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Three weeks to gig - (Part 4:Gig report)

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by mrcbass, Oct 29, 2018.

  1. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    This is the 4th and final post of the Three Weeks until first gig where I've journaled my experience leading up to this gig. It's long, and sorry no pictures (I didn't want to distract my self trying to be clever).

    Short version: The gig went well with no particular drama or issues.

    Saturday (day of gig)
    I didn’t want to spend too much time with hands on bass today, so after breakfast I did another run through on the two sets. Again, happy enough with my prep, so I broke everything down and loaded up my cart. Hoping to learn lessons form you guys, I made sure to bring an extra bass and had a whole gig bag with extra cables along with my normal bag with batteries and the like. It always seems silly to pack so much stuff, but when you need stuff, you need stuff.

    I had a family dinner thing planned for this evening, so I couldn’t get to the gig ridiculously early to help with set up. The band has a pretty full stag set up with full PA and lights and they tend to do loads in pretty early. The down beat for this gig was at 8:00 – I think they were there before 5:00. I cut off my dinner before the birthday cake and was able to get to the venue at about 6:45.

    The plan is to have the bassist I’m replacing play the first set and a half, and then I would play the last set and a half. I loaded up my cart, wheel it in and find that we’re set up on the floor right next to the door of a little strip mall sports bar. The drums, PA, lights, and both guitar players and exiting bassist were already planted. The lead vox/kb was just getting there as well. As is probably pretty typical, there wasn’t much real estate and it took me a while to figure out how we were going to stage things with all his gear and mine there in a foot print that wasn’t really big enough for one of us.

    The plan was for him to use my little amp, mic and stand, but his bass to help make the transition quicker. There was really no way to make this very smooth. The band doesn’t have a standard “you stand there” approach, they just kind of wing it every gig. The exiting bassist has a “front man” personality, where I’m a “hide in the back” rhythm section sort of guy. I set up my mic where it seemed like it most out of the way, but when they started sound check, I noticed he had moved it up front. I was trying to limit the number of things I had to handle and adjust during the transition, but I just went with it – just no need for drama. It took a bit, but we got things fairly situated.

    I chatted a little with the exiting bassist and found we have very different interests in music, but we share the love of ESP basses. He had a real pretty hollow body 5 string and I was using my 5 string fretless. We had pleasant chat and was just pleased that there wasn’t any sense of competition or tension. I just really wasn’t sure what to expect from him and I’m sure he felt the same about meeting me.

    (Some of this is a bit awkward as I believe the exiting bassist hangs around on TB a little, so Michael, if you’re reading this and recognize the scenario, no offense, just making observations.)

    I was hoping to get a little me time for sound check, but I got none. First time with a new monitor and I really didn’t get any chance to fiddle with it before the first set. I really haven’t worked vocals with these guys at all (one rehearsal and little feedback), so I was really counting on a nice monitor mix so I could really hear how I was fitting in. Hopefully I’ll get a few minutes at some point. I was also hoping to have a chance to determine if I could get away without the amp at all. But the exiting bassist is used to working with one, so that’s how we rolled. Guess I’ll have to figure all this out later.

    The bassist wandered out in front of the band to guide the sound guy/guitarist on how to adjust. I was still fiddling with my stuff on the backline while for most of sound check, but did wander up front for the last bit and it wasn’t very good in my opinion. I made a comment to the drummer that I didn’t want to step on toes and really didn’t know what FOH sound they were looking for, but I suggested that the kick drum and bass could come down a bit. They adjusted it a little, but not nearly enough.

    It was the bar’s Halloween night and the band went to change into costumes. Being a sports bar, most of the patrons were watching the end of game 5 of the World Series. Many of the patrons were costumed up as well. There was a fair crowd (30 people?) gathering at the end of the bar that I expected might end up being our dancers, but the game was the focus early on.

    The band has a policy of “no drinking” at gigs, but I noted the drummer was enjoying beer prior to the down beat, so I went ahead and had one as well while I was waiting for my turn. I got a heavier than I really like beer so it would be easier to milk it for an hour and a half. I went and sat with the band wives for the first set. I was really amazed how crappy the band sounded. The kick drum and bass were still booming and washing everything else out – couldn’t hear any of the keys, guitars were barely audible as were the vocals. I went up a few times and suggested a few adjustments, but for most of the first set, the sound was just terrible. We got it better for the second set, but the kick drum and some of his toms were still pretty boomy most of the night. I think he needed a different patch on his e-kit for that room, but I have no idea what to suggest that he do.

    I noticed that the exiting bassist liked to get up front with the lead vox and interact with her while she was singing. Based on what I’d heard about him, I pretty much expected that. Not sure if they expect that from me or not – for now I’m gonna focus on my fingerboard and mic and work on the “showy” stuff later after I’m comfortable on all the songs.

