Tips for someone who hasn't gigged in 7 years

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by GuitarIV, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. GuitarIV

    GuitarIV Well-Known Member

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    So this year I replaced the old guitar player in a Hard Rock cover band. I missed playing with other people so when the guitarist called me (he had my number from another band I used to be in) I said yes and I've been rehearsing with them every week to every 2 weeks.

    I got 15 songs down so far, it's mostly stuff from Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, a lot of the songs I never heard before so it was a bit of a challenge. We're getting to the point where we can play a one and a half hour set and the guys booked some gigs. First one on the 27th of Juli and second one on the 10th of August.

    Now last time I stood on a stage was about 7 years ago. I don't even remember all that much anymore apart from stage fright being a bitch.

    What are your guys recommendations? Things I should do to ace it? Now I know the obvious stuff, like drinking one beer or having one shot before I go on stage to take the edge off a bit, making sure I bring a backup guitar, spare cables, batteries, picks, strings etc. and obviously rehearse my ass off, I just thought some of you that gig on a regular basis might have some stories to share and some helpful tips for me :)

    Cheers!
     
  2. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

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    First off, congrats on the gig ! Cool stuff to cover, always loved doing these.

    Few tips for you.
    First is, be prepared. That is, know the songs perfectly, so you can actually perform them. I can sight-read my way into lots of stuff (at some point I did a few gigs where I had to play jazzy stuff ala George Benson on sight), but make a point of playing everything from memory, so I'm not stuck on a chart, and can actually connect with other musicians and the audience. And once you have actually nailed them, practice them standing up (and at some point, moving around, singing, etc). It's very different from playing songs while sitting, so you need to practice them that way as well. Also practice your switching pedals/pickup selector/guitar pots, so you can do them effortlessly and they're part of your "routine". Better than fumbling with those on the gig. Again, it'll allow you to engage with others and not be sweating bullets.
    Second, when learning the songs, decide if you'll play everything note for note or keep some spots where you can actually improvise. Some lead parts you're expected to play as is, since they're an important part of the song, but with some you can have some wiggle room to spread your wings a bit.
    Third, as you mentioned, have some spare cables, strings (even though you should start the first gig with a set of fresh, properly stretched strings), PICKS (I go through them like water, and there's nothing worse than having to do the last hour of a show with a serrated, very worn pick), batteries, etc.
    Fourth, a beer is fine to take off the edge of stage fright a bit, but know yourself and don't overdo it, even though it might be tempting to ! Especially for a first show with a new band, it's important to be in complete control, and stress mixed with alcohol can wreck that in no time.

    But most importantly: enjoy yourself, engage with the rest of the band and (more importantly) the audience, people are super sensitive to seeing musicians have fun being on stage and projecting energy (especially for that type of music). One trick I always use is find a few focal points in the audience (for some reason, these usually are some pretty girls, or some dudes who seem to be enjoying themselves) and watch them, smile, focus, engage them. People are much more invested in your show if you actually engage them that if you spend the show frowning and watching your shoes. You might hit a few bad notes here and there, but apart from the cross-armed guitarist at the back of the room, no one will (hopefully) notice them, and it'll give you some things to work on for the next gig ;) But they'll definitely notice your actually going outwards.

    Again, have fun, rock out ! Nothing quite like being onstage playing rock !
     
  3. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member

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    Well, Im not expert on gigging. But when I do, I do some deep breathing along with some hand, arm and back stretching to loosen up and a few neck rolls (all where no one can see me). Then when I get up there I look around at the crowd for a second or two to take it all in and welcome them mentally while slowly breathing. Thats it, it helps to ground me and get me relaxed!!!
     
  4. neikeel

    neikeel Well-Known Member

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    What he said. Smile (even through the inevitable mistakes - laugh at yourself if necessary) look up and enjoy yourself, engage with your band-mates and audience I can say that but I still struggle on a few songs that I've only just (almost) learned.
    Oh and I like to loosen up by playing the guitar in the green room for 45 mins if I can.
     
