When The Band Has An "Off" Night

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Case in point. We were playing an outdoor gig recently and we were having power spikes all through soundcheck. During the first set, the power cut out. Completely. All of a sudden it's just me audible. Without too much drama, we finished the verse we were on and I went into a drum break. The guys got the audience clapping along. When the power popped back on, the bandleader called off the chorus and we slid back in, literally without missing a beat. Some of the audience later told us they hadn't noticed anything happen - they thought it was part of the act.
Like a boss! Got any vid of that?
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
If we all got it perfect every time, we'd all headline at Madison Square Garden. The best most bands can hope for is "relatively free of errors" - i.e. train wrecks where something goes so wrong that that the band HAS to stop playing. Little flubs like chords, lyrics, dropping sticks, etc. happen all the time, to even the most experienced bands. The differences between good and great bands are not determined by how few errors they make, but how they deal with them.

In the Army, we used to practice what to do when things went terribly wrong. I think a lot of bands could benefit from that sort of "practice" - what if the power goes out in the middle of a song? The drummer stops playing suddenly? The bandleader gets lost and goes in the wrong direction?

Case in point. We were playing an outdoor gig recently and we were having power spikes all through soundcheck. During the first set, the power cut out. Completely. All of a sudden it's just me audible. Without too much drama, we finished the verse we were on and I went into a drum break. The guys got the audience clapping along. When the power popped back on, the bandleader called off the chorus and we slid back in, literally without missing a beat. Some of the audience later told us they hadn't noticed anything happen - they thought it was part of the act.
See? This is why I love these forums...and the internet in general. This type of wisdom and experience couldn't be handed down *nearly* as easily, just 15 yrs. ago.

I was telling my 12 yr. old son, who has his own gigging band (seriously...the even get paid!) - a good recovery is every bit as valuable as playing your part perfectly.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
...During the first set, the power cut out. Completely. All of a sudden it's just me audible. Without too much drama, we finished the verse we were on and I went into a drum break. The guys got the audience clapping along. When the power popped back on, the bandleader called off the chorus and we slid back in, literally without missing a beat. Some of the audience later told us they hadn't noticed anything happen - they thought it was part of the act.
Excellent story. I saw Rush in San Diego back in '86 and they must've been running too many keyboards and sequencers or whatever because they tripped a breaker. All the sound suddenly gone mid-song, but the lights stayed on and all anyone could hear was the faint tippy tapping of the little guy still visible in the middle that drumkit. He gave up after a few bars when it became clear that the Alex and Geddy were done playing. After about 10 minutes, everything was back up and running. They did that song over again from the beginning. But 15 minutes later, it happened again. This time they didn't redo the song when the power was restored.

Good times.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Tripped the main breaker for the building! I don't think anyone would have blamed you for stopping during something like that! Even better that you kept it going!
Not the building... we were outside at night. I figure they must've only had like one ratty extension cord for the entire stage or something. But it worked out okay.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Yeah, there's off days and nights here and there where I'm just not firing on all cylinders. It happens to us all here and there. I've had a couple times when I played good and the rest of the band couldn't get it right to save their lives. Then there's the gigs where all the practice leading up to the gig went well, but the show was an absolute train wreck. I used to have a problem losing my sticks during songs. Sometimes it can get dangerous for the other band members. Stick wrap took care of that problem. Then there's the gigs where I forgot to bring a piece of carpet for my bass drum. So, during the song the bass drum will slide away from me. That's always exciting stuff right there.
 

PhDrummer

Junior Member
There's plenty of good advice in here. I've been in a number of gigging bands, and they've all had their share of stinker rehearsals. Often it's just an off night, and you should just forget about it and move on. But I do think it's important to be reflective about every rehearsal. Was it specific sections of songs that gave you problems (or more problems than other sections)? Try to identify those places and address them with some focused rehearsal. It will make your practices more efficient, and you'll have a better product to present to audiences when you play live.
 
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