The Gigs! The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This one thing that stood out to me there @Gio. I have turned up at a few “open jams” and found similar things happening. Why are they “unspoken”? Why don’t we speak out about that?
Etiquette. Politeness. Waiting in the round for however many bars as opposed to

Which brought a big grin of recognition. Been there, done that! And I don’t really slap so doubly embarrassing! As another link to @Vik, I 'd like to add that in my experience most “bands” start as a jam or a cover band. The Jam bands tend to get to sounds, textures and writing original tunes first. The covers band usually tend to go through more players and more arguments about a “perfect setlist.” It’s probably easier to get gigs in the covers band. The jam bands tend to aquire stronger personalities who have more faith in their individuality. To me a mix of the two is best. A bunch of cohorts all on the same wavelength as far as which covers to play usually means a jam in a similar style and usually a quicker result in “end product”. I hope I haven’t made this more confusing!


Good question.
It’s not “unspoken” as much as it is assumed.
It’s like… if you wander on to a baseball field with a baseball glove on, or a bat in your hand, everyone on the field expects that you know what you’re in for.
It’s a specialized situation, and so they are assuming you have the specialized knowledge when you step onto the stage. It’s reasonable, really.
That’s why the classes or after-hours rock camps are so nice. They give you a tutorial for how to handle the on-stage situation.


Had a rough moment in a Church gig Sunday.
I was called last minute to sub.
I had to play two churches in different places. Had to leave the first one early to get to the second one.
No time to rehearse at service 2, and when I get there the director makes changes on all my charts.
The first song is this lovely soulful tune with a killer 1/2 time funky, groove behind it, and the musicians I’m playing with are stone-cold-killers.
I completely biffed one of the changes the director called (didn’t go to the CODA after 1x) and it took 4-6 bars for my sleepy brain (had to get up at 5:30AM for the gigs) to catch it.
One of those moments where my face goes red, and I just kinda get bummed out.

BUT! There’s a happy ending.
Because that shit happens all the time. To everyone. And I played the rest of the service fine, shook hands, exchanged numbers, and came away positive about the whole thing.

It’s one of the hardest things for my brain to do. To make mistakes and - not just recover in the music - but pull my brain out of the “you just F’d up” mode it goes to. So. A good gig, a personal victory… and one song where the singer had to sing a bit over some real sour bass notes.


Thanks for sharing, @Gio! It is certainly “comforting” for us “beginners” to hear that even professionals make mistakes… but have a great attitude towards it as well!

So, apart from the musicians, how many of the church-goers do you reckon noticed that something wasn’t quite right? I am not trying to already prepare my excuses for next time I make a mistake (or two) in a gig, but how many of those attending a gig would actually pick up on these mistakes, in your experience?


Yes, thanks for the story! Man that just sounds stressful thinking about it, 2 gigs back to back, changes when you run across town to the second one, etc.

Cool to hear that it happens and it all ends up working out. I’m learning the art of smoothing things over, and staying positive, but in my case, realistically, I still suck (compared to musicians with years of experience). I guess there’s no amount of online training, or home practice to really prep you for this kind of thing. So the bass community becomes a nice source of support. Keep you gig stories coming :slight_smile: And keep kicking ass!!


Gio’s post brings back old anxiety :slight_smile:

In grade school I had a music teacher who was, in retrospect, really really good, and the thing I remember most was her pre-performance mantra of “If you mess up, don’t worry, keep playing! Don’t stop!”

Advice I used many times as I was pretty bad with my instrument then, and later when in a college band was never more than a barely competent keyboard player. In fact my bass playing now probably exceeds my keyboard playing then, which is terrifying in hindsight.


Oh man, @joergkutter - such a good question. It got a lil’ gnarly in there. In most contemporary church music, there’s only 4 chords, and it’s all in a key and you’re very safe. This was more jazz/gospel oriented, so I was able to hit some real crunchy notes. Having said that… Only the musicians in the audience would have been able to tell it was a mistake. The congregation probably had a collective shudder and moment of unease… then everything was fine. Really, the singer was so damn good, they probably didn’t even notice…

Ha! No, no there isn’t. The only training is over-stretching yourself, failing, recovering, and doing that over and over again. It’s painful, but it is the absolute best, strongest, harshest, real-est way to move forward!!

