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When Dive Bar Gigs Rock


MotiDave

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sometimes I dread the dive bar gig, right? but this weekend I played one and I must admit it was one of the funnest shows I've had in awhile. I decided i was taking a no worry no care approach - its a dive, pay is low, i'm just gonna go have some fun, jam with my buds and if the crowd shows and digs it, great. if not, f-it

 

Arrive only 50 min before show, vs my usual 2 hrs - meant less time just hanging around for nothing and feeling "invested" in the event. I decided it was a dive but decent FOH so i'm not bringing a PPA - i'll take a channel off the house monitor. Quick easy load in with MODX in backpack case, Apex stand in one hand and small cord bag in other. I set up leisurely and was ready right as sound man handed me an XLR. quick sound check, ok good to go. smooth, no stress, no care. Threw on a gig shirt and i'm ready.

 

I told the entire band its a no sweat night, who cares. this gig doesn't rate worrying about it. A mood over the whole band became "screw it - its a dive gig, we're gonna just rock it and have some fun". that mood infected the audience. the audience loved the set. All through the show i was just laughing with my bass player and having a blast, chuckling at two ladies up front reliving their glory groupie days (or so it appeared). we all were very loose => we played very tight. ironic, yeah.

 

i got feeling saucy and a little thirsty - so i mentioned to the crowd that if anyone had an extra bourbon on the rocks, i'd be happy to drink one with them. Voila - bourbons on the rocks started magically appearing on stage!

 

Finished the set, the crowd erupted, i struck in less than 5 min, and was done. just great fun ... reminded me why i play music at all. for the kicks!

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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Great!

When a gig goes from "Well, I ain't doin anything else tonight." To " That was more fun than should be allowed!"

Too bad they are too few and far between (for me).

Bands I'm in rehearse the life out of songs, all in the name of being tight. Never any jams - never any "Why don't we take this song and.......".

People dance. We have a following. We're tight. We sound like the record. Do we actually have fun? Not a whole lot.

Hope you have many more gigs like the one you described - maybe pay a little better?

Professional musician = great source of poverty.

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Congrats and good on you. It's pretty amazing how being relaxed and loose leads to so much better playing, and fun, and awesomeness. Across most genre barriers, I think folks dig it when the band is having a great time and they respond to that.

 

 

..
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Dive bar gigs can be liberating just as you describe, and people who frequent dive bars deserve good music just like everyone else. A relevant question is whether there are opportunity costs for you or the band. What did you give up to be there? If the answer is nothing, and no one gets a DUI driving home, then it's all good.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

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I miss the energy that (some) dive bars have.

 

I don't miss the horrendous racist shit you tend to hear more there than at the nicer places, nor the smoke.

 

No racist shit in this bar, and nobody has smoked in a bar in Cali for decades. that would detract, agree ...

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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I don't care what the club, for me its the crowd; no enjoyment from playing to 25 people in a club who are watching TV or on their smartphones. Much more fun when the house is packed (regardless of the size of the club) and the people come to see the band, not stare at the TV or phones.

57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil Forte7 & PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

Delaware Dave

Exit93band

 

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Our Funk/R&B band was playing a dive bar to a small turnout. By the time the next set had started, the placed was jam packed. Turns out some folks heard us earlier and texted their friends to come hear this great band. So all these people suddenly left the other bar, the bar owner got word, he showed up there too, and he hired us away. Better money and much nicer place.
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I don't care what the club, for me its the crowd; no enjoyment from playing to 25 people in a club who are watching TV or on their smartphones. Much more fun when the house is packed (regardless of the size of the club) and the people come to see the band, not stare at the TV or phones.

 

Agreed. We've played at some big, nice (for us) places where nobody seemed to care.

 

We've played at redneck bars where the joint was hopping and people were crowding the dance floor.

 

The smoke I can't abide anymore, but other than that, the audience energy (or lack thereof) is what makes or breaks the gig.

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I'm lucky enough to play in a band where this is pretty much every saturday night. We play at what I would call a "big dive". Vaulted ceilings, good size stage and dance floor, but it's a gritty "Irish" saloon with a "f**k it" attitude. Typically by 11pm it's a full on party with a full house.

