Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Bizz with the Buzz: Attack of the Killer P’s…

Yeah I know it’s been a while since we last congregated on the subject of getting that first gig…but that’s cool…plenty of times music can be a waiting game…actually plenty of times I can just be slack…just remember to do as I suggest, not as I do…take this as a lesson…being slack will get you nowhere. With this is mind, it’s time (well, sorta past but screw it…) to get ready for that first gig and as a lover of fine cheese…well actually fine cheesy ala hair metal…I would like to totally cheese out and offer to you a great guideline to follow known as the “Five P’s.” So grab a drink to go with the cheese…here we go:

PREPARE: While you’ve been working hard for this first moment, there is no such thing as putting TOO MUCH work into a gig. Yeah your tunes are tight as all get out but just tossing a buncha tunes together doesn’t make for a tight set. Your set’s gotta have good flow and work well for the gig you’re playing. Now being that this is your first gig, you may not really know who you’re playing for so first off, seeing that this IS your first gig the chances are pretty good that you’re opening for at least one established band. Check that band out online or anyway you can and get an idea what type of people will be coming out to see them and why. This can help in figuring out what to play and how to play it. For example – if you’re a kicking hard rock band and you’re supporting a heavy band it’s always a good idea to come out of the gate with your most thumping, head-bangin’ stuff. Good rule of thumb is a pair or three smokin’ fast tunes back to back (to back) before stopping to give the audience a chance to figure out what just hit ‘em. If you’re only working with a short set (20-30 mins) work up and rehearse a ferocious set of kicking tunes. A little longer allows a chance for more of a rollercoaster ride and even to slip in a ballad about ¾’s of the way into the set. If you’re planning half original and half covers, flip flop them to keep the crowd interested. Most importantly, if the crowd is sparse or doesn’t seem interested early on…be prepared to keep firing as hard as you can. You’re there to hold up your end of the gig and if all you do is impress the venue or the other band or even one or two patrons, it will go a long way as you progress as a band. A legendary singer once said “It doesn’t matter if 100 or 100,000 people pay to get in, each and every single person paid full price to get in and deserve full return on their money.” As a new band you build a following one person at a time…besides…impress one and they will talk you up to their friends which can turn into a few more at your next gig.

PROMOTE: While you may get lucky enough to open for a local band that pulls in fans in droves, the last thing you wanna do is be complacent and just rely on the other band’s drawing power. Sure your promotion may only add a couple of more faces but once again, showing effort goes a long way. Besides, sometimes people miss the memo when their fave band is playing and you may just happen to alert one of them to the fact that their fave local band is playing. It also doesn’t hurt to show other bands and the venue that you’re willing to work hard to get peeps out. Even 2-4 friends can mean extra revenue for the venue which at the end of the day, is what it’s all about for the venue not to mention it never hurts to have a few people in your corner right off the bat. Interest is contaguous, your friends cheering you on may help the first timers get more interested in what you have to play.

PUNCTUALITY: You’re not Axl Rose…if load-in time is at 7pm…be there at 6:50 and not with a “our drummer will be here at 7:30” explanation why your band and equipment are not all there. Why create tension the first time out? The soundman will appreciate it and that could turn into better sound for your set. I’m not saying to kiss butt…just to do your part. The show is a team effort from venue to bands to sound guy to even door person and you’re just a part of the machine for the night. Piss off the sound guy and no matter how hard you rock…you may not be invited back. No one digs a primadonna…especially one playing their first gig. Once you’re all set up…you can chill. Just make sure the entire band is in the vicinity of the stage at least thirty minutes before you’re scheduled to go on. Things can change in a heartbeat. I was once about to put out merch at 9pm while waiting for a 9:30 time slot when I was told “you guys go on in five minutes. At that point there’s no time to haggle, question, argue, and especially hunt down members of your band. You just have to suck it up, get onstage, check your tuning, and roar into your first tune.

PLAY: The time has finally arrived to show what you can do. Yeah there may be some nerves but you have to shake that off and push forward. If you just happen to blow a note, screw it and move on. Dwelling on a mistake can shake confidence and lead to way more mistakes. No one is perfect. Rock your hardest to the best of your ability. It’s your first show and honestly, no one expects you to be all that great so by playing a good, solid, energized set you’ve already exceeded expectations. That’s a win and anything above that is super sweet frosting.

PACK: You’ve worked hard and come a long way since that first music lesson or music book. You’ve just played a solid set…but the job ain’t over just yet. Sure you’re tired and sweaty but now is when you have to step past that and GET THE F**K OFF THE STAGE!!!! Forget about packing every little nut, bolt, etc. Get your gear off the stage so things can stay on schedule. You can tear stuff apart once your gear is offstage and you’ll have plenty of time to relax and bask in the glow of your first show once you’re clear and out of the way. The last thing you wanna do is wear out the welcome you’ve so graciously been given. Everyone will appreciate the extra effort and it will show just how serious you are about wanting to be a serious band.

Congratulations…you’ve just played your first show and can now look forward to many more. What do you do next? I can sum that up in one more word…just not a “P” word.


Your Brother-in-Arms,


check Stoney out at

and be sure to tune into his lokal radio show at

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