Guitar News Weekly
Edition #100, July 24, 2000
WORST GIG OF YOUR LIFE
from Harmony Central Digest: Dave's Soapbox
"He who is not busy being born is busy dying." - Bob Dylan
A great band audition interview question is "What was your worst gig?" The answer tells you how your prospect will handle the inevitable low points. It also lets them know what you've been through, and that it's not going to be all hot and cold running groupies. By the way, if someone says they've never had a bad gig, they are (a) lying, (b) a mutant, (c) a rookie, or (d) a psychotic. No exceptions.
There are a million variations of the Bad Gig, but they come in four flavors. If your Bad Gig manages to use all four without causing fatalities, then you, sir, are the King of Kings.
1) Tech Hell (TH). Rigs explode, pedals fry, strings snap, snares split and the mic shoots sparks at your head. You might still have scars, and you were lucky to get out alive.
TH is rarely isolated. It usually kicks in after other mechanical failures (van trouble?) and personal problems (job, love life). TH usually gets drummers the most, since they share kits, and they always wind up using gear provided by a touchy 7' tall ambidextrous dyslexic. TH is also the most contagious band illness, especially in mid-set.
TH tells you how your prospect handles adversity, as well as how much abuse they can take. Also, TH is all about preparation. If TH takes out the main and back-up gear, so be it. If TH takes out the main gear and there is no back-up, and the player now has a plan, they've learned a valuable lesson. But if TH was someone else's fault, just bad luck, or they quit fast on the gig, be scared. It will happen again to you.
2) Room Hell (RH). Monitors? What monitors? PA's fed back, the soundman was high, the stage was tiny and, of course, you were ripped off. At some point before, during, or after the gig, fire happens. (FIRE BAD!)
RH is insidious, and it just doesn't stop. Your first clue is the staff (Missing teeth? Hair? Limbs?), followed quickly by the condition of the house gear. Once the set is over, it continues with the inevitable "your fans didn't say what band they came to see" ploy. It ends, if you are lucky, with a tense load-out and bad service at the diner. Come to think of it, you really should just go home already.
RH happens to new bands, and it's inevitable. It's easy to say you shouldn't have booked it, but what other gigs were available? What RH tells you is that your prospect is hungry, and that they might not be easy to work with. After all, you've only heard their side of the story, and it takes two to tango. A sad but true fact: in any fight with the venue, the band loses. Eventually, your musician's radar gets good enough to avoid RH, but not until you've played it a few times.
3) Wrong Room (WR). Your folk-rock band is opening for death metal. No one told you about the chicken wire. The venue has changed ownership, and no one knows you. It's now a "Battle of the Bands," and the other bands are packing heat. You have enough gear and amplification to cause structural damage, and the police station is *right* next door.
WR is bad/inexperienced/overworked management, so it nails bands that book their own gigs. There is no escape, and it feels like death. The only bright spot is you do not die, so you become stronger. I'll never forget the gig where my punk rock band made a sea of hippies scatter like they were being attacked by wolves. Everyone doesn't get to do that in this world, you know.
If your prospect admits responsibility for WR, they usually won't do it again. But if the fallout is simply that so-and-so was an idiot, or worse yet, that the people in the venue were all idiots, yikes.
4) Band Disintegration/Incarceration (BD/I). A bandmate quits during the set, doesn't show up at all, or calls in some obviously faked excuse. Someone in the band gets arrested before, during, or after the gig, maybe from brawling with the crowd. This one's always ugly.
What we have in BD/I, beyond insanity, is a communications breakdown. People leave bands, but no one should let it go all the way to career suicide. As for what it says about your prospect, it's not good. If someone else should not have trusted them, why should you? And if it happened to them, they've been involved in soap opera bands before, and might have contributed to the melodrama. Watch your back.
So...what was your worst gig? Do they fall in these categories? And how would you do in that interview? You can post your horror to the GuitarSite Forum at: http://www.guitarsite.com/discussion/
This article was from Harmony Central Digest. Whilst we know you love GNW, if you can handle more in your mailbox, we're not afraid to recommend the competition! You can get your own copy of the HarmonyCentral newsletter:
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