 

Last week we started light with Baba O'Riley, and the bass amp died on the first note. I volunteered to go grab another bass amp from up the road, and the remaining trio carried on with some very dirty renditions of Christmas songs and Johnny Cash. About the time we got back and hooked up, in enters a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, we get elves and Santas (and Santettes), two guys dressed as cows, and a clan of vikings who show up fairly regularly. By 10:30 I thought the floor was going to cave in! I have my red & green painted keytar and candycane PVC trumpet. Currently, I'm being billed as the keyboard player from "Mooseknuckle Saskatchewan" and sing "Let It Go", a song from my arctic native homeland (I'm from Alaska, but whatever). We really get into the schtick.

 

Not every night is that good, but it's been pretty wild lately. No pressure, but good fun and good money. Fun to play in the loudest band in the Pacific Ocean.

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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I don't care what the club, for me its the crowd; no enjoyment from playing to 25 people in a club who are watching TV or on their smartphones. Much more fun when the house is packed (regardless of the size of the club) and the people come to see the band, not stare at the TV or phones.

 

Agreed. We've played at some big, nice (for us) places where nobody seemed to care.

 

We've played at redneck bars where the joint was hopping and people were crowding the dance floor.

 

The smoke I can't abide anymore, but other than that, the audience energy (or lack thereof) is what makes or breaks the gig.

 

I once did a show at Vegas NASCAR race. I figured this will be awesome, 50k people go to those races! uh, correct but flawed. yes 50k people do go to the race. but at any time, about 10 or 15 people would walk by and notice we were playing, while snacking on a churro and buying a Dale signature hat. 8 of them would stop for a song before going back to why they were here - to see the race.

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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Nice! Who and where?

 

One of my "Jovi"'s - Blaze of Jovi. @Full Circle Saloon

 

one of the benefits of a tribute is ... IFF the people show up, they are likely there to hear that band. we played with a new one around here called Radd Company - laying down some cool old school rock vibes to close out the night.

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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Though there are exceptions, in my experience the least enjoyable gigs have been the ones that are supposedly the most "prestigious". If the people in attendance at an event are not there specifically to listen to music, I expect to be well paid for being ignored. :)
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Building off the "screw it, we're here and we're playing" vibe ... albeit in a different dimension?

 

My new acoustic trio act has now played two gigs like this. We show up at someone's private event. Everyone is a bit stressed at the outset. We just smile and say "whatever".

 

We start playing, and everyone relaxes. Give the senior citizens the time to socialize up front, then a few drinks, and it all comes out. They're singing, dancing and stomping along -- albeit at moderate volumes.

 

Here's the point -- when you don't care so much and are playing for fun, everyone dials in. And it's a blast.

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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Looks like a theme developing here ... I think my most fun gigs have been the dive bars when I wasn't expecting anything. Sometime the energy and the mood and crowd just clicks and everybody has a great time. The big shows - concerts, festivals, name venues, etc.- come with stress and anxiety and worry about something going wrong like gear failure, wrong notes, whatever. Even if the show goes well and the audience is very appreciative, it's still a high stress experience. But the dive bars ... nobody cares, some piece of gear doesn't work, you play some tunes that you've never played before because somebody requested them, people dance like crazy, sing along, love the band, smiles all around, happy times, everybody goes home saying how much fun they had. Still playing the dive bars at my advanced age. I'm an addict.

 

Of course there are also the dive bar gigs from hell. But that's not what this thread is about.

These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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In my 20s I played a lot of dives in Southeastern Massachusetts. I had a lot of fun, and so did their patrons. Last Friday the new band I joined launched in a bar that was not exactly high end, and we had a great time, so did the crowd. Best place for our first gig, enthusiastic audience, and pretty low risk. Nothing wrong with having fun, and lowering the stress level. Music is more of a hobby for me, so this is not about paying the mortgage, it is about having fun and watching others enjoy what the band does.

Korg CX-3 (vintage), Casio Privia PX-5S, Lester K, Behringer Powerplay P2, Shure 215s

http://www.hackjammers.com

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Most of my gigs are dive bar gigs and they are almost always a blast. My '80s cover band has about a half dozen dive bars in our area that we rotate playing shows and we always have a fun time. A few stand out in terms of better stage, larger capacity, more VIP treatment of the band, but in general these are all fun shows.

