Guide to getting and playing better gigs


Performance Tips 3

Gigging Tips
Band Promotion
Stage Act
Stage Presence
Work the Crowd
Set List
Book it
Survive on Tour
Talent Nights
Band in Trouble
The Frontman
Big Break
Band on a Budget
Band Business
Cancelling a Gig
Touring in Europe
Buzz Factor
Check your Gear
Bad Gigs
Benefit Gigs
Gig Fees
Gig Kit
Gigs that Pay
Gig Attendance
Know your Audience
Lies in Music
Mailing List
Outdoor Gigs
Performance Tips
Tour Preparation
Press Kit
Contracts and Riders
Rules of the Road
Band on the Rocks
Play Safe
Gig Sharing
Solo Gigs
Support Band

Look at the audience. You've had plenty of time staring at your instrument, don't do it now
After thousands of hours practicing your instrument, you may be in the habit of staring at it while playing. Bad idea. You can fool a lot of people into thinking you're good if you make eye contact while playing. Spread it around. Look at the other musicians once in a while, maybe you'll learn something. Maybe they will. Making eye contact doesn't mean staring at them, just look at someone consciously once in a while. If you're lucky enough to play in front of more people than you can actually see individually, use the actors' trick of looking out over the crowd.

By keeping your head up and looking out to the back of the house, you'll appear as is you're involving the whole crowd. This is more effective and important than you'd possibly believe. A lot of amateur and semi-pros never convince the audience there's anything go on simply because there's no involvement. People are sheep. If they can't tell visually you're having a discussion with the other musicians, they may not hear it, either. By looking into the audience, you may be able to fool them into thinking they're part of the act. And if they think they're involved in what's happening on stage, they'll have a harder time believing it's shit.

Settle your contract before you go onstage. Know how long and when you'll be playing, at least
After you've had enough problems with verbal contracts, you may start insisting on paper. Make sure you know the difference between arrival time and the start. You may hear "We want you there at 8pm." But it could mean they expect you to start playing at 8, or you can start setting up at 8. Big difference. Lots of people seem to think a band can walk in the door and start playing immediately. Make sure the person who's going to pay you agrees to your concept of set length and breaks. Three half-hour sets isn't enough for playing a bar, but might be ridiculously too much at a club as part of the show. If you've worked up "the perfect set" only to find the guy writing the cheque needs another fifteen minutes, you could be out of luck if the only thing left in your list is a polka version of "Rawhide".

Don't get welded before your show. You don't sound better, honest
The audience isn't drunk before you start playing, so you probably shouldn't be, either. If you're nervous at the start, you're normal. Cope with it. Getting pissed just before going on can throw off the whole night. If things don't start out smoothly it can escalate quickly while you fumble for solutions. Every player I've worked with who says, "I play better stoned/drunk/dosed," has been wrong. They may think they sound better, but it usually just leads to rambling pointless solos and playing too loud. If the gig's running well and the audience is getting toasted, you might have a bit of fun, but don't get a head start on the whole thing. Also, it's bad form in most shows to have the guitarist throw up. Some bands, that's a highlight, but don't count on it.

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