Unknown band, out of town gigs - experiences - thoughts.

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
My band is currently embarking on a period of playing away from our home circuit (circa 1.5 - 2 hours away). Nothing fancy, just pubs & clubs. Anyhow, we're playing to audiences that are largely belligerent & don't know us. The first such gig last week was a bit of a disaster in terms of audience numbers (maybe 10% of the expected numbers turned out), but that was due mostly to extremely bad weather. This Saturday, we're playing to a crowd that has a reputation for being especially difficult to please. Anyhow, any relevant experiences, tips, etc, either for general amusement or advise, greatly appreciated.

It's been 30 years since I struck out like this, so I'm sure the game has changed somewhat. I think festivals & rallies are fairly easy by comparison, as the audience is usually there to enjoy music.
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
tip number one: leave the windchime at home.

Andy, you guys are pretty tight and play often enough to win over a crowd. Just play to please yourselves first, the crowd will follow.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
If the music isn't having the desired effect, involving the people in the crowd usually works well. I think if you ask questions of audience members.... anything...just to get them involved...that goes a long way. Make them part of the entertainment. Picking on the dudes in the crowd, saying something like, "ladies, just so you know, that guy over there in the black silk shirt is actually a very famous person trying to remain incognito, try and guess who he is.... or pick out a nice looking girl and by audience applause, ask them how much they like her dress. Or announce that the next song is a dance contest and the winner, by applause, gets a free drink on the band. Anything to bring everyone together for a common goal is the ticket. Breaking down the barrier between audience and band works every time.

Bands that have that kind of crowd connection...as long as the music doesn't outright suck, they will go over better than the band who plays perfectly but has bad to no crowd interaction skills.

Pick on the crowd in a fun way. Works every time. Be fun, not serious.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
There is a really great up and coming band in the D/FW area called Fourth Echo. They play mostly covers but have about 10 originals. Every time I've seen these guys play, they always:
1) seem to be having a really great time of it,
2) crack jokes amongst themselves,
3) involve the audience from the first song to the last.

The front man is a bit of a cut up and it works extremely well for them. And these guys are setting the place on fire; they have a great following. Plus they are all around nice guys and thoroughly work the crowd during breaks and sincerly thank everyone for coming out.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
My band is currently embarking on a period of playing away from our home circuit (circa 1.5 - 2 hours away). Nothing fancy, just pubs & clubs. Anyhow, we're playing to audiences that are largely belligerent & don't know us. The first such gig last week was a bit of a disaster in terms of audience numbers (maybe 10% of the expected numbers turned out), but that was due mostly to extremely bad weather. This Saturday, we're playing to a crowd that has a reputation for being especially difficult to please. Anyhow, any relevant experiences, tips, etc, either for general amusement or advise, greatly appreciated.

It's been 30 years since I struck out like this, so I'm sure the game has changed somewhat. I think festivals & rallies are fairly easy by comparison, as the audience is usually there to enjoy music.
Right now,I'm picturing the first Blues Brothers movie,complete with chicken wire,a barrage of beer bottles and an endlees rendition of the theme to TV's "Rawhide"

Issue body armor ,polycarbonite goggles and Kevlar helmets to the band.

Kidding.Just do what you guys do,and do it with confidence borne of hundreds of performances.You guys know what you're doing..trust yourselves.

Just consider this a challenge from the usual range of comfort you're used too.Sometimes a challenge makes you step up your game if need be.Just the ticket.



Talk to club owners,staff and check out the play list of the local radio stations to get an idea of what the locals listen to.Fore armed is well armed

Anyway...break a leg.......you know what I mean.nudge ,nudge,wink,wink...cheers>:):):)

Steve B
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks guys - all good encouragement. Good to know all I have to do is smile a bit more, leaving the weight of responsibility to the singer :) About time he did some work, the smug little gig bag carrying microphone setting up git (love him really:)

Back to another out of town gig after the next two. It's one we turned up to cold only a year ago, but now we pack the place to the point of being silly, get paid a ton of money, & have a fantastic time. We "built that up" over 3 or 4 appearances. Word got around, & the next thing we know, we've got a "banker" gig there every time :) Sometimes, we win through!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Do what you do and I think all will be fine. Would a female in the band help? That's seems to be what we do around here.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Love to offer advice but for the most part I've always played in non commercial groups whose small bar and club audiences don't like very much. (If I had my way the music would be a whole lot less commercial still).

Steve's post makes sense to me, far more so than your last comment, Andy!
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Steve's post makes sense to me, far more so than your last comment, Andy!
Yes, quite naughty of me Grea, I apologise for maligning the often superior gender by implication, but I couldn't resist having a childish pop at some of my own bandmates ;)
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
For what it's worth, I think you just need to do what you usually do. Trying to second guess audiences and change things to suit your impression of what the audience will be is a recipe for disaster. We went through a period of breaking new venues and such a while back and nearly always our attempt at second guessing the audience was not brilliant. Once we gave that up and just concentrated on doing our show the way we normally do, it was all good.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
For what it's worth, I think you just need to do what you usually do. Trying to second guess audiences and change things to suit your impression of what the audience will be is a recipe for disaster. We went through a period of breaking new venues and such a while back and nearly always our attempt at second guessing the audience was not brilliant. Once we gave that up and just concentrated on doing our show the way we normally do, it was all good.
I think that's pretty grounded advise Ian - thank you :)
 
A couple of months ago we did a mini-tour, the first stop was this wine cellar that had bands perform. We didn't think much of it until we saw their website. We noticed most of the bands performing there were acoustic acts and the drummers were sitting on cajons. We spoke with the owner and told them we were a rock band and the owner insisted that we play full backline. Got to the gig early, surveyed the room (it was an old brick building) and we knew the sound was going to difficult to work with. Setup our backline, I equipped myself with a 3 piece (kick, snare, floor) and then a ride and hi hat. Room got packed as it was a Friday night. I started the gig with small sticks by the end of the first set I was down to rods but people were still digging it. We sold all our shirts that night and had nothing left for the rest of the tour except demos and CDs. I would say the audience ranged from 21 to 65, it was a pretty diverse crowd but I'm completely glad we adjusted our sound prior to the first downbeat which alot of bands tend to neglect. We stop there every 3 months and see a bigger crowd every time. Probably one of my favorite gigs to play now despite not playing my full kit.
 

JohnW

Silver Member
How about some shameless pandering? Do a little research into say, the town's football team, local hero, legend, restaurant, whatever. If the crowd seems a little restless or unenthusiastic go, "Hey, let's give it up for Iron foot Jones!" or "I'd like to dedicate this next song to the ghost of Constance Truscott". I wouldn't overdo it but as belligerent as they might be, who doesn't want to be recognized from the stage?

A few years ago, I helped get a Cape Breton group to play locally. Instead of just 'phoning it in', they added songs to their set list that were written in or about Gloucester and Rockport (Cape Ann). They told stories of some of the maritime interplay between Nova Scotia and Cape Ann, the fishing and the granite quarry industry. They could have just played stuff off of a CD and it would have been fine. But they made a huge personal connection with everyone who was there.

-John
 
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Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Maybe you can have a mesmerizing video screen with lots of psychadelic stuff and subliminal messages that hypnotise the audience to stay put and drink heavily. Just a thought... We had to give up our 4-20 gig because it turned into a pay to play gig. We don't have a big enough fan base to get people to buy tickets for an LA show. bummer.
 
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