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Discussion Starter #1
I posted this in r/guitar the other day and heard some pretty great stories so I decided to give it a shot here too.

I'll start.

When I first started playing guitar (age 10, and 22 now) I played here and there usually around school and of course my performance skills weren't top notch so I don't really count those ones.

Having played some professional gigs by this point, I would have to say the worst one I've ever played was a jazz gig with a weak pianist and weak guitarist. I was actually playing bass for this event. The piano player was very arrogant and thought he was the leader because he was the oldest in the band. He was constantly bringing out his reharmonized lead sheets for standards that we were already used to playing. We kept getting lost playing over the weird changes and the whole night was just a disaster. I admit we were all playing with bad time. The piano player would tap his foot very loudly to try and stabilize everyone but he wasn't doing it with good time so it actually made everything worse. The guitarist would play lines completely out of time, and I kept slowing down the more up tempo tunes because I wasn't good enough to walk bass at 200bpm for more than a few choruses.

None of us really clicked on a personal level either and that is something I find makes or breaks the night.

What do you guys have for stories? Cheers
 

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This was maybe 30 years ago. I was asked to sub in on bass for a country band at a legion hall dance. First off I'm not a country player and the bass lines were all basically 4/4 time with the same two notes over the chord changes. No changes in rhythm or syncopation allowed. The drummer couldn't follow anything fancy. Needless to say it was pretty boring. The worst part was the dance started at 9:00 pm and went to 1:00 am without any breaks other than for a quick drink. Longest 4 hours of my life.
Then the ass of a leader short changed me (tried to pay me half of the agreed amount) and then demanded i help clear the stage, and sweep the floor.
Needless to say i grabbed my gear, told him to screw off and high tailed it out of there.
Never played [email protected] again. Come to think of it, i never spoke to the guy that got me the gig ever again either.
 

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back in the paleozoic era, when i was playing out, we booked a gig with what was explained to me as a jewish "youth group" from the local synagogue. when their leader contacted me, i told her what we did, and how much it cost. i gave her a demo tape. it was literally a cassette recorded from one of those small cassette player/recorders everyone had in the 70's, about the size of a shoebox. someone placed it in the middle of the garage one day while we jammed. it sounded every bit as bad as you might expect. she took the tape and my number. she called 2 days later and gave us the details of the gig. we showed up 90 min before start time to set up and do a quickie sound check. we set up did a sound check, and changed into costume. (80's metal band,so, yeah)
when the curtain opened we blasted into our opener. fastway's say what you will. i looked up just before the chorus to see my audience. i did not see "youth" as i expected. what i saw were balding early 30's guys who looked like cpas and lawyers, with dowdy looking women who must have been their wives. during the 2nd song, everyone walked en-masse to the other side of the auditorium and pulled the divider closed. the leader came to me complaining that this was not what she wanted. she wanted soft rock. i told her her that i gave her a tape, so she knew what she was getting. i explained that since we showed up, she would still have to pay full price. she tried to skip out, but i told her we would keep playing until we got paid. 5 minutes later i had a wad of cash in my hand.
we packed up and went home. upon unloading the van, i discovered that the drummer and lead player had stolen 2 brand new, high quality boom stands. i had to return them the next day, with the excuse that they were loaded by accident. this, and other adventures is the reason i refuse to play out anymore. no more baby sitting. no more returning stolen gear, no more trying to keep people from stealing my gear. no more bar owners who decide not to pay, just because they want free music.
 
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I'm mostly a jammer now. Since joining this site 10 years ago (shee-it mon! do I have a life?),
I've met up with quite a few members through the years and have had a great time playing
with them and putting faces to names.

My gigging years were in the mid 80's. Nothing special. We were a basement band and booked
a few for the experience. The most we got paid was a pitcher of beer between four of us. lol.
But, hey! We played a gig in a bar! How cool.

The worst? Not because of our playing.

Grade 10. I got together with some classmates and the bass player arranged for us to play at his
former elementary school's graduation party (his baby brother's class). First off, we had to dump
playing Cooper's School's Out because the teacher/chaperone wanted us to play something slow
so that the attending parents could dance with their kids first. No problem. Lucy in the Sky it was.
Played two more songs when the same teacher came up and told us that the kids didn't like us and
wanted us to stop so that they could put on a record player instead.

That hit us hard. We knew our stuff and we were tight for our age.

The four of us went into the change room and sat there while a coupla' friends who acted as roadies
tore down our equipment. Within 20 mins or so, a small group of girls came in and asked us if we
would go back on (everything's packed up at this point).

Turns out that the 'popular' girl had an older boyfriend (grade 9) who was hanging outside the gym door
dissin' us and saying that we sucked. Well, of course 'the girl' spreads this shit among her classmates and
teacher saying that we will not do.

