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davie

Pub Gigs are they worth the hassle?

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Ladies and gents, I haven't played pub gigs for years. I was always wary of playing in pubs because of the hassle of loading in and out through a drunken crowd, people falling into you while playing and watching to see where the next fight was happening. 

I've now been offered a post- Covid job in a band. They are a friendly bunch, quite busy and have a set list I would really enjoy playing. However quite a lot of the gigs are in pubs. 

My question is, are pub gigs worth the hassle? I don't have any other offers on the table and if the gigs were all in clubs I wouldn't have any hesitation in accepting. 

What do you think?

Edited by davie

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It depends.

Do you enjoy it? Yes.

Do you need the money? Yes.

I can't think of any other reasons than the above.

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only ever seen two punch ups in ten years (due to the age of the punters!) and they were nowhere near the band. The hassle of the setup and takedown is something you have to accept (I hate it but there you go). I love the beer money, it lets me buy all my gear and GAS. TBH I haven't missed gigging over the last 2 months (and the 8 gigs we lost) but I always say that but actually enjoy it on the night. I would say think about it carefully as if you join the band then change your mind after a couple of gigs you'd be letting the lads down.

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For me it's more a case of which pubs are too much hassle, whether it be the clientele, the landlord/lady, load in etc.

If the pub is a good one , then generally I'll enjoy the gig and consider it, worthwhile.

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If you're doing the pubs, you just have to be prepared for the odd hell-hole, and learn from the experience. 

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2 minutes ago, gary mac said:

For me it's more a case of which pubs are too much hassle, whether it be the clientele, the landlord/lady, load in etc.

If the pub is a good one , then generally I'll enjoy the gig and consider it, worthwhile.

yeah good call, if it's a stinky poo pub, play once and never go back (if you all agree), they're usually pretty obvious.

 

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We are not big time enough to play anything other than pubs, occasionally a club or a private function for mates of the band.  To date no real hassles above the set up and take down when it's very busy.  Mostly it's been a good laugh.

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3 minutes ago, gary mac said:

For me it's more a case of which pubs are too much hassle, whether it be the clientele, the landlord/lady, load in etc.

If the pub is a good one , then generally I'll enjoy the gig and consider it, worthwhile.

That’s it for me, it’s down to the specifics of the venue in question (White Hart, Gary?).

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I haven't had any trouble worth mentioning on pub gigs in many years.

The better gigs will be going to the guys who are out there playing, being seen and making contacts.

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If it's a good pub with a good crowd then go for it. You may surprise yourself.

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I’d echo the wise comments from the guys above.

If it was me I’d be taking a close look at the pubs and places they play already. So similar to Gary Mac.

The load-in, load-out, travel, late night hassles are going to be there wherever you play.

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I think we tend to hear more horror stories than “no incident” accounts to be fair. It’s likely that most pub gigs go without incident, but that’s not much of a story is it?

Dependent on the reputation of the pub in question of course, but I’ve seen as many fights, stooopid behaviour at weddings/club gigs as pub gigs. Alcohol + human can equal @resehole, geography isn’t the issue.

At least with most pub gigs you’re likely to finish at 11:00-12:00, but with less pay. As opposed to function gig that may pay better, but often finish later. 
Maybe try a couple of gigs, see how it goes? 

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if it wasn't for pubs we wouldn't do many gigs, yes there are some bad ones ( the most trouble we had was when one of the singers ex wives showed up just after she'd found out he was cheating on her, singers eh?) , but they just makes the good ones even better

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I nearly lost my front teeth at one pub gig when one of the punters knocked into my mic stand. SM57s are pretty tough in comparison to my top lip!

Loading up, going out, setting up, performing, watching your gear like a hawk in case someone either tries to run off with it or thinks they're Eric Clapton, knocking down, loading up, going home, loading out.

Can be a ball ache and all for less than minimum wage too. Can't understand why more folks don't do it to be honest! :)

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To paraphrase Pete Thorn (can't find the video right now), the three elements of a good gig (in the ongoing sense) are:

  • The music
  • The money
  • The craic (or 'the hang' as he puts it)

If you have all 3, you're golden. Any 2 is good, because they compensate for the shortcomings in the other one. But just one is rarely enough.

Assess your pub band experience against these criteria - what does it score on a scale of 0 to 3?

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Pub gigs are some of the most enjoyable gigs we do. Obviously not as lucrative as functions, but they're more relaxed and can be a huge amount of fun particularly when the crowd is up and dancing / joining in, in the hour before last orders! 

Missing doing them already! 

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Just my opinion, but I think it helps to be smart about how you set up and take down and what equipment you bring.

