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AlexOConnor

The most traumatising gig I've ever played

12 posts in this topic

Last night, my band and I performed at a wedding in Islip near Oxford in the UK. We arrived with at 10 a.m and set up the PA and all the kit and stage lighting. We sound checked and everything was looking really great. One of the bridal party played the first dance on his acoustic guitar through our PA system and he did a really great job, great playing and he was a tremendous vocalist. We immediately took up the stage to begin our 30 song (Let's not forgot about the 2 minute gap to fill while we waited for him to be ready) set list and the first three songs went fine when the lead guitarists pedal board critically malfunctioned. After that he was using the stock effects on his amplifier which sounded really quite bad .

I totally understand what went wrong, the wedding was very poorly organised (The bridge and groom forgot to even organise the caterer to dish up the food. No, really.) but I'm wondering what I should do? The lead guitarist left the band immediately and we have gigs fast approaching. All of our other gigs have been absolutely great but this one was honestly the worst gig I've had the displeasure to be on stage for.  Fortunately because it was a bank holiday Monday and people had work on Tuesday most people left early so we didn't have to play our full set.

We got great feedback from EVERYONE, but that's hardly a big boast considering basically everyone was completely drunk.

I think what made things especially bad was that on average only 4 people were on the dance floor because the halls air conditioning was not purchased by the bride groom and it was ridiculously hot and everybody went outside to play with smoke bombs for photots and long exposure shots with sparklers. It was so demoralising and I genuinely hated every minute of it.

Anyone else have experiences like this? How did the band recover?

 

Thanks guys!

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Sounds like a nasty one! ;) Sorry to hear! I have vivid memories of doing weddings in my early years of gigging. 

No chicken-wire though? 

 

Maybe it wouldn't hurt to learn the "Theme From Rawhide"...just in case :rolleyes:

 

Being serious for a moment, what made the guitarist quit...quality of the gig, or his equipment failure? 

 

Tom

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He said he couldn't play with a drummer who was temperamental... The drummer said that was case because of stage issues and his stage monitor being covered resulting in lack of volume... There were other issues too like the keys player knocking out her jack mid song and later accidently triggering a techno beat in stars by simple red... The lead vocalist busted a guitar string and subsequently skipped a song in the set list... a detail the drummer was not prepared for as he tried to initiate the wrong song...

 

In all honesty I think he was just so embarrassed by the entire performance overall and then bickering ensued among the vocalist and the lead guitarist which wasn't pretty... It also turned the lead guitarist had snuck quarter of a bottle of whiskey in just under an hour... There were a lot of factors, but by and large it was a terrible gig both by third party organisation and very unprofessional reactions from the band... It was demoralising sure, but myself and our female vocalist/guitarist played flawlessly all night (also being the most experienced)... Sometimes gigs suck but it doesn't mean that you need to suck with it.

 

What worries me now is that the rest of the band are in a real slum... I've never encountered this before, all of my other bands have been nothing short of excellent (I realise I'm fortunate in that respect) 

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WOW...sounds like a real cluster-f**k :w00t: I don't imagine the bottle of whiskey helped either.

Don't know Alex, wish I had some brilliant advice for you, but I don't.

With as unhappy as the others seem, perhaps the guitarist leaving can help defuse the situation? Guess that depends on how resilient the other members are.

 

In any case, sorry to hear & good luck moving things forward.

Is canceling a gig or two an option?

If so, perhaps the luxury of time would help ease the angst...at least for now?

 

Tom 

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Your vocalist plays guitar. It looks as though you do also. Do you really need another (lead) guitar? Could one of you two take that role on?

 

Whereabouts in England are you?

(If you’re within shouting distance of Portsmouth I’ll fill in myself!)

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Ok woah there, hold yer horses! 

 

A bad gig is a bad gig. It is part of being a performer. You will have good gigs, and you will have bad ones, even atrocious ones. But the last thing you should do is dwell about it, wallow in your perceived failure, and the very last thing you want to do is give up. You simply accept that you had a bad gig, and you move on. Onto the next one.

 

Remember, performing is about having fun, right? I know it's early days yet, but try to see the light side of it. You had a hardware malfunction, nothing you can do about that. The gig sounded crap in your ears, as a result. Everyone was drunk and thought it was great anyway. There were 4 people on the dance floor. Hey, at least there were 4 people on the dance floor. 

