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The Gig from Hell

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by greenfretless, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. greenfretless


    Jan 15, 2012
    I have to face the music tomorrow on a botched corporate gig.

    Basically, they ended their meetings early, so there was a 1.5hour wait to hear our band, which I told to arrive 1 hour early, but they didn't. Singer came with 3 minutes to spare, on her knees organizing her music in front of the crowd and looking all disorganized, and so we did a Name That Tune activity without her for prizes until she could get organized. We play a fragment of the song for the audience to guess at.

    Well, for the first song, the guitar player plays A DIFFERENT SONG THAN THE REST OF US. It sounded terrible right out the starting gate!!!! I told him he was playing the WRONG SONG (quietly) and not to play as we had to keep the show moving. Well, we do the song beginning again, and he makes the same mistake again -- even though the song didn't require any guitar in the section we were playing.

    The event organizer who hired us sat there IN SHOCK as she heard us. It sounded awful at first. To make matters worse, the company that hired us is my employer, and they were giving me a steady stream of gigs for my other jazz band until now, which I think paved the way for this 'no questions asked' gig that just fell in my lap unasked for. Also, there was one requirement we didn't meet due to the change in the schedule, and to top it off, our singer commented on how hot/warm she was after a few songs she did (she's a great performer, really). Well, the event organizer gets a fan and holds it up to her as she sang, and she kind of hammed it up, which was great. But then, in spite of my directive that she keep it "straight laced" for a corporate gig, she takes the fan moment to bend over and point her butt at the fan (clothed), shocking the audience.

    To make matters worse, we altered the set list order at the last minute to put stronger tunes early in the night, told everyone, and gave printouts. Well, the keyboard player starts a different tune than the rest of the band for some reason, going off the OLD set list in the first set. Ughh....

    At the end, the higher ranking managers told us we were great, and so did the event organizer. Most of my colleagues left early....The audience seemed to like it with cheers and dancing -- in spite of no alcohol, no spouses, and it being held at the company's auditorium in the middle of the day as optional attendance.

    But when it was time to pay us, I looked over at the event planner and she shakes her head in apparent (??) disgust and walks away. I never did get paid that day, as she never came back, and will have to do damage control tomorrow.

    I've been losing sleep over this all weekend. Feel like I totally screwed my reputation with the company as an employee AND musician, feel disturbed at the behavior of the singer (late, and racy behavior) and sort of angry the guitar player didn't listen when I told him not to play. And by the way, my bass was indistinct in the mix due to lack of a subwoofer.

    How do you make it up to the client when you botch the gig, and people go home? I'm thinking of offering my jazz band, which are better musicians and have a history with the company, at a low rate (maybe even free) paying the musicians out of my own pocket as penance. I wouldn't do this normally, but this is my employer who pays the bills and gives me a good living, health benefits, etcetera. They have events on the horizon at which we could do this.

    Comments on how to save this relationship and prevent these set list collisions and problems with "non-compliant" musicians who don't think it's important to arrive early to respond to changes in the schedule when you're part of a daily schedule that?

    I've noticed this in most bands, they don't want to get there early enough to be really prepared and relaxed.
  2. I once had a guitarist arrive for an agent showing late, in his mechanics overalls. Rest of us were all dressed for a gig, he forgot about the agent and was late. I threw him a bone, it happens.

    Had a singer tell an agent she was holding back like she always does at rehearsal. When asked to see 100%, she argues with him for ten minutes she shouldn't need to. That was her last rehearsal.

    I played a corporate gig where the sound guy refused to use any moving lights because the guitarist got a "intro deal" to try the sound guy out. I don't think he factored a mix into the price either. It sounded terrible at times.

