How do I make a gig work?


This months question is a common topic which concern sensitive new age
musicians everywhere.

...................... from Andy Zeiss, Richmond Vic................

Dear Poppa Chris

My band has organised a gig at the local pub, but the publican wants us to get
another band as support, it is a door-take gig, what should I be doing to make
this work?

Poppa C: 
Well, Andy, this scenario is common-place; publican wants two bands worth of
friends to drink his beer, he won't care what support you get as long as they pull
drinkers, for yourself, get a band that is similar to your style; as it is your gig, a
common thing to do is to have the support band do one set, then you do two,
one third money for them, two thirds money for you, your organising and you
will have to pay advertising etc,  so this is fair enough. 

If you do one set each, then simply split everything down the middle. I would
suggest an extra donation to the main organiser, namely you, $20-$30 for your
efforts is not unreasonable if  around 50 people turn up at $4-5 a head.

Things to watch out for: 

a) Door lists: 
At door-takes, EVERYBODY PAYS!!!! 
No exceptions, you are not a tight-arse doing this, you are simply trying to
survive. I once had a support band turn up and put 30 people on the door list! 
If you were to put a basic award rate of $10 per hour on your efforts at a gig, at
a rehearsal etc. you will quickly realise that a door-take musician's dream gig is
usually just to break even!  

b) Soundchecks can be deadly!
The usual deal for a two band night is that the main act sets up first,
soundchecks first, then lugs their equipment off stage; support band comes on,
soundchecks, then stays on for their set.

This is common-place and it sucks!

Think about it ......... You have to get to the gig earlier, you have to double-handle
your gear, then you have to reconfigure the mixing desk to what you had before
the support fucked around with it! IT SUCKS!!!!!! 

Best to hire a mixer who has experience with these situations, he can usually
reconfigure the mix quickly with his lightning fast coloured chalk! The only
problem is that this scenario means the mixer is usually the only guy who gets
paid! He will have a set fee and door-takes are always risky business.

c) Support acts goes over-time.
Of all the things that suck, this is it! 
You invite a guest band along and they fuck you over! 
This is what happens: Publican sets times to 11pm-1am for bands then no more
music because of  his liquor licence and council regulations ........ 11pm rolls
along, support band still setting up, 10 people in audience, support band takes its
time, waiting for more people; 11.30pm support band starts playing to 15-20
people, they play a full 45-50 minute set, they keep going when another 10
people turn up.

It is now nearly 12.30pm and you still have to get the support band off stage,
your gear on, reconfigure the mixing desk and then play! You want to play your
full set because your the main act, so you go overtime, the publican giving you
filthy looks because your running so late and playing to a crowd that are looking
at their watches because they have to get up for work in the morning. Too much
stress here to enjoy anything.

This scenario happened so often to me when I was younger that now I say to any
support, the main act HAS to be on at THIS time, so you HAVE to be OFF at this
time. If the support looks at me as if I am an axe-murderer, that is no longer my
problem, it is theirs. I was in a situation years ago where a support recommended
to us was so bad and so late, they cleared the room, the main act playing to only
a boyfriend and a wife!

These scenarios will always happen; history and experience shows that you
cannot avoid these things, only deal with them when they arise.

So Andy, baby, for your night to be a success, you have to play tough both on
AND off the stage, take care and hope you get 3 encores to 200 people!