The group that came in to ask us to play again told us that they all put her in place (finally, after putting up
with her shit for years). Unfortunately, we did not go back on. I felt sorry for those kids.
 

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Back in the 80s I used to play at the occasional lynchin out on the side roads when they'd be stringin up a car theif. Just do a few country songs but usually some drunk would want to hear stairway to freebird. Anyway, last time it was the guy they were getting rid of who wanted to hear stairway so I said fuck this shit and went home.
 

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Been gigging for over 15 years, can't say I've ever had a bad gig. short of low turnouts.
You should know if the guys you're playing with are up to par at rehearsals.
 

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Played a street dance during the last oil boom when every kid in town had an infinite supply of booze money. The crowd was so drunk they couldn't dance. I looked a little closer and detected slight movements. THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE DANCING!
 

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In a cover band almost 15 years to the day, we played a good size venue with; 24 channel mixer, PA, lights, soundperson, big stage and....an opening band!

I was in a gear churning period (nothing has really changed!) and bringing different gear to rehearsals on a weekly basis. But this time, I had THE rig: Bogner Shiva head with a 2x12 cab - way overkill ha ha.

I lugged all my 150lbs of gear to the venue and we were having a sound check in the afternoon. Played for a few minutes and the sound guy keeps telling me I'm too loud. Ok, no worries, master volume at 2 so be it.

The gig was each band would play 3 sets and when one is playing, the other is on break.

Our first set, classic rock, we belt out "Back in Black". I hit the footswitch to get to the 2nd channel of the amp for the solo, it won't switch. It remains on the first channel which is set for a low crunch tone. To me, it felt like a pure clean tone akin to the clips on YouTube when they do funny jazz takes of hard rock songs. 2 other guitar players in the band , no worries, one of them takes the solo. Song finishes - I am sweating - the switch is dead, it will not work. Another player in the crowd offers me to use his sansamp pedal and the opening band has their gear on stage and the guitar player suggests to me to use their rig. Very cool both of them. I use the rig and move on - it is dead simple (if I recall, it was a Roland Cube with a multi FX footswitch) and sounds fine.

During a short break when both bands were not on, the light fixture on the ceiling came down and landed on the drummers chair. Knocked over some cymbals and a guitar but no damage. The light fixture had been set with garbage bag ties....I can't even fathom the outcome if we were on stage.

The gig went very well musically and we all had a good time. When the night was over we had a big jam and some solid players from the crowd on stage. The final jam is a highlight still to this day. It was a really good time and sort of forgot about the incidents until much later. That ended up being my last gig as shortly thereafter, I moved to another province for a job.

I'm hoping to get back into live playing and have a healthy fear of gear malfunction. My strap lock incident last week at rehearsals did not help!
 

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Not necessarily a bad gig, but a weird one. Played a juvenile detention center for an afternoon concert. We weren't much older than the audience back then.
Musically it was fine, but the inmates weren't allowed to do anything but sit there. They weren't even allowed to applaud. Very strange feeling that, like playing to an empty room.
 

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Seems to me they were ALL worst or weirdest gigs, but the most embarrassing was one we played at the McGill University ballroom. We were actually rocking out pretty good with a reasonable-sized crowd. A seven-piece band with three singers. I had successfully persuaded the band to learn the Taj Mahal tune "Ain't That a Lottta Love" (
), and we did a more than acceptable version IMHO, including choreography. Well, the movable stage in the ballroom was connected to the main power source via an extremely thick cable. It would seem that we were cooking pretty good, because one of the organizers was dancing up a storm behind the stage and accidentally kicked the main power cable out, leaving us with a drummer and 6 people doing a lot of air guitar and what looked like weak lip-synching to dead silence. We looked pretty stupid, and it took a few minutes to detect the issue and correct matters. By then we had lost our momentum.

