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Question about gigs with no stage...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Cobweb Strange, Apr 13, 2003.

  1. Hi guys,
    I know going in that this question is going to sound odd, maybe even stupid, but here it goes...

    How do you politely keep people off of you and your gear when you play shows with no stage (for example, if you're set up against a wall of a bar or on a patio and there is no separation between you and the crowd)?

    Lately it seems like at one or two shows a week, we're booked at bars or restaurants without stages. They just have us set up on the floor. Once the crowd gets drunk, they're right in our faces. Last night while I was trying to sing, there were people dancing so close to me that they kept knocking my mic into my face. People were running into my bass, reaching around our guitarist while she was trying to play solos, grabbing cymbals, hitting drums and walking between the band members to get by, tripping on cables along the way. We tried to set up our cases in a way that sort of created a stage area, but people just walked over the stuff right through where we were playing. At one show we had a drunken guy spill a pitcher of beer on the keyboards and at another show a guy would have knocked over the guitar amp if someone hadn't caught it.

    Trust me, I'm glad we have crowds at the shows and I don't want to piss anyone off. When there is a stage, it's pretty easy to get people to understand where the boundaries are (even though they often still get on stage), but without a stage, people don't seem to understand that we need a bit of space (not much, but I'd like to be able to see the other members of the band!). Our shows are really getting out of hand when there isn't a stage. Although this may sound like a joke, this is actually becoming quite a problem for us.

    Can anyone out there give me some advice on what has worked for your band?

  2. I ve played and been to a lot of shows with no stage and it is never a problem. Everyone gets really close, but there's never a problem, but theres never any drunks at the shows i go to. If they are drunk they arent gonna take any hints so just tell them politely to keep out of the way.
  3. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Sounds like you've got a hard partying crowd, that's a good thing!

    You're on the right track w/ your case boundary. If I were you, I'd buy a roll of that yellow "Crime Scene Do Not Cross" tape and string it around the mic stands and tape it to the wall at the ends. It'll give you a cool dangerous criminal vibe and keep all but the drunkest people out of your way.
  4. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    You should point out to the venue that your playing at that they are responsible for any damages by their patrons. A bouncer may be in order.

    If an establishment has a problem with this, let them know that they need to provide a barrier.
  5. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Go to a marine base, steal an M249 SAW... Those spit out something like 10 rounds a second and come with 500 shot ammo strips.

    Those are great for crowd control...
  6. That's a good idea! It may be a good start for keeping some of the people back. There's no chance of it giving US a criminal vibe, however, our guitarist dresses like a catholic schoolgirl...she's just not very dangerous looking ;)

    Having a bouncer would be a great idea. On the rare occasions that we have one, they really take care of the problems. However, most of these places don't have bouncers and I don't think that they would consider it. It is in our contract that any damages are the responsibility of the venue, but trying to collect can be a whole different issue! Also, a lot of the time, you don't really know what's going to happen until you start playing and at that point, it’s too late to get a bouncer.

    As for Mike's idea about the M249 SAW, I'll have to look into that ;) Maybe we should get a Super Soaker and just start drenching anyone who gets too close. If nothing else, at least it would be fun for us!

    Thanks for the ideas! Keep them coming!!!
  7. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I've been there too, Cobweb. I was always amazed at the lack of respect given to us when we played somewhere -- people cutting in between band members to get to a bathroom, moving gig bags and cases out of the way so they could cut between band members to get to the bathroom, etc. I've been trying to come up with a way to build a portable stage to take from gig to gig. I think I've come up with a good idea, but I'll need a seperate truck or van just to haul it and a reason to actually build it (I'm still between bands right now).

    I think your best bet is to do what Odie suggested. Put it this way: If you're at work and someone's interfering with your ability to do your job, what do you do? Go to your manager or supervisor and ask them to handle the offending ass clown, right? Well, this is the same type of situation. It's the responsibility of the bar or club owner to provide you with a safe, comfortable place to do what he's paying you to do while you're in his establishment.

    One last thing: Some jerk spills a pitcher of beer on your keyboard and you're worried about pissing people off? That seems a little "goofy" to me. At that point, I would have announced to the crowd, "We certainly appreciate that fact that you guys are obviously into what we're doing, but if anything else gets thrown at this band tonight, or if anything else is spilled on our equipment or on us, we will pack up our **** and call it quits," or something to that effect.

  8. No Idea... Maybe you could get some big strong dudes to keep the drunkies calmed.. LOL..

    I've only gigged once at a rugby court.. but it was a dinner so everyone was sitting around their tables.. And eventhought there were lots of alchohol (Wine mainly) many of the crowd were really old people... So there was nothing to worry about... Yup. :p
  9. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Actually we played a 2 nighter (Fri/Sat) on Friday we had some abnoxious girl that kept grabbing the mic and saying dumb things. Then she started showing her thong. Finally a bouncer escorted her down. During the next set she was back.