 

It happens! 

 

Now your lead guitarist has left, because he can't deal with the shame and embarrassment? Let me ask you, what shame and embarrassment? Hey it's not the end of the world. You either convince him to stop throwing hissy fit and come back. Remind him of the good gigs you've done together, and that shit happens that you have no control over. In other words, everyone in your band should man up! One bad gig and you're in the doldrums, confidence knocked for six, and everything's shit? Come on! 

 

What your band needs is to get their confidence back. And guess what, the only way to do that is to gig again, and then some more.

 

Hope you get it sorted out in the end!

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Angst is only angst if you let it be angst. I sense the pressure in the post. As they say, "Water under the bridge". We can't control others or  even half of what happens to us.

We can control how we deal with it.

 

No matter where you go personality conflict is  inevitable. I would ask myself objectively, Do I want to be with these people? Are they good for me and am I good for them? Bad days will happen. It could have been much much worse. I don't think there is a halfway here. It must be either we continue in force or we don't. If there are reservations, it's a big world and there are plenty of other options.

 

You seem very perceptive of the situation and the people, but the view seems doomed. I think you have all you need to decide.  I've had bad days. Haven't we all?

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A few days have passed, several others have left comments & it occurs to me that I do have a bit of advice to pass on.

 

Between the ages of 14 and 23 I played in bands continually. Some were very good...some not so much. ;) 

Thing is, the ones worth saving all shared a similarity.

Every member was interested in getting better...as individuals & as a group!

 

Here's what I would suggest....

  • Call a band meeting, not a practice...an actually sit-down meeting.
  • Make a list of every one of those things that went wrong at your gig. Everything you named earlier & anything additional you can think of.
  • Discuss every one of those issues individually at your meeting...focusing less on individual blame & more on corrective action. I have news for you...every one of those problems you named earlier has a simple solution. The answers may involve small equipment changes of upgrades, changes to your physical stage setup, better personal preparation (practice), better...heavier or newer guitar strings, spare guitar kept within easy reach, an easier to read set-list or a different individual in charge of monitoring it, no excessive drinking before or during the gig, etc. Anyway, you get the idea. Problems don't solve themselves & they don't disappear because everyone feels better about themselves. Serious musicians don't hide from their mistakes. They recognize them & take corrective action...the end goal being "not to screw up the same things twice". People have to want to improve. If the desire is not there, the result won't be either.
  • A meeting of this type should give you a clear idea of where things stand. You'll know enough to make an informed decision how to proceed. Is the group worth saving, or not? If you decide it's NOT, then I'd probably get together with the experienced female & decide on a long term plan. If you're both interested in leaving, you may want to play the remaining gigs while you're scouting around for a new group, or new individual players.

 

That's what I'd do!

If it turns out you're dealing with a bunch of folks who are unwilling or unable to accept personal blame & address shortcomings, that's a recipe for disaster.

 

Good luck and I hope this helps some.

 

Tom

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Figured I'd better tack one last comment on here.

At first glance, my recommendations appear to contradict the advice of previous well-meaning posters.

Fact is, I agree with most of what they advised. Where we differ has more to do with what they skipped.

  • Yes, playing in a band should be fun.
  • Yes, there's little to be gained by dwelling on things beyond our control. Fact is, shit happens & we should make an effort to get over things which can't be helped.
  • Yes, confidence on stage is important.
  • Yes, successful groups need to know when it's time to move on...letting go of past issues.
  • Yes, this will not be the last bad gig you'll ever have.

But none of approaches takes the place of facing up to & finding solutions for the things which caused you to have that bad gig.

That's the part I feel they skipped over.

In my humble opinion, it's premature to do any of things until you discuss & formulate corrective measures.

That way, you reduce the odds of having another gig like this one & you make the effort to correct the variables which are NOT beyond your control.

Doing what I suggested should make playing more fun...should help everyone's confidence on stage...should make it easier to let go of past issues & WILL result in a better band.

 

Ok, I'm done now.:rolleyes: Peace out ! LOL

 

Tom

 

 

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First and foremost a big thank you is in order to everyone who offered advice. I made note of all the suggestions and we had a band meeting and discussed. Even the suggestions that didn't go anywhere still had immense value because it just helped us to talk about things. Things like band direction, equipment needs, set list type.

