Bad Shows (advice needed)

Adam Berkowitz

Junior Member
Everyone has had bad shows, but I'm currently two weeks into a tour and my performance seems to get worse every night. It seems like every night I have more slip ups, and less confidence than the night before. I have a pre-show ritual which involves lots of stretching and rudiments on the pad, but even with more time devoted to warming up, I feel as though my performance still doesn't improve.
If anyone has had similar experiences and can give advice on how they overcame them, it would be greatly appreciated. Also if anyone has any really embarrassing gig stories they'd like to share, those would be appreciated as well. Thanks!!!
 

kettles

Gold Member
are you recording your shows? if not, do it. wait til the next day to listen back, it helps to sleep on it and listen with a fresh ear.

and no show can be perfect. My judgement of is how much fun I have. So this leads to me doing anything in my power to make sure the show is fun, so being warmed up and well prepared so the 30 minutes before playing I can relax and kick back. I also hate when I have to dress 'formal' - I like to wear what I'm comfortable in or something silly. depends on the show of course.

What exactly is the problem? Have you talked to the other band members about it? They may have some insight. By 'slip ups' do you mean flubbed fills, missed rimshots etc, or more noticeable things like forgetting how the songs go? and what kind of music are you doing?
 

Adam Berkowitz

Junior Member
I actually used to record my shows on an Olympus voice recorder that unfortunately broke recently. Many of the problems I've been having are inconsistent timing, flubbed fills that are not technically out of my grasp and worst of all, forgetting song structures during the set. I have been addressed by the singer who mentioned that my playing was much more solid on the last tour. I think two contributing factors are using the other band's drummer's gear and also being stressed over both taking online class's from the road and another touring gig with another band next month. Anything you can give that could help with the mental aspect? Thanks so much for the response!
 

kettles

Gold Member
Are you having too much caffeine/energy drinks before the show? That stuff completely screws with my timing. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating well? I don't have a lot of experience with touring but my general health and wellbeing have a big impact on my drumming. Like such an impact that I'm probably better off spending time sleeping, making good food and going for a run than actually practicing. Do you get time during the day to chill out and just do nothing?

Again, talk to your bandmates about it, if they know you're having trouble they'll be more sympathetic and less likely to look down on you or judge you. The band has to work as a team and that always means helping each other out.

There is heaps of discussion on here about timing, this one came up recently - http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=73860

I have been experimenting with mental imagery lately, like imagining that I'm surfing or riding a motorbike, or even being in the crowd watching the band. I haven't had a chance to really explore it, but it does help me relax straight away and my feel is more relaxed to. This is for playing with my punk band as well and some of our stuff is pretty quick. I also like to sing along because it helps me to keep the tempo steady.
 

drumdevil9

Platinum Member
I think we all go through periods where, no matter what, we feel like we're sucking. I think a lot of it is mental more than physical. All you can do is acknowledge what you do well and enjoy that aspect of your playing and work on your weaknesses the best you can. I happen to have lots of those. Sometimes I throw my sticks across the room 'cause I can't play as fast as Buddy or whatever. I have to tell myself to chill and enjoy the experience of just playing music. That's what it's supposed to be about after all.

If you're struggling with stuff that you usually do well, I'd say it's probably a metal block. Try to enjoy the musical moment. And if there really is a technical issue that's inhibiting you, address it. Every day. You'll get over the hump. And then there will be some other weakness to work on. And such is life.

Enjoy playing music before you're in a box.
 

Adam Berkowitz

Junior Member
Thanks for the advice guys. My overall health has not been great on tour, but that's what I get for eating Taco Bell everynight. I guess I should start focusing more on my well being and having fun than beating myself up over bad shows.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Thanks for the advice guys. My overall health has not been great on tour, but that's what I get for eating Taco Bell everynight. I guess I should start focusing more on my well being and having fun than beating myself up over bad shows.
Yes, you're right to concentrate on your health, both physical & mental. I've heard the story you're telling many times over. You're in a self perpetuating spiral, accordingly, you need to make a change to halt the process. Change your off gig routine around. Get at least 1 extra hour of sleep per night. Build in at least 1 hour of you chill time into every day, & make sure that chill time is nothing to do with music or the business. If that means only taking a walk & people watching, then cool, get what you can. Eat at least 1 good meal a day. it doesn't have to be super healthy, but you do need balance. Be sure to sit down to eat it, & take your time. Replace a convenience food snack with some fruit. Banana is especially good for slow release energy, & easy to obtain. Drink more water than alcohol.

