Refusing a gig because of the venue


Silver Member
Hi all

Just had a text from my bassist asking to do a gig at a club called 'Jay Jays'. Oh God where to start?

First of all the hassle of getting into the venue is bad. I know a few people including myself who have been turned away even with valid ID, laughed at and humiliated by the bouncers that work there.

If you manage to get in, the people there are just complete scum. Snorting in the toilets, starting fights for no reason, knocking you about when all you want to do is have a drink with some friends.

It doesn't help that this place is basically a dance club and the manager doesn't give a rats ass about who he lets in.

Anyway as much as i love drumming, i am saying no, i value my own safety and just as important, the safety of my band mates and our equipment.

Have any of you here decided to reject a gig because of the venue? I would love to hear your reasons and if you did play a gig that you were reluctant to play, how did it go?

Thanks everyone. I look forward to reading your comments.


Staff member
Yeah, good call JT1. Simply not worth it unless you really need the money, & even then, probably not. I've turned down numerous gigs over the years, for many different reasons. Lucky for me that I don't play for the money any more, so I can afford to be fussy. I never play a gig where I'm expected to play someone elses or the venue kit, and certainly not play any venue where there's band or gear safety issues.


Pioneer Member
Yikes! That sounds like an awesome place to meet a young lady :)

Stick to your guns on that man. No need to put yourself, or your gear in trouble like that.


If your gut feeling is not very good about any venue, opt out. I refused to play at many different gigs before the contracts were signed. Personal safety along with that of your equipment just doesn't make the job worth taking.



Silver Member
C'mon now, drunk belligerent hot heads with candy up their noses need to be entertained too, why the discrimination?

In all seriousness, I've played some sketchy places before, but never felt my gear or personal safety was at risk, sure I'll keep a closer eye on my stuff in some places, but I can't say it's because of a venues reputation, more so about how close our stuff is to a door or if there's not a secure place to store stuff.

Anyone care to share examples of when this has been an issue? I can't say I've heard too many horror stories about gear going missing / damaged or people getting involved in a little fisticuffs when the recipient of bad karma wasn't partially to blame in the first place.

But when it boils down to it JT1, do what you feel is comfortable with you - no one can argue with that.


Platinum Member
that reminds me of a place around here i used to play a lot with my old bands. i don't want to go back there and i know my current bandmates definitely don't want to go back there.

the main problem with this place is it's tiny. the stage is really small so i barely fit up there crammed into the corner. i can live with that, i guess, but another problem is the backstage area is also microscopically small and they typically have multiple bands playing on any given night so every band has all its gear stuffed in a very small space. it's super easy to get your gear mixed up with someone else's and if you don't keep a close eye on it, it would be ridiculously easy for some other band to grab your gear and walk out the backstage door with it, either on purpose or by accident. that almost happened a couple times, but because i was watching my stuff i caught whoever it was before they left with anything. my tactic there was to bring my gear in just before we'd go on, set it up, play our set, then pack everything up and get everything out of the club immediately afterwards.

the other problem with that place was they paid practically nothing. whatever you got was entirely dependent on door sales, so if not that many fans came you got nothing or nearly nothing. they would take a cut of our sales to pay the door person and the sound guy. i think the most we ever made there was maybe $80 for the whole band.

the regular crowd there was a bit rough, but i never personally got into any trouble. another band i'm friends with got sucked into a huge brawl there one night where basically everyone in the bar was fighting and a couple windows got broken.

so anyway, i refuse to play there anymore. it's a good place for original bands trying to get started because they'll basically let anyone play there, but now that i'm in a good cover band and we're playing in better venues i think i'm done with that place.

jon e rotten

Senior Member
In the last couple of years I've vetoed 2 places.

One was a club that stayed open later than the surrounding area clubs, and since the area I live in is often reffered to as the Meth capitol of the midwest(U.S.). You can imagine the crowd that came in about 2 A.M. Guys would come up to the stage with their eyes bugging out of their head and veins that looked like they were about to explode and want to play drums....not cool.