    I was watching the crowd as much as the band. We were still competing with the game, so there were few people paying any attention to the band. The people at the end of the bar were socializing (loudly enough that I couldn’t hear the band very well), but never actually started dancing. There were occasional head bobs and a couple of sing-a-longs, but for the most part, they couldn’t care less that the band was there. Most of the clapping came from the band’s entourage. I figured it was just early and that once the game ended and the dance lube kicked in, we’d have their attention. But I noticed that when the game ended, so did the crowd – even the ones who weren’t really paying any attention to it. I found out later that this was pretty typical for this place; all I could wonder is how the owner was justifying paying us to be there. There were a couple of “band friends” that came in, but now way they began to cover our cost.

    I was quite concerned about how we were going to manage the bassist swap mid set without interrupting the flow (as it turned out, it wouldn’t have mattered), somebody (I think it was the exiting bassist) suggested that they move an acoustic song to the middle of the set, so we could change out while there was no bass part. This was a really good call. About the middle of the song before the swap, I headed up to the side of the “stage”, and got my wireless plugged in and my bass tuned. When the acoustic song kicked in we did our little exchange dance. I was able to move the mic back to where I had it in the background and attach my tablet mount, and fire things up. I was ready to go by the time they were ready to kick off my first tune. It actually couldn’t have gone better.

    So just like that I was in the groove and gong to town. Luckily, my first song was one that I was pretty comfortable (had it worked up earlier this year for another project). As I expected, I was having a hard time hearing my vocals. The sound guy wasn;t scrambling to kill me in the mix and nobody was giving me any dirty looks, so I was either inaudible or not doing too badly. I noticed the exiting bassist slip out without much fanfare. I wouldn’t have minded a little feedback, but I’m pretty sure he’s looking forward to being done with this situation – which will happen after next week’s gig.

    We got through the dozen songs on my half of set two and tried fiddling with my monitor settings. Of course, without everyone participating, it was pretty pointless. Turns out we had it up too loud and had to just shut it off for the third set once everyone fired up. The lead guitar, turned his up a little which served me well enough. Even though I didn’t have a good sense of the vocals, I was amazed that the overall sound was better on stage than it was out front. By the third set, the place was pretty dead. Maybe 5 people that weren’t employees or band entourage. I tried to make the best of it, but even on my first gig, I got that “why are we here?” feeling. I can be a statue sometimes, but I’ve been working hard on moving my body while playing. It was really difficult to “perform” for a few patrons that weren’t into us for the most part. For a couple of songs, one of the patrons turned around and hooted, and then another patron hooted for a different tune, but it felt a little like practicing at home. I was quite surprised to find myself mentally wandering, - during my first gig! I was watching TV and “appreciating” the bartenders’ skimpy costumes. During songs that are new to me.

    In a way, it took the pressure off to be playing for next to no one – it felt a lot more like a rehearsal than a gig. But it would have been nice to have a little more crowd interaction to have a reason to “put on a show”. Over all, I was pleased with my execution. I jumped right in like I belonged and never really experienced any nervousness. I wasn't expecting any stage fright (I have plenty of stage time in other situations), but you just never know how you'll react to a new situation. Yeah, I had a few clams, and got sideways on a couple of transitions, but all things considered, I did good. I’m still trying to figure out the non verbal communication of the band, so I didn’t understand all the looks or nods, but that will come.

    The hardest part was the vocals. As I said, we really haven’t worked those out yet and for a weak singer such as myself, it’s really hard to figure out what lines are “available” for me to climb onto – I really wasn’t sure which songs already had some backing vocals or none, and what lines I needed to fill in. This will all come with time, but it will be nice to identify what I need to do so I can start locking my voice onto something. There were couple times that the lead vox turned and looked at me when I surprised her with backing vox, but I have no idea if it was a “please stop”, or “thanks” look. It may have even been an “I’m looking at the TV behind you” look - just haven't got a read on her yet. I need to talk to her next weekend to figure out what she’s trying to tell me - if anything.

    Everyone seemed pleased with my overall execution – the band as a whole is a little loose anyway, so my clams fit right in:
    • Some of the backing vox were not quite in tune (before I jumped in!)
    • The lead guitarist/vox kicked off a song in the third set that was all him for the first minute and he it was just a train wreck. I don’t know how he didn’t shut it down and start over.
    • We had tempo issues as the night progressed (drummer just gets tired/excited and kicks thing sup about 10 bpm from where it really needed to be. I tried to get him to bring it down but he wouldn’t follow me. We need to work that out as well. We all stumbled over each other breaking the stage down. After I got my gear carted up, I jumped in and started learning the routines for the PA and lights. With four of us working at it (the lead vox/kb actually stuck around and helped!), we got the van loaded in about an hour – record time!

    • I chatted with the drummer/manager about the evening and the immediate future and he agreed that we’d do the same routine next week (split the second set) and then I’d take over the full night after that. The policy is to rehearse on Sundays that they don’t gig. We have November pretty open so I’ll 3-4 more rehearsals in before being busy all of December. I’m already fairly comfortable with all three sets, but need to burn in about 10 songs. Then there is the matter of the 25 songs they have on the bench. I’ve started my prep work on these, and will start getting them in my ears and under my fingers in November.

