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The Gig From Hell Club

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Gravedigger Dav, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Well, not really starting another club, but I'm sure we've all had gigs like this.
    For starters, I had a really bad cold and could barely function, so I decided to take my smaller amp (Rumble 500 head and Rumble 2x10). We had never played the place before, so I didn't know what to expect. Turned out the room was huge.

    Then, we found out the club owner had not advertised he was having live music last night until 2 days before we played. he also said that if he didn't have 25 people he would tell us to stop and send us home with $100 to split 3 ways. The @Y#%#Te waited until we were 30 minutes into the 3rd of 4 sets.

    So I went home early with $35 and a blown speaker.
    I am reminded of an old country song that goes, "Take this job and shove it. I ain't workin' here no more."
  2. It’s club owners like that who give them all a bad name. What a jerk!
    Mr_Moo and Tony In Philly like this.
  3. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    Screw that. Give me a guarantee or find another band. I’ll take a percentage of the door or the door after 10 people MAYBE if it’s a door guy I can trust.
  4. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I had a gig where we played every month,
    3 nights a week, it started off well then the owner
    held back our pay. Said I'll pay you next week.
    After two weeks of BS our band leader went to his office
    unannounced and demanded our pay. Owner pulled out a hand gun
    and told BL to get out. BL left ,reported it to the police and the owner was never seen.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  5. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Got a call from a drummer friend for a gig at a local popular night club. Throw together band of five guys playing mainly 90's / 2000's rock. For this show there were three bands scheduled with us on second, I've played this place before and it's decent..... nice sound system and a good size stage.

    We show up and it's now five bands with us playing last and only a 45 minute set. The guy that called our drummer to book us for the show was nowhere to be found, so the self appointed guy in charge decided to slip a few of his buddies bands in the show that night and stick us on dead last. The singer and myself were ready to walk, the drummer convinced us to stay and play...... Not the ideal setup, but whatever...... I'm here with my gear, may as well have a beer and make the most of what I expect to be a horrible night.

    By the time the 4th band hit the stage there were probably 350 people in the place and I was feeling better about the whole deal. Well, 10 minutes before we hit the stage you would have swore someone yelled "FIRE", that place cleared out so fast we wound up playing for the sound man, the bartender, the lone drunk passed out at the end of the bar and the drummer's mom..... all for exactly $0.
  6. Winslow


    Sep 25, 2011
    Group "W" Bench
    How about Hell for Xmas?

    A scene from my drumming days, playing with a 20-ish-piece community stage band / orchestra:

    The gig was outdoors, in the waning evening hours in late November, for a public Xmas tree lighting on the town square. The "bandstand" was a flatbed 18-wheeler trailer, which left everyone on it sitting about 5 feet off the ground, with no usable shelter from the temperatures in the low 40s, and a driving winter wind which put the windchill temperatures somewhere around negative-infinite-go-to-h3ll degrees. The black & white quasi-uniform dress of a traditional stage band was rendered moot by the fact that everyone had decided to keep their winter coats and hats on, in all the variety of colors and textures that involved. All save for your humble correspondent, that is, who typically drummed in a dress shirt and tie, having left off the suit jacket for better flexibility of my arms behind the drum set.

    We got a few minutes to tune and "warm up" (ha...) once we were all in place on the trailer, but because of the season, and especially because it's the South, OF COURSE there had to be "a word of prayer" before anything could start. So the mayor stepped up to the mic, welcomed the bundled-up masses huddled together in the square, and with a quick glance around the crowd to find a familiar man of the cloth, invited Revered So-and-So out of the crowd to lead the assembly in a mandatory appeal to the Power Invisible.

    Well, what no one knew - until far too late - was that poor Reverend So-and-So had very recently suffered the devastating loss of his aged, and much beloved, mother. What should have been a few seconds of polite bow-your-heads-and-get-on-with-it turned into a personal soliloquy on a whole range of topics; The holidays, the significance of family, maternal love and care, and how the bereaved reverend's mother had been the saintly glue that held his whole world together, etc. etc.

    Now, plenty of us on that traile- excuse me, bandstand - had been through similar losses, so we were not without sympathy for the poor man. He'd come out with the rest of the town just to see a big tree lit up, only to have an ignorant politicrat twit pick him out of the crowd and put him on a very public spot, at what must surely have been one of the weakest and most vulnerable times in his entire life. But it was too late now; He'd been handed a microphone, and what kind of heartless b@st@rd was going to jump in and cut him off as he reminisced about his recently-departed mother?

