Alcohol and playing


"Uncle Larry"
I can't have any alcohol before playing, it really affects me. My ideas get very run of the mill and my execution is delayed. Not that I drink afterwards either, I rarely do. I was wondering on everyone elses opinion on this subject


Alcohol is a depressant. It slows down your reactions and is generally detrimental to your performance. I generally find it best avoided if you're playing or if you go to house parties when people make incorrect assumptions and decide they don't like you. No matter.


Silver Member
If I play a short set while drunk I just play poorly. A long set, however, will end with lots of pain and dehydration. I grip too tightly and end up hurting my hands, wrists, and elbows (the vibration used to give me bad tennis elbow).

I avoid it. when you get to the club, if you feel the need to drink, just ask the bartender for a bitters and soda. It will look like you've got a drink, so people won't try to buy you one, and it's good for the stomach and hydrating... kinda looks like a long island with some fizz. It has about as much alcohol as a glass of orange juice.


Platinum Member
I grew up during the sixties, So i don't think that I have to explain anymore about alcohol and such things. I have a strict rule that I follow. One Beer Per Hour. If I am in a situation that I feel that I want to drink, that is what I do. There is no substance that will help you play better! Period! You may think that you are playing better, But the fact is, You are not! Anything that changes the way that the brain functions is detrimental to your performance. I am a fan of meditation. That is what I do to get my mind in focus before playing. Nothing bothers me more that a musician that shows up for a gig and proceeds to drink. It is just bad business to try and play that way. To me Its like drinking in the morning before going to my job. I have left many a band because of this. Partying is best left for after the gig or practice, If you are so inclined.


Platinum Member
Sometimes drinking helps to shake loose the stiff energies that come from a long day or a long trip from the previous city (when touring). I find that when I'm relaxed, I play much more intuitively, uninhibited, and with a bigger smile on my face. That can come from a chance to chill out before a set. When that's not possible, a drink or two will do the trick.

...but that's just me. I don't encourage people to drink before a set because usually they drink past the "relaxed" stage and then get stupid. That's when things fall apart.
My skills are definitely sensitive to, and impeded by, drink and poor diet. (i.e. - too many Coke's early on).

For me to be in a true groove - and not just a chemically imagined one - I need to be so-o-o crystal clear. I need to be able to avoid the unfocussed and wandering thoughts - those which aren't pointed at keeping me in true time, tempo and muscle movement. Even something like thinking too strongly on "I like the way I just grooved that!" can then screw me up for the next measure or two.

Also weird is that when I'm really in the groove it's not like I'm actually "thinking" - I'm more feeling, observing and controlling from a distance. All of these are easily f'd up in me with the presence of chemicals/poor diet/poor sleep.

Ian - I like your drink recommendation of bitters and fizzy water. I've got to try that one.
Bobdadruma - I can see where meditation could be helpful. That's definitely the kind of place the head needs to go.


Senior Member
Alcohol is bad for playing, for me anyways.

I can have a beer, loosen up and play alright, but more then 1-2 beers and i'll experience negative effects, especially with my stick control. For some reason my grip is slippery and my hands slide up the sticks as I play. My coordination is worse, my timing suffers - it's just not good. Sometimes my band and I will get caught up in a moment and just play for fun while having beers. It's okay once in awhile just for fun, knowing you will gain nothing from that session, but other then that it hurts more then helps.

Personally I believe consuming alcohol - even after a practice session hurts. I feel like it nullifies my practice session... sorta like going to the gym and burning 750 calories only to come home and eat a whole pizza (when you normally wouldn't)


Junior Member
One drink is my limit. It can definitely help relax me before I hit the stage. Any more than 1, though, and things start to get sloppy.


I do drink before a gig, but maybe one or two beers and that'll do. My timing gets all sloppy when I'm under the influence. And I'm a "lead by example" kind of guy when I'm put in a position where my behaviour influences people. Like at a gig.


Pioneer Member
I rarely drink anyway, And if I do it's only one. The other night at practice the other guys had a beer and I nursed 1 bud light for 3 hours, (My nipple was soaked). get it? nursing? nevermind.. ;)

But after 15 years of working as a bouncer I see what a few drinks can do to people, You can go from Joe blow to Buddy rich in just a few (In your own mind, lol).

But no, When I'm playing it's water or tea, if I'm playing and singing it's water and tea with honey and cream. No alcohol.


Gold Member
If I am really tense before a show (you know, life wearing me down kind of thing), I will have one beer. Maybe two. Also, if someone wants to buy the band shots during the show, I'll take one...but only one. I'm a big guy, so one shot or two beers won't really have an effect.

However, I'm impressed by the responses in here. I talk to musicians all the time who swear they play better drunk. When I point out that they are just wrong, and that they only think they play better because they are drunk, so everything feels better, they don't buy it.

Geoff Tipps

Senior Member
depends if I'm the driver or not.I like to tip a few when I play, usually whiskey.I've been playing a while so i know my limits and save the real drinking to after the show.Or not, sometimes the drink isn't all that appealing.


Junior Member
I won't drink more than one or two beers before a gig, if anything at all. I've been in bands where the singer or one of the players gets drunk before taking the stage, especially those gigs where you don't go on til late and you've been at the club for a few hours, and they suck. It's embarrassing. I feel like if we're getting paid to play, then we have an obligation to do our best and should have the will to stay sober until our job is done.


Gold Member
It was cool in high school to get loaded before a football game...marching band percussion section. In college band, a lot of the members were music majors, so they didn't drink before a gig. That's where I learned not to drink before a gig, drink afterwards if you have to, to celebrate fine playing. These people were serious about their music and wanting to do well, so they tied one on AFTER the gig...and man, did we have some great parties to celebrate!!

I've found that water or sweet tea is best when actually performing. I once got a sugar high from drinking sweet tea, and someone said that was the best I'd ever played. Not sure if that is right or not, but I like to keep water inside me since I sweat a lot.

My 2 cents.

Jon Cable

Silver Member
I've noticed that my playing improves immensely when I'm drunk; only yesterday I performed my interperation of Bozzios 'Black Page' when I drunkenly stumbled into my Rolands! Fantastic, can't understand why I've only done one gig in 20 years......