From a playing pov, don't over warm up before the gig. Simplify your playing, just a touch. Remove any "oh crap, here comes this bit" passages, & replace them with something less challenging. Your band mates are unlikely to notice you've simplified a few fills/whatever, but they sure as hell will notice timing & arrangement screwups. Make some simple pacenotes on arrangements you're unsure of. Try to concentrate on the vibe & groove, nail those big accent pieces, & above all else, smile & enjoy the show.

You're suffering the affects of cumulative negative elements. Key small changes will improve your general wellbeing, but you need to really step out of your current routine to drive the benefits home.

Good luck, & take care.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
I'd leave the stretching in along with a little rudiment warmup. Then 5 minutes later I would be done. When you're obsessing, that long warmup only heightens anxiety. And never EVER discuss supposed weaknesses with other band members. Sometimes these guys don't even hear it, because you're honing in and they're not. Most times, at least some of your colleagues are too busy with obsessions related to their own screwups. Why put a thought like that into anyone's head that may not have existed in the first place?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
When I'm not going well I try to work on my listening. It's easy to fall into the trap of drumming by numbers for the sake of security.

You've played all this music well before so there's no physical reason why you can't again. I agree with Matt about the longer warmup. Some top players don't bother warming up at all.

If you forget about your own playing and focus on the whole band performance by listening like crazy and locking in with the bass then things should start to turn around.

I think it's good to be fussy about monitoring at sound check so you can hear the music as well as possible.

An embarrassing gig story? We played last new year at a club where we'd gone down well in previous gigs. Trouble is, we didn't have enough uptempo numbers (we're a lounge-y band) and later in the evening when people wanted to dance we couldn't deliver because we didn't have enough "stocking fillers" in the set. It was pitiful.

We should have just played two sets and then put on canned party music after dinner was over.
 
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Ethan01

Senior Member
...never EVER discuss supposed weaknesses with other band members. Sometimes these guys don't even hear it, because you're honing in and they're not. Most times, at least some of your colleagues are too busy with obsessions related to their own screwups. Why put a thought like that into anyone's head that may not have existed in the first place?
Wow this is awesome advice... thanks
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I used to get into my own head about "bad shows". I seriously was my own worst critic and would obsess about any show that didn't feel just absolutely flawless. Anything that made me work a little to give a performance - rough day at the day job, car trouble, equipment trouble, stage too small, stage too big, stage sound not right, too hot, too cold - and I would automatically go into gripe mode, and get super-critical of my performance.

Well, the funniest thing would happen after these supposed wrecked shows. People would come up to me afterwards and tell me "you really killed it, man! You were awesome." And not just Joe Q. Public - but the drummers from the other bands who were on the bill that night.

In my current band, there's already a self-critical perfectionist - the bandleader/singer/songwriter. He's pretty much just like I used to be. I have found that focusing on getting him to loosen up and have a good time has totally pulled me out of my hyper-critical mode, and allowed me to enjoy the music for music's sake.

Not to veer too far from what our distinguished colleagues have been saying about stretching, exercise, rest, diet, and the like. But at a certain level, if you are not in out-and-out train wrecks, most of our internal issues on stage are just that ... internal. The audience doesn't see, know, or even care! As long as they think it sounds good, it does! Good luck with your next few shows.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
Yeah I agree with Matt and Polly here.Keep the warm ups short and efficent,better still....when Buddy Rich was asked what his warm up routine was he said "I take my hands out of my pockets"

Stop trying to find out whats wrong...relax and just play.Over focus=over compensate,and all you will do is tense up.

Steve B
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I'm sure this will sound completely goofy to some folks, but I find that taking a bit of time to "meditate" the day of a show can really help with the mental aspect of playing out. Sometimes I get too into my own head and I think about things too much... And the fact always remains that I play best when I'm playing from the heart instead of the head. When I over think, I make more mistakes.

So, I take some time and think about nothing. I worry about nothing, I arrange nothing, I don't think about the gear load in, or the possibility of screwing up. I just clear my mind in a quiet place.