    So we were stuck. All of us. The band, the mayor, his flacks, and a square full of townspeople, all shivering in the driving wind, all watching the sun descend below the trees, and feeling the temperature go down along with it. And here, on this night, as we entered into The Most Sacred Of Seasons, the Holy Spirit so moved the reverend that his speech turned into a rolling sermon, with no clear indicator of when it would end, or the program we'd all come there for would get under way.

    About 5 minutes in, the band all started to look around at each other, and to the conductor, who was as helpless as the rest of us. The brass held their hands over their mouthpieces, trying to keep them warm, occasionally bringing them to their mouths for a moment to blow as discretely and quietly as they could through their horns, in an increasingly futile effort to keep warm air inside them. The woodwinds tried to keep their reeds wet and at the ready, but in the dry winter air, and that never-ending wind, there was little hope of that. The conductor stayed on his podium in front of us, hands at the ready to launch into the first joyful bars of "Deck The Halls."

    10 minutes into the preacher's remarks, he found a thematic motif, returning over and over again to the old adage of how one is known by "the comp'ny you keep," admonishing the crowd to live up to the example set by his own dear Mama. The sermon began self-steering into an outright eulogy. Still trapped on the bandstand, the horns and reeds tried to keep warm. I signaled as subtly as I could to Mrs. Winslow to hand me my suit jacket. From the front of the trailer, it must have looked pretty funny to see the cuff of a black jacket levitate upward behind the drummer, lifted by an unseen hand. Once I had the jacket back on, I resorted to tucking my hands as deeply as I could into my armpits, trying to keep some flexibility - nay, feeling - in my fingers, hoping my sticks wouldn't go flying as soon as we got a downbeat (whenever that was going to be).

    At 15 minutes, the preacher began weeping as he spoke. Again and again, he tearfully extolled the virtues of kindness, patience, love, and care, outlining examples of every single one these qualities with a story from his own upbringing, guided by the good Christian woman who had borne him into this Earthly world. Our conductor, at this point, had given up. He stayed on the podium, but his hands were now jammed into the pockets of his coat.

    Around the 20-minute mark, the preacher's weeping turned into open, uncontrollable blubbering, the memories pouring forth from his broken heart, with his heaving sobs amplified by the town's booming PA. Every choking catch of his breath, sniffle, and snort echoed up and down the length and breadth of Main Street, and into the surrounding blocks. The sun was long gone, leaving the wind to continue its brutal work on everyone standing out in the frigid square.

    Finally, after 30 agonizing minutes, the emotional meltdown taking place in front of us seemed to run out of fuel. The preacher's thoughts wandered a bit, then finally, found their way back to the reason he'd been asked up there in the first place:

    "And so... I'd like to ask everyone to bow their heads in prayer... um... again." (It was supposed to have been a prayer, after all.)

    The conductor looked at the shivering band in front of him, and raised his equally shivering hands out of his pockets. The horns and woodwinds put their freezing-cold horns to their lips, every one of us knowing that any warmup - not to mention tuning - that had been done half an hour ago was now thoroughly shot to Hades by the lowering temperatures. I took up my drumsticks with fingers that could no longer feel them.

    "...in the Name of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ... Amen."

    The conductor looked both relieved to be starting the show, yet deeply apprehensive about the sound that was about to greet him.

    "One, two!"

    Friends, we did not make a joyful noise. In all candor, it was utterly horrid, and we knew it. But we had a set of a dozen Xmas songs to do, so we were going to do them anyway. After a couple of tunes to get everyone as warmed back up as we could be, the conductor did a quick tuning check between numbers to get us somewhere back in the neighborhood of passable. Once the set was done, we packed up as fast as we could.

    It was the last outdoor show we ever agreed to play in the winter. The following year, the town lit its tree to a CD.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  7. Ha! Made my morning reading this. I'd be livid.

    I've had my fair share of nightmare gigs. Normally it's my Boss TU-2 playing up just as we're about to go on and that first hit with the full band and I'm out of tune. :eek:

    Then there was the gig where I never thought so many things could go wrong with one person in the band during a 30min set. The load in meant going down 2 flights of metal stairs, which were soaking wet due to condensation. I slipped while carrying a large Trace 2x10 and it landed on my chest, thought I'd broken my back. During the set... Wireless pack - battery cover fell off and battery went flying across the stage. I always kept a spare on top of my amp. Sound starts cutting out and I'm thinking it's the wireless... then nothing at all... the pack had unclipped from my strap and went AWOL.

