Monday, 28 February 2011

An essay for anyone in a band - Just read it

The following is an attempt at some sort of an account of a recent show I played. I will point out things that I consider 'wrong' and then offer my thoughts on what could be done as a correction if you will

I'm not going to mention any names unless this generates enough interest to warrant it (which is unlikely of course)

Please note...This is a LONG one, but I felt I had to explain some things:

I played a gig with my band at the weekend. The lead up to which was great, both ourselves and the promoter were looking forward to it. And for me even more so as it was the first time I'd played a gig since breaking my finger back in December

Leading up to the show, we were well aware that the show would be a late one - We were headlining, and our stage time was due for 11:40PM for a 40 minute set. Normally, in the UK at least, the general curfew is 11PM - Not many venues go later for various reasons, either licensing or otherwise  - We'd done a few late shows in the past, so it's always a grind, especially when you have to travel a distance to get to the show and, especially when you're headlining as it make it a longer wait until show time than usual

Don't get me wrong, it's great to watch other bands that you may or may not have heard of before, but you do get tired. That's hopefully easy to understand

So this particular show was a 5 band bill, a packed one so this means that everything needs to be run well in order for everything to run smoothly

We were informed the load in time would be "before 7:30PM", and for sound check to begin at 8:15 in preparation for the first band to go on at 8:45. Usually the case for sound checks for a gig with such a packed line up goes like this:

Headline band set up, get mic'ed up + sound check a song or two
Opening band get themselves set up, either sharing some gear from the headliner or setting up their whole set up in front of the headliner's gear (99% of the time you WILL be sharing the headliner's gear - This is to make it easier for EVERYONE involved, especially the sound man so he doesn't need to keep setting up mic's on every band's individual rigs/kits). Normally, setting up in front of the headliner is reserved for playing bigger venues with stages than can fit the gear on, and most of the time it is with a bigger touring band that do not wish for their gear to be moved around

First thing that made us go "Hmm"

We set our gear up in good time and in the end just sat around waiting for power on stage to be turned on. This is normally down to the sound man - His rig, his rules - So we get to almost 8:15...No sound man to be seen! We've seen this before, it's usually all fine. They know the desk in their venue like the back of their hand, so they rush to put mic's on everything and quickly get some levels before going through a quick sound check with the headliner before switching it over to the openers so do a brief line check before doors open - The drum levels will usually be fine from the headliner so it's mainly vocal and guitar volume for the other bands

Did you notice I just said headliner? Well, past the 8:15 time that was set for the sound check, the sound man turns up and tells us (nicely) to get off the stage so he can mic up the openers

To be fair on everyone involved - We were informed prior to the night that it would just be the openers having a soundcheck...but this is a seriously f'n weird way of doing things. The headliners bring their gear for everyone to share, it makes sense for them to be able to set up and sound check their own gear...right!?

It's a small issue that is easily looked past, so it didn't bother us - Worse things could happen of course


As the openers were setting up, I was asked if they could borrow my china cymbal...Drummers, tell me if I'm wrong, but you just DON'T lend out cymbals/snares/pedals do you? He was in a bind and was asking very nicely, and luckily I'm a nice guy so he did borrow it. But they knew well in advance what to bring, what to share...why is it so difficult? ha ha

So we watch the first two bands, have a good time in doing so, and come to the third band. Everything seems all good and proper (at least as good and proper as you can expect under the circumstance of where we were), gear is being changed over (hence the term "Changeover")...But it soon becomes apparent that this particular band is taking FOREVER.  Note - Generally speaking, changeovers are a maximum of 15 minutes, and CAN be as short as 5 minutes. Anything more is considered a luxury

25 minutes later, they're ready to go - Not an issue yet, maybe they're a new band and only have a handful of songs so wouldn't be able to fill a whole 30 minute set? I've seen that before a few times. Of course, one of the reasons they took so long was so that the singer could overcome the often strenuous, taxing task of TAKING HIS SHIRT OFF. I felt for him...I really did

We're putting up with what they called a set for the remaining 20 minutes of the allocated set time....barely. These guys are playing up to their girlfriends, thinking they're rockstars, posing and high kicking their way across stage - Very Spinal Tap like. It comes the time for them to leave the stage and....but...wait a minute, they're still playing!? Ah well, they've just not realised that they're running over, they've only got one song left in the set and then they'll be done...Nope...Still going for another song after that...and ANOTHER after that!?

We inform the promoter that we're due on stage in 15 minutes, and there's still one more band before us. Luckily the band before us are a good band that we were looking forward to seeing, but that doesn't change the time that it was. So the promoter walks over to the band on stage and says "Last song guys", walks way, job done right?

"This is our last song for you tonight!"

Guitarist looks at the singer, "Naaaaah". And they go on to play yet another 'song'

Note to bands - You have an allocated changeover and set time for a reason. If you go over on your changeover, it WILL be taken out of your set time so as not to disrupt the night for other bands involved

Note to promoters - You allocate changeover and set times for a reason. If a band goes longer on their set time by a couple of minutes, you SHOULD make it known that they have time for one more. Any longer and you SHOULD cut their sound off

FINALLY, they finish. And it's all hands on deck to get their gear off stage (as is customary for a gig, you all help each other out and give them a hand lugging gear off stage). John, our guitarist walks on stage and lends a hand, "Here guys, let me give you a hand. We've got to be quite quick now as you over ran a little bit"

"Why are you being such a dick?" Says the singer

John responds, "...A dick? I'm helping you take gear off stage, trying to be helpful. The next band has already had to drop a couple of songs from their sets because of you running over"

Now, to me sheer arrogance and rudeness is unacceptable. Sure, it's all over the place, but we're all at this show for the same reason, we should be looking out for each other and just generally having a good time. It completely baffles me how certain bands and their members can be so insistent on making things so difficult for fellow bands and the promoters who try to run the night. This band in question may have been the local band, and their girlfriends may have been in attendance but it doesn't mean it's THEIR night. It's a collective...My girlfriend was there too, doesn't mean I have to insist on running over by 20-30 minutes and act like a moron. A shirtless moron, that is wearing sunglasses INSIDE at approximately midnight. No sir

We take to the stage at 12:20AM...You know, the time we were meant to LEAVE the stage...And finish (after an extra song for an encore...and yes, it was requested before you say "Ah, you went over your allocated set time"! ha ha) at about 1AM

Now, not being from the local area we still had a fair trek to get home - as did the band before us. We packed down ASAP and set on our way, getting home at around 4AM instead of the previous estimated time of 2AM huh?

If the band at 'fault' here ever reads this - I have been informed that you are not normally so unprofessional and that it was merely a one off. You have, however, left an extremely bad first impression with me and everyone else in our camp and, should I see you billed with us or anything else I'm involved with you will be removed. First impressions are very important!

I just want to point out that our position on this particular line up has nothing to do with any ill feelings towards anyone. Headline or not, I still would feel the same if I would have come across any band like this

Band/Musicians/Promoters - Please take note of these issues I have raised. Also please try to learn from them, it will make everyones job a lot easier