It can't hurt to try. Especially when I've been feeling down on my playing, just not thinking or stressing about anything for a while can really refresh your mind.
 

jackie k

Senior Member
We all make mistakes and slipups, its going to happen. The key is when it happens, how do you handle it. Get back on track and dont be too hard on yourself, it dosent help anything. When you are practicing with the band be conscience of the tricky parts of certain songs and keep it as simple as possible. Playing and practicing the songs will bring your comfort level up. Some times I will be playing and the guitar players lead or bass will screw up and I am aware of it and I try and keep the band together, but if somebody was listening they would think that I made a mistake, but in fact somebody is playing or not playing a verse, there timing gets screwed up or they keep playing when the song should be over and you need to be ready to handle the situation. Sometimes the audience cannot pickup the mistakes, but I can. Everybody in the band will make mistakes, some nights several mistakes, other nights less mistakes. My atitude is have fun playing always concentrate on the other band members, I dont even look at the audience when I play. After I am comfortable with a song I then try and get creative within the structure and notch up my drumming.

Hey should I google map it, How do you get to that famous music place called Carnegie Hall ? Practice, Practice, Practice
 
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unfunkyfooted

Silver Member
the root of bad shows is lack of rehearsal time AS A UNIT.

when a band first gets together in the shed, they hone their craft til they are TOIGHT. the fruit of this intensive labour is the gift of being asked to do shows.

when a band hits the road, even as weekend warriors, two things take place. lack of rehearsal time and more distractions, be it the opposite sex, business or logistics.

we start to practice only the beginnings and endings of songs (cause we know this). we don't get time at sound check to actually remember all of the nuances that made it work. and there are many - from the nuances within songs, to segueways, to the overall arc of the show.

then there are personal distractions. did half of the band indulge before hitting the stage and the other half didn't ? if so, there's a problem. your unit is not on the same page. there are two different factions onstage, with two different mindsets (literally) supposedly working towards the same goal. i'm not pro or con or advising anything to grown people...i'm just pointing that out. it's a good idea to indulge afterwards as a reward for a job well done.

if the show didn't go well...the unit had better start working on those free throws. [Norm Nixon once said that when he was unfortunately traded from the Lakers, just after winning a championship and landed with the Clippers, that he was surprised at the lack of work ethic there - and that with the Lakers, if you blew the game on free throws the night before, no one had to tell you hit the gym the next day to get those free throws down. with the Clippers...not so much.] ie. The Shed.

Get Thy Unit To The Shed.

when my unit started to get sloppy, we would rehearse before leaving for the show. talk it through on the ride and hopefully celebrate afterwards. or get to the shed. or both.

hope something in there helped.

: )
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
I think there is some truth to the axiom amaturers practice till they get it right...pros practive till they can't get it wrong.Not for all ..but for some it works.

Steve B
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Well, the funniest thing would happen after these supposed wrecked shows. People would come up to me afterwards and tell me "you really killed it, man! You were awesome." And not just Joe Q. Public - but the drummers from the other bands who were on the bill that night.
So true. It amazes me when people compliment me after an "awful" performance. I'll be thinking, "What's wrong with you? Do you have cloth ears?". Not very nice :) In truth, they turned up to have a good time so they're not thinking negatively ... just enjoying the good bits while ignoring the rough parts.

As many have said, things go best when we is get out of yourself and just let those years of playing and practice flow with the music.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll come good. You've done it before and will do it again. Sportspeople have slumps at times, so do musos or any other performer.

Often the slumps happen when we're trying to iron out some wrinkles in our playing, trying to raise our standard a notch. Then we stop doing things naturally for a while as we absorb a new way of doing things and are too caught in that to apply the nuances we'd normally put in.

Once the "upgrade" starts becoming more natural then we start listening more globally again and things go smoothly.
 
D

DamoSyzygy

Guest
Over-preparation could in fact be the problem.

Once you feel you should be performing well and you get a few nights in a row where your havent, its starts to play on you psychologically, which makes things worsw.

The other thing to remember is to eat well, stay well rested - and avoid sugar! :)
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It's a hardcore punk band based out of New Jersey called The Mongoloids
It used to be with punk that if it wasn't falling apart you weren't doing it right. Try to let a little of the old esprit de Darby into the thing and stop worrying about it. You can also rest assured that you and the group are going to improve big time from touring, even if you don't feel great about it while it's happening.
 
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