Gig with Band

Five Things You Must Bring to the Gig: Part 2

November 20, 2016 9 Comments

Gig with Band

In our previous article, Five Things You Must Bring to the Gig: Part 1, we talked about your gear and an emergency bag. In this article we cover 3 more things you must bring to your gigs to ensure you have a successful performance.


Onstage Essentials So You Can Perform at Your Best
These are whatever things you need to keep everyone at their best during the show. It might be as simple as assigning somebody to make sure everyone has water right before you go on or as needed during the set. Maybe your drummer needs a dry towel to keep their hands from getting slick under the hot lights or someone in the band is asthmatic and needs an inhaler on hand. Van Halen became infamous because their tour rider specified they required two pounds of M&Ms backstage with all the brown ones removed (back then you could only buy them mixed), but years later David Lee Roth revealed the reason was if they saw someone went to the trouble of sorting the M&Ms then the management had actually read the tour rider. Just like your emergency bag, once you take the time to make a list of what you need it will be much easier to ensure all of these things actually make it to the gig.

A Plan for the Show
Think back to the last time you went to see a band and they kept stopping after every song to discuss what to do next. Or they didn’t seem to choose the right songs at the right time because they didn’t have a set list. Maybe one of the musicians had to wave off a song they weren’t ready for, or they had to stop the band to adjust their settings before the song could start. You wouldn’t want to undermine the excitement you generated with a great opener by leaving dead air in the middle of your set, and you certainly wouldn’t want to run out of time and have to skip a really great song either. Come prepared and knowing exactly what you intend to play (and in which order) and the whole band will be confident enough to roll one song after another like professional performing artists. Other things you should do to plan ahead might include visiting the venue in advance, so you know exactly how to get there, look into what electrical power is available and what you need to reach it, what type of lighting and sound reinforcement is provided and what you might need to bring to supplement it, which entrance is best to use when loading in, and what time the management prefers you arrive.

A Way to Record Your Performance
While not strictly essential in order to put on a great show this time, making a recording of your show is certainly an investment into making the next show an even bigger success. Professional sports teams make game films every time they go out on the field, because it gives the players a way to learn from both their mistakes and their best moments too. With the proliferation of high quality video recorders on most smart phones and tablets, it really doesn’t make sense to miss out on this incredibly valuable tool. Do some experiments so you know the best place to record from in order to get a good picture and sound. It is less important for the video to look impressive than it is for you to be able to see and hear everything that happened, although going to the trouble to get broadcast quality video could also give you a great tool to market your band (to make it easier for you to get good quality recordings Carvin Audio provides recording outputs on many mixer models such as the C1648P Powered Mixer). If you really want to seriously invest in getting really good video, try looking into the new micro-sized sport cams which are getting quite affordable and have HD video capability. You can even stick one right on your guitar for an extreme close-up! Of course getting a good look at your band from an armchair perspective may well send you back to the rehearsal room for some woodshedding. But now that you know how the band is coming across you will be armed with the knowledge of what to focus on and how you want to refine your presentation on stage.

My father used to play with big bands back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. When I was first starting out with a band he told me, “The only excuse for being late for a show is that you’re in the hospital or in jail!” It was an exaggeration and of course we hope those things never happen. But the underlying lesson he was really trying to teach me was that as musicians we are responsible to prepare ourselves to overcome the many unpredictable obstacles which can wreck a great performance. By consolidating the many crucial items you need into a small number of categories you’ll be less likely to forget one of them. The individual items that you choose to include in your five gig essentials will be as unique as your music is. Go to the extra trouble to work out the logistics as carefully as you practiced your instrument and you will be rewarded with many fun and successful shows. 

What do you always bring to your shows? Tell us in the comments.



9 Responses

Rick Erdman
Rick Erdman

November 24, 2016

A multi meter or cord tester are pretty much essentials to have along. Of course extra XLR, instrument and speaker cables, mics, stands and batteries too.

Something that most don’t think about though is a couple of magic markers and plain printer paper. This will let you either make up or modify set lists, lyric “cheat sheets” (for those songs you just inexplicably go blank on from time to time) and other “on the fly” notes you might need to make! Those 2 items have saved the day for me on numerous occasions.

Steve walker
Steve walker

November 22, 2016

Carvin rules!!! My v3m rocks. Thx guys

Brian Henderlong
Brian Henderlong

November 22, 2016

I understand your idea of water for everyone. I should have thought of that before I got a DUI. If your music is really good you should not need a buzz to make it that way.

Mike Cabe
Mike Cabe

November 22, 2016

Extra amp head, guitar, guitar cable, mic cable, speaker ext cable, ac pwr supply, extension cord, 12v batteries and strings.

David Ochal
David Ochal

November 22, 2016

Extra cables, instrument, mic and speaker cables. Also ac power cords. Back in the day ac cord were always hard wired to amps and gear. Now they are all IEC cords and must be plugged into gear to power them up. As a bassist I ll bring an extra bass amp head. Extra speakers are not as necessary unless you play so loud and have a tendency to blowing speakers so bring extra speaker cabs. Think of songs you can add to your list and favorite songs that people like to request are always a way to impress your audience. Always perform your best and improve with each show.

Scott Hausrath
Scott Hausrath

November 22, 2016

Thanks for these articles. Great ideas!

When I was playing drums in a band, I would plan to bring a small electric fan with me, cuz it was easy to get uncomfortably hot behind the kit.

Tim
Tim

November 22, 2016

What you describe about a plan for the show may work for rock and roll and others types of music, but for bluegrass, I have this suggestion; Have a list, yes, but you may get requests so do them if you know them. Also, bluegrass musicians tune their instruments when needed (we are not rockers!) even if that means a song gets delayed. That tuneup delay gives time to speak to the audience about cd’s for sale, upcoming gigs and festivals, where the merch table is, where to have a shake and howdy with band members, who will be doing workshops from the band and when, etc. Also, a bluegrass audience is different from others. Besides being older, they enjoy humor between songs, a good clean joke or two works great to keep their attention. They also enjoy an explanation of an upcoming song, some history, who wrote it, when it was written, etc. Bluegrass bands don’t need to move quickly from one song to another, audience interaction is part of the show…it’s lot different from a rock and roll band that rarely speaks to the audience, who are usually too drunk or high anyway…all they want is constant loud, the louder the better!

Bill Cody
Bill Cody

November 22, 2016

I always bring a great attitude to the show. It helps you deal with any problems that might arise before, during and after the show.
Bill Cody
drummer / Split Decision
Jamestown, TN 38556

Steve Pinkston
Steve Pinkston

November 22, 2016

For all gigs: Business cards, extra strings for my instrument and other instruments.
For amplified gigs: an extra 50’ extension and power strip, a bag of various audio adapters (1/4", mini, XLR, RCA, Y-adapters, etc). Amp stand (NEVER use a chair!).
For outdoor gigs: Sheet of clear Plexiglas (Perspex) to hold sheet music down in a breeze.

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