    That same guitarist started chatting 2 girls up during a break in a song over the mic, holding us up and embarrassing the girls. Later he announces over the mic we're going to play a Madonna song he didn't think was relevant because none were here...as we crack into Like A Virgin! At a corporate gig. Harrassment anyone?!? :O

    Sometimes, while looking for a better band situation, you have to just laugh to stop yourself going nuts. ;)

    And IME if you've got to the point of booking corporate clients, especially through an agent, and your band mates are still consistently unprofessional, my advice is to find bandmates who get it. Chances are good an agent will recommend the same course of action.

    Good luck on the gig.
  3. I wouldn't say anything at the office about it. The water cooler maybe buzzing but do not bring your music situations to the office. If they never ask you back for that kind of gig it is their choice. Not sure what talking about it today would help. It was a train wreak leave it at that. I am interested on how you think you can fix it though?
  4. Interested to hear how this plays out. Good luck.
  5. I'd leave that band ASAP. I was in a female fronted band once and had a similiar experience. One night I was embarrassed to be on stage with them because everyone screwed up. That night was also my last time playing with them. I don't have time to play music with losers. I put too much effort into practicing.
  6. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    Apologize for the unprofessionalism, and assure them that you won't be booking THAT band for any corporate gigs in the future. Make sure they realize that YOU know how bad it was.

    Do that one time to the appropriate people, then repeat each time the subject is brought up in the office. No reason to say any more.
  7. Vakmere


    Sep 6, 2007
    First off, where did you find these amature instrument owners and 2nd, had you no idea that these people were that bad and disorganized before that gig?
  8. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    wow. sounds like you guys may have blown whatever chance you might have had of working for this event planner again. Suck it up and move on. It happens. Lessons learned here for sure. If the non compliant musicians in the band can't get their act together, especially for a corporate gig, where the stakes are higher, I'd suggest you have a strong talk with them and act accordingly from there. Might have to give someone their walking papers. Been there and had a sit down that resulted in ultimatums...which worked for us.
  9. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    You live, you learn.

    The event planner may know it but the proof is in the pudding with the rest of the folks seeming to have enjoyed the show.

    The best thing you can do from this is sit down and figure out a way in which to insure that it never happens again. Telling someone their behavior is "inappropriate" for a gig is never an easy task but if they're professional and want to work then it will need to get done. The best thing that can come of that is she'll listen up and will forever ALWAYS be thinking about that line, where it is, and how she can keep from crossing it.

    I wouldn't sweat the event planner. Explain to her what happened, what you've done to fix it and let her know that it's the result of a scenario you had little control over. You did the best you could, changes have been made and you're going to soldier on and hope that one day you have the opportunity to show that you are a pro thru and thru.

    Oh and let the guitar player know that he needs to start showing up early for rehearsal with coffee and donuts for everyone until he proves himself at the next gig...or not.
  10. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Things are never as bad as they seem, and never as good as they seem. I wouldn't say a word at work unless asked. You may have projected your own discomfort on the audience. I'd call the event planner and let her take the lead. If they seem REALLY upset I would offer her the jazz band for free and pay the guys out of your own pocket.

    In the future, you shouldn't be playing with people like this, but s--t happens. Everybody lays an egg once in a while.
  11. MrDOS

    MrDOS Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Colorado Springs, CO

    PS - My Mom's from Matoaka :)
  12. Well, even pros do mistakes, but multiple musicians doing mistakes at the same time sounds like the band has never been properly rehearsed or has the wrong config for the specific gigs.
  13. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    That feeling of really screwing up is rough. But I agree with those who say its never as bad as it seems.

    I would apologize for the screw ups. Really, that's all you can and need to do. If you can make it up some way offer to do so, they might or might not go for it. Then do your best not to be so hard on yourself and move on.
  14. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Just imagine the crap the event planner had to take for hiring a garage band to do a corporate gig. If that's the level of professionalism your bandmates exhibit for an important, well-paying gig, you are wasting your time.

    Get out now, and find some pros.
  15. +1. They'll drag you down. Life's too short to be playing with losers. It doesn't matter how good someone is, they're not indispensible.
  16. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Fear of something like this is why I try to keep my work and musical lives separate.

    So, what happened at work?

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