 

I do a couple of high-profile gigs per year - reunion shows with my former original act, which are also awesome but lots more pressure for perfection and a larger stage upon which every moment matters, much more so than the fun dive bar gigs I do the rest of the year.

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I still much prefer the mega festival events with 1000 to 5000 attendees or more. Especially out of state (Cali) where here the entire culture seems infused with a so what mentality most times. Love those big shows in Texas or Midwest where the crowd is so jacked up for a big event. The shows where the venue picks me up at the airport, takes me to prepaid hotel, fetches me for sound check, feeds me, then for the actual show they get us again and give the band top shelf treatment with everything from fully stocked green room down to such tiny details as having security there holding flashlights to light the steps as we go on the big stage.

 

I used to stress on these but now i just ride the high and dont worry. We walk on stage to a booming intro track and laser lights, a couple thousand people screaming at the band ... I can close my eyes and pretend im an actual rock star lol! After all, that was the dream long ago, right?

 

But the dive gig was fun Sat. Night. Bob - yes, Santee - formerly 2nd Wind .... sure you know it. Every rock musician in SD knows it, for good and bad, one of the few remaining live rock venues left for old guys like me. Closer to the city, its all younger crowds and younger or more experimental music. Crowds out there are always appreciative for vintage rock, which is nice for me cuz im not putting on new stripes at this stage lol.

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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In my 20s I played a lot of dives in Southeastern Massachusetts. I had a lot of fun, and so did their patrons. Last Friday the new band I joined launched in a bar that was not exactly high end, and we had a great time, so did the crowd. Best place for our first gig, enthusiastic audience, and pretty low risk. Nothing wrong with having fun, and lowering the stress level. Music is more of a hobby for me, so this is not about paying the mortgage, it is about having fun and watching others enjoy what the band does.

Awesome. Its a hobby for me too, i make too much in my job for my family to convert to musicians family lol. They love their plush lifestyle (one that i never had growing up - cough), they let me go rock once or twice a month as long as im back at work next Monday

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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In my 20s I played a lot of dives in Southeastern Massachusetts. I had a lot of fun, and so did their patrons.

 

Play any on the Cape? We did one in P-Town about 2 months back, "Governor Bradford" I think the venue was, nice basement dive. Great crowd. Singer got stumble drunk, but still ended up being a great gig.

Puck Funk! :)

 

Equipment: Laptop running lots of nerdy software, some keyboards, noise makersâ¦yada yada yadaâ¦maybe a cat?

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EricBarker - unfortunately I didn't play much on the Cape. Mostly New Bedford, and Fall River (some rough places, but the band stayed out of trouble). Back then the money was paying for living expenses and college tuition (accounting for inflation it was big money playing 3-4 nights a week, with the occasional afternoon wedding thrown in).

Korg CX-3 (vintage), Casio Privia PX-5S, Lester K, Behringer Powerplay P2, Shure 215s

http://www.hackjammers.com

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Got booked at a club that doubled as a pool hall by day frequented by bikers. Arrived to set up and a fight broke out between two patrons, one who wasn't wearing a shirt. That was settled, and we set up, and as time wore on, the biker class left and the yuppies and college kids showed up. All of a sudden this was a very happening gig, the crowed called for more, and and the old lady club owner hugged us before left. Can't wait to go back.

Yamaha P-515, Hammond SK1, Casio PX5s, Motif ES rack, Kawai MP5, Kawai ESS110, Yamaha S03, iPad, and a bunch of stuff in the closet.

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In my "early" days I played in almost exclusively biker bars up and down the coast (Southern rock band). Best gigs IMO. Very warm and grateful crowd. Plus sometimes they'd ride through the bar, and that was awesome.

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
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Very warm and grateful crowd.

This matches my experience. You play the music they love and youre part of the family. Very much like playing in an club for people of color. If you respect them with your music youll get a lot of warmth back.

 

Id be happy to be in either place when the zombie attacks start. Wanna be with a group that knows how to rumble.

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