Tell us about your WORST and most disheartening playing live experience ?

BryanMatthews

Member
Messages
3,916
When I was gigging, I remember the band was booked to do a gig that was about 50 miles from where we all lived. We had to hire a van to transport the drums , amps and pa and it was such a pain in the ass moving all that gear. We hadnt played that venue before, but the previous weekend had been a sellout and a big crowd turned up for that night. We got to the place and set up for the show. We waited for the crowd that never came :messedup

All that waddled in at about 11 pm were a couple of old boozers who had no interest in us at all and were just there to pour more alcohol down their necks before the bar shut. We were out money and that night was an absolute stinker for any musician ,and the drive home at 4am and the unloading the gear etc.............well, I wasnt too pleased at all to say the least.

Your story :beer
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,337
1. Cancelled a gig at a club where we were immensely popular, on a holiday weekend to play at a college about 90 miles away. Totally pissed off the club owner.

Get to the gig, no one there - apparently it was cancelled and our agent didn't tell us about it.

2. Were "borrowing" a friend of ours' tour bus and we booked a gig at one of Buffalo's biggest clubs, on St. Patrick's Day, with a band who were having a CD release party. It was for 1/2 the door, but how could we lose with that one, right?

Drove all the way to Buffalo on this bitchin' bus, played and made $11, split 4 ways.

3. Played on a Thursday at a local festival opening for Shooter Jennings, did very well - great response, etc. Pushed our upcoming Saturday gig where we were going to shoot vid for a DVD - Facebook, email, etc.

Saturday comes, we spend all day soundchecking, lighting, etc. and not a single person came to the gig... Got some nice vid, tho. <g>

Probably been more, but those were the standouts. It's all part of gigging, IMHO.
 

mark norwine

Member
Messages
17,157
I've told this before, but here it is....

Throughout the mid-late 90&#8217;s, I played in a reasonably-successful band in central NJ. We had a few CDs out, we had a decent following, and we got decent gigs. We usually made about $75-100 / man per gig, and played every weekend, sometimes twice&#8230;which didn&#8217;t suck for a bunch of &#8220;day jobbers&#8221;.

Anyway, a song of ours got included on a compilation disk which sold well nationwide. While it didn&#8217;t do much for us, per se, several of the other bands on it were national acts.

One of these national acts was booked to play a gig in NJ, and the promoter / club owner / someone though it would be great to get us to open the show, seeing as how we were on the same compilation album.

The gig was a Thursday night and most of the band members, being responsible day-jobbers, didn&#8217;t want to be bothered by a crummy opening slot gig on a work night.

But some amongst us [who still relished the notion of &#8220;being discovered&#8221;] persuaded the rest of us to play the gig because of the great press, etc. We were to have been paid &#8220;OK&#8221; by the national act&#8217;s promoter, so we all relented & agreed to play the gig.

We get there only to find out that the &#8220;national act&#8221; had self-destructed somewhere west of Pittsburgh, and would not be playing this gig&#8230;and the promoter was nowhere to be found, BUT: the club owner **BEGGED** us to play because he had heavily promoted the gig and expected it to be a huge night for him.

He agreed to &#8220;bump us up&#8221; to the main act (which only meant even less sleep before we had to be at work in the morning!!) and had even gotten a decent neighborhood band to open for us.

So by a vote of 4 to 2 (me & the drummer in the minority), we &#8216;agreed&#8217; to play.

The place was packed, and we rocked the room. Everyone stayed &#8216;till closing. It was awesome. We saved the night. Bar owner is thrilled!

The night ended, everyone left, and we loaded out. The club owner handed us an envelope. He said &#8220;it was $6 a person at the door, and 3 people said they were here to see you guys&#8221;.

The envelope had $18 bucks in it.
 
