun, and it isn't easy.

    "Guns n Roses" i.e. Axl and a bunch of strangers had some DJ like that open for him and it was pretty cool to watch. The guy was talented at what he did and he probably spends more time practicing his DJ skills than I do practicing my instrument. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

    On the other hand, the ones who just play cd's aren't musicians at all. Heck, I've dj'd for extra cash... my laptop, an external hard drive of mp3's, and the sound system. Winamp has some autofading plugins so all you have to do is drag the songs in there and it will mix them for you. Sit back and collect your money. No CD skips, no problems. You can choose your playlist the night before and save it. You wouldn't even have to be there.

    All the "DJ's" in my area are nothing more than glorified stereo systems (including me, I just recognize it - my 'services' are more of a sound system provider and I'll throw in some music too).
  5. MattFreemanRock


    Nov 30, 2002
    If a lame DJ ever bothers you just remind them that they can be replaced by a jukebox at anytime.