Being a fulltime musician offers all kind of wondrous things. The ability to work by simply telling people how you feel - if you ain’t feeling too great there’s songs for that and people pay to hear it. One gig can change anybody’s perspective on music and in a more dramatic situation, life itself. But let’s get back to reality, It’s a responsibility just like any other job and requires it’s employers to do things correctly and sometimes with a little dignity. Since a lot of independent musicians don’t have a manager over their shoulders aiding them with what not to do, etc. we have to rely on our own judgement. Sometimes annoying your fellow musicians or audience can have a serious impact which in turn, affects your future work. Here’s what I think you could avoid doing in order to, for lack of a better explanation, seal the deal and keep everyone alive.
1 Shut up!
The same rule applies to studio recording so listen carefully. Please please switch your amp off and stop playing while your fellow band members are given the ok from the sound engineer to try out their gear. You’ll get your turn, the list is endless of things you can do to improve your sound check and avoid annoying the shit out of your engineer, who at the flick of a wrist can make you sound like Nickleback. I know! Be patient and remember your sound guy deals with countless bands being loud and obnoxious - they’ll appreciate the professionalism a lot more than you think.
2 Keep it simple
Play to the song, overplaying never did any good for anybody. Remember, the song comes first. Keep it simple and shine when needed. You might think everyone is in awe of your abilities but I can guarantee that someone out there is thinking, “good band, but that drummer really tired me out”.
3 The cricket effect
Here’s a good one. How many of you out there face that awkward silence between songs at every gig hoping that your singer will pick up the courage, become Freddy Mercury, and have the audience eating out of his/her very hands. Well let’s not blame the vocalist just yet. Remember that the skill of fronting a band is a tough one.. Actually it’s scarily tough to do it right which takes years of experience. Why not make it easy on yourselves and rehearse what to do in between songs? If you have something to say, get it right before the show, if you don’t, no big deal, call for the band to find better ways of connecting each track. It makes you look more professional if everyone works together and in time the frontman confidence will get there.
4 Stay cancelled
True story: My brother got a call at the beginning of the month to book a gig as a replacement drummer - some pub thing, nothing big. Same day of the show he was informed by the band that they don’t need a replacement anymore as their original guy could suddenly make it. Not cool, not cool at all! Just as you would expect to stay booked with your own gig, please remember that the same rules apply to your replacement - they may not ever want to help you out again. Take the night off.
5 No one’s there?
Alright, we’ve all been there, playing a gig to the bartender and the drunk guy in the corner
who’s not moving. I think his name’s Malcolm. Advice? Have fun with it, but don’t fuck around!
Got a bartender? Then you’ve got an audience. Remember, he’s a person too and can just as
easily recommend your band to friends and colleagues just like everybody else. You also never know who can walk in at any given point. As a customer, would you want to barge into a bunch of musicians complaining to each other that no one came to their show? And yes,
there are microphones so we can hear you. Just play! The worst thing that could happen is you
get a round of shots from the waiter requesting a song or two. If the bartender’s gone, then
yeah ok you got problems...