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Bluewine

Your Worst Gig Ever

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In 42 years of gigging I've only once ever played to zero audience - a gig in Llandovery when there happened to also be a local festival going on.  Played half the set to the staff, who enjoyed it

Worst non-gig was a booking for a summer outdoor festival in the Valleys, turned up to find the power supply was a single extension lead plugged into another extension lead plugged into a shed with one domestic socket.  Our PA is 2KW.   We snuck off quietly before anyone had noticed we'd arrived.......:scratch_one-s_head:

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47 minutes ago, Shaggy said:

In 42 years of gigging I've only once ever played to zero audience - a gig in Llandovery

Some might say you had a lucky escape! 

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It's weird how sometimes what is revving up to be a horrific gig turns out to be great. I did a wedding gig in Bath with Duncan Oakley a while back. It was is a posh marquee at the back of a posh house, home of the bride's posh family. The groom was a South African BMX rider and his somewhat feral family had flown over from Capetown. 

The speeches went on forever, and then food didn't arrive until gone  9.00, after everyone had been quaffing champers for 2 hours - so, diametrically opposite families, all whizzed, when we finally got on stage. Could have been carnage, but amazingly everyone got on great and then dance floor was full from first number. Abiding memory was looking up halfway through Tainted Love to see a dog riding past on a skateboard!

Another wedding in Bristol started off bad and got worse. Location was a village hall and we had to set up and sound check during the meal and speeches behind the stage curtain. Ever tried sound sound checking without making any noise?! Second number, the American groom wanted to sing My Girl with us - just play it exactly like the Temptations he said. However, we got to the key change in verse 3 and changed key - he didn't,  so we went back to the original key while he did the key change. It went down hill from there onwards!

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We were asked to play at a wedding once. We turned up at the venue and there was another Celidh band playing as well. They had set up taking up the whole stage. Everyone was still finishing off their meal, so we never got any kind of a sound check. We squeezed into the tiny bit left for us and started. It was like tumbleweed blowing across the dance floor. I’m also the singer, so I kept shouting to the guitarist , get out front and tell me how it’s sounding, is it us or is the sound bad? He wouldn’t move. I was raging because something was clearly wrong. A few weeks later the groom met me in a bar. Do you rehearse ? He asked. Yes I said. Well you should have rehearsed before you played at our wedding. I was mad. He knows we could play and it was himself and his wife that had asked us to play on the strength of seeing us play in the bars. It was all down to no sound check, no monitors, no room and the wrong crowd. 

 Note to self. Never put up with another band  leaving you no room. Always have some kind of sound check , no matter how many people shout at you to hurry up and start. Different venues have different acoustics, so settings from last Friday, won’t cut it for the wedding! 

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Ubit's post above reminds me of a similar situation. It doesn't qualify as a worst gig ever, because it actually went well for us.. I was playing fiddle with an Irish trad band and we turned up to play a wedding at a smart venue In Wimbledon to find not another ceilidh band but a disco taking up the entire stage. There were piles of speakers, lights, smoke machines and junk all over the place. The DJ was an arrogant fat git - when we asked if he could make some room for us, he sniffed contemptuously and refused. So we set up at the side of the stage and played and everyone enjoyed us. The clincher was that we had a high quality EV PA, so we sounded great. By comparison, our hero's massive pile of gear was the cheapest, nastiest disco equipment possible. It sounded like a portable radio, but staggeringly loud and distorted. As soon as he started playing his stuff, the place emptied. Hardly anyone got up to dance and the organisers could be seen complaining to him. Very satisfying. We just stood at the bar smiling contentedly and watching him suffer.

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My band played at Grand Central in Manchester in 2003 or 2004. I remember nothing about it except getting changed in the disabled toilet. I don't even remember how we got there (we live at the other end of North Wales), whose kits I used. Nothing. Total blank. I was talking about it with my brother and my friend while we were there on Saturday before the Behemoth gig. They had a similar experience with the addition of "It was awful" .  So that as my worst gig I reckon. The band disintegrated a few months after that (last gig was in Rhyl!).  

