Guide to getting and playing better gigs


   

Performance Tips 2

     
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Don't gripe on stage
You're in the middle of the gig from hell. The guitarist is playing with five strings. The drummer just launched another stick at your head -DUCK!-. And you can't hear anything but boomy mud. But the audience will probably never know unless you say something to make it obvious. I ran a survey for a series of performances once. On the way out, I'd ask a bunch of performers not in my act how my show went. The band agreed on the quality of each performance, the reviewers generally agreed on the quality of each performance. But there was little agreement between the band and the reviewers. One show that I thought was absolutely smokin' was the poorest received by the audience. The only real difference between semi-pro and professional is that you can't tell when a pro screws up. Keep that stage face on.


Don't turn to stare at the drummer when he screws up, chances are only 2% of the audience noticed
People are sheep. Sheep don't know much about music, but they'll react as a group if you give them a reason. No one has heard the song as many times as you have, they're not going to catch even glaring mistakes if you don't give them a clue.


Know who the house manager is and follow his instructions
Sure it's "your band". Maybe you even brought in "your crowd". But if you can't keep the house manager happy, you don't get to come back. Sometimes this is the owner of a club. Sometimes it's the landlord. If you're lucky it might be the booking agent for the venue. Find out ahead of time who's got the voice of god. Frequently they'll be so happy you came to talk to them, you can get away with murder. If you can do the subservient act well, you may even get to do more than you want. Free beer, tips, a bonus are all at your fingertips IF you keep checking in with the Official Guy.

This is particularly important if you know the Official Guy is often a problem. By pretending to care what he says before and during the show, you may make him think, maybe for the first time in his life, that someone is on his side. Even if you're not going to do exactly what he wants, a little lip service goes a long ways.

Changing the EQ on the bass in almost like turning it down… pointing the guitar amp away from the audience is almost like turning it down… reaching for a knob and pretending to move it is… you get the idea…

One place I played had a problematic person-whose-orifice-must-be-kissed. By keeping in contact with this person throughout the gig, we kept him happy even though we hated his guts and couldn't agree with anything he said. It turned out he owned the club AND another place we wanted to get booked in.

If someone compliments you, say "Thanks". Don't say, "You should hear us when we're playing well" or "Are you kidding? We were crap!" Right or wrong, you've got to accept a compliment. It takes extra effort for someone to say something nice to the band, whether it's deserved or not. Be being polite and appreciative you'll fool them into thinking you're twice as good. Thanking someone isn't being immodest, you're simply acknowledging what they said. You don't need to agree with them to thank them. And if someone asks for an autograph, don't freak out. Just do it and be happy someone might think it's valuable. My natural reaction to being asked for an autograph is, "Get real!" This is absolutely the wrong answer. Luckily it's not an issue very often for me…

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