Gig Hell


What were your worst gigs? Last Sunday I played at a walk on walk off two stage fundraiser doing a (thankfully) 45 minute set. The set went well and very enjoyable but was as awkward as anything, I got there.

We were told previous there would be a kit provided as you would expect, but to bring along breakables. So I rocked up there with cymbals, snare, bass pedal, and throne as usual.

The first band was an all girl rock outfit, they finished (it was that drummers kit) and walked off. As there was short speeches between band there was time to just set up breakables. I discover the previous drummer had walked off with stands, and cymbals, but had left the snare and bass drum pedal which I thought odd. I asked her if I could retain the hi hat stand and got something lame about worried I would break it. What the...So respecting her wish, removed her snare, pedal, set up mine and one crash as she had left one cymbal stand ( can't have thought that one as a breakable). Then I rushed to the other stage where a duo act were performing and begged the stage manager for the hi hat on that kit for a loan of promising to rush back so that stages next band would have it in time.

Back at our stage with no time to adjust anything I had the hats on, and we were into it.
There was no height adjustment in the snare stand so I had to tilt the snare near upright (I am short and usually play my snare just off flat) it was a good thing the snare was miked up. With one crash cymbal (usually have 3) was no biggy), but no ride cymbal as the stand wasn't there was awkward, our music calls for ride-bell work. The borrowed hihat was set up exceptionally high ( maybe the owner is 6ft7?), if you can imagine playing with your hihat hand at head height, thats how it was. I got cramp each song, man that was awkward. Its a good thing I can be versatile and adapt to others kits as I have in the past. One other kit I recall playing on in a similar situation the toms were so far away from the snare and at odd angles that you had to near stand up to play them. One consolation the following drummers were in the same boat. Can't have been set up by a drummer, can't have. Anyway its good to look back and laugh.

Moral of story, is be prepared for anything.
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Platinum Member
Wow - that's a pretty tough. Esp. no hi-hat and only one cymbal stand.

I don't play many festivals with supplied kits, but two recent annoying experiences were:

1. Every stand, inc. the tom holders and floor tom legs, had memory locks done up really tight and really high. Had to fight with a drum key to adjust snare, toms, floor tom, cymbals, etc. with not enough time. (Why do they use the memory locks on a shared kit???)

2. We were the last band at a charity sporting event. There was a break for presentations before our band. When I arrived the kit was nowhere to be seen. Turns out it had been packed up into cases and placed under the stage! Had quite an adventure wondering, searching, opening cases, assembling a foreign kit, etc. The they had to reposition mic's etc. We started a few minutes late, and the crowd was getting bored... And the drums themselves were really out of tune. Not much fun, and not what I had expected.


Gold Member
oof, that's rough! I played a big christmas party for a government agency once and they provided a kit. I just had to bring cymbals, snare, and sticks.

When I got there there was a bass drum, bass pedal, snare stand, and floor tom... that's it. No cymbal stands at all.

I ended up playing the whole gig on snare with brushes (Christmas music is pretty easy to begin with) and it went well. Actually, the singers didn't even notice, I had to tell them afterwards.


Platinum Member
I've not had a really terrible gig that comes to mind, but I thought I'd go ahead and share these crazy gigs.

I don’t know if playing in a Christian-based band lends itself to a certain amount or type of nuttiness (and outright crazy people) out on the road, but I swear I’ve had my fair share.

1. I’ve played in a prison.

2. I’ve played in front of a Goody’s clothing store. Got A LOT of stares. No stage, no risers. Just there on the sidewalk in full sun. It was so bloody hot that day.

3. I’ve played for a totally empty coffee shop.

4. I’ve played in an auditorium that seated 1,200 people. How many people actually showed? 12. (There was a snowstorm that night, and everyone stayed in.)

5. I played in a place that was supposed to be a coffee shop. It was actually a hair salon. After hours, they opened up a big room at the front and had concerts on weekends. Right before we went on, the person that booked us said that there was an active occult group in the area, and if we saw individuals come in wearing black robes and hoods, they are probably trying to put a curse on the place. We were to keep playing, ignore them, and management would take care of it. They didn't show up that night.

6. Played a church one time, and the “promoter” said, “The size of the crowd solely depends on the amount of people that you brought with you.” So much for promotion. We should have just had an open practice and invited our friends.

