PostHeaderIcon Preventing A Gig From Hell


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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