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We actually had so many terrible gigs over the years. We did have many superb gigs. I think it was just the sheer number of gigs we were playing back in the 90’s and 2000’s. some of the wierd and backwater places that used to put on music , that by the law of averages, you are gonna get some terrible gigs. It’s funny, most of them we can look back at and laugh now. Just about everything that happened in Spinal Tap happened to us at some point. I think that’s why I can relate to that movie so much. It’s funny but you are thinking , wait a minute, we did that !

Edited by ubit

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9 hours ago, ProjeKtWEREWOLF said:

My band played at Grand Central in Manchester in 2003 or 2004. I remember nothing about it except getting changed in the disabled toilet. I don't even remember how we got there (we live at the other end of North Wales), whose kits I used. Nothing. Total blank. I was talking about it with my brother and my friend while we were there on Saturday before the Behemoth gig. They had a similar experience with the addition of "It was awful" .  So that as my worst gig I reckon. The band disintegrated a few months after that (last gig was in Rhyl!).  

Believe it I or not, Grand Central is still going! A lot of the better music venues have folded, but (inexplicably) that has survived!

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I can see by a few of these posts that weddings quite often feature in worst gigs. I think, certainly in my experience, that some couples see you play in a pub, think, oh, they are good, then book  you for their wedding and the place is full of possibly older relations, couples who might have had fun once, but have young kids to look after. Said kids have free reign over the dance floor cos it’s cute. A mixture of relations that have never seen you. Plus the venue might be a large hall , when your pa is suitable for a small pub. At the end of the day, it’s a completely different animal to your pub gig

 

 

edit. We played a party once and the whole of the first half, the dance floor was empty. The lights were on full and everyone was sober. As the evening progressed, gradually people started venturing onto the floor. I spoke to a guy after the gig and he said, once you started playing dancey stuff people got up. We had deliberately changed our first set to include more popular songs that this same guy had danced to at an earlier party! You can’t expect people to dance in bright lights sober. We were agonising as we know that you need to dim the lights to tempt the first revellers onto the edge of the floor. Once they get up, the rest will follow. 

Edited by ubit

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Many years ago we played at yet another wedding. There was a young couple also playing who had fiddle and accordion. When we arrived they were playing. They had full house lights on and the dance floor was empty. The first thing we did as we set up around them was to switch on our lights and turn off the house lights. Immediately folk started dancing. It turned into a good night and the young duo were very grateful to us for helping them. They could play, but it was just not the right atmosphere. 

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1 hour ago, Teebs said:

Believe it I or not, Grand Central is still going! A lot of the better music venues have folded, but (inexplicably) that has survived!

We were there for a few beers on Saturday before so going to see Behemoth. It was pretty traumatic.  Haha. 

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Worst gig?

Too many to pick just one, to be honest!

I first started gigging in original bands back in the late 90s. In the first band I was in - a three piece in which I was the frontman, playing guitar and vocals - we persisted for almost 3 years and during the second year (2000), things started coming together (due in part to me actually listening to advice and having vocal coaching).

We got offered a major opportunity to support a big local band in a large venue on a Saturday night and we were hyped. But the turnout for our set was poor; the opening band hadn't brought anyone, and neither had we. 15 people in a 250 capacity venue doesn't look great from up on stage if you're an egotistical 21 year old.

I was a total w***ker back then, and walked off stage after the second song in a total huff. Looking back, I CRINGE at how I behaved. The next day I was summoned by the two other band members for a chat - if that happened again I was out. I'm amazed they wanted to carry on to be honest - but we did for another year, playing some much better shows until things fizzled out naturally.

I've played many other gigs where the support bands have been so catastrophically bad they've literally driven the crowd out the venue before our set. And too many gigs where the soundcheck hasn't happened & the first few songs have sounded terrible as a result. 

Sometimes I really do miss it, but looking back,  gigging in an originals band was generally an exercise in masochism :D

(Les McQueen).

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2 hours ago, cjm_2019 said:



I've played many other gigs where the support bands have been so catastrophically bad they've literally driven the crowd out the venue before our set. 

 

Don’t tell me, the support band were so bad that the crowd were still booing when you came on? 😂

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Reminds me of when we played with a different drummer for a while. We played a song and I just got lost. Forgot the bassline, forgot the lyrics. The song fell apart. The drummer threw down his sticks and walked off. What really annoyed me was that my mate the guitarist backed the drummer and said you mucked up. I said, we have played for years and any time there’s a mistake, what do we do? We immediately hit them with something good that we know. Evening saved. There and then I said, you stood up for him against me, Tou think it’s ok to go mental and storm off stage thus ending the night. I left the band and it was only after many months that I came back after apologies from them , as they needed a bass player and a singer. 

Edited by ubit

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On 10/02/2019 at 17:13, ubit said:

One time we were taking a break and I turned round to see the guitarist with someone by the throat. I asked what was that? The guy had set his pint on top of our mixing desk. What a dickish move. The desk isn’t even flat!

I remember a gig a few years ago where someone put their (full) pint on the drummer's crash cymbal. It was immediately obvious that it had very little to offer as a table. Annoyed punter had lost his pint, and annoyed drummer had beer on his kit. I think the gig went downhill from there.

Edited by FinnDave
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3 hours ago, cjm_2019 said:

I was a total w***ker back then

Now if I had said that, people would be saying "what do you mean, 'back then'..?"

Now, they're thinking it. :lol: 

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53 minutes ago, ubit said:

Don’t tell me, the support band were so bad that the crowd were still booing when you came on? 😂

I'd have been happy if they'd stuck around to boo - the worst incident of this I can remember was in a venue that had three floors (bands played on the top floor); the band on before us was an 'industrial noise death metal' act.

I like heavy stuff, but they were just noise. They played for their allotted slot time & the entire audience headed for the other floors halfway through their first tune.

We made a point of checking which other bands were on the bill from that point onward, and turned down several offers from promoters to play with the same band :D

Another funny incident was a battle of the bands final (remember those!?) where we totally f**cked up a click-track driven 'atmospheric intro' because our drummer couldn't hear the click (it was fine in the soundcheck) :D

When that intro track worked it worked a treat, but for that gig, in front of 200+ punters, we just stood there like lemons while the sound engineer tried to work out how to stop it going through the FOH mix.

I just laughed, shrugged my shoulders & waited. Once it was sorted we broke into the first tune & it went pretty well. We came second :D

 

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Worst, easily the 'something' Blues Collective in the Uxbridge, Ruislip area of greater London.

The guy that ran the 'collective' was a prized 'cnut'.  Anything you had or did he had 50 of or had already done.  He was an ex school teacher that went to work as a school inspector, he had to leave his job at the local school as he did not get on with the pupils (i.e. he was a gypsy's kiss poor teacher....)

  • He saw my Omega watch and claimed to collect Rolexes
  • He saw my Mercedes ML and claimed to collect Mercedes S class vehicles
  • He saw my Fender Deluxe Jazz V and claimed to have ~50 guitar's and various vintage amps but preferred his Fender Pawn shop model and Blues Junior amp

I cannot describe the level of cnutness.....!

The drummer was a pot head and had clearly achieved little in life, including the ability to wash

The lead guitar player was actually a nice chap, but must have spent £5000+ on his kit - huge pedal board, vintage amp and PRS guitars, he was okay and rolled his eyes a fair bit at both the drummer and 'out leaders' capability.  He was a pretty capable player.

Anyway, I was not doing much else so played the first rehearsal and committed to a second.  The leader was not specific on the versions of covers he was doing, so, it was all a bit of guess work at first and very loose in terms of changes and lead - far too loose for a set or a live gig.  I was invited back for a second rehearsal at a local pub on a Tuesday night, I was told that the pub had a spare room and that the landlord let him rehearse there for free.

Turns out the spare room, is in fact the bar.  Alarm bells rang when he started to unpack a PA and setup a full rig.  We were simply not ready for a gig, but the 'leader' insisted that this was a rehearsal......it clearly was not.

I apologize to the 1 punter in the pub in Ruislip that had to put up with that unholy din whilst reading the paper.

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1 hour ago, gpw5150 said:

Worst, easily the 'something' Blues Collective in the Uxbridge, Ruislip area of greater London.

The guy that ran the 'collective' was a prized 'cnut'.  Anything you had or did he had 50 of or had already done.  He was an ex school teacher that went to work as a school inspector, he had to leave his job at the local school as he did not get on with the pupils (i.e. he was a gypsy's kiss poor teacher....)