7. I’ve played on my fair share of flatbed trailers, most of which had questionable wood flooring. I once played on one that was so full of holes, I had to be super careful not to set any stands near any of them. One of my drum throne legs ended up going through the floor, but luckily, I caught myself.

8. I’ve played in a lot of parking lots: Sonic, Goody’s, local strip malls, water park, etc.

9. We were booked to play at a church, but we ended up playing in the parsonage’s garage. It was actually a cool gig.

10. We played a lot of colleges. One particular place gave us EXACTLY 15 minutes to set up, and 15 minutes to tear down.

11. We were booked to play a music festival. We showed up, and we were the only white folks there.

12. I’ve played a couple of black churches. I. Love. Black. Churches! (Sorry if this isn’t PC. I mean nothing derogatory by it.)

13. I’ve opened for cloggers.

14. I’ve opened for according players.

15. I’ve opened for Southern gospel singers (we were a rock band).

16. I’ve had potters open for us. It was a husband and wife team who brought in a potter’s wheel and told stories as they crafted pottery. It was really cool.


My guitarist booked us into his school where he taught and we played the kids lunch hour. They were 8 or 9 years olds and they loved it. At the end of the set he said jokingly over the mike (and I never heard it) that "the drummer is now shouting ice-creams". I was about to start packing up when I was mobbed big time by a hoard of kids. The funny thing is i'm short (5'4) and I just dissapeared in the mob as most 9 years olds are taller than me. Took me a while to figure out why the kids were so dissapointed I had no icecreams.

Captain Bash

Silver Member
Once played a gig at a bar where we played up on a balcony, this was about 30 ft wide but only about 30 inches deep. So I had to set-up side ways on with everything tucked in. Cymbal stands had way to big a footprint so, I multi-clamped cymbal arms off the safety barrier, worked ok, but not optimal for serious grooving.

no talent

Senior Member
all of these so far are epic. mine are just too painful to re-live. the one moral of using a shared kit is.....bring your kit too, you never know.


Senior Member
My last "bad one" was at a local club known for music. The playbill and ads all had us being the opening group, not the "headliner." We live an hour away. 2 hours before the show, which had been booked for over a month, the other band tells us they aren't bringing their kit and told us, not asked, they would share my kit. We had something similar happen a few moths before so we weren't letting it happen again. I get there and park further away and just act like I brought my breakables. I don't mind sharing but not being told that I am. Then we get there and they want to play first because they told their fans to come and leave when they were done playing and they were going to go to a party. So they want to tell me to use my kit, and they want to leave with all of their "fans" (friends) as soon as they were done. So we finally won the battle. We played first, used their kit, and left as soon as we were done to go to the other half the bar to watch the other band that was playing. We usually aren't like that, but when you admit to us you were going to ditch us, well, we will get you back.

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Man that sucks. If someone did that to me I'd probably write them a slightly condescending message about what breakables means.

Probably the worst one for me was having a guy mess with my setup without permission, at an important gig with a very short time to fix it.


Silver Member
While I understand the idea behind drummers sharing a kit to save time it pretty much never goes well from the drummer's perspective!

The last time I played on a house kit it was a 20 year old Percussion Plus kit with what sounded and felt like the original heads, AND the kit was setup on a concrete floor with no rug or anything to keep the drums from walking.

Is saving 5 minutes between bands for setup time really worth it? I'd rather cut a song out of our set and play my kit than play a sketchy house kit that someone bought off craigslist three hours before the gig!!


Senior Member
Could always be worse...While I had my share of problems at gigs (missing equipment, power problems, bad stages, etc.) it could've been this...

When Finnish blues band "Hojas Blues Band" came to Atlanta to play at Fat Matt's Ribs, the drummer was given this kit to play...

All i can say is that it made noise...


Gold Member
Could always be worse...While I had my share of problems at gigs (missing equipment, power problems, bad stages, etc.) it could've been this...

When Finnish blues band "Hojas Blues Band" came to Atlanta to play at Fat Matt's Ribs, the drummer was given this kit to play...

All i can say is that it made noise...
Interesting kit, I wouldn't mind playing that. Looks better than some house kits I use in London!