Last edited:

Bluzeboy

Member
Messages
7,853
back in the late 80's had a opening slot for a huge British band... got the sound check done, blah blah it's 2 hours before show time and the headliner's road mgr is hounding the promoter about "they don't play in bars anymore".. now.. this place wasn't really a "bar" even though they did sell alcohol. Basically the yelling between them stopped and I see their road mgr talking with our road mgr and the promoter ... Our guy says to me "The only way they'll play is if they open for 30 minutes and we headline"...
There is NO WAY ... people didn't pay xxx dollars to see us... I refused that option..
So.. we say.. Yeah.. Okay.. we'll go on first.. play an extra 15 minutes so we have a 55 minute set then... you guys can do what you want...
We played.. the headliner booked...never took the stage. At least we got paid but kicked off the tour instantly. What an odd night with people just staring at an empty stage after our set..
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
35,734
Years ago, we were booked to play a homecoming/bonfire thing at a high school out in the sticks. Good money, lots of merch to sell. Anyway, they encouraged us to go in the middle slot of 3 bands, so we could have the biggest crowd, yada yada. "Hell no, we ain't opening for such and such..." we all had different reasons for wanting to go last. So, show day comes and one of the guys girlfriends lived near by, so we hung out and partied there until about 45 minutes before were were supposed to go on. It was packed, we could hear the bands from her house, we were licking our chops. Well, we get there, set up, get on stage and a freak snow storm comes in, they shut the whole thing down. They gave us $100. We were too naive/inexperienced to fight it. The other bands made what they were promised.

We did the same gig the next year and took the middle slot. 2 songs in a "riot" starts and the cops shut the whole thing down. We got paid though.
 
Messages
1,440
I've told this before, but here it is....

Throughout the mid-late 90’s, I played in a reasonably-successful band in central NJ. We had a few CDs out, we had a decent following, and we got decent gigs. We usually made about $75-100 / man per gig, and played every weekend, sometimes twice…which didn’t suck for a bunch of “day jobbers”.

Anyway, a song of ours got included on a compilation disk which sold well nationwide. While it didn’t do much for us, per se, several of the other bands on it were national acts.

One of these national acts was booked to play a gig in NJ, and the promoter / club owner / someone though it would be great to get us to open the show, seeing as how we were on the same compilation album.

The gig was a Thursday night and most of the band members, being responsible day-jobbers, didn’t want to be bothered by a crummy opening slot gig on a work night.

But some amongst us [who still relished the notion of “being discovered”] persuaded the rest of us to play the gig because of the great press, etc. We were to have been paid “OK” by the national act’s promoter, so we all relented & agreed to play the gig.

We get there only to find out that the “national act” had self-destructed somewhere west of Pittsburgh, and would not be playing this gig…and the promoter was nowhere to be found, BUT: the club owner **BEGGED** us to play because he had heavily promoted the gig and expected it to be a huge night for him.

He agreed to “bump us up” to the main act (which only meant even less sleep before we had to be at work in the morning!!) and had even gotten a decent neighborhood band to open for us.

So by a vote of 4 to 2 (me & the drummer in the minority), we ‘agreed’ to play.

The place was packed, and we rocked the room. Everyone stayed ‘till closing. It was awesome. We saved the night. Bar owner is thrilled!

The night ended, everyone left, and we loaded out. The club owner handed us an envelope. He said “it was $6 a person at the door, and 3 people said they were here to see you guys”.

The envelope had $18 bucks in it.
That's one of THE biggest D!@K moves I've ever heard of, my god.
 

speedemon

Member
Messages
2,624
Hmm,

singer had strong armed the band into laying down massive amounts of cash (4 figures) to be on a Rocklahoma side stage in 2010. I told everyone we would be the sorriest they had ever experienced. The other guitarist and I had spent the first day pumping up our set to festival attendees, and it was looking really good. On Sat. (gig day) we got up to beautiful weather outside our hotel, and talked over breakfast how awesome the show was going to be. (everyone can guess what is coming). On the way to the festival site, we could see the lightning and gray clouds. When we arrived at the festival, the wind was blowing impenetrable rain horizontal, visibility about 2ft. I finally found someone working for the festival. "I can't find our stage", "that's because it blew down.", so did the other one. Fortunately the only injury was a broken arm. We got home and I started my singing lessons.
 

