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Ive realized that Im currently in the musical underbelly of the St. Louis scene. As a band starting out you have to take some crappy shows I guess. If anything I guess you get your feet wet and hope someone notices you.

Well we got to play to an empty room Saturday night. There were all of 4 people watching us play that night. Youd think that a local bar could generate some traffic on a Saturday night. It was a total dive though. It was a corner bar trying to attract more people. So there we were suffering right along with the owners I guess.

Then there were the Drunks that came in around midnight. One drunk guy came in claiming to be the house drummer. Took out one of those rhythm eggs and shook it to the beat throughout the set. Very freaking annoying!!!

Then his girl decided that she wanted to sing. In the middle of one of my songs she jumps up onto the empty mic in mid song. I carry on the song and finish it out somehow. I think we turned her way down. The drummer goes right into the next song. Its one of mine as well. What the heck is he thinking!! She really likes the song apparently. She grabs her boyfriends egg and starts shaking it in my face, actually hitting me in the face with it. At least shes in time I guess. The bars practically empty. Theres no help in site. I finish the song somehow. Finally the bar owner drags her away from me. Her boyfriend gets pissed. Starts a ruckus. She actually kicks him in the nuts for some reason. He leaves thank god. She passes out in a corner and is out for the last set of crap. I played well up to that point. Now Im pretty shaken and the last set sucks. Im totally out to lunch.


This is the 2nd empty room we've played. Im wondering why the head guy is booking all of these crappy bars. Why am I wasting my time? Hes taking any low paying gig he can get at this point. I guess theyre all warm ups and thats how I should look at it. Color me disenchanted in St. Louis!! We're going to be going through a production agency soon. Hopefully that helps.


So how about the rest of the low end? Im sure there are some horror stories out there that are worse then mine. Maybe some will make me feel better.

Double Posting since March 2002

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Wow that puts things into perspective. Don't mind me, I'm just venting. I'll take away that I should be happy to be able to collect my very own horror stories.


Sorry Conguino :(

Double Posting since March 2002

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I still fondly remember 1977-79. We were a decent band with lots of covers mixed with some truly great originals (in the same style as the covers). We played lots of "auditions" on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to empty bars. We couldn't fill the place, so we didn't get weekend gigs.


We somehow got a pretty steady gig at a bar that was next to a small concert hall. The bar drew a small crowd (25-40), but we kept hoping to catch the people exiting the larger show next door. Rarely happened. The place was in a questionable part of town. A crackhead flew into the doorway and hit the guitarist's hand one night (not seriously, but he was shaken). When the cops took him away he was trying to put his head through the back window. Another night a girl had the hots for the lead singer. His fiance was there (along with a rare appearance by my wife). After many polite refusals (she was drunk), she goes and punches the fiance in the face.


I like being old now, because there's no romance issues when our average age is 46. The bar I've played hasn't had any problems so far...


Hang in there, and definitely book some better places. Once in a while you can survive an empty room, but I'd rather be home or at rehearsal...




Acoustic Color


Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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(Warning: long post)

I realize that I'm at a different end of the gig spectrum than many of you, but I thought you might enjoy the gig horror story that my band (getting $2000 a night) went through last night.


We were booked to play a wedding in the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento, California. Sacramento is the capitol of California and the hotel is across the street from the Capitol building.


At the same hotel was the U.S. sponsored Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agriculture Science and Technology. This is big conference to discuss bio-engineered food. Also on hand for the conference where several thousand protestors including family farmers, chefs, and the usual radicals.


As we drove into Sacramento, we noticed that all the streets within a five block radius of the hotel were barricaded. The streets were lined with armed police wearing helmets and shields. The protestors were marching up and down the street shouting slogans and carrying signs and banners. Some protestors were chaining themselves to trees.


And of course we were trying to drive to the hotel. We tried from several directions and finally just parked where we could. Then we had to get our gear to the hotel. I've stated in another thread that if I can't get it in one trip, I don't bring it. I pulled out my trusty rock and roller cart and loaded on it: my amp rack, a 2x10 cab, an Electrovoice Entertainer PA system (2 speakers and a powered mixer), speaker stands, music stands, mike stands, a suitcase full of cables and another suitcase full of music books, a stool, my tuxedo, and my bass. Then I tied everything down with bungee cords and started pushing it the five blocks: through the police lines "I'm just going to a gig, sir" and through the parade of protestors. Did I mention the trolley tracks that I had to push the cart over? Actually some of the protestors (with whom I actually agree--I don't want to eat FrankenFood) helped me push my cart.


Then we reached the hotel. There was security everywhere. The hotel management was going crazy. Of course in addition to the band, 150 wedding guests and a limo carrying the bride and groom had to get to the hotel. A frantic hotel coordinator with a cel phone was managing to get people through one particular barricade. Our guitarist actually managed to drive in. One of the guys who I keep telling that he needs to get a cart or dolly had to walk in, borrow a luggage carrier from the hotel, walk back, load his stuff, and walk back to the hotel.


OK, we're all there....except the drummer. I call his cel, "Where are you?" and he says, "Oh man, I left an hour early but I'm stuck in the traffic by the racetrack." I said, "well that's the easy part, now here's what's going to happen when you get to the hotel" and I filled him in.


From the town where he lived he had to drive by a race track where there was a NASCAR race and 200,000 fans.


He showed about half way through the first set. But that was cool, we had played the first dance without him and were playing standards and ballads during dinner.


The gig went easy...of course ...this is a group of musicians who had not all played together before. (Rehearsal? I don't got to show you no stinkin' rehearsal! (apologies to "The Treasure of Sierra Madre")


When were all playing we played: a medley of Jewish Klezmer songs and folk dances: Hava Nagila, Shereleh, David Melech Yisrael and the Chusan Kala Freilach. A medley of Brick House, The Message and Skin Tight. How High the Moon, Moon River, Fire by Springsteen, a medley of I Wish by Stevie Wonder and Gloria by Van Morrison, Someone Like You by Van Morrison, Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof. Etc.

No rehearsal and very few charts. That was the easy part. Fortunately it was a great crowd and everything we played went over well.


Now time for the load out. The protestors were gone. I walked back to my car and negotiated the maze of one way streets and barricades to get back to the hotel. Then I tried to get back to the ballroom. No luck. The hotel had locked out the elevators so no one could get to the ballrooms and I had to call hotel security to get back to pick up my gear.


Then all I had to do was load my gear, take it down to the car, pack it in the car and drive 80 miles home.


But as our wise friend, Conguiño, says, at least I live in a place that has gigs. ;)

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Hmmm... gig horror stories. I've thankfully never had a really bad gig