Most pubs are terrible for load ins of big heavy equipment. So only take what you need for that venue - dont lug everything you have into and out of there. You wont need it and you'll have to carry it all in, find somewhere to put it, and carry it all out and back into storage again. Take a suitable PA, and a few spares. Spend time working out the most economical way of setting up and make sure everyone has a job to do.

Also, think of your set up. What do you have - how can it be made easier to set up - how much faster can you do it? If you have pedals etc why not put them on a pedal board, all you need to do is connect 2 cables and you're done. Guitarists are usually the worst for this - individually unpacking every pedal individually, then separately powering up and connecting each one. I've seen guitarist take nearly 45 mins just setting up their own equipment!

The amount of bands you see lugging huge PA in, then a million difficult to carry boxes including a million cables, then a whole host of amps, pedals, 4 ways, kettle leads, separate lights etc etc is frightening.

It may seem like nothing, but honestly doing this makes doing pub gigs so much easier. You wont get as stressed getting in, you wont get as stressed setting up or taking down, and your escape out of their will be easier. The whole thing becomes quicker, tidier and more fun. I found it was never the gig itself, just badly planned set ups that ruined it.

Oh, and get a couple of heavy duty hand trucks - worth their weight in gold.

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I'd rather play a pub than a posh wedding!

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As others say, most pubs are absolutely fine. Cant recall ever playing a pub where I've felt in danger of any sort, and i can only think of one bar fight whilst playing. 

Load in/loud out vary massively too, as with any type of gig - some of the wedding gigs I've done have been horrific. But I think that is more down to what gear you decide to take, and if the band have a sensible PA. Some of the PA's ive seen in pubs are simply stupid. And then theres the drummers that insist on having 20 cymbals to play some classic rock covers, or the guitarists who need to have their 2 4x12's to play to about 30 folk.  If the band are sensible, then load in/load outs are ok. My load in is on trip. bass on my back. Amp in one hand, the other hand free to open doors. 

If you enjoy playing the set, then I think the positives outweigh the negatives so go for it!

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8 minutes ago, la bam said:

 Guitarists are usually the worst for this - individually unpacking every pedal individually, then separately powering up and connecting each one. I've seen guitarist take nearly 45 mins just setting up their own equipment!

 

I've seen a guitarist spend that long 'setting up' a f****** distortion pedal! 

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We play mainly pub gigs. Yes, there is hassle, loading out through a load of drunk people who are in your way (never really an issue going in), drunk people that want to join in and fall over your equipment, drunk people that get really stroppy that you won't play any oasis, drunk people spilling stuff over your equipment. So yes, drunk people in general (who I have never liked).  Then there is the setup where you and the drummer carry loads of stuff in and set it up while the guitarist treats you to half an hour of pentatonic whiddling and stupid volume, while asking if we are ready for sound check, the breakdown where the guitarist gets his amp and goes and the singer goes to chat up people while you and the drummer break everything down.

But I miss it a lot, I see the calendar reminding me of pub gigs that we aren't doing. The one in the pub that is too small and you keep hitting people with the bass, the ones where they are going to go mad for a couple of songs, the ones where they try to join in, and the ones where they just flat out ignore you, and I have missed every one.

So yes, it very much is worth it.

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As to pub gigs - there's no real reward in it other than diesel and an illicit Tunnocks biccy on the way home.

90% of them are a logistical nightmare, usually no car park or load-ins through 18 inch doors, added to the fact that drummers can't seem to grasp the concept of their mountain of cases taking up space you could otherwise be standing in.

An indifferent crowd will make you question your very sanity regarding all of the above.

A good crowd that wants to get involved will make you beg for the next one.

 

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46 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

That’s it for me, it’s down to the specifics of the venue in question (White Hart, Gary?).

Ooh the White hart, old high street? that was my local when I lived in Hemel, back in the 70's, loved that pub, and the atmosphere, and the scary landlady sat on a bar stool by the front door. It was shite last time I went in, all the atmosphere stolen, and just 1 big room with bare floorboards.... bring back the 70's 😍😏

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2 minutes ago, Oopsdabassist said:

Ooh the White hart, old high street? that was my local when I lived in Hemel, back in the 70's, loved that pub, and the atmosphere, and the scary landlady sat on a bar stool by the front door. It was shite last time I went in, all the atmosphere stolen, and just 1 big room with bare floorboards.... bring back the 70's 😍😏

That’s the one, my local in the 80s/90s, now sadly (well up until lockdown) frequented by customers who keep various South American countries economies afloat, and then think that means they’re hard. 

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56 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

That’s it for me, it’s down to the specifics of the venue in question (White Hart, Gary?).

😂 yes mate, I had to kick that one in to touch. Landlady was great but some of the punters not so. Also the load in and out was one of the most testing.

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