The weirdest was an engagement party somewhere on the south shore of Montreal. Unbeknownst to us the hosts had planned a sort of "family talent show" between sets. One episode involved some uncle who thought he was Engelbert Humperdinck, except he didn't know the words to the songs because he couldn't speak English, so he sang whatever snippets of "Please Release Me" he could remember, in no particular order, and no particular key. The second was the middle-aged, seemingly "swinging" unmarried aunt of the bride-to-be, who came out in a bikini top and grass skirt, and hula-danced to Hawaiian renditions of national anthems (ever heard Oh Canada on a pedal steel?), while the family parish priest politely smiled and nodded in faint appreciation. We had to plug a turntable in to the bass player's amp, and because the record of national anthems was kind of warped, we had to tape a quarter to the tone arm or else it would have skipped a lot. How anyone comes on with a straight face after that, I don't know.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This was maybe 30 years ago. I was asked to sub in on bass for a country band at a legion hall dance. First off I'm not a country player and the bass lines were all basically 4/4 time with the same two notes over the chord changes. No changes in rhythm or syncopation allowed. The drummer couldn't follow anything fancy. Needless to say it was pretty boring. The worst part was the dance started at 9:00 pm and went to 1:00 am without any breaks other than for a quick drink. Longest 4 hours of my life.
Then the ass of a leader short changed me (tried to pay me half of the agreed amount) and then demanded i help clear the stage, and sweep the floor.
Needless to say i grabbed my gear, told him to screw off and high tailed it out of there.
Never played [email protected] again. Come to think of it, i never spoke to the guy that got me the gig ever again either.
Gross. I hate country my man. Even the slightest bit of syncopation screwed up the drummer? HAHAHA what a joke
 

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Discussion Starter #12
In a cover band almost 15 years to the day, we played a good size venue with; 24 channel mixer, PA, lights, soundperson, big stage and....an opening band!

I was in a gear churning period (nothing has really changed!) and bringing different gear to rehearsals on a weekly basis. But this time, I had THE rig: Bogner Shiva head with a 2x12 cab - way overkill ha ha.

I lugged all my 150lbs of gear to the venue and we were having a sound check in the afternoon. Played for a few minutes and the sound guy keeps telling me I'm too loud. Ok, no worries, master volume at 2 so be it.

The gig was each band would play 3 sets and when one is playing, the other is on break.

Our first set, classic rock, we belt out "Back in Black". I hit the footswitch to get to the 2nd channel of the amp for the solo, it won't switch. It remains on the first channel which is set for a low crunch tone. To me, it felt like a pure clean tone akin to the clips on YouTube when they do funny jazz takes of hard rock songs. 2 other guitar players in the band , no worries, one of them takes the solo. Song finishes - I am sweating - the switch is dead, it will not work. Another player in the crowd offers me to use his sansamp pedal and the opening band has their gear on stage and the guitar player suggests to me to use their rig. Very cool both of them. I use the rig and move on - it is dead simple (if I recall, it was a Roland Cube with a multi FX footswitch) and sounds fine.

During a short break when both bands were not on, the light fixture on the ceiling came down and landed on the drummers chair. Knocked over some cymbals and a guitar but no damage. The light fixture had been set with garbage bag ties....I can't even fathom the outcome if we were on stage.

The gig went very well musically and we all had a good time. When the night was over we had a big jam and some solid players from the crowd on stage. The final jam is a highlight still to this day. It was a really good time and sort of forgot about the incidents until much later. That ended up being my last gig as shortly thereafter, I moved to another province for a job.

I'm hoping to get back into live playing and have a healthy fear of gear malfunction. My strap lock incident last week at rehearsals did not help!
Jesus that's brutal man. There are always those gigs that go badly due to musical errors/performance skills, and then there are gigs that go terribly because of external factors. Glad no one was hurt haha
 

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On the advice of a friend, I called up a local seniors' home looking for a gig. I made it clear that I was an instrumental player and they were fine with that, but as I was setting up there was a woman there who asked, "So, are you going to play us some Western music?" As I worked my way through the set, it became clear that, for the most part, they wanted to hear songs that they knew the words to - and really, who can blame them. The same lady would ask every few songs if I knew any Western music, until near the end she was begging "Can you please play some Western music? I really wish I knew at least one Western tune - I really felt bad for her. Anyways, I got through the set, got paid and filed it under "lessons learned." It was a pretty good paying gig though - if I were a better singer, I would definitely learn some old standards and hit the seniors' home circuit.
 

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back in the paleozoic era, when i was playing out, we booked a gig with what was explained to me as a jewish "youth group" from the local synagogue. when their leader contacted me, i told her what we did, and how much it cost. i gave her a demo tape. it was literally a cassette recorded from one of those small cassette player/recorders everyone had in the 70's, about the size of a shoebox. someone placed it in the middle of the garage one day while we jammed. it sounded every bit as bad as you might expect. she took the tape and my number. she called 2 days later and gave us the details of the gig. we showed up 90 min before start time to set up and do a quickie sound check. we set up did a sound check, and changed into costume. (80's metal band,so, yeah)
when the curtain opened we blasted into our opener. fastway's say what you will. i looked up just before the chorus to see my audience. i did not see "youth" as i expected. what i saw were balding early 30's guys who looked like cpas and lawyers, with dowdy looking women who must have been their wives. during the 2nd song, everyone walked en-masse to the other side of the auditorium and pulled the divider closed. the leader came to me complaining that this was not what she wanted. she wanted soft rock. i told her her that i gave her a tape, so she knew what she was getting. i explained that since we showed up, she would still have to pay full price. she tried to skip out, but i told her we would keep playing until we got paid. 5 minutes later i had a wad of cash in my hand.
we packed up and went home. upon unloading the van, i discovered that the drummer and lead player had stolen 2 brand new, high quality boom stands. i had to return them the next day, with the excuse that they were loaded by accident. this, and other adventures is the reason i refuse to play out anymore. no more baby sitting. no more returning stolen gear, no more trying to keep people from stealing my gear. no more bar owners who decide not to pay, just because they want free music.
Cheezy, that was funny!
 