    No worries, spare cable handy for such an event. Sound keeps cutting out and getting really distorted... Look at the back of the amp and the tubes are lighting up like a thunderstorm. *SMASH*, one tube goes boom before I can turn off, followed by a second, followed by a third. Had to finish using a DI which the sound guy took his time finding...
    Mr_Moo and Winslow like this.
  8. The mayor should have quietly walked over to him, carefully took the mic and finished the prayer
    ak56 and Winslow like this.
  9. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Those Christmas tree lightings can be something else.

    I was sitting on the end, under a tent, but not quite under it, with cold drizzle on my right arm and horn; while wearing a very small red plastic cowboy hat. Yippee.

    I probably don't have any real "from hell" stories, but the charity auction gigs used to really get to me. Set up, play 30 minutes of bossas over dinner, then sit there for what the schedule says will be one hour of speeches, raffle drawing, auction, silent auction etc., which actually ends up being three hours; then play two tunes for the nonexistent dancers and that's the end of the gig.
    Mr_Moo, Brozzy and Winslow like this.
  10. Winslow


    Sep 25, 2011
    Group "W" Bench
    Yeah, I expected (hoped?) for someone to intervene, but I think everyone just felt so bad for him, they didn't want to compound things by saying something that might embarrass him. Someone who apparently knew him eventually got up next to him, and put a comforting hand on his shoulder, but by then, the train was rolling, and there was just no stopping it.

    I should add that from up on that trailer/bandstand, I could see that the crowd looked as stunned and awkward as we were all feeling. To their credit, there was not a mass exodus of people, either. Anyone could have just silently walked away, especially on the back edges of the crowd, but they stayed put. I figured that people who turned out for an Xmas event were inclined not only to stay for it, but also not to walk away from an openly grieving person. Kudos to them for that consideration, at least.

    Oh man, you just gave me a flashback to the HS marching bad days! The band turned out in full uniform for a 4th of July parade, but some local yokel organizer decided that instead of our shakos, we should all wear cheap plastic things molded to look like old-timey straw hats. They didn't go with our uniforms at all. It proved that even if done by a large group of people, there really are some things that will still look stupid. :wacky:

    Fortunately, the only other "from hell" story I have involves playing bass with a country cover band in a vicious thunderstorm. We were lucky though: We were under a very sturdy, 3-side enclosed band shell, with the wind blowing from backstage out toward the audience. They got the worst of it by far. We just kept playing, and hoped the lightning didn't hit close enough to fry the gear. :D
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  11. No tree lighting here, that sounded painful.

    So this was about 15-16 years ago, I'm playing bass in a classic rock band, 5 pc, 2 guitar/bass/drums/singer. The singer tells us he has a good friend who's dealing with a major illness (I don't remember what it was anymore) and her husband had just passed away so she had no insurance, would we play a benefit for her at no cost? Sure, a good gesture and some exposure to new people, all a good deal, let's do it.

    Coincidentally, we knew a guy who was starting his own sound/lighting company around that time. So we explained what we were doing and he agreed it would be a great time to set up all his new gear, test it out, make us look good, make us look good, have some video for him to show of what he could offer, etc.

    Gig day, we arrive on scene around 2 pm for an 8 pm gig. We assist the sound/light guy in setting up a TON of equipment. This is back before LED's and powered speakers so there's heavy amps, lots of big old PAR 64 lights, heavy stands, just a lot of work.

    The venue was an old American Legion hall. We were supposed to be playing upstairs in the old banquet hall, huge room, well suited for this production. But there is also a bar downstairs with a DJ on weekend nights. Yes, you see where this is going right?

    We're a classic rock band playing Grand Funk, James Gang, Free at a benefit for a than mid 20 something who's musical interest is far more skewed to Top 40. So within about 4 songs we're alone and the entire benefit party is downstairs with the DJ who's playing their requested Top 40 songs. Very sad day indeed.
    Mr_Moo and Winslow like this.
  12. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Temperatures in the low 40s. That's a heat wave here in December. We have played shows in August in the low 40s. Playing in cold and windy weather is bad for everybody. ;)

    I gave up on playing flatbed trailers with no cover long ago. It's never a good idea even in nice weather.

    I sympathize with you going through that type of gig. It does not sound like anything fun could come of that. :(
    Winslow likes this.
  13. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    I was subbing last year at a brewery gig - most of the band was out, so it was subs on bass, guitar, and drums. The only regular members were the bandleader (vocals/keys) and her 80-year-old dad on trombone. The rest of us hadn't met or rehearsed together before. (normally not a problem).