I will, and thanks tons, bud!

Ha! Exactly. And, really, recovering from mistakes is (maybe?) the most important skill to master. To calm the anxiety, to quiet the mind, to not respond to the shame/fear response, to keep playing and keep the ears open, keep the focus, and get back on track – those are life lessons and music lessons.
Just do the next right thing.
As my grandfather said, Never think about yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow.
Just keep playing.


… should have put quotation marks in there.
“Never think about yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow.” - Pops.
“Just keep playing” - Good Music Teachers.


Haha, I like that! A wave of “unholy harmony” emanating from the band… and then the “collective shudder” - somehow in my mind’s eye, I imagine the camera zooming in on the band to reveal… little Damien on the bass :scream:


Hello everyone!

I’m reviving this one as a nod to the cool stories you already shared here.

Yesterday, I played my first outdoor gig - and my first gig in years at all. We had two voices, one acoustic rhythm guitar (amped), an electric lead guitar, a keyboarder (who mostly doubled as drums) and moi, on the bass.

First of all, I have moaned elsewhere that these guys don’t even use a capo when they should and that… the beat is … well … where is it? So, I was anxious that the audience might be disappointed. However! This is a fun band, playing for fun. I am not perfect either (who ever is?). Now, the keyboarder used to play semi-professionally. He is rock solid.

Going into the gig, we rehearsed four times, at the insistence of the female singer. I received a bunch of lead sheets with lyrics and chords, along with some cryptic midi files. My learning experience in the past two months was to become able to listen to an original, look at the chords and make something up! This makes me so proud!

At the gig, we wanted to have a bbq and finish the beer in the fridge. I thought “I’ll bring my practise amp, nobody will even hear me make mistakes.” We set up outside behind the local college (we all work there) and did a small sound check. I turned up to 8/10 (after that the amp clips badly) and that was okay.

I don’t know why. Really, I don’t know. But before the lead guitar guy started to play, I thought I’d alleviate the tension by whipping out my Kazoo and play Indiana Jones. I did. Everybody froze and then laughed and smiled. After that I listened to Guitar Guy play The Bard Song.

Here’s our setlist:

The Bard's Song Impressionen (instrumental, W.)
Cum On Feel The Noize
The Foggy Dew
The House Of The Rising Sun
Dragonflight - Original
Whenever I Think Of You - Original
Whisky In The Jar Thin Lizzy/Dubliner's Medley (Zugabe 1)
Sailing - Rod Stewart (Zugabe 2)

Then we played Come on Feel the Noize by Quiet Riot and I couldn’t hear myself at all. Quite surreal to see my fingers move and that’s it. Felt a bit out of rhythm for the first few bars, then we clicked. Honourable mention to “Foggy Dew” I had not played that before the gig. I was rocking a note stand and my tablet PC and played mostly by sight-reading the lyrics and chords.

After the gig, we got some feedback from some audience members (some even constructive criticism). What blew my mind was that the audience was able to hear the bass fine, they were about 5-7 m (12 - 20 feet) away from us. :laughing:

It was a blast and I am hooked - let’s play the next gig! :clap:

Thanks for reading, see you soon at the live hang!


I love this.
Thanks for the excellent gig report.
Indiana Jones on kazoo followed by Bard’s Song followed by Slade (Quiet Riot)…
You’ve blown my mind.

Isn’t it crazy the difference between what you’re thinking and feeling on stage and what people are hearing/thinking/feeling out in the audience? Always a crazy thing to me.

Sounds like a great crew to make music with, and I’m looking forward to next gig report.


Dude! That’s awesome!


I felt pretty shy on stage - the next step is learning more stuff by heart, dancing around to the rhythm and interacting with the audience. :slight_smile:

I asked for pictures, maybe I’ll get some sent to me. :crossed_fingers: