Re: Worst Gig Experiences?
I've had many "paid rehearsals" over the years as well. A few years ago my band played a show in Philly on a Sunday night... actually a Monday morning, at 1:00 a.m. - no surprise, only two bartenders and the soundman, and another band, were present.
I've busted a hole in my bass drum head, during a charity performance being broadcast live on the radio (though just my college's station) - happened on the second song of a 45 minute set.
Did a live set on another college station where our guitar player broke a string on the first song.
My band had its first show with a new bass player - our singer's younger brother, who was only 16, told the bar owner his age, and because he was under 18, he wasn't even allowed to sign a performer's contract and be inside the bar at all. We ran a cable out the front door, and he played his bass in the entrance way, confusing people as they walked in. Because he didn't have a monitor (he was hearing the sound as it leaked out through the door and walls) - our timing was apparently way off.
One band played in nasty dive bar where people crapped in the sinks in the bathroom, and a guy in the crowd screamed that he wanted to rape us while we were on stage, as other audience members laughed and cheered.
Played a show in a big venue where the sound guy - a friend of a friend - forgot to turn on our monitors. I asked him about this at the end of the show, after we were almost booed off (we sounded horrible and the owner wanted to pull the plug). He looked down and flipped one little switch - the monitors popped on - and he just said, "Oops!"
Nearly got into a fist fight while another drummer forced me to use his kit. My band had set up the show, and even got to pick them to play with us from a batch of CDs the venue gave us to choose from. But we opted to go on first (at 10 pm) because we, and our audience, were older and would appreciate an earlier night. But this caused the other band to think, "We're the headliners!" and take control. The other band's drummer had huge toms, and only one rack tom with a ride cymbal sticking way out - I'd never played that configuration, and I got trapped and dropped my sticks a bunch of times throughout the show. He wouldn't even let me change the heights of the drums and cymbals. And, he had the name of his band on the bass drum, though we covered it up. Very disheartening.
But the worst show I ever played was at The Fastlane (no longer in business) in Asbury Park, NJ, in 1995. Let me take you back...
I don't know if this goes on any more, but the venue would force you to buy a batch of tickets in advance that you could sell to your family/friends/fans... or not. You fronted the cost, so you were saddled with selling them - I think it was like, 30 tickets at $15 each. The venue told us in advance, "Everyone has to have a ticket - every one you bring to your show. If your girlfriend carries your guitar, she needs to have a ticket! If your buddy comes to help you set up your drums, he needs to have a ticket too!" We told them, "Okay, we get it!" We sold most of our tickets, and had a few left over that we figured we'd give away to anyone who might show up to see us or the other band playing.
So we got there and loaded in 3 hours before the show was supposed to start, but the venue wouldn't let us set up or sound check because, even though we were opening, they wanted the other band to show up, set up, get mic'ed up, sound check - then they'd move their stuff aside and we'd set up, and leave our stuff up. We sat in the bleachers with a couple friends who came with us (don't worry - they had tickets) and waited.
Eventually an employee came around to collect and rip tickets. The two girls we were with handed over their tickets, and the guy ripped them. Then he asked me for my ticket - I told him, "I'm the drummer in the first band." He frowned and said, "Didn't they tell you when you set up the show?! EVERYBODY'S GOTTA HAVE A TICKET!" "Even... even me?" I asked. "Yes, even the guys in the band!" What a scam! So we used those extra tickets on... ourselves, paying $45 off the top to perform.
The first band didn't show up until 40 minutes before the show was supposed to start. They set up slowly and sound checked. When they were done, the sound guy disappeared. I later found him in front of the club smoking a joint. I told him we were finally ready to do our sound check, but he waved me off - "Ah man, there's no time. Your first song will be your sound check!" I told him that we'd come three hours early to be sure we had a sound check, but the bouncer next to him stepped up to me and said something like, "He told you, there ain't time!" So we didn't have a sound check.
We got on, and performed reasonably well, from what I heard and remember. When the last song ended, I spun my mic back on its stand– but it swung too far. It went into the stack of speakers and created the loudest feedback I’ve ever heard. I saw the wasted sound guy jump – I think he thought I did it on purpose. I didn’t, but I was happy. That move may have lead to what happened next though…
When we were loading out, someone threw an M-80 at us from across the street. My memory of that moment is kind of blurry, but I think someone had called us over from the side door (where our cars were) to the front, just in time for the bomb to fly. It was shocking, I think the employees standing around laughed and said something about the kids in town doing that all the time. Asbury Park is a rough town, if you didn't konw.
It was only the next day that our singer/guitarist realized that someone (probably a club employee) had stolen one of his guitars in the commotion. This made us think that the throwing of the M-80 was planned out – the timing was just too perfect. Plus, our music never really seemed to inspire us being assaulted by fireworks – even in Asbury Park.
That's the worst show I've ever played. It's funny how when people who don't play music and don't have anyone close to them who performs ask about what it's like to be in a band, they're thinking of the actual music so often - but most of what I remember from past shows is all the stuff around it - often, the unpleasant stuff you have to endure just to play your music.