  5. John BNY

    John BNY Well-Known Member

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    Here are some things I think about when I'm getting ready for a gig in no particular order:

    1. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to remember every note you are supposed to play. If you are a singer, don't obsess about the lyrics. Music is driven by feel, and if you are in the moment, everything will come to you.
    2. Play to put on a show, and do not play to not make a mistake. Audience can feel the tension or the energy on stage.
    3. Don't stare down at your guitar for fear of not making a mistake. Look at your band mates and the audience and don't be afraid to have some fun.
    4. Having a beer or a drink before the fist set is fine, but don't start pounding the alcohol before the second set, just because you had a successful first set.
    5. Don't take too long of a break between sets, as the crowd will start to leave.
    6. Pick good but easy songs to play in the beginning of the first set to help warm you up.
    7. Do not rehearse the week of the gig.
    8. Don't panic if the last rehearsal before the gig goes terribly. That's when you will have a great gig.
     
  6. MoreAmpsPlease

    MoreAmpsPlease Active Member

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    Lucky you! I haven't been onstage in 30 years. But the last time I went on I found that just warming up right before going onstage really got me out of the "thinking about being onstage" mindset and into more of the relaxing fun, "just playing my guitar" mindset. May sound like nothing, but just forcing myself to be in the "I'm gonna enjoy this" mood really helped make it happen.

    So, you're gonna do great!
     
  7. WellBurnTheSky

    WellBurnTheSky Well-Known Member

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    5. is the reason why we gave up taking breaks altogether, and do a full 3hr show. Much better than kinda losing the audience's attention, and having to win it back.
    2 and 3 go together, but yeah, engaging the audience and projecting energy, fun and being relaxed is what matters the most. Musicianship is important (especially the band being tight), but little people (and pretty much none of the non-musician type) are interested in watching you focused on your neck and trying to out-shred everyone. Unless you're good enough that you can do both at the same time (but then you're YJM ;)).
    Especially when playing covers, if you can get them to dance, sing along and have a good time, it's mission accomplished. And the club owner will hire you again (and possibly pay you more).

    Ah, something I forgot: beer is fine, but drink lots of water. Running around on stage, under stage lights, you dehydrate fast. I tend to get cramps in the left forearm and hand if I don't drink enough water (helps with singing too, and I do lots of background vocals). Fresh water, not ice-cold, as it can give you bellyache, which isn't a great way to spend 2-3hrs (been there, done that). In my band's rider, we request at least 1 big bottle of water per band member (preferably 3-4 small water bottles with that "sports" cap that you can open with one hand). And if like me you're a cigarette smoker, avoid chain-smoking right before the show (even though the wait can be long and tedious), as it doesn't help with getting dehydrated. Eat enough to get some energy, but nothing too fat or heavy, so you don't feel sleepy when stepping onstage. And again, water. Lots of it. Took me a couple painful gigs to learn that...
     
  8. JeffMcLeod

    JeffMcLeod Well-Known Member

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    Why? What's the rationale behind that?
     
  9. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    Bring a bucket on stage with you to puke in and an extra pair of undies to change into after you've shaite your pants.
    The above are not necessary if you're in a punk band.
    If you can remember these tips before you go on and laugh you'll be just fine.
    BP
     
  10. mcblink

    mcblink Well-Known Member

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    Monitoring thread...

    Interesting hearing everyone's pre show rituals and superstitions

    Oh. And the tips/tricks, too.
     
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  11. BftGibson

    BftGibson Well-Known Member

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    practice at kick levels-set up live same way..let PA carry the sound..never have to alter much, In sound check..(born with bad ears have no depth perception) i mark the stage with tape X where i need to be for the super tight stuff..also..i go out in audience with my sound guy to the board while sound check is going on & set rhythm & then boost for solo..get my chords on 5 on guitar vol 7 at break & dime for leads. We get out again soon hopefully, am going VM 2266 prob & just having clean-crunch-lead basics..been practicing this way & having way more fun focusing on playing vs trying to always adjust things,,i do change guitars tho to put things in the range i need for dif type slamming the amp or going baked down clean..got picky over the years..but its very consistent live cause we transfer settings over from kick set levels in practice. I never touch my amp once it is set in sound check..my guy at board can move a hair if needed.
     