sixty2strat

Member
Messages
11,600
Did a cover band gig at a block party at the jersey shore. any the deal was to alternate sets with the other band. They were GnR wannabes who were tuning onstage without a tuner nor a decent ear. they then debate the 1st tune to play. looks like it the old Ted Mac show. So we tune up before get on stage. And tear right into rock n roll and the Floyds one of these days, we do a few more tunes andI notice our roadie/ bass player roomate is arguing with the "host". So we do one more tune and a fight breaks out,,,,,,Bill the roadie vs 10 guys in a running battle, they are blockng each other trying to get at him so much that none of them lands a good punch and each one he throws hit home, they are so packed in one punch seems to hit several. now the entire band is stunned but playing watching this mayhem.....in fact the entire party is following the fight around the house. Everyone had left us on stage. Why they could not pummel him I dont know but he was holding his own. So we get smart and pack up our gear in seconds toss it in the 3 cars, thank god we used the other bands drums. The first two filled with gear n gf rolled out. I pull out on the dirt road, like the last chopper outta saigon and see bill running from the mob, I honk the horn and he comes running climbs through the window and with them in hot pursuit I hit the gas, god bless my V8 olds with gravel flying we get away. On the way home he keeps demanding take me back I wanna kick his ass. Seems the host claimed out roadie was an undercover cop, that started the ruckus.
 

DennyDream

Member
Messages
400
Hmm,

singer had strong armed the band into laying down massive amounts of cash (4 figures) to be on a Rocklahoma side stage in 2010.
Isn't the money supposed to go the other way in that transaction? What was the "up-side" for you guys in that deal?

That sucks dude.
 

Franklin

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,054
He said &#8220;it was $6 a person at the door, and 3 people said they were here to see you guys&#8221;.
The envelope had $18 bucks in it.
Nice. All too common unfortunately. I used to play a place around here that would not charge locals the $5 cover. Ok, whatever.

The same place would give us more than $250 for a garantee. Two pizza's and free tap beer.

At first we would not need to bring more than 50 people to get the $250 PLUS the door.

Then it became the door minus the $250 garantee. Then it was two free pizzas and a pitcher of beer.

Then it became just the door and somehow the pay dropped below $100 each time no matter how many people we brought. Oh, no more free beer.

A couple years ago we had someone count people he knew were there to see us specifically. He stayed outside (also the smoking area) for 2 hours. He counted 57 people (57 people alone packs this place) who were not wives or girlfriends. We recieved $85.

Some of his observations:
no locals/regulars paid a cover.
anyone who complained about the cover did not pay, and
no "hot" girls paid a cover.
groups of people were given "discounts" on their cover charge.
he was working with different cash rolls out of two pockets.

So when we challenged the person in charge at the end of the night on a packed house and $85 (less than $15 per band memeber) we got nothing at all except "You have to talk to ____". We did not go back for 2 years.

As a result they promised us $250 again plus the door this year. Guess what, at the end of the night we were told; "____ told me it was $250 or the door, but def not both". We should have known better. We def brought over 50 people on our own. Mr ____ called us apologizing and asked us to play again, just one more time.
:beer
 

Devnor

Member
Messages
3,656
It's a toss up between staring down the barrel of a gun or the singer/songwriter that never played the same original tune the same way twice.
 

GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
27,817
I think we've probably all played to disappointing "crowds". The worst I can remember was during a football game where the duo I was in at the time was scheduled to play during the game. Everybody there had their backs to us as they were facing the TV. Whenever their team did something they'd start applauding and hollering mid-song. That was about 10 years ago and I still won't play sports bars any more.
 

Ultron

Member
Messages
3,484
I've told this before, but here it is....