    I set up my bass rig and then asked the leader if she wants me to fill in on some backing vocals. She croaks out a faint "yes please" - she'd lost her voice almost completely over the previous 24-36 hours

    We did three hours with the guitarist and I trying to fill in on vocals for songs we'd never sung before. In at least three cases, I would find out that a song was WAY out of my vocal range only when we reached the first chorus.
    Mr_Moo and Winslow like this.
  14. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    My old college band were invited to play a Valentine's Day gig. In fairness we played mostly gigs from hell, but this one was especially crap.

    The venue was an Irish bar (a real plastic Oirish bar) with no history of putting on gigs. There was a makeshift stage set up with two 15 watt Marshall practice amps, drums, and a microphone for our singer/saxophone player.

    The crowd was entirely international students from Edinburgh University. None of whom appeared to know each other and all of whom were too awkward to really get the whole Valentines bit of the night. We played to a sea of eyes. Rows of stock-still students holding beers.

    The PA in the venue was simply the entertainment system for the bar. Somebody who had come along with us went into the toilets and, right enough, our saxophonist's saxophone was parping away over the speakers in there. Without any of the other instruments.

    From memory it was a charity gig and they wanted us in the band to pay on the door like the regular punters.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  15. Winslow


    Sep 25, 2011
    Group "W" Bench
    Yeah, I know we've got it good down here. :laugh: The 40's were with the Sun, of course. Everything started dropping like a rock as we lost that. Heck, in the drumming days, especially after hauling all that gear and setting it up, I'd have considered such temps free AC. But that blasted wind made it another matter entirely. Doubly so for the horns. Lots of reeds and lips wound up cracked that night.

    Too true. I actually thought back on that subject alone, and realized just how many flatbeds I've played on, and it's pretty ridiculous. I had never given a thought to the logistics of someone knowing who to call up and say, "Hey can you drop off an 18-wheeler flatbed on [BlahBlah] Street, and leave it here for a couple of days?" but clearly, there are people out there with those names in their Rolodexes (or whatever is used now).
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  16. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    About five years ago I posted this rant thread about one of my "gigs". I still carry deep emotional scars from it. :roflmao: Actually, I found it amusing to read again since it was a lesson well learned: Venue turned the tables on us with regard to pay
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019 at 10:43 PM
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  17. I had told this one here before but will try and add some flair for any fresh eyes.
    I always wanted an outdoor gig (for some reason). Well i finally got my wish slated for August in Texas. About as hot as badger in a frying pan in the shade.
    To add to the fun this little venue had a stage about the size of a box of matches.
    The kicker is the day of the gig I got a migraine. We book ourselves as a high energy band so I didnt know how it was gonna play out with waves of nausea and alligator lizards in the air. I did alright as long as we were playing -however if we stopped i felt like passing out or throwing up. When i would jump up on the little stage the equipment would go up and twice the guitar cut out.
    For middle set break i went to my apartment just around the corner for AC Salvation and to water down my head. I returned to my band mates pretty much doing karaoke on stage for the break. Very annoying! Anyway we finished it out and got our paltry pay and never returned!
    Mr_Moo, Winslow and Tony In Philly like this.
  18. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    I think I remember your gig report for this one!
    Jimmy4string and Sore Thumb like this.
  19. Winslow


    Sep 25, 2011
    Group "W" Bench
    Ach. My sympathies. I am fortunate that I have not had to play a show with a migraine, but I did take my sister and her best friend to a B-52s show while I had one. Fortunately, the show was still enough fun to enjoy despite the shrieking in my cranium. :thumbsup:
    Jimmy4string likes this.
  20. I think I've posted this one somewhere before, so if you've read it already - my apologies

    it was 1996 I think and my 4 piece covers band played a pub gig on a Friday night and there was a fairly decent crowd - we got paid and got asked to come back... all good so far!

    So 6-8 weeks later we play there again... except there were only 3-4 people in the place
    Bar manager comes up after about 2 songs and says we are too loud, so we turn down - this happens about 3 times during the first set
    2nd set we un-mic everything except vocals.. then 2 songs into 2nd set the manager comes and tells us to 'pull the plug' and gig is over.

    We pack up and load out, then guitarist (gig-booker) comes out and said they only want to pay us $50 and won't budge... our fee was $400 ($100 each), so singer goes in to ask and basically gets told to 'take it or leave it'
    Just then guitarists friend (who happens to look a bit like ex WWF wrestler Andre the Giant) turns up and asks why we are out in the car park and not playing inside, so guitarist tells him why and said they won't pay us the $400 we are owed..... Guitarist's friend then says "I'll get the money", so he walked into the pub and 2 minutes later came out with $400....

    to this day I've got no idea what he said or did to the bar manager there, but I'm thankful we got our money
    Flooflox, Fretless1!, Mr_Moo and 3 others like this.

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