OnlineRock: Empowering Musicians  

Getting the Goods on Gigging

When it comes to gigging, performers need to remember the Boy Scout motto,

Preparation is key. It will allow you to perform stress free, and it will make the club owners happy. And making club owners happy is important when you’re performing in bars and clubs. If you really take care of business and make the people who put you on the stage as happy as you make the audience, then you will surely be asked back. Not only will your music make an impression, but your professionalism (or lack of it) will make a considerable impression as well. So, " be prepared ", comport yourself professionally and play your asses off ! Here are some hints at how to pull it all off without a hitch:

Being "prepared " in this case doesn’t mean knowing how to tie a half-hitch. It means being ready to play in all phases. Make sure long before you ever get to the club that your equipment is functioning as it should. If you are using your own PA system, do a sound check the night before the gig. That way you will have time to buy and replace anything not working. If you have a backup amp, always bring it along. Don’t expect the club to provide equipment for you -- they won’t. Also, don’t expect to be able to go get something at a music store at the last minute. Most local music stores close in the early evening and the big chain stores might not be close by. Check to make sure you have extra strings, picks, drumsticks, etc., all before you get to the club. Basically, get your act together! The bottom line is, Murphy’s Law will prevail at some point and something will break down. So be prepared for it!

Now, if you are using the house PA at the club, be sure to make arrangements to get a sound check done. This is a good opportunity to meet with the soundman and let him know how you would like to sound. Then you can go about dialing it in. The soundman will make notes about how he will set the PA. Be sure you make notes, as well, about the settings you have on your axe and your amp when you "nail it" and you sound exactly how you want to. This is also your opportunity to find the spot on the stage where you can hear everything well. Try to set up on stage so that everyone is comfortable and can hear everything clearly. Make sure the monitor mix is what you need and that it’s loud and clear. This is especially important for groups that emphasize vocals.

When you have gotten all that taken care of, you only have the music left to worry about. If you have been rehearsing your set three times a week and tweaking your material to perfection for a few months, you are, most likely, ready to rip. This is the position you want to be in, with a set of polished material ready to take off the heads of an unsuspecting audience. The position you don’t want to be in (and take it from me, I’ve been there!) is just showing up and winging it with a bunch of songs nobody in the band is all that comfortable with. It can either be a miracle or a nightmare. The nightmare scenario rarely results in getting asked back or in attracting an audience (unless you are "The Replacements!")

So, is being a Boy Scout the answer to good gigging? Hell, no! If musicians were Boy Scouts, we’d all be sitting around campfires, eating marshmallows. But being prepared, having your act together and knowing your material inside-out will result in an experience that everyone will enjoy and want to repeat!

Stay Tuned,

The Virtual Musician

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