Worst gig stories (megathread?)

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Sam Dingle, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle

    Aug 16, 2011
    Nashville TN
    I did a quick search but I'd like to read about your all time worst gig or gigs. I'll offer 2 that actually recently happened.

    Gig 1:

    I got a call at the end of August from a pianist who I've worked with in the pit band scene. I'm primarily an upright player but I'm a very good reader and thats where I get most of my electric bass work. He says he has a blues gig with this singer who needs a backing band the last two wednesdays in september and asked if I can be on them. I say sure, I'm not super familiar with blues but he said she has an album that I can listen to and will send me charts soon. I figure I can shed and get up to speed. The 1st of september I look up the singers name and her album comes on spotify...and this is not blues at all. This is New Orleans R&B/Funk. Ok...I text him and he says "no we won't be playing that. Just blues".....

    We don't have a rehearsal, the signer clarifies with the pianist the weekend before that he's been having the band listen to her album (he hadn't). He tells me "actually yeah we'll be reading the charts of that R&B album so give it a listen on the way to the gig" (the record had tons of really killin form changes, hits, feel's etc). On the way to the gig I'm thinking "this is gonna be bad, Pianist doesn't play stuff like this normally. He mostly reads and accompany's classical singers. I hope the drummer is killin..."

    The drummer was not killin. Couldn't keep a rock beat at a steady tempo. Hadn't listed to the album, and on top of that, had an attitude.

    At one point someone took a photo and I hid my face. I didn't want to be remembered for that gig.

    The end of the night comes, the piano player can't make next week and still hadn't found a sub, the singer fired the drummer and I was asked to put a different band together. The next week went a lot better after the band and I met to re-write the charts, and then did a rehearsal with the singer before the gig.

    Gig 2:

    Last week I subbed for a college friend in a pit show. It was a musical I was familiar with because I had been in it when I was in middle school. I got the music before hand, and asked the director if there was anything I should know. He said not really, listen to the album, take some liberties with the bass lines (that was new for me on a reading gig) and remember "the piano and the vocals dictate when to start on every song and when to continue. As long as you pay attention to those you'll be fine".

    I was subbing the 2nd to last show. The entire band had been on every gig prior to that. We were under the stage with monitors to hear both the electric pianos and the vocals on stage. there were 2 tv's to show the movements on stage. Pretty cool and standard stuff. We read a few things, it goes pretty well, I talk down the book with the musical director and sound check is good. Show starts at 7:30.

    At 7:10 we do a quick vocal warm up on one of the songs. The monitors under the stage blow. They stop working. We can't hear the piano or the vocals. Only person who can hear them is the piano player through is headset that is linked to the stage....

    That was a pretty bad gig haha
  2. McG

    McG Goat Hill Gamblers

    Oct 6, 2010
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I played a dive bar many years ago that as soon as we walked in the door everybody mentioned that the place smelled BAD. I mean the air was toxic. There were about 20 or so hard core barflies in the place. Most likely regulars who no longer noticed the foul smell of unclean restrooms and beer stained filthy carpet. Truly the dive gig of your nightmares.

    As we were playing the stench started getting to me. I got light headed and started feeling nauseous. My head was spinning, ears started ringing and I couldn't hear a thing. All I could think about was to not lose it on stage. The next to last song was a 1 4 5 blues number. In my struggle to keep it together I sensed things didn't sound right. I looked at my hands and saw I was playing a half step flat and didn't even know it.

    At that very moment my feet went out from under me and I was on my ass. I actually had walked off the 2' high stage. Fortunately I wasn't hurt and got back on stage and finished the show. I had to sit outside in fresh air for a good twenty minutes before I could go back in to pack up.