Throughout the mid-late 90’s, I played in a reasonably-successful band in central NJ. We had a few CDs out, we had a decent following, and we got decent gigs. We usually made about $75-100 / man per gig, and played every weekend, sometimes twice…which didn’t suck for a bunch of “day jobbers”.

Anyway, a song of ours got included on a compilation disk which sold well nationwide. While it didn’t do much for us, per se, several of the other bands on it were national acts.

One of these national acts was booked to play a gig in NJ, and the promoter / club owner / someone though it would be great to get us to open the show, seeing as how we were on the same compilation album.

The gig was a Thursday night and most of the band members, being responsible day-jobbers, didn’t want to be bothered by a crummy opening slot gig on a work night.

But some amongst us [who still relished the notion of “being discovered”] persuaded the rest of us to play the gig because of the great press, etc. We were to have been paid “OK” by the national act’s promoter, so we all relented & agreed to play the gig.

We get there only to find out that the “national act” had self-destructed somewhere west of Pittsburgh, and would not be playing this gig…and the promoter was nowhere to be found, BUT: the club owner **BEGGED** us to play because he had heavily promoted the gig and expected it to be a huge night for him.

He agreed to “bump us up” to the main act (which only meant even less sleep before we had to be at work in the morning!!) and had even gotten a decent neighborhood band to open for us.

So by a vote of 4 to 2 (me & the drummer in the minority), we ‘agreed’ to play.

The place was packed, and we rocked the room. Everyone stayed ‘till closing. It was awesome. We saved the night. Bar owner is thrilled!

The night ended, everyone left, and we loaded out. The club owner handed us an envelope. He said “it was $6 a person at the door, and 3 people said they were here to see you guys”.

The envelope had $18 bucks in it.
man that is awful....:(
 

paranoid70

Member
Messages
6,461
My worst gig is the same story, bar lets in every one who simply doesn't want to pay the cover. We end up with $15. This thread confirms the sentiment that I will never work for 'the door' again.
 

gtrjake

Member
Messages
362
Sigh. OK, you've forced me to dredge up the memory of the "tour from hell". I was in a band in Nebraska in the early 80's, we decided to go on a tour of Canada and the northern states. Fixed up an old school bus, and off we drove on our roughly 1000 mile journey. Got to Montana, and headed to the Canadian border. It turned out our singer had a prior arrest for drug distribution, and he was not allowed to cross the border. That week's gig in Calgary had to be cancelled. We holed up in a fleebag motel for a couple of days while our agent scrambled to find us a last minute gig that weekend for next to nothing in Helena, MT. After that, we headed through sub-zero degree weather with a heater that was barely working off to Minot, ND. We heard a loud noise and discovered the tailpipe had fallen off the exhaust system. The brakes were also failing, and had to be pumped several times to get the bus to stop. We somehow managed to limp into Minot for our week's engagement. The temperature never got above freezing all week, and we were forced to work on the bus' exhaust system on a particularly cold day of 40 below. After that week, we headed off to Rapid City, SD for our next week. We excitedly pulled up to the bar, which looked pretty happening! Unfortunately, the door was bolted shut, and it turned out the owner had been thrown in jail the day before. Our agent scrambled once again to find an alternate gig, but had no luck this time. We went to a local pizza pub to drown our sorrows in beer, and the owner took pity on us and told us we could set up and play that weekend. We actually had a decent time, but barely broke even as we were playing for the door, and had drunk any profits there might have been. A couple of guys were ready to quit, and we had the agent cancel the remaining gigs. We headed home to Nebraska on an all night drive after the gig, through a snowstorm. On a 2-lane highway in Nebraska at night, we watched the gas gauge sink lower and lower, and not an open gas station anywhere. We ran out of gas about 100 miles from home, and waited shivering a couple of hours on the bus for some help. Finally a farmer felt sorry for us, and brought us a can of gas from his private tank. By that point, most of us had colds, and suffered miserably till we pulled in back home. These were to be the last gigs we played, the band broke up soon after, never to recover from the hellish journey!
:thud
 




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