Staying in the Pocket over the entire gig

ottog1979

Senior Member
Had two gigs with the same band this weekend (I'm in two). The second gig, Sunday afternoon, was killer. The band played great, in the groove and was well-received with a full dance floor for nearly all of the 3 hours.

So I was thinking during and after the gig... At times elusive, but most often I can get myself into the greasy pocket where I'm play well and generally the entire band follows along. But I noticed yesterday during the gig there were times when I drifted out of the awesome feeling pocket a bit. Not that it was bad or any mistakes when I drifted out, it just wasn't in the super-grease, feeling awesome. While playing, I was aware of all of this, sometimes feeling like I was watching myself playing along automatically but noticing now & then when I wasn't deep in the pocket.

What's everyone's experience with staying in the best part of the pocket? Is it possible continually for a 3 hour gig? Do you think about or focus on certain things? Do you also find yourself drifting in & out? Have you gotten better at staying in continuously with time & focus? It seems to take a fair amount of mental energy to do this consistently for long periods (like the whole gig).
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
I assume you're getting breaks and not playing 3 hours solid? That would be tough for anyone.

Even the best drummers will talk about days they played well and not so well. I take that to mean that even they, for whatever reason, don't feel they're always 100% in the pocket.

You mentioned about thinking about stuff during the gig. We're all guilty of that I'm sure. But thinking about how we're playing WHILE we're playing, or thinking about anything else is bound to take us out of that zone which can break the groove. You're quite right, it takes mental energy, focus, concentration, discipline. I think being really familiar with every part of a song, and being very comfortable with your own playing and timekeeping will make it much easier to stay loose, relaxed and in the pocket for longer. It's also easier to play better when it's songs we really like.

I look at sportsman's skills as a relative comparison to what we do. For instance, I was watching the world snooker championship on tv recently. Some top players that normally sail through early rounds just weren't this time, they couldn't find their stride, nothing was going right, while others were potting all the balls easily. They were in the zone and everything was falling into place.

Keep in mind too that if you're drifting out of the pocket it may not necessarily be you or just you, it could be that the other musicians around you are pushing or pulling on certain songs or parts of songs making it difficult for you to keep it greasy.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
Yes on taking breaks.

It's not so much "thinking" as it is awareness of super-greasy and awareness when it's not as I'm playing. The thinking/analysis comes after the gig. For me anyway, I can't really think my way to the pocket - I have to feel my way there.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
It really helps to have a bass player you can lock with, in my experience.

I was just going to say. This "pocket" business depends on which bass player I'm playing with.
And if I have to constantly work hard all night keeping the band from rushing or slowing down.

But yes, I've had great nights of being in the pocket all night. It's a real blessing.


.
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
Yes, this feels familiar:
Keep in mind too that if you're drifting out of the pocket it may not necessarily be you or just you, it could be that the other musicians around you are pushing or pulling on certain songs or parts of songs making it difficult for you to keep it greasy.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I so know what you mean.

My theory is that when a player is in the pocket, they are in a slightly meditative state....channeling if you will.... and when they "drift", it's because a conscious thought short circuited the meditative headspace they were formally in.

While the playing might not suffer, the player feels out of the zone. Are you sure that your playing drifted, or could it be your own internal perception of your playing drifted, because you switched gears mentally, and no one could tell from the playing?

If I could close my eyes the whole gig, I think I could feel the pocket all night. Lately I have been closing my eyes as much as I can. It's much easier for me to play eyes closed. My hearing is heightened, and closing my eyes frees up a nice chunk of brainpower that was used for processing complex images. Plus there are no distractions. Like a horse with blinders on. I miss a lot of action though :(
 
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