    THAT was the worst gig I ever had.
  3. A bar called "On the Y" in Sacramento. We were a reggae rock band, with most of us in the band with professional sound training. We knew our stuff, and were an easy band to mix sound with. The bar's sound guy had no idea what he was doing, but the guy and the bar wouldn't let us touch the PA. He was mixing with the input gains instead of the volume sliders, among other issues. It was 2 hours of crazy, crazy loud feed back before we just quit. We gave away dozens of CDs to our fans for making the effort to come see us, though the show was dreadful sounding. I'm pretty sure half the audience and all the band members have permanent hearing damage from that one night.
  4. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    McG and DirtDog like this.
  5. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Many years ago I happened to be vacationing in So Cal and a friend of mine who lived out there was in a band and asked me if I wanted to sit in on bass and play a set. It was in Long Beach.. I think it was called the Mai Tai Bar or something.. near the waterfront. We did a few numbers and I was able to handle the bass parts and then this guy comes in and sits at the bar for our entire set and just kept staring at me playing. Well needless to say it made me very self conscious wondering who he was and why he's staring at me playing I really screwed up the 2nd part of the set and it turned into the worse gig I ever played. The guy left after the 1st set and I went over to the bartender and asked if he knew the fellow. He say Oh! that was Cliff.. he comes here almost every night to check out the bands.. I hear he's a really good bass player. ;)
  6. I was called to join a start up blues/rock band, guitar player was new in town and could play Hendrix with his eyes closed.
    I had been at the apartment practicing for a couple of weeks during which he pawned my Peavey Bass combo to get his guitar back. Told me he would get my amp back when he got paid, I was so young and gullible.

    We got a local drummer, very talented, good hang. Got a tryout at a local bar to be the house band Sunday nights. After setting up, guitar player wants to borrow my car to go somewhere with his girlfriend. Let him borrow it but thinking, I better get this back right away.

    He comes back high as a kite, we start the first set and everything is going well playing some Hendrix and Blues standards. Midway through the set I notice everyone running out of the bar. Peering at the bar in the next room, I see the bartender and a patron wrestling with a gun over the bar.

    Being the sensible person that I am, I immediately jump off stage and hit the floor. Guitar and drummer look at me like I'm crazy and say ***! I point to the bar and yelled GUN! They both follow me in short order. Bartender finally gets the gun and the patron runs out the back door.

    Cops are called, arrive, take one look at me and say "what the hell are you doing here?" as I was the only white person in the bar including the band. I just say with a smile "I'm with the band" and they continue in to take statements.

    We did finish out the night playing for 3 or 4 people that came in after the incident. Didn't get the gig and never heard from the drummer again.
  7. . Was it @ BassCliff? Lol
  8. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Another tale from playing Those Places Your Mama Warned You About:

    Small club, maybe 100 seats. Center stage with a small dance floor, facing the front door, a big solid door that opened outwards, no glass.

    We're playing the set, kinda loud, and all of a sudden the door swings open, all the lights come on and it's crawling with police. The guitar player was actually a self-defense instructor that taught cops, so I knew we were OK, they all knew him, and the rest of us were straight as well.

    They come up to the stage, "Didn't you guys HEAR anything?" No, it's pretty loud up here, why do you ask? They motioned us to come outside. We get to the front door and it will only open part-way as it's bumping against somebody laying there, all I can see is his lower legs and shoes.

    We squeeze out there, and there's a very-recently dead body lying in a growing pool of blood. The guy had been shot three times and a coffee cup would have covered all three holes, a pro job. My head and stomach are spinning . . . . . so while I'm standing there, a couple of older women are headed in, and they're hiking their skirts up like they're stepping into high water, and one of them says to the other, "EeeeeeeeYew, let's get a drink !" and squeeze thru the door. We had to finish the night, and I'll never know why I didn't quit right then. Still don't.
  9. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    Damn. I was gonna tell a story about a drunk chick who spilled her margarita right on the pickups on my G&L while trying to twerk me on stage but people gettin shot up in here.
  10. My worst was also my best:
    It was some small time open mic concert thing out in the sticks. We were the only metal band playing (and death metal at that) so to say it wasn't our crowd would be an understatement. We got "paid" in beer, one crate per band = about seven beers per guy. Well, both our drummer and vocalist/guitarist were on meds at the time, two beers and they were flying, and because it was late we needed to catch the next train home immediately after the gig so the other guitarist and I had the bright idea of finishing off the crate before the concert. Great plan.

