someone says they've never had a bad gig, they're
(b) a mutant,
(c) a novice, or
(d) a psycho.
are a million variations of the Bad Gig, but they
come in four flavours. If your Bad Gig manages to use
all four without causing fatalities, then you, sir,
are the King of Rock 'n Roll.
Tech Hell (TH).
Rigs explode, pedals fry, strings snap, snares split
and the mic shoots sparks at your head. You might
still have scars, and you were lucky to get out
TH is rarely isolated. It usually kicks in after
other mechanical failures (van trouble?) and
personal problems (job, love life). TH
usually gets drummers the most, since they share
kits, and they always wind up using gear provided by
a touchy 7' tall ambidextrous dyslexic. TH is also
the most contagious band illness, especially in
TH tells you how your prospect handles adversity, as
well as how much abuse they can take. Also, TH is all
about preparation. If TH takes out the main and
back-up gear, so be it. If TH takes out the main gear
and there is no back-up, and the player now has a
plan, they've learned a valuable lesson. But if TH
was someone else's fault, just bad luck, or they quit
on the gig, be scared. It will happen again to you.
Room Hell (RH).
Monitors? What monitors? PA's fed back, the soundman
was high, the stage was tiny and, of course, you were
ripped off. At some point before, during, or after
the gig, fire happens. (FIRE BAD!)
RH is insidious, and it just doesn't stop. Your first
clue is the staff (Missing teeth? Hair? Limbs?),
followed quickly by the condition of the house gear.
Once the set is over, it continues with the
inevitable "your fans didn't say what band they
came to see" ploy. It ends, if you are lucky,
with tense arguing and bad service at the bar. Come
to think of it, you really should just go home.
RH happens to new bands, and it's inevitable. It's
easy to say you shouldn't have booked it, but what
other gigs were available? What RH tells you is that
your prospect is hungry, and that they might not be
easy to work with. After all, you've only heard their
side of the story, and it takes two to tango. A sad
but true fact: in any fight with the venue, the band
loses. Eventually, your musician's radar gets good
enough to avoid RH, but not until you've played it a
Wrong Room (WR).
Your folk-rock band is opening for death metal. No
one told you about the chicken wire. The venue has
changed ownership, and no one knows you. It's now a
"Battle of the Bands," and the other bands
are packing heat. You have enough gear and
amplification to cause structural damage, and the
police station is *right* next door.
WR is bad/inexperienced/overworked management, so it
nails bands that book their own gigs. There is no
escape, and it feels like death. The only bright spot
is you do not die, so you become stronger. I'll never
forget the gig where my rock band made a sea of
hippies scatter like they were being attacked by
wolves. Everyone doesn't get to do that in this
world, you know.
If your prospect admits responsibility for WR, they
usually won't do it again. But if the fallout is
simply that so-and-so was an idiot, or worse yet,
that the people in the venue were all idiots.
Band Disintegration/Incarceration (BD/I).
A bandmate quits during the set, doesn't show up at
all, or calls in some obviously faked excuse. Someone
in the band gets arrested before, during, or after
the gig, maybe from brawling with the crowd. This
one's always ugly.
What we have in BD/I, beyond insanity, is a
communications breakdown. People leave bands, but no
one should let it go all the way to career suicide.
As for what it says about your prospect, it's not
good. If someone else should not have trusted them,
why should you? And if it happened to them, they've
been involved in soap opera bands before, and might
have contributed to the melodrama. Watch your back.