      We were done loading out by about 1:00, which is about three hours past my normal bed time. I was a bit worried I would wear down by the end of the night, but I was pretty wired. Really appreciating the fact that I have garage that I park my car in, I just left my gear in the car when I got home and saved it for the morning. I had a little ice cream while watching bit of TV to wind down and didn’t get to bed until about 2:30. Was worried that Monday morning would be brutal because my internal clock is out of whack, but so far so good.
  2. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Overall it sounds like not a bad night. I would not over-analyze the looks, nods, and other visual queues. It takes months, if not years, to get used to each others' non-verbal communications. I'm fairly certain that if you sucked they would let you know. :p (But I'm also sure you didn't.) I'm looking forward to more adventures of "@mrcbass and His New Band". ;)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    JRA and filmtex like this.
  3. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    I’m with cliff. Sounds like you had a pretty good plan and managed to stick to it fairly well. WTG. Nice report.
    BassCliff likes this.
  4. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks Cliff. Appreciate you confidence, but where my voice is concerned, there's always a good possibility that I did suck. I know I'll get used to how their ship runs - I'm just trying to be professional about my approach to things.
    BassCliff likes this.
  5. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
  6. Your words to pictures ratio is too high.

    You probably did better then you think you did.
    Sore Thumb likes this.
  7. Truth! Lol.

    I hope you had fun. I look forward to the next gig report.
  8. dlb1001


    Jan 30, 2007
    You made it through, without too much drama.
  9. Sounds like it went well, as has been pointed out already if you'd dropped a major clam on the performance you probably would have heard about it.

    I read your post and the only thing that confused me is why the change of bassists in the middle of the set? Wouldn't it be easier to do that on a break. Not judging, just wondering. When you consider all the things that can be different from one player to the next it just seemed an odd choice to me. Maybe the reason behind that is in the post and I missed it too.

    Rock on, sounds like you'll be the new guy for now.
  10. trailer

    trailer Thumper Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Guntersville, Al.
    I'm confused by the decision to do another split show with the exiting bassist. That just seems a little silly to me. One would be too many for me, especially with the extra money split. I'm cool with sentimental stuff but I'm either your guy or I'm not.
  11. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I'm with you and I was horrified to learn that was the plan. The issue was discussed in one of the threads (probably part 2) leading to the gig report.

    To rehash: I had just been accepted into the band the two weeks before the gig and had all of three weeks (counting audition prep) to get up to speed on fifty+ songs - 20 of which I'd never even heard before. The band was anxious to move beyond this transition and wanted to get me into the mix as quickly as possible. The original plan was for me to take on the first two sets, with the exiting bassist responsible for the last set.

    But, as I heard the story, the exiting bassist wasn't happy with that: one set wasn't worth the bother and he didn't want the "late shift". He created a little drama for the booking BL. The resulting split set was the solution that made him happy and it just wasn't worth the drama for me to make waves about it. It went OK, just not the way I wanted to handle it. Given a choice, I'd have actually preferred to just play one set, but again, no need to add to the drama. If I'd have known we'd have next to no audience, I could have faked my way through all three sets. I had the full two sets ready and only one of the songs in the third set has any degree of complication and even that can be dumbed down for an emergency play through. But it took a lot of pressure off of me to not have to be ready for an additional 20 songs. (I did make a point of running through the third set a couple of times just in case I needed to have a clue.)
  12. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    They're just trying to keep the pressure off of me for 50+ songs in short time. We've only had one rehearsal since I signed on and have not had a chance to run through all three sets. The two sets we did run through produced enough surprises ("oops, sorry forgot to tell you we do that in a different key!") that it makes sense to wait until we can some rehearsal time in. We have a fairly clear November. After this weekend, we have nothing booked until December. They have a no rehearsal the week of gig policy. I'm not crazy about that (we need a lot of cleanup IMO), bit I get it. Busy lives and we gig Saturdays, rehearse Sundays.
  13. Makes sense now, thanks.

    Too bad you didn't have a better crowd for your maiden voyage. I hate it when you have to compete with something as dumb as a baseball game, sorry not a fan.
  14. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Yeah, good and bad to that: zero pressure playing to people who aren't really paying attention, but the last set was pretty torturous playing to three male barflies who barely acknowledged us. I really don't know how the owner justifies live music in this place. There's no way our being there paid for ourselves even at a very cheap gig rate. Hopefully this Saturday will have some dancers.
    WI Short Scaler likes this.
  15. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

  16. trailer

    trailer Thumper Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Guntersville, Al.
    Ehhh ok...it's just so much extra drama and hoops to jump through. And less money lol. But it's your thing. Hope there's a better crowd at the next show!

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