Sunday, 13 March 2011

Gig ettiquette - a tale to be told.. and a thank you...

... now, dont get me wrong, as a solo musician, i absolutely love my job...i have complete freedom, but i never take it for granted and work my ass off to ensure that everything works right, and im in top form all the time, and treat every gig like its my last, and NEVER dis-respect anyone on a gig, or, for that matter, on my social time..

....however, ever since playing live professionally, I have noticed this "phenomenon" that happens, once in a while...  the gaggle of girls...  worse still, on their "hen-night" party, and even worse still, they clock me, like a sitting duck, and decide that no matter what i play, it simply isnt right, or not good enough...  expecting Disney studios to setup at the local club where im playing..   

after 15 years of hearing.." do you do Mustang Sally..? "  or  " .. do you do Summer of 69.." (well actually.. lol.. i may just do that one day..   or worse, worse still.. ".. do you do Brown Eyed Girl..."  I had thought i'd heard it all... 

on said evening, many moons ago i happened to have had an extremely good gig the night before, so was in the highest of spirits..  all was not, as it appears..

upon walking into the venue.. i was greeted warmly, and proceeded to load my gear in, and setup and order my customary lager shandy, and lemonade and water... thank you muchly...   ahh, that lovely feeling, when you're all comforatbly setup, and the guitars are all checked indiviually, all in tune, strings changed the night before,...  i then get about an hour to comfortably relax and think about what sort of set im going to play for the evening, whos coming, whos asked for requests via. email..etc..  and generally prepare for what i look forward to most about my job.. playing guitar and singing...

9pm came, and i lept up with my guitar in hand, launching into a nice set of mellow numbers, ripples of applause reverberated through the nice hearty crowd.. a few walked out... hey, thats life, you cannot please everybody.. 

the mid-break came, and i was starting to get really pumped about the customary rock numbers from hendrix, pink floyd.. when.. to my horror.. in they walked..

trundling through the door, came 6 of essex's finest.. all dressed in pink and white, with fluffy tails, and ears...   you'd think i'd be suitably impressed, and maybe pop over and say.. hello ladies, in a suitable Leslie Phillips style tone.. alas, these ladies werent for whistling at, not that its very PC to do that nowadays.. and I cant even whistle..  i digress..

so, now my choice was, knowing theyd had a few, and they would almost certainly want "those numbers" (see above)...

do i either stick to my guns, and play what i enjoy, as, quite frankly, id play it much better..

or do i launch into my customary "pop" set.. which i also love, i really do.. numbers that fall into the classic rock/pop category would be.. 
crazy little thing called love, maggie mae, i predict a riot, sex on fire, and maybe some oasis.. which i can almost certainly live with...   i have the lot, suitably armoured up thank you... 

However, the students, and mailing list devotees that have turned up.. but never make themselves known until the next morning in an email!! lol, are expecting Classic Rock..  did you hear that,  CLASSIC ROCK..  you know,  Hendrix, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton.. oooo dear, let me get my sarcasm hat on here..  but ladies, that may' mean, let close my eyes and grit my teeth as i say this..   A guitar solo...  aaaaaarrrgghhhh...

see, thats my whole point.. when they left, after i stuck to my guns.. they probably thought..  he was a bit shit.. he didnt play <insert latest trendy song>  forgetting that i actually DO play modern "trendy" songs.. but only if they are going to work live!.. 

assume, i'd done Mustang Sally for instance..  they would almost certainly rush to the stage, and sing along to that bit.. you know... the bit...  reminds of when the commitments movie came out... people thought they were being trendy by copying that music, which in itself is GREAT..  I love wilson pickett as much as the next guy.. but these people are half-assing it... they dont know music...  should they ? 

perhaps i should alter all my setlist, and play what "everyone" wants to hear...  did that for 10 years... in bands... still people werent happy, and worse still.. i was forever trying to second guess the audience.. which meant, when i got it wrong,  they hated, and so did i..

so, ive got off the subject a little..  but these lovely darlings resplendant in their celebratory rags were still there..  my guns and roses won the day.. thank god for that track..  and many more besides..    but they only stayed for one or two drinks.. what about the people that love pink floyd who were emptying their pockets at the bar.. looking forward(!) to seeing me play again, at the same venue..

I think there comes a time, when, as a musician, you have to say, ok, enoughs enough.. im far more interested in building up a hardcore following of people who are going to love what i do, communicate with me, email me, give me feedback, positive AND negative, so i can play music that we ALL enjoy...  rather than "bend" at every opportunity, and get scared (lol!) of a rabble of girls that walk in, and fold and leave my regular people out in the cold, by playing numbers that would be better suited on a karaoke machine...

like i said, dont get me wrong for one minute.. but after trying every method under the sun.. what we are talking about here, is looking afer the venue, AND the musician.. its symbiotic..  if the artist performing is happy, it WILL, and DOES, rub off on the audience.. wether hes playing Comfortably Numb.. or My old mans a dustman..  trust me..  why should you?  because its my job, and its all ive ever known.. and more importantly..  you're the one whos reading this, that IS a follower of me as a performer and musician..  the true people who i should be playing to.. 

...until next time..  so excuse me while i launch into some pussycat dolls..  quiet rant over...

1 comment:

  1. That's all so true, Steve. Well said. In my experience it is between the venue and the musician; if both are happy, the event returns and with a slight regularity you will build an interest there 'musically' which will in turn make the venue happier and richer and in turn yourself happier and richer. Unfortunately there are those who just don't appreciate live music. These are also the same people who are as deep as 'automatic' can be and don't even realise they are alive-
    However there are also those (and we all know them)who like live music, or at least pretend to (because it's cool to be seen so) who are suddenly experts and can't wait to critise. There's two things I know about these people like that inadvertently saves their graces.
    1. Thery're not as good as you.
    2. They'd love to have your skill but haven't the passion and religion to do so.
    Jon Lodge.