‘On Stage’

PostHeaderIcon [WATCH]: Fabrizio Cassol, Aka Moon & Black Machine @ KVS 02a


PostHeaderIcon Preventing A Gig From Hell

ALWAYS STAY IN CONTACT

There is absolutely no excuse being late to a gig. With cell phones and texting, all of us have the potential of getting in touch all of the time. If you have a band member that received the performance time wrong, a plain phone call or text could have solved the problems. Even so, it is always a better plan for the band to meet in a central location at some point ahead of any show, and travel together convoy style if possible. This is a way to make sure everyone gets there on time, won’t get lost, or gets assistance if something should go wrong.

The added effect of this is always that when you arrive on time, you can set up properly, with a full sound check, in addition to checking your equipment for problems, and in general, loosen up before the show begins.

KNOW WHAT SONG COMES NEXT

Unless you are in a freeform jam rock improv jazz type of thing, you must know what you are going to play. Every person in the band should know what song is coming next for them to prepare for it without having to debate first just what song to play next. Have a set list within sight for every member of the band. Know in advance what songs may require guitar changes or change of tuning so you don’t start the tune until everyone is ready. Moments like that are filled with some banter, usually between the singer and the audience.

ALWAYS KEEP A SPARE

It’s not always feasible, however, you should try and have a backup guitar ready to go at all times. This is especially true for a group having two guitar players. With the second guitarist still playing, and your backup guitar primed for playing, it’s a lot more feasible to switch guitars mid song. It takes 10 seconds and looks very professional. Even if you are the sole guitarist, depending on the song you can get away with it as well. Then again sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and get all the way through it. Once the song is finished get hold of your backup guitar and perform the remainder of the set without everyone hanging around while you change a string. Change it between sets or if you only have one set don’t bother.

If you can’t keep a spare guitar handy and need to change a string, have the backup material you substitute into the set that doesn’t depend heavily on the lost string. You can expand having a backup song to cover the momentary loss of any of the band. I suggest you have a song which can be played if any member of the band is incapacitated. In that case any repairs can be done while the rest of the band covers.

STAY SOBER / CLEAN / STRAIGHT

It doesn’t matter just what you think, you don’t sound better when you are smashed. Certainly, perhaps to your ears, but not to mine or anyone else’s. Not too long ago, at a huge New Years Eve show, there were two bands, one performing indoors, and the main band playing on an outside stage. Actually the main band was one of the most popular bands to play this particular venue. In between sets, the main band members were heading up to their rooms, getting stoned and drunk, after they would come back to play the next set in a semi comatose state. Throughout the evening the bands sets would overlap slightly and by the end of the night, whenever both bands were playing, inside was packed and outside the other band was ignored. The following year, the main band weren’t ever asked back to play the venue again. It may be fun to get tanked and play, however it will not get you anywhere.

NEVER TRUST A BATTERY

To this day we still cannot believe people operate their effects off batteries. It is just a disaster waiting to happen. Okay, I have batteries in my pedals which I swap out every few months. However they are the Backup for when some drunken simpleton in the crowd falls onto the stage and pulls out a power cord or something similar. Should you have to run off battery, figure out the length of time they last and change the battery in half that time. This will help avoid unwanted failures at crucial times, and be sure to have extra batteries.

When a venue looses power, there is not a lot you can do about this but ride it out. Though it’s not as bad as it looks, you can be sure it will likely be up in less than a minute unless something MAJOR has gone drastically wrong, whereby the venue will normally close when it is a building wide blackout. So for the next 60 seconds, what do you do It’s simple. Nobody stops. The entire band keeps playing. Your singer goes to the front of the stage and begins yelling the lyrics at the crowd. I am yet to see this not work. The audience will start singing back. When the power kicks back in the band hasn’t missed a beat and the crowd will go crazy. It is slick and professional and will fire up the crowd for the remainder of the night.

If it goes more than 60 seconds just finish the song and wait. Very little more you can do, yet at least you tried.

JUST BE PREPAIRED

If you are prepared and use common sense, you can handle any disaster. It’s not that hard to create your own emergency escape route, and I hope these examples can inspire you to be a lot more gig ready.

PostHeaderIcon Successful Performing Artist: 20 Things You Need To Know


As a “performing artist”, you want to come across to your audience and other music business professionals as reliable, and professional in your work.

1. Wherever possible, give out written contracts or letters of agreement before hand. Check with your employer or agent the 7 days prior to the show, to make certain no details have changed.

2. If you are booked to play at a venue that you have not been to before, try and visit on a band night prior to your gig. It will make it possible for you to check access for the gear; where the stage or playing area is located; where to position your mixing desk and speakers; whether or not your cables need to be flown around fire exits; just what volume levels are tolerated, and what kinds of music the regulars enjoy most.

3. Always arrive at the venue in plenty of time to be able to complete a full sound check before the public arrive.

4. Always carry spares of things like fuses, cables, backing tracks, strings, or any other small item that could mean the difference between performing the gig or not.