The second was a biker bar. Usually not a problem, but the owner of this one had just gotten out of prison for double murder. I still can't figure out how a guy in his 40's gets out of prison for killing 2 people (his wife and another dude) and then is able get a liquor liscense. I still wouldn't have minded playing there, but the guy was super rude and started acting psychotic towards the end of the night. Not to mention he looked like he had done nothing but workout in prison. I played there twice and the second time he started screaming for us to get out when we were packing up. I don't scare overly easy, but this dude scared the crap out of me.
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Gold Member
We've turned down some gigs and venues. And several our bassist simply refuses to play. Not because he is afraid or wimpy, quite differently. He is a former Army Ranger and can take care of himself quite easily. He simply refuses to play at these venues because they are dives and a lot of the patrons are scum. He doesn't want to mess with them. Besides these places don't pay much at all. And we respect his insights, since he knows about everybody and every place in town.

The other venues we've turned down are the kind of crappy houses where you sell tickets and the venue then takes a cut of your ticket sales to pay for the sound / PA guy and the door person, plus they stiff you for a % of the bar receipts. One place - trying to make a name for themselves - took $150 off the top of sales to "pay" the sound and door person, plus took 10% of bar receipts as a "bonus" for the bartender. So right off the top, a band is docked about $200 before they even see a cent from the venue.

You are wise to back out and not play. It's not worth putting up with it all for a few bucks.


Platinum Member
If I wanted to turn down gigs do to venue problems, there would be no place in Los Angeles to play!!

Most of them are located in an area with crappy parking. Most of them don't pay much. And the few that don't have parking issues are because they're located where no one knows they exist. ha!


Silver Member
I once played a place where a Biker guy wound up pistol whipping a guy who had pulled the gun on him. Turned into a crazy as hell situation with cops bullrushing in with rifles...the bar owner who had comfisgated the pistol,placed it up on the bar to which the cops yelled" get that f*cking thing outta here" knocking it back to the floor...this was all after our gig was finished but we were not allowed to leave for another 1/12/ hours to see if anyone was a witness ( we were not since we played the ajoining room when altercation occured) it was insane - I literally felt like I was dropped into a Hollywood film. We never played there again.

Another place I played had a bar fight *every* time we played there and drunks falling into equipment ( and shrubs outside) *every* time we played. There was also a coked up patron there one night who was begging to play my drums ( I can remember him saying "I assure you I won't damage them" )....I would not let him...he did not like that ...and he starred me down the entire rest of gig. Creepy guy too. That place also eventually got into problems legally.


Platinum Member
i hate it when drunk people want to play my drums! nobody ever bothers the guitar players to play their guitars, but for some reason drunk people always want to play the drums!


Junior Member
If the venue is that bad, ruff and full of scum of the earth, chances are you wouldn't be accomplishing anything anyways. Nobody with any class or connections to better clubs would be hanging around there. I have been there many times, scared to even load the van at the end of the night because you' ve already seen 5 fights inside.
I lived in Windsor Canada, outside Detroit city. You can drink at the age of 19 in Canada so it attracks thousands of underage Americans every weekend. There is stabbings, shootings, countless fights for absolutly no reason on a regular basis. I never bring my wife or friends to gigs in Windsor for these reasons.

Basically what i'm saying is, forget the shit holes, they aren't worth the money or risk. Keep looking and you will find safer higher class venues to play at. Its up to you and your band to be good enough to be hired. Set your standards.


Senior Member
This goes for anything, not just playing music. If I'm driving my car with a passenger that doesn't want me to take a short cut through a bad section of town, I feel that I must not take it. What right do I have to put someone else in a situation they do not wish to be in... just because I'm driving and it's my car? Not good enough reason for me to do what I want...!

Everyone in the band must feel comfortable and safe.
No one has the right to put others in situations like this!

If you do not want to do this. Then the answer is you shouldn't!


Senior Member
No venue pays well enough for a musician to have a night of worrying for the mood, his gear and most of all, his safety. It's that easy.


Mate, there is absolutely no way I'd play a gig in a place like that.

Seriously, don't even consider it. If you're worried about your safety, then no amount of money should lure you in. Screw venues like that.


Silver Member
Well it just so happens that my bass player agrees with me on this one, i apologise about not posting sooner, hectic weekend. I gotta say druid, i'm shocked and surprised at some of the stuff that you mentioned, guns and shootings i mean the venue i mentioned is rough but no where near as rough as some of the places in the states it seems!

dairyairman, i know why on earth do they always come to play the drums? Probably cause it's easy to sit down and bash out anything they want. I always refuse for drunk people to play unless i know them. If they do it anyway i remove my kit from the area until he is sitting with nothing but a stool and looks like a tool.

I watched one sound guy lose it at two drunk girls who refused to get off someones drum kit and he just screamed at them, they didn't do it again like lol.