The art of standing quietly and unobtrusively

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by elgecko, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Depending on the types of gigs you play, there will come a time when you're stuck on stage, when it would be wildly inappropriate and/or unprofessional to do anything but stand there as quietly or unobtrusively as possible. Anyone who's played a wedding will be familiar with this predicament. Usually the bride's father or the best man or the maid of honor or whoever will come up on stage between tunes to make an announcement or give an impromptu speech. The same goes for corporate events. Usually the person in charge will take a moment to thank the employees and/or give them a motivational speech.

    Ideally, you could escape the stage but usually there isn't enough time or forewarning to do so. Sitting down and out of sight would be nice but often times, it's not possible. It'd be a good time to check your emails, texts, or ballgame scores but that'd be unprofessional. I usually take this time to stare blindly in the direction of the audience and space out or more often, check out the "talent" in the room. ;) I make a conscious effort to force a smile or chuckle whenever the speaker cracks a joke. It's usually an easy going, light hearted time.

    On a recent gig, I withstood the most difficult instance of standing quietly and unobtrusively I've ever experienced. I was playing a memorial for someone who had committed suicide and for 30 minutes or so, I just happened to be stuck directly behind and slightly above the pulpit where attendees were making speeches and telling stories about the deceased. There were some bright moments like the first speaker who related that the deceased would've been absolutely pissed that the lighting was so ****ed up (the deceased was a foul mouthed lighting director) or the girl who had to be taught how to use a broom since she never had before but for the most part, it was absolutely brutal. Most speakers were heartbroken and quite a few were unable to hold it together. I'd be lying if I said it didn't get to me. The saving grace was that I was turned sideways and didn't have to look into the eyes of the audience...that probably would've pushed me over the edge.

    In the end, I held it together and was honored that I could provide some music to help the bereaved through their hour of darkness.

    Has anyone had any similar experiences?
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  2. I just get the hell off the stage, man. There's always time. Even if they've begun, get outta there.
  3. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    Yeah that was the exception to the "unprofessional" rule. Bug out quick. Heck I would have left the room and given them some space to heal. I'm sure they would have understood if it took you guys 30 seconds or so to crank back after all of that drama.
  4. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    I would've loved nothing more than to get outta Dodge but the organizers and guy signing the checks said we were staying...the show must go on. :atoz:
  5. Well that's just weird. I've done 25 years worth of gigs like that and it's never happened. A couple of minutes, sure, but a half hour? No way man. I'm gone.
  6. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    Used to play in churches, ya get a lot of this. When I was on guitar as a young man I would run scales and such to stay limber, until a friend told me she could hear me from 30 ft away. oops.....
  7. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Nothing quite as intense as a suicide memorial, but I once had what was supposed to be a 10-minute gig in an art gallery, standing in the corner farthest from the exit in a narrow medieval basement. Got to stand there for more than a half-hour listening to speeches by local politicians (and maybe artists too) with no escape. At least there was no room to lay the DB down, so I had my hands occupied with holding it. Then they asked for some more music and we played for another few minutes.

    Not too mad about it taking up that time, it was in a neighboring small town about an hour's drive away anyway, but it was pretty awkward.
  8. Sometimes you get stuck in these types of situations, and you're right, the only thing you can do is be as quiet and respectfully unobtrusive as possible.

    Of course, the first rule is fight the urge to fidget, and second, if you start to feel light-headed, lean slightly forward to take the pressure off your heel, or wiggle your toes.
  9. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    I always get a kick out of watching the musicians in the background during award shows. They're there for hours!

    Churches are a great place to be quiet and unobtrusive although I was usually sitting during the ones I've played.

    Hiding behind an upright is easier than hiding behind an electric.

    Also, DON'T LOCK YOUR KNEES! Learned that one back in high school marching band. That's why wedding party members are always passing out in wedding videos!
    Treadstone71 likes this.
  10. Perhaps if the OP had politely said to the organizer, "excuse me, I must step out to use the restroom..." That's a pretty good reason to leave the stage, anybody who objects to that would come across as a jerk.
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I usually will myself into a trance, based on a technique I learned from a Tibetan monk I used to hang out with when I was homeless. I mean, I think he was a monk. He was bald, and had lots of Chinese words tattooed on him. I never knew monks liked to drink cheap wine from a bottle as much as he did, but perhaps it was a habit he developed by becoming part of the American culture; I'm really not sure. Anyway, the technique involves channelling your Chakra into sort of a small cabinet, with maybe a few bottles of drain cleaner and maple syrup in it, and it works pretty well, but be careful not to levitate, or have an out-of-body experience, because that can be a real social faux paus, especially at the type of event the OP is describing.

    Seriously though, being asked to stay unobtrusive right behind a speaker at a very serious or tragic event is going to be pretty difficult, although an experience that will teach you some self-control. Nose itch? If you scratch, it may give the appearance you are doing something else. I won't even address if something in the area of your pants starts to itch. Best to just relax, listen to the speaker so you can show the appropriate reaction to things he/she says, and if you are religious, pray with all your might they will finish speaking soon.

    Or just fake a fainting spell, and get yourself excused altogether.
    Ubersheist likes this.
  12. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    That would've worked but the only bathroom was right next to the stage and the mourners would've plainly seen me enter the bathroom then emerge 30 minutes later. I figured it would've been equally awkward to have the mourners wondering what unholy combination of Taco Bell, Del Taco, and prune smoothie I had to cause me to **** my brains out like that! :woot:
    Ubersheist likes this.
  13. Camaro


    Sep 25, 2013
    Germany, NRW
  14. Church gigs. Corporate gigs. It happens all the time.

    Heh... Nice. Professional.

    That brought back a few memories of uncomfortable times during those wait periods. I remember I played at a catholic college graduation. We were able to stand backstage during parts. It was an outdoor tent, and we didn't realize that the setting sun was casting a shadow of us right behind the priest giving his sermon. The BL found a box, and was being goofy with it, and put it on his head, trying to make us laugh, even though we had to be really quiet. We heard about that one for a while after.
    elgecko and Ender_rpm like this.
  15. I just want to point out the awesomeness of this post. For a number of reasons.
  16. When the eulogy runs too long isn't the band supposed to start a few notes to keep things moving along??

    You know, like at the Academy Awards??
  17. The guitar player should've quietly started playing the intro to Hell's Bells, or Highway to Hell, or maybe even Possum Kingdom :)
    Ubersheist likes this.
  18. Off-Beat


    Dec 8, 2014
    Vienna, AUT
    Not regarding the funeral ceremony, but in a corporate enviroment or a wedding you could play a slap bass lick everytime the speaker pauses - Seinfeld style.
    Ubersheist likes this.