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I once had the misfortune of getting together with a bunch of guys who wanted to do country, except none of them knew what country music is. Me included but at least I had a slight idea of what country should sound like.

So we practised a few times and I was thinking 'this really is not good,' but one of them booked us a gig in the local country bar.

I showed up - against my better judgment. However I really shouldn't have gone because the lead singer/rhythm guitarist got wasted and then when the crowd was REALLY against us, shouted out "f*** you - you want some country here's some f***ing country," and led us through a random medley of all the songs we'd already played - changing in random spots. Trying to keep up with him was like being on a rollercoaster. A freaking scary rollercoaster.

My friends from work had shown up and afterwards said they enjoyed my guitar playing but the band sucked and "oh yeah, the singer did the same thing in the local theatre group he'd acted in."

Thanks for the warning.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I have only played in front of an audience once. It was my cousin's wedding, where I accompanied one of her friends on Celine Dion's "The Colour of My Love."

That was 20 years ago, and no matter how much I shower, I still don't feel clean.

On top of that, I was wearing a kilt. While sitting, and playing acoustic. Lucky I had that strategically placed music stand......
 

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A small pub on the south side of Edmonton once committed to pay us X dollars to play and included 3 drinks (beer/highball) on-the-house for each band member.
At the end of the night we were given nothing and were asked to pay for every drink.
Additionally, we strongly suspected the drink tab had been padded.
There was no way we each had an average of 6 drinks.
We packed up without paying.
They called the cops as we were leaving.
We showed them our contract and asked for some kind of proof that we were paid or got our drinks.
The owner was unable to provide, had kept no receipts with our names on them.
The matter was dropped by the cops in only a few minutes and we filed a claim in small claims a few days later but the owners emptied the bar of all equipment, tables, chairs, etc. and skipped town before it went to court.
The way the cops handled it we got the sense this wasn't the first time something like that had happened.
They left all their employees missing a month's pay and other bands were stiffed as well.
We also heard they owed money to several suppliers as well.
That was around 2000 or 2001 or so.
Forget the name of the pub.
On 34th Ave.
Across the Ave and further west from Knight's.
 
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School dance, back in the early 70's. We had arranged to rent some big amps from the local music store. When we went to the store to get the gear and found it closed. The owner had forgotten about us, closed up shop and gone house hunting with this wife. Long before the invention of the cell phone, no way to get ahold of him. We started the dance with everything (keyboards, 2 guitars, bass) plugged into one Kustom 200 Tuck & roll amp. It was not going well.

Members of a "rival" band took pity on us, brought us their amps so we could get through the gig. Things like that, you don't forget.
 

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Rural... like boonies, total buttfuck nowhere! Some sort of town festival that a booking agent got us... we were playing rock and blues stuff and were not the right band for this event. We show up and the guy who was the "organizer" and head of the volunteer fire dept. was loaded... along with most of the rest of the crowd who apparently started drinking around noon.

Midway through the first set there's a small crowd of guys (including said organizer') eyeing up the singer who was female and rather attractive. After the first set, someone comes up and "suggests" that we change up our song list while the organizer comes up to the singer separately and says something along the lines of 'You're real pretty, we'll get you later...' Total scary backwoods Deliverance type thing.

The vibe of this situation was getting a little freaky so we switch into Brown Eyed Girl/Mustang Sally and whatever else we could come up with that was lowest common denominator material. Watch a couple of fights break out, people puking on the ground, all sorts of lovely stuff. As soon as we finish the last set, sound guy loads the truck and gets the heck out of there. We quickly get back to the place where they put us up and listen to the drunken madness go on until the wee hours everyone too freaked out to sleep.

Next morning as we're driving back to civilization we hear on the radio about a guy who got jumped as he was bicycling 30km or so to the next nearest town after the show and was beaten so bad he had to be airlifted to a major centre. Turned out this was the one guy who watched us perform and actually seemed to appreciate the music. He was different than everyone else there (abnormally small physically and visible minority). Never did hear how he made out.

THAT was the worst gig ever.
 
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