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Recovering from a bad gig

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Winemule, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. Winemule

    Winemule Guest

    Feb 27, 2005
    I try to be philosophical about these things, but last night was no fun at all. Bad problems with the sound system, which got us all edgy, and we did a collective deer-in-the-headlights all through the first set. Then, exhausted from being nervous in the first set, we were tired in the second set. We finally got it together for the last set.

    We're all pretty low-keyed, but it's hard to be relaxed and playing well when you've spent the previous hour stressing over technical problems. Yeah, we oughta hire somebody to do sound for us, but at the moment we haven't got the budget for it. Anybody got ideas for group relaxation techniques? And please, skip the alcohol and drug jokes. We have a fairly significant gig coming next week, and I'd like to be prepared...
  2. Bowling- try it. You may be surprised...

    I also find that my playing suffers when I have stressed over sound before the show. It REALLY suffers if a problem happens during the show.
  3. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Just chalk it up to experience and let it go.

    The longer you play you're gonna realize that not everything is going to go perfectly every time.
    The skill is to be as well prepared as you can (personally as well as a band unit) and minimizing the posiblities of mishaps.

    One thing that helps is to laugh it off and rock on. If you're a tight band as far as brotherhood, it's cool to realize you're in this fight together and your best allies are right there on stage with you. Laugh it off and spit.

    Spinal Tap moments are no fun but it's nice to know you can transcend stressful situations. Show it don't bother you - be cool
  4. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    Arrive at gigs super early, especially if you're doing your own sound. Maybe even leave enough time to have dinner before you play. You will feel much more relaxed and less stressed at the beginning of your set.
  5. I always feel and play 100% better if I exercise the morning of a gig. Try to find time early in the day to go for a run, work out, or just take a walk. If that's not going to happen for you (or even if it is), how about spending half an hour with the guys in the band throwing a ball around or tossing a frisbee in the parking lot before the show. Tada. Instant positive energy that lasts.
  6. like they say, one bad show is a jys bad luck, two bad shows in a row is even more bad luck, 3 bad shows and you should consder leaving the band
  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Walk it off man. Bad gigs happen. Don't let it throw you.
  8. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    just get stoned and have a laugh about it.....an age old ritual.
  9. Winemule

    Winemule Guest

    Feb 27, 2005
    It would be great to do sound in mid-afternoon for an evening gig, but--stop me if you've heard this one before--we have day jobs.

    I like the idea of having some sort of non-musical group activity before we go onstage.

    As for laughing it off: We're all vets, and we know how to do that. The fact remains, though, that stress before the set leads to less than optimal performance. I think one practical idea is to check out all cables and mics and whatnot on the evening before the gig. That we can definitely do.
  10. Recently at Battle of the Bands gig i played at (my bands and I's first gig) we sucked, As soon as we started playing we all realized about the same time we could not hear each other or anything else on the stage so our songs where sloppy and out of time. This was due to the sound guy skipping out sound check saying that we didn't need one. Naturally we got kind supportive people posting bad stuff about us on the organizers website leaving us with the feeling that has to be the worst gig we can go through. Funny enough the judges thought even though we had very very poor playing they could see great potential, we had actually come first for the night beating the club regulars and now we have to play again for the same crowd in the same venue and we have to play perfect.

    That is my Bad Gig and now what we are doing to recover... Being confident, as a group we know what went wrong so now we are going to fix it, When going through a bad gig just gotta get back up on the horse and show everyone that it was a one off. When you bring yourself down after a bad gig there is a chance you wont get back up.

    As for pre-show activities... Beer anyone? :p
  11. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    The best way to avoid stress is indeed to get everything ready in good time (at least several hours) before the gig. I prefer soundchecking in an empty venue without the need to hurry. If you set up everything and soundcheck in the afternoon and the gig is in the evening, you can relax the rest of the afternoon/early evening. Sauna + one or two beers + a light dinner works great. :)

    Then it of course helps to use only quality equipment - the sound of high quality monitors is also generally much better than cheap secondhand stuff - and have spare cables, fuses, batteries, strings, duct tape, soldering tools etc available if something breaks during a gig.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    The old adage is true: you're not as good as your best gig, and you're not as bad as your worst. Bad stuff happens. Learn from your mistakes if possible, but aside from that, don't dwell on it. Look forward, not behind.
  13. jwbassman

    jwbassman Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2006
    Weird sound happens and it sucks. That said there is never going to be a way to eliminate it. Some rooms sound good and others sound terrible. The best thing you can do is make sure that all your equipment is in good working condition. The other thing is keep it simple. For most bars and clubs you don't need the humongous pa system that all the nice extras. Just more stuff to go wrong. With my band we use a powered Makie pa with built in mixer and non-powered JBL Eon speaks and then JBL monitors. Works great and it's plenty loud enough for most places. Most real big rooms have their own PAs and sound guys anyway. But if something goes wrong it's usually pretty easy for us to trouble shoot.

    The other thing to remember is that you usually think you sound worse that you do. The best thing is to mingle with the crowd during set break and get some opinions of the overall mix. Take 'em for what they're worth and make any changes. Most of the crowds are uneducated to sound and really can't tell you're having a bad night, unless you show it on your faces and body language.