 

I have always been a session musician and song writer and usually performed either acoustic or in a duo with bass and drums. I have played in sessions with lots of different bands over the years but this is the first ever band that I've been a regular member of. We've been gigging for about two years now on and off and like myself, the others in the band come from a similar background. This means that all of us have completely separate sound systems. Even though vocals go through the PA, the instruments do not. We haven't struggled in the past with this set up but this gig prompted me to dig out my Roland 24channel line mixer. It has two mic pre-amps for a 50dB signal boost to line level and all of the other channels have a 20dB signal boost to line level. We do have a fair amount of equipment including feedback destroyers and FX modules which also act as mic preamps for the quieter channels.

 

With everybody through the PA it will mean that everybody will be able to hear everybody else (and not rely solely on memory or score) which will be a leap forward in respects the stage monitoring. What I do lack is a passive sub for the PA. We have two huge Peavey monitors and two smaller but better Fane speakers which we use for the Audience Voice/Stage front. Even the drums will go through the PA. The thing that always restricted us regarding PA systems was the sheer amount of set-up involved for me. I always set up the audio equipment because as the bass player I have minimal presets to adjust in comparison to the others. Every Six out of seven members sing at one point or another, in some beatles tracks we do there are four part harmonies. It was for this reason we didnt try the Roland mixer before because it only has two mic preamps for the SM-58's. This will mean yet another piece of equipment in the rack to set up and lug around but I think it will be worth it.

 

I don't know if anyone has experience with IEM (In Ear Monitoring) but it has been repeatedly suggested by members that we invest. I've always found stage monitoring to be more atmospheric as a performer, would appreciate thoughts on that...

 

For the time being we are letting go of some of our more "dangerous tracks", like Footloose which has a plethora of breaks and lots of backing vocal. So we have simplified slightly to focus on getting tighter as a unit. We used to rehearse fortnightly, now we are going to rehearse weekly... Especially for some of our larger 40/50 song gigs.

 

After some discussion it did turn out that everybody really felt the same and nobody wanted to leave the band but in course of trying to find one specific person to blame for an evening of epic blundering by various people the consensus was just to focus on the next gig and take it from there. I suppose in many ways we were all so used to not staying in a band and going off to the next session that we held back from creating a proper unit as if every gig was the last. We have all been friends for a very long time and I think in a lot of ways we are like a little family. That presents it's own set of issues but by and large it's a great thing!

 

Next gig we are playing is at the Gas Club in Swindon UK for an IT companies office party, type thing. Nobody knew where to begin or what to say and after a super tense few days if it wasn't for the suggestions I'd noted from here I'm not sure anyone would have said anything useful. So big big thanks.

 

Things are looking okay for now, would appreciate much detailed advice if anyone has any on live setups for a 7 piece with: Drums, Keys/synth, bass, two rhythm guitar, one lead guitar, three backing vocalists, two lead vocalists.

 

Thanks guys, appreciate the support

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Looks like you have better gear than my band. We are also 7 piece with everyone except drums & bass going through PA.

 

Singer has one powered foldback mon

BG vocal (no monitor)

 

Baritone & Alto saxes 2 mics - through PA  but share one mon

Keys & Guitar use personal amps as mons.

 

We soundcheck twice. Once for sax blend. Again for whole band.

We have no 'overall' monitor. Though occasionally we hire a sound engineer who runs everything through his own PA/mixer/desk.

I didnt even know about IEM. Doesnt sound like something I'd personally want to be using.

 

 

Glad you are all back together & moving forwards

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Quote

I don't know if anyone has experience with IEM (In Ear Monitoring) but it has been repeatedly suggested by members that we invest.

 

Several ex-band mates of mine swear by these.

  • When we were prepping for our 2011 reunion gig, Chuck used his in practice sessions. 
  • The 2nd member Frank was the head sound engineer at the Fox Theatre 20+ years & had extensive experience with them...didn't own one, but wished that he did. ;)

From the little I know, they are pricey. Chuck told me his ran around $900 U.S. , but he always had a tendency to buy around the top-end. Chances are you could get something for considerably less.

One thing I will caution you about, if you guys do invest in IEM, make sure whatever you get will function with the other components of your system. We actually ran into that issue. Although Chucks worked well with the components in our practice set-up, it was not compatible with the system provided for the actual gig. He had to live with the on-stage system.

 

Great to hear that things are headed in the right direction again!

 

Tom

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