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  12. JeffMcLeod

    JeffMcLeod Well-Known Member

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    What is kick level?
     
  13. BftGibson

    BftGibson Well-Known Member

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    setting to kick drum & finding the noise level--that will be the constant in a way..we get the bass & crunch all hitting where they need to be--get vocals on top & making sure they are always top priority & then i set boost to get just over things. Bass player is also set up for a boost & slight OD when needed.
     
  14. BftGibson

    BftGibson Well-Known Member

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    We got pretty good at doing 4 band original shows. I have a 24 chan carvin board. Sometimes we all share the same cab if it works out that way. Its head up & on between bands. And getting to the same levels as sound check. We always encourage getting there early & we absolutely give a band a few minutes to set it , what screws things up is bands with pods changing settings if they are not set right with equal settings & someone changing amp settings mid set,,sound guy has to ride the guitar & vocals anyways but when you change settings,,,bass..treble..everything goes..no one ever wants to bring their bass rig.,,i provide SVT & fridge lol,,so we trying to get everybody comfortable pre show..also when first up we love if a band has a short musical intro piece..buys us a bit of time to final tweak & then we are on the Vocal slider ready for the first singing . Also, we provide overkill side-floor & drum monitors, i believe in giving a band the best chance they can to shine !!
     
  15. fifteenohms

    fifteenohms Well-Known Member

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    Don’t spend 10 minutes lighting fake Satanic candles before the set.

    I just finished watching the 4-days highlights from SwedenRock festival that ended a week ago: whoever that singer was the crowd wanted to murder the guy wasting everyone’s time.

    It’s on YT
     
  16. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    For sure ! You're in deep do-do if you're using fake Satanic candles. Rather insulting really.
    BP
     
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  17. charveldan

    charveldan Well-Known Member

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    Hookers & Blow ...


    Srsly if you know how to play just go out & play.
    Who cares what people think.
    After a few drinks & a fatty nobody will remember you anyway.
     
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  18. John BNY

    John BNY Well-Known Member

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    I've found that rehearsing right before a gig gets band members overly anxious, and start looking for things that aren't perfect. Leaving a little distance between rehearsal and gig allows people to relax and not get themselves psyched out. Of course, everyone should practice on their own so as to not screw up their parts. I've not listened to my own advice on a few occasions, and without exception, we performed horribly at the gig.

    I would like to add a few more to my list:

    9. Don't freak out over a single missed note or chord. So long as drums and bass are locked in, guitar mistakes won't be noticed. People aren't going to notice a split second error over a 4 minute song. However, if the drums and bass lose each other, it could be an ugly night.
    10. If you forget a solo or chord progression, it's better to stop playing than continuing to play the wrong thing.
    11. Try to memorize your parts. In my personal opinion, it's just not a good look for band members to have iPads or a music stands on stage. We have a rule in my band -- if you can't remember your parts or lyrics, we are not playing the song.
     
  19. purpleplexi

    purpleplexi Well-Known Member

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    Played my first gig at 14 and loads of people said 'ooooh I bet you're nervous'. I wasn't and never have been since. Played in tiny bars, opened for Bad Company, topped the bill at a couple of festivals, never any different - no nerves. Helps if you have an ego the size of Mars.

    Ok it was one of the many 'lesser' versions of Bad Company but even if it had been Paul Rogers it wouldn't have been any different. So I guess I have no tips really. Except that if someone turns up to watch you they will want to like you which is probably half the battle. There are assholes who turn up to gigs to criticise. They usually can't actually play or they would be out on a gig themselves so forget them. Don't forget to have fun
     
  20. JeffMcLeod

    JeffMcLeod Well-Known Member

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    lol I agree with the music stands. I mean come on, assuming you've played the song countless times already, you should know it. And if there's a song that's still relatively new to the group such that you need the lyrics/chart/etc. in front of you, you shouldn't be playing it on stage yet anyway.
     

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