Advice needed for "first" gig


Junior Member
Here's my story in a nutshell:

I have a Master's degree in orchestral percussion performance and, of course, have tons of experience with classical gigs.

The drum set has always been a secondary instrument for me, but I do have some facility and feel fairly comfortable behind the kit. But, I have never performed on it except in Broadway-type shows.

I have been asked and agreed to perform with a great up-and-coming singer in a pop gig soon. This is a first for me. I know how to prepare the songs, but what advice would you give for the "day of"...or any advice for that matter.

What say you?



Senior Member
I think your orchestral performances have probably prepared you a bit more than you realize. The most important "day-of" things are mostly things that you've certainly already learned by now -- all those little things that fall under the umbrella of "professionalism." (Showing up early, packing an "emergency kit," etc.) Beyond that, I would say the most important thing is to remember that "it's not about you," but since you've done other drum set gigs, I'm sure that's been drilled into your head, too. :) So... have fun! (I can't think of anything that you probably don't already know!)


Platinum Member
i can tell you some things to keep in mind based on my own mistakes.

watch out for nerves and try to avoid speeding up or starting songs too fast. i used to be really bad about that and it was mostly because of nervousness.

focus on playing straightforward things you know you can play.

don't overplay. i used to be pretty bad about that and still am sometimes.

don't overpower the singer. you probably already know that. when the singer is singing focus on grooving and be careful not to drown them out.

make sure your equipment is in good shape. tighten your stands (but not too much!) i hate it when a cymbal tilter slips in the middle of a song.

make sure your bass drum is firmly anchored and will not slide forward during the show.

have some spare sticks where you can reach them easily in case you drop one or break one.


Platinum Member
I think maybe your biggest issue might be the nerves of doing something new and unfamiliar, as opposed to the hundred little mistakes most drummers tend to make on their first gig. So concentrate on keeping yourself calm, collected, and composed, as well as making sure that you are organized, on time, and remember everything. Remember to eat and hydrate, that's usually what I forget to do first when nervous.

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Glenn, I started with classical percussion too (many centuries ago). In fact, my first ever gig was on a full timpani set playing Noye's fludde by Bengamine Britten in a high school performance. My second gig was with the Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra performing Holst, the Planet Suite. I then moved on to kit (although I wasn't nearly as advanced in CP as you) so I remember that journey very well.

I assume you're not doing the pop gig from the dots. If that's the case, you're biggest challenge will be to take the classical regimentation out of your playing. Just go for it!!! You've obviously got the chops so just concentrate on having a good time and getting into the vibe. You'll be cool. Have a blast!


Dont drink to much beer, before you go on, and while you are aslo playing your 1st set.

Hate it while you are deperate for a pee, but cant leave drums.


"Uncle Larry"
Here's my advice for any gig...Get out of your own head. Look at, and involve yourself w/everyone else, not the drumset. Don't be in your own world, ever. Focus your gaze on whoever has the spotlight at the time, and use your peripherial vision to see everything else. Listen BIGTIME. Get the entire total net effect of the band, and hear how you are fitting in, adjusting when necessary. Get the L A R G E S T possible aural picture you can, and make sure you're not too prominent of an ingredient. Blend and support, don't stick out or draw attention to yourself. (except any solo of course) Don't be the loudest instrument onstage.

I'd echo Cathartics advice in that it's not about you. It's about how well you can make the others look/sound good. Don't overreach, play well within your comfort zone. When in doubt, just keep time. Give everyone a nice confident, (not wimpy) no frills "like you mean it" back beat to cling to. Keep those peepers open. Don't try too hard, just relax and play the song. Limit fills to only those that are absolutely necessary. Leave space. (ie don't play eighths when quarters will work better) Everything will be just fine.
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