    So keep a positive attitude and forge ahead.
  14. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    It happens, to everyone... Even pros have bad gigs. Forget it and go on. The worst thing you can do is dwell on negative things that happen. Different day different gig. Now, if your band has 37 rotten gigs in a row, maybe it all needs to be rethought, but 1 gig does not a career make or faulter. One suggestion is to try to reserve 15 minutes before you start to get off stage. The other thing is to do stupid things like shake your guitar players hand before the show just as you get on stage. Make crude remarks about your drummer to your singer, but take a moment to laugh. It would be the best thing.
  15. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    +1 to ask the audience in the break about the sound. Just don't ask anyone if there are any musicians in the audience. They can generally better put the finger on what should be changed (if anything) than the average person can. From the average people you normally don't get more specific replies than for instance "too loud" or "can't hear the words"...
  16. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    Another good tip is to find some time earlier in the day to practice/warm up on your bass. Some days it takes a little longer to get the mental "engine" running, but once I'm warmed up, I've found I can perform at my best for the rest of the day.

    As for the beer and dope suggestions, well, those things might make you think that your gig went well, but trust me, they don't really help.
  17. nsmar4211


    Nov 11, 2007
    I don't think I've ever played a gig where I could hear everything I want to hear. Usually it's "make sure the singer can hear" and every other man/woman for themselves. One gig the monitors were clipping everytime the singer sang above a certain note.... couldn't find the issue.. guitar player went out front and it wasn't noticeable so we said ferget it and went with it. I had a hard time not making a face when it happened but you just learn to zone it out.

    +1 to the audience not having a clue. If you are making faces, they'll know. Keep on the game face no matter what! Chances are pretty good no ones going to notice sound issues (except feedback....that must be killed instantly). Couldn't tell you how many time the first set sucked for one of us not being able to hear... fixed it on break... every venue is different. After you've done enough gigs it won't bother you.

    It's all in how you handle yourself.
    Example: in orchestra, during sold out performance of Carmina Burana, 2000+ audience, 300 person chorus, full orchestra... one chorus girl starts to faint in middle of song (stage was hot). Me and another percussionist see what's happening, sidle over and catch her as she's going down, drag her out the side doors. Pass her off to a professor who was nearby.... wait outside stage doors until that part ends... open stage doors, casually stroll back on stage just in time to pick up bass mallet and strike the first note. And you know what? We didn't make a big deal out of it... and the conductor never even noticed! About 5 people (out of over 2000) came up and asked about it... that's it. Just keep it cool, don't worry about things happening, roll with em when they do. Did we let that ruin the performance? nah. It's all in your attitude :).

    However, during set up, check everything.... change out any batteries that might be suspicious, change strings that're suspicious, make sure cables/cords are being run around the outside of the stage so no one steps/trips over them. Make sure everything has power and is plugged *securely* in and all loosenable stuff is tightened. We don't get long set up times (usually 30 minutes) either so I feel that pain :).

    Having a musician friend in the audience can help.... once the singer neglected to plug her guitar in because first song she didn't play. We start next song, no sound from her.... she can't fix it while singing , I couldn't reach her, guitarist was covering up for her... I get the attention of a musician friend sitting nearby and he comes up and plugs her in for us. A few people in the audience laughed, we thanked him at end of song, no big deal :). Poo happens...... clean it up :). Having a couple of songs where whoever is running sound doesn't have to play can help too, there's a major issue that crops up pull out the song and let him/her fix problem....
  18. Winemule

    Winemule Guest

    Feb 27, 2005
    Thanks everybody, many wise words here.

    And the wise no doubt know: Nothing like following a turd with a gem. We'd lucked into some press coverage (which in this instance seemed not to mean much) and discovered that we actually had a following: on a Saturday night in a club that holds 200, we provided about 25 paying customers: The beginnings of a following. We got booked there again...next time we collect the door. Clubowner was impressed with our singer and pedal steel player. As well he should have been. Especially since Roanne had been sick and was running on fumes. But she did it. Nice to play someplace with decent monitors. Actually, they were very nice to us, all the way around. A rare thing: A classy roots music joint.
  19. Incognitus

    Incognitus Amen!

    Mar 25, 2006
    Eagle River, Alaska
    +1 to the audience not having a clue. I completely bombed a song but smiled and laughed the whole way through. People came up and complimented me.

    For me the best thing is preparation. If you know the material, stage acts, and everything else inside and out, then you have nothing to worry about other than things outside of your control. (drunks, idiots, power outages, the second coming, etc.)

    As Forrest Gump made famous, S*** Happens. So do your best to minimize the damage, and then keep going. Aren't some of the best stories here the guys who break legs and hands and play on anyway? :)
  20. dreadheadbass


    Dec 17, 2007
    our band is hardley ever stressed even after a bad gig (well i say bad but truth is we've avoided major cockups so far)
    our routine for a gig is as follows

    1: meet up at the studio the night before check all cables amps fuses etc write a list of gear required so you dont forget to bring anything to the gig and also so you dont leave anything at the venue

    2: get a good nights kip go on treat yourself switch your alarm off n have a lie in

    3: arrive at the venue early chat with the sound guys and BE NICE if you screw with them they'll screw with your sound

    4: stick fresh batteries in ALL pedals/active bass's/wireless kits tune up and spend as long as possible sound checking then check tuning again and store your instruments in a safe place

    5: head outside the venue and have a light meal with your bandmates free from all the stress of soundmen/groupies/fans/critics/managers etc discuss stage tactics and tell stories of past gigs to keep your spirits high

    6:head back to the venue and chill out in the green room check the tuning again proform a quick warmup if need be and relax till your called on stage

    7: go out and give it 110%

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