The show must go on?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I'm on the verge of losing my voice, and we have a gig tonight. As the lead singer, that brings up a bunch of questions regarding how much is enough to cancel a gig. I think we'll play tonight regardless - if I lose my voice, then I'll just make our bass player sing lead for the night.

    But it did get me thinking - where's the line between "the show must go on" and band quality control?

    For example, how many of us have gotten upset because some touring band cancelled due to sickness? For me, it was Everclear about 6 years ago. How many of us would cancel a show for sickness? And how sick would we have to be?

    If the lead singer in your favorite band is hoarse, would you rather hear him struggle through the set, or would you prefer them to cancel?

    For that matter, what about gear? If your expensive bass gets run over by the band van upon loading up, and all you have left is your crappy Japanese P-bass copy that sounds muddy and crackly, would you cancel the gig? Or just suffer through it with a crappy bass?

    I don't know. There is something to be said for presenting a consistent type of quality with your band, but is a sore throat enough to degrade your band's sound?

  2. I would say a sore throat is not enough, frankly. If you were at the point where you couldn't even talk, that's one thing, but I think you gotta be there in this case (which it sounds like you will be anyway).

    I once missed a show (the one and only time) with really bad pains in my abdomen. Ended up going to the hospital (several hours before the show). The doctors thought I had appendicitis, but it ended up being something less severe. I missed the show and felt bad, but if I _had_ had appendicitis, it obviously would've been a lot worse.

    A sore throat is something you can work around. I would say just drink plenty of fluids before the show, and lay off some of the really hard vocal parts. Let the rest of the band handle banter between songs. Maybe get the bass player or someone else to handle a few songs.
  3. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    Unless I'm in a coma or on a ventilator in the hospital, I'm going to the gig. I've played with fresh stitches in my fretting hand and, 6 hrs post-op from surgery on a torn rotator cuff & bicep. That was less than comfortable, considering the shoulder that the bass hangs on was the one that had surgery. The show, indeed, must go on. Suck it up buttercup :D
  4. poptart

    poptart Commercial User

    Sep 13, 2005
    Owner: Bass Direct
    I have never had to cancel a show with my present band in 14 years and over 1200 shows - ill or not we go on..end of. Unless you have a serious throat problem that a doctor has given you advise on then do it - just hold back and don't hurt your self.

    Best example of the show must go on for me was a couple of year ago when, as usual, we all travelled to the gig in one vehicle with instruments, pa etc. Got there, hung around for ages (private events!) and eventually got in and had very little time to set up and go. All set up and there is me looking around for my where to be's 120 miles away!??! In a bizzare stroke of luck there was another band in the same building doing a gig, but the bass player did not bring his spare for the first time ever...oh no what am I going to do, no time to rush home for it and on stage in 30 minutes.

    Well luckily I front the band and my keyboard player is a bit tasty, so I dance about and sing like and idiot and he plays what he can of my bass lines on the keys.

    Well we got through it and played for nearly two hours and the audience loved it, gave out cards and all sorts. I was gutted but danced my pants off as retribution for my inability to put my guitar in (the first and only time in over twenty years of gigging I may add).

    So the moral of this tale is the show must go on as the audience does not have a clue what it should all sound and look like most of the time, and they would have been guuted if we did not perform.

    I hope this help;)
  5. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    The others posted dandy points of view.

    I just want to elaborate on the drink fluids comment invader3k made.

    Avoid milk and/or dairy(phlegm reasons) and alcohol(ignore intoxicated peers sayin' this will fix your voice right up, it won't) and any juices or pop or team with lemon. Stick with water. PERIOD.

    Structure your sets around songs the bass player can cover for you so you can rest your voice. Do NOT engage in conversations during breaks in loud areas of the bar. If you have to shout to talk to others, you are stressing your throat.

    Hope this helps,
  6. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Yep...shows gotta go on. Turn your mic up some, remember to support your tone with plenty of air, and drink water like there is no tomorrow. Herbal tea is very soothing, does not contain tannin, which affects the voice, and can be drunk w/o sweetener, too.

