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Before-Gig Jitters?


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Originally posted by Marcus Johnson:

My hands used to go numb before gigs when I started out! It goes away with experience. It's weird, though...I've played in front of 30k without breaking a sweat, but last week I did a little thing in front of my daughter's kindergarten class, and I was NERVOUS. Just play through it; it'll become natural to you in a hundred years or so.

I know where you're coming from. I don't sweat the club gig even though the piano player likes to test me by playing stuff I don't know right out of the chute, and making me solo on it too (but that's how I get better :eek: ), but playing in front of relatives and/or people that you know just freaks me out.


Hey, another bass player from Hawaii!! Howzit, Marcus. I live and play on the Big Island in Kona. Used to play 5 nights at the Mauna Lani in Waikoloa till we lost our job after 9/11. How's the work in Maui?


Randy Clay

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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i actually get much more nervous about recording. i sit there and keep thinking "please just let me get it right." i dread the idea of screwing up and seeing the engineer give me that "why do you keep making me do this again and again" look.
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Originally posted by Bastid E:

i actually get much more nervous about recording. i sit there and keep thinking "please just let me get it right." i dread the idea of screwing up and seeing the engineer give me that "why do you keep making me do this again and again" look.

Oh, man I hear you. I like recording, I think it's fun, but sometimes, when the line I have is harder, then I get nervous. I hate messing up on a line, and then having to hear it over and over, but that fear is what makes me practice more(if I could)


JDL-Jesus :freak:

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  • 3 months later...

So I played a gig last night for the first time in over a year. My only other experience playing out is 4 bar gigs with my same band members (except a different singer one time). And I was a nervous basketcase before those shows also but once we started playing the jitters kind of disappeared. But I woke up yesterday earlier than I would like to and first thing, still in bed I'm going over riffs in my mental fretboard. My anxiety was so bad all day I was trembling. I could not calm myself. Didn't feel like eating, man I was totally bugging. I guess I'm a little anxiety prone though.


So I remembered this topic and dug it up and got some helpful advice from it. This quote really helped. Thanks dbb!



When your self-talk adds more weight to a performance than is necessary, especially if it isn't true, you get the jitters.


Change the tape in your head. Learning music is just walking down a road...there are people ahead and people behind. Where you are is where you are, and by just thinking, you can't jump way ahead. Maintain your integrity, keep walking. Don't try to be something you are not...you'll acheive your goal.


For more immediate relaxation (what I used to do before juries) Just before your first notes, go to a bathroom and wash your hands very vigorously in very hot water (not scalding) This does several things:


1. increases blood flow just when you need it.

2. washes off all hand grease and sweat, making your hands more facile.

3. increases relaxation.

4. Prepares you psychologically (if you believe this will help you, it does!)


It's amazing what that will do!

Great advice there, the warm water definitely helped me my hands are always cold and they were sweating and so clammy I apologized to people for not shaking their hands because they were so bad. :freak: Just reading how others go through the same thing helped too.


This wasn't a paying gig(they did give us a little and some drink tickets). But it is one of the coolest clubs close by where all kinds of artist's have played. The Haunt It was an early show and we played first so we got there at like 4:30 and got to setup with the place empty so it was laid back at first. My first time on an actual stage and during sound check when I felt my bass like I've never felt it before(there is like 6 or 7 18's under the stage) nothing like it :D . Our friends started showing up I grabbed a double shot of whiskey in some 7up and tried to chill out a bit. The crowd was made up mostly of each bands friends. There was a good vibe. It ended up being one of the bigger early shows(dj goes on at 10)


We went on, my legs were a little trembly up till about the 5th song. We did great though! The sound guy did his job well, we got lots of compliments. Even an offer to play some metal fests this summer from the guitarist of Boiler. The drummer of Boiler is the owner of the club and I was told that he said "Wow". Of course we were only playing covers the first half Tool, other half System of a Down, with a deftones and stp song in the mix, but I guess we did them well. Now we are warmed up we are going to work on original tunes. :thu: or, the singer just told me that he heard people say we should be a Tool tribute band. I don't think our drummer wants to learn any more of Danny Carey's craziness though.


I'll probably always get the pre-gig jitters but they usually go away once I get down to business. It certainly was a natural high. One of my best friends said when she saw me right after our set it was the most alive she has ever seen me. :) I can't wait to see how the video footage came out hopefully with good audio. Well I guess I've rambled on enough.

"Don't Ask Me I'm Just The Bassplayer" UBP
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Loads of good relies, I personally would worry if I wasn't nervous. It's like the first time you "get to know" a girl ;) ....Of course you wanna impress!


p.s. It's great to see/hear/feel Greenboy and Jason Hoyt back on the forum.



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Jitters? Butterflies? You bet I still get 'em, even 20 years later!