    Come gigtime we are all off our boobies, yet we play our best set ever. Yeah, sure, we might have played the same song twice in a row, drummer kept dropping his sticks and there might have been a misplaced solo here or there, but it was so much fun! Maybe we thought "screw it, just phone it in" because of the crowd and general atmosphere, but we ended up having a blast. Sometimes drinking before a gig can be a good thing.
  11. Years ago my band played a local dive (and that's being polite) owned by the town's mayor - small town like the old west with one judge, jury and executioner so who was going to say anything to him about his shady business practices? It was the winter and the weather had turned stormy. We were coming up to end of the last song of the first set, playing to more chairs than people (and more people than teeth) when a rumble ran over the stage. One of the lighting trussed had fallen. So, we broke, fixed up the truss, and took five. Nothing new for a travelin' band am I right? Anyhow, next set was just as dismal. Paid practice basically thank you winter storm. Suddenly,the bartender comes running over waving his hands and yelling "the fight, the fight". We also noticed most of the people who were still there were heading in the general direction of the bar which was off to the right of the stage. We cut our set short mid song and looked over to see a big screen tv behind the bar with a satellite feed of a boxing match. So, falling lights and pre-empted by a boxing match. What else could happen along with the lovely blizzard merrily filling in the highway outside? Pay time, that's what. Turns out, it was lady's night and two dollar cover night. Guess who was booked in for the door and not told about the reduced cover? (see my aforementioned shady business deals) Any consequent bands I've played with in the last eighteen years since have been told to either stay out of the place or find a sub for any night they go ahead and book. I won't even turn in the parking lot. I've probably got a few more lurking in my back pages. If I think of anymore, I'll post them. Luckily, they've been few and far between.
  12. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    My worst......oh where to start?

    During game 7 of the 1997 world series (which was a sunday night), my awful punk band opened for another awful "touring" band. It was at a dive bar, in a bad part of town. It was not the type of place that someone would just stroll into without a good reason. There was one person at the bar that wasn't a band member or an employee.....and they sat watching game 7 on a TV the size of postage stamp mounted behind the bar. The bands clapped for each other.
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  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The wedding gig that the BL took for $800 because the bride was the ex of a good friend of his. It turned out that both families were multimillionaires :banghead:

    They wouldn't have blinked at $8000.
  14. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Ha .. I wish it was Cliff but no I made up the whole story. ;) I can't remember any worst gigs, they've all been ok!
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  15. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    Back in the early 80's they used to set those big PA's right on stage and while rocking out, one night, the top half 2x12" bin and JBL horn fell backwards crushing the guitar player ES335, that never seemed to stay in tune anyway. ... Wait! ... I read this post wrong. I thought it said 'best gig story'. ... Kind'a works both ways.
    The Owl, Mr_Moo, Jimmy4string and 2 others like this.
  16. fishdreams

    fishdreams Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Callicoon, NY
    Endorsing: Martin Keith Guitars
    It's how the rich stay rich! :thumbsup:
  17. fishdreams

    fishdreams Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Callicoon, NY
    Endorsing: Martin Keith Guitars
    stupidest gig that comes to mind was a nicely populated high school gymnasium waiting for us to start our show. 30 seconds into set 1 the school intercom announces that 'the disco in the auditorium is starting now'. The gymnasium had cleared out entirely by the time we finished the first tune. Only 2 more sets to go.
    Mr_Moo and dbase like this.
  18. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    We were a substitute band. Strike one. Singer got into a week long spat with the booking agent. Strike two. Singer got completely wasted before the show. Strike three. Singer wandered off during songs, and we kept playing, looking at each other wondering when she would turn up again. She did on time, but strike four. Singer had an unfortunate ability to attract creepy guys from the audience. That happened at this gig. Strike five. We made absolutely no money in spite of drawing an OK audience as a substitute. Strike six. Sound was awful and we couldn't hear each other. Strike seven. That's probably enough strikes. There were other things that happened that were also memorable in an iffy kind of way, but not enough to be more strikes. No dead people, no gunshots, just a really awkward gig in a local dive bar. The good part is that the bar is one neighborhood over from home, so the commute was short.

    Funny thing is that the bar is a local institution, and I actually get a big kick out of playing there. It was just not going to go well that night.
  19. Did you get your combo back?