  7. And if you have other members in the band who can pick up the singing slack, don't hesitate to tap them! We have a very similar situation with our band where if our lead singer is under the weather or we have done a bunch of nights in a row, he just looks over at me or the guitar player with those, "gimme some support" eyes and we start adding or doubling his part. This relieves him enough to get through.

    I guess you really have to decide if your situation is bad enough to deny the rest of your band a paycheck! LOL

  8. Last friday, we played a high energy three hour rock gig and three of the four of us had the flu - including myself.

    Our vocals suffered because we all sing leads and we were all having throat problems which caused flat tones, broken highs and very spotty backup vocals.

    Everyone but our drummer had a 100+ degree fever and felt like s***.

    But the show goes on. We promoted it and people were there wanting to see us, so we gutted our way through it and without making excuses did let them know we all had the flu and weren't on our A-game.

    Same is true for gear. I've had my 800watt head go out and had to rely on a 100watt combo amp that I couldn't hear one dang note of, but had to have for my drummer to que off of. We've blown mains and had to turn our monitors around to face the crowd to finish a set.

    Barring a total power loss or hospitalization/death of a band member, you don't cancel. Ever.
  9. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Well, this is rather the response that I expected... lol... Bassist are usually the tough ones in the band... :p

    I sang alright, I suppose. Turns out my bassist was/is also sick, and she was holding back vocally, too. So I went ahead and sang for two hours, including all the banter between songs... There were just a few REALLY sour notes that I heard myself sing - darn that throat muscle memory - and I didn't feel like I had the emotive content that I normally do...

    Did I feel like it was our best show? No. Do I seriously think anyone really noticed? Not really. They probably just think we suck... lol... We also were breaking in a rhythm guitarist... and until Friday night, I guess I never heard what he was playing. Oy. We need to woodshed some better parts for that boy.

    Have you ever watched a band play while sick and wish that they would have taken the night off and tapped a similar but healthy band? I saw that once as part of a 4 band tour - the third band on the bill was the band coordinating the tour, and they were ALL down with the flu... and boy, could you tell. The vocals were completely inconsistent, the energy was down... and this is a consumately professional band.

    All in all, I was very disappointed in hearing such a great band sound so flat. I really do think that I would have preferred not hearing them and assuming that their skills live were comparable to their studio skills (I'm sure that they are, when healthy, but the sick performance was not a fun situation).
  10. poptart

    poptart Commercial User

    Sep 13, 2005
    Owner: Bass Direct
    Hey - well done for getting through it, sounds like you got some valuble experinece from it. I have just done sound for a charity event yesterday in the UK for 12 bands over 12 hours - boy am I a sucker for punishement! - and we had one band whose bass player was ill so they did it without and I beefed the bass from the guitars and kick and it went down really well. Another band had no drummer or bass player and they did a acoustic style set and it went well for them too. I guess it is all about commitment, as an audience only sees what you put in to it.

    Don't get down because you had a personal bad time - I think you did the right thing:)
  11. If people know the songs it doesn't really matter how his voice is as long as he's in key. If they don't know the songs then that's a tougher situation but you still need to fulfill the obligation. Another factor is if you know people are counting on you to show, or are you just part of a five-band original band bill where the other bands could just extend their sets by 10 minutes, etc. But yeah a sore throat with backup help is no biggie.

    Another obvious trick I've seen used a lot (we're no exception) is having the crowd sing the chorus...of course you don't want to overdo it, I've seen that too for a Bon Jovi cover band and it got to be ridiculous, it was cheesy. Then again the crowd didn't seem to mind that either now that I think about it...
  12. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I guess my biggest point is this-

    Often, people will only give you one chance to impress them (unless they forget that they've seen you before). So where is the line for the musical standard of your band? Is there a point where you say, "no, let's call this off... our lead singer has laryngitis, our drummer just put his stick through his snare head, the guitarist's axe has a busted nut, leaving the E string resting on the fingerboard, and my fingers are ripped to bloody shreds from bass practice..."?

    Or does it matter? Do you always play, no matter how you sound? Or are you concerned with quality control - as in, not giving anyone that "boy, these guys suck" first impression?