    Then we had a dumb guy who kept putting his beer right next to our pedal boards. At one point he unplugged a patch cord.

    What did I do?? When ever someone put there drink on the stage I kicked it of in there direction. They got the hint really quick.

    Then before the Saturday gig we decided to pack some heat.

    What was it you ask??

    Silly String!!! We ended up not needing it, but the next gig after that we used it. The crowd thinks its funny and usually the drunk gets the point.

    So another answer maybe silly string.
  10. We had thought about a portable stage, but ran into the same problem that you have - how to get it to the gig. We can barely fit the gear, PA and band members into the van. If we could take a stage, that would be awesome! As for going to the manager, you guys are right - good analogy by the way! I don't know if the venue owner cares one bit about our comfort or safety, but you are totally right that it IS his responsibility if it's HIS venue.

    I should clarify about the two incidents with the beer and the almost knocked over amp. Those were at previous shows and we were not worried about pissing people off or being polite at that point, it's just the shows that look like they are heading in that direction but haven't gotten that far where we try not to piss people off. When our equipment is being damaged or stuff is being thrown at us, we stop worrying about being polite. I thought they only threw stuff when they didn't like you, but apparently it's a sign of support in some cities. Last night in Macon, GA it was soft shell tortillas. One night in Columbia, SC it was glow necklaces. Once in Athens, GA it was beer. I don't mind when they throw paper money, but other than that, we stop the show. ;)

    Odie - Silly String! That's perfect! I'll have to pick some up!!! I can't wait to try that :D
  11. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Corrugated cardboard boxes with your band name painted on the front. fasten them end to end with duct tape to create a barrier and just cut the tape when you break down. Use boxes that are just big enough that they would be awkward to step over but not so large that access is completely blocked so the band can get in and out easily.
    They can be made to break down flat for easy transport. The bands logo can be put on a removable sheet of paper that you just tape to the face of the boxes.

    If someone wants to get too close there is almost no way to stop them but even drunks will stop short of going over the boxes. It works- A band that I once played in had to resort to the boxes because of exactly the same probs that you're having.

  12. leftundone


    Mar 14, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Playing those kind of shows were awesome. I had someone get to close to my bass rig & spill on it once. Ever since then, I would push people if they got in my way. Most understand, we got in a fight once at at a frat party. Our drummers now blows his symbols on fire. I think that also keeps people away. It's been a while since we've played without a stage though.

  13. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    We got sick of getting into arguments with crowd members. So we went and bought some black fabric. We use gaff tape to hang it around the perimiter, just high enough that it's akward to step over, but low enough so it doesn't block sight lines.

    It keeps 99% of the idiots away, so you still have to keep an eye out for the odd trespasser. But overall it's worked quite well.
  14. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Your band can start playing B.C. Rich guitars and basses. Then, when someone gets too close, give 'em a poke with a pointy headstock! :eek: :D
  15. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    get some various old rusty tools from da shed and have people dress in coveralls and straw hats....then have them threaten to attack the crowd with the tools like an angry farmer if the people get out of hand.

    the box idea is good. How aboutputting a second row of boxes out from the first, then cover them with double sided tape......then anyone trying to get over will be faced with a sticky doom!
  16. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Play metal. They will stand around, not moving, MAYBE looking up from their shoes. Even if they are plowed, they will stand 5 feet away from you with their arms crossed.

    No, I'm not bitter at the local metal scene, why do you ask?
  17. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Portable risers are not that expensive. We have a bunch of them and use them at all sorts of events.

    They are basically like the folding-leg tables that you see so often in cafeterias and such, except the legs are only 12-18". They make for great stage in small areas.

    We usally line up 3 or 4 12" for the stage and have a couple in the back with 24" legs to serve as a drum riser.

    They fold down exactly as a table would. You could carry them in any van or PU truck.

  18. That sounds great! Where do you find those? Is there a website or something?
  19. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    We usually set our vocal monitors out front. Works most of the time, but we have had dancers trip over them. I also have a flex extension on my mic stand. I had my eye blacked when a BFB fell on my mic stand once. :cool:
  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've played plenty of rooms like that. Rule #1 do NOT set up where people will be tempted to walk though the band to get to the bathroom, cigarette machine, etc. because they WILL do it.

    As far as mike bumping, duct taping the bases to the floor will keep them from tipping due to light bumps but if someone falls over the stand is going down :rolleyes: Don't forget to duct tape ALL the cords to the floor, too.

    I recall one night when someone knocked over a speaker column which landed square in the middle of the neck of the guitarist's vintage Gibson :eek: Hey, that's what keeps gigs from getting boring ;)