At this point, I more or less rely on the tension it builds in me, to be more aware, because it's when I'm relaxed that I get sloppy and make foolish mistakes because I'm not so sharp when that happens.


Forget about drinking a beer......I think I'm allergic to the stuff because I have the most hyper reaction to alcohol when I'm getting psyched up to go on. So I insist that those who play with me respect my choice to not drink, otherwise I'm outta there.


I found that I actually play my best when I'm more than slightly pissed off, have a very mild headache, and tense. Then I'm really sharp! Unhappy af first, but sharp as a tack.


The worst part of the tension dissipates as soon as the first song starts, and once I strike my first note, and the whole thing gets rolling, my tension goes down to something more managable and sustainable.


Then as the evening wears on, I "relax" in my tension and anger, and things start to get comfortable. Go figure!


When I practice at home, I do so with great relaxation, and things seem to go well enough.


I've worked with folks who were in their 40s, who've been playing live locally since their teens, and they still get 'em as well.


I'm often told that it's a sign, a symptom that you're on the right track, that you're there for a serious performance, not to just f%#$ around. Seems to be an accurate observation.


Guess this is what it means to suffer for one's art.

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

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I'm with George on this one.


I get nervous before a show, always have, always will. For me, if I'm NOT nervous ("awww, this gig is a piece of cake"), then I'm more likely to get sloppy. Being nervous keeps me on my toes and stops me from falling into that "everything's going great - nothing can screw this up" mentality.


For 30 years, I've been pacing back and forth, chain-smoking, drinking (H2O), going over lyrics, checking the setlist, etc etc etc before every show. It's like my mantra, and the rest of the band kind of back off and let me stew in my own natural juices before a show. Of course, they're used to it by now - I've played with the same drummer/guitarists since 1976.


It doesn't matter what type of music, venue, studio, players, whatever...my FIRST concern is the audience. They paid good money to see us, and if we don't do EVERYTHING we can to show them a good time, then we're not doing our job. If we think the audience is not our first priority, then we might as well play in my house, drinking beer and getting lit. My being nervous and jittery beforehand sensitizes me to the importance of what we're doing. Some of the folks who come to see us (or any band) are dealing with problems the likes of which we couldn't comprehend, and they come out to forget their lives and concerns for awhile. They get our best shot.


Admittedly, we love to play. If we never gigged again, we'd still get together and play, just to get together and play. My bandmates are my best friends, but we always feed off each other musically, and the audience for our performing buzz. After all, the other word for gig is JOB, and we're paid to make the audience feel good, get in a mood, party, smile, forget, flirt, sing, dance, connect, celebrate, drink, not drink, find their true love, get lucky, make decisions, get together, break up, tremble their way thru their first kiss, EVERYTHING that makes this rich life worth living.


Face it...We are the soundtrack to other people's lives. I think that's pretty cool.


Pardon the ramble but, if I wasn't jittery, I wouldn't sound the same, and neither would the band.



Tim from Jersey :thu:

Play. Just play.
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"My being nervous and jittery beforehand sensitizes me to the importance of what we're doing. Some of the folks who come to see us (or any band) are dealing with problems the likes of which we couldn't comprehend, and they come out to forget their lives and concerns for awhile. They get our best shot."


That's one of the best things I've read on this forum. Thanks. It's especially meaningful for me, as I play in church.

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It's funny the things that different people do to psych themselves up.


Our bassist, Marky (#5), gets all hyped and competitive: he sounds like a college football coach or something. He'll walk over to me, point at the stage and say, "That's OUR fuckin' stage right there. Are you ready? ARE YOU READY?" I just laugh when he does that. I'm always ready. He knows this. It's just something he does to get himself all wired for the show. Our singer does push-ups before we go on... I have no idea why. I like to get in his face when he's doing that and scream at him like I'm a drill sargent -- y'know, "Gimme another you scumbag! Didn't your parents have any children that LIVED?" That always cracks him up and makes him fuck up his push-ups.


Our drummer is kinda like me, except he's quiet. He just gets up there and does his thing. No prep or psych-up time needed. I'm just a clown... I'm always ready to play because that's what I love to do.



"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Apparently Dave Ghrol still gets vomitastic stage fright. I read that in a magazine a few years ago, dunno if it's still true.


I tend to get nervous tension more than anything. I get very restless. I tend to take 2 or 3 mins right before we go on to sit in a quiet corner, with my back against a wall and just breath and clear my head. Works for me. That and listening to Rage Against The Machine at home when I packing up and on the way to the gig.


My little ritual gets my nice and pumped and then helps me focus it properly so that I can put on a good show AND stick every note where I want it. Doesn't quite work like that.


But, if I ever play a totally perfect show, then I'll stop playing live for ever.

Free your mind and your ass will follow.
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