5. Definitely take along an extra long main cable just in case the closest socket is does not work.

6. Safety first! – Purchase a mains power polarity checker (like a “Martindale” Ring main tester) and also a set of circuit breakers for all backline amps. No matter how badly your guitarist performed tonight, he doesn’t deserve to die!

7. Create a “set list” for each show. This should be adapted to the type of crowd that you now know frequent this venue (See tip no. 2). When you have rehearsed well, you will know precisely how long your set will last. Don’t go on stage late and overrun your contracted time. The venue owner’s license depends on all music ceasing at a certain time. You won’t want to be the person who gets the venue closed down!

8. Perform your set with no long gaps in between songs. Talk to the crowd to engage the audience yet make sure to keep focused on delivery the goods. A professional presentation and tight overall performance shows just how well rehearsed you are, and keeps your audience on the dance floor.

9. Practice a polished entrance and exit. Absolutely nothing is more unprofessional compared to a bunch of musicians meandering onto a stage holding the remains of a sandwich or pint, and then wasting several minutes chatting to each other, tuning up, jamming, smoking, adjusting their clothing, answering a their cell phone…. The list goes on! Believe me, I’ve seen it all! Wait for your performance to be called, then march briskly onto the stage and kick off straight into your 1st number. At the conclusion of the performance, the reverse should be observed. Don’t hang around trying to motivate the crowd to shout for an encore. Depart the stage as quickly as possible and then wait in the wing to see whether the audience want more.

10. Do not be observed on stage in the same clothes you were wearing in the soundcheck, or even while mingling with the crowd. Use the dressing room to put on your stage clothes and make-up just prior to your performance.

11. If you rent the sound system, take your own can of telephone cleaner/sanitizer. Rented microphones are almost never clean

12. Rehearse on your own time, not during the soundcheck!

13. Practice, the show completely, however always leave a “breathing space” of a day or two between the last rehearsal and the gig. Over-familiarity can make you complacent.

14. Be pleasant and business-like while dealing with staff at the venue. Particularly with the person who is paying you! Don’t automatically assume gratuities such as free drink and food. These are generally bonuses unless stipulated in the contract, where they become part of your “fee”.

15. Respect the venue’s property. Don’t take a chance damaging their furniture. They will often be glad to fetch some beer crates to stack your speakers on, rather than using their tables. Ask permission before you start stick gaffer’s tape on walls, floors and furniture.

16. Don’t get drunk, or high before, or during, the show.

17. Don’t hang around the venue for longer than necessary after the show.

18. Don’t stop playing a song if a small problem occurs or start a song over again if someone makes a mistake. You need to be sufficiently properly rehearsed for these types of mistakes to go unnoticed by the crowd.

19. Don’t try and fill the whole venue with loud music. Just the area of the dance floor immediately in front of the stage will do! People will want to be able to hold a conversation in other areas, such as at the bar.

20. If you know you have a good sound mix with the right sound level for the venue and some person in the crowd wants you to turn “it” down. Pretend to turn a knob so as to please. The likely hood is, he just doesn’t like that specific song. However, if the venue owner or bar staff tell you to turn “it” down … DO “IT”!! They know when it is too loud, after all, they are there every night!

Finally… Your bonus suggestion No. 21. If you have released CDs. Make sure they are for sale at every gig you do. Employ a friend, or one of your fans to set up a table with your CDs. Additionally it is an excellent way to get people to sign up to your mailing list. After the show, you can even go out front and sign a few autographs!

PostHeaderIcon Practicing Music And Performing Music Become One


There is a false perception that performing and practicing music are two very different activities. I believe that the relationship between performing and practicing is deeply intertwined and at a particular level the difference between the two virtually disappears.

At some point in a musical career, performing by itself becomes the greatest learning experience. Significantly the aspect of performing is the tremendous energy that’s experienced throughout a live show in front of a receptive crowd.

The true reason for developing mechanical and musical ability becomes evident and the target of practice sessions is transformed. At that time, ironically, performing itself becomes the true learning experience because of the tremendous energy is experienced throughout a live performance. The energy of the audience, felt by the performer, pushes him to new heights of creative achievement and practicing becomes preparation so that you can concentrate and boost that experience; this marks the start of the transition from musician to artist.

The artist will find new strategies while practicing to get live performances nearer to pure ecstasy of musical expression in every ways. An artist will take different disciplines such as psychology, theatre, and dance will enable the artist-musician to achieve better control of the instrument and maximize the overall performance itself.

This is the true transformation of musician to artist, by developing personal, unique and creative ways of expression. As these progresses, the performer will certainly realize great improvement in focus, ease of performance and greater synchronicity of body, mind and what professional musicians like to call “soul”.

Because practice is changed into a more satisfying and rewarding experience, the step towards scaling the heights of artistic achievement have been obtained. Because music is one thing an artist enjoys, practice is, “playing music”, it should always be enjoyed for its own sake.