  • He saw my Omega watch and claimed to collect Rolexes
  • He saw my Mercedes ML and claimed to collect Mercedes S class vehicles
  • He saw my Fender Deluxe Jazz V and claimed to have ~50 guitar's and various vintage amps but preferred his Fender Pawn shop model and Blues Junior amp

I cannot describe the level of cnutness.....!

 

I almost certain this is the same guy I played with for a couple of months when I first moved back to the UK, so early 2013. I remember his vast collection of guitars and his inability to play any of them. A low point was reached when I had to tune the chosen guitar of the day for him.

Best day was when he 'auditioned' another drummer because our usual guy had ducked out of a rehearsal as he had family over from Australia, and the 'new' drummer turned it to be a consummate pro. After 3 or 4 numbers with the two us trying not to laugh he told them they were wasting his time and started to pack up, and said they were all useless feckers, except the bass player (didn't make me too popular!). Apparently he was receiving threatening emails from the Merc driving (I did see him in at least one) martial arts expert ex-school inspector for weeks afterwards. Sound familiar?

I've since played a few deep gigs with the drummer, and ran into the fantasy guitarist in the old PMT shop in Oxford. He recognised and insisted on showing me how they were doing certain songs by then ( a year or two later). His playing was still unbelievably bad, he had to put his left hand finger in the right place on the fretboard with has right hand before he started! Total nutcase.

Initials R.G?

Edited by FinnDave
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1 minute ago, taunton-hobbit said:

The White Bear, Ruislip?

😎

A few years ago, but yes, I think so.

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7 minutes ago, gpw5150 said:

The guy that ran the 'collective' was a prized 'cnut'.  Anything you had or did he had 50 of or had already done. 

Man, I once knew someone exactly like that. In addition to the fact that he constantly spewed BS on a grandiose scale, he was also very large, incredibly loud, and possessed a laugh something akin to an even more stupid, adult version of Butthead on speed.

For a while he used to get really canned down at the local rock nightclub and then turn up at my mate's cellar where we all used to 'hang out' , smoke a few doobies and jam endlessly. He foolishly fell asleep in a drunken stupor on the couch a few times and all manner of evilness was visited upon his person... roaches up the nose, simultaneous dead arms and legs which caused him to writhe like a monstrous slug, that kind of juvenile stuff. The amazing thing was that he came back week after week for more of the same... The only saving grace was that he wasn't a musician.

My worst gig was probably back in the mid-80's at a high class entertainment establishment in Bootle known as the Firehouse. Some argument between the locals and the bouncers developed into full blown carnage, involving baseball bats, flying bottles etc, all resulting in various split heads. Thankfully we were skulking somewhere out of the way at the side of the stage, but it was  pretty frightening stuff at the time...

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29 minutes ago, FinnDave said:

I've since played a few deep gigs with the drummer, and ran into the fantasy guitarist in the old PMT shop in Oxford. He recognised and insisted on showing me how they were doing certain songs by then ( a year or two later). His playing was still unbelievably bad, he had to put his left hand finger in the right place on the fretboard with has right hand before he started! Total nutcase.

Chortling at him positioning his finger with his other hand whilst demonstrating a song in a guitar shop!

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5 hours ago, cjm_2019 said:

I've played many other gigs where the support bands have been so catastrophically bad they've literally driven the crowd out the venue before our set.

I did one like that in the late 90s in London. It was one of those 4 completely different bands on the bill, but seemingly well organised - we'd already done another London gig the month before with the same promoter which went down brilliantly. This one was completely different. 

We were playing in a venue underneath a posh-looking bar somewhere in central London. The first two bands had been blandly inoffensive and a decent sized audience had built up. Then the band before us came on. Their opening comment was: "Today we just signed to (insert name of minor late 90s Indie label so insignificant no-one can remember who they are now) so flip you all!" and proceeded to "play" a set that seemingly consisted of 25 minutes of non-stop feedback and shouting while the drummer flailed drunkenly at his kit. They managed to drive every single person out of the room including the PA engineer. I stayed only to make sure they didn't decide to finish their set by demolishing all the gear on stage (which included ours). We played to 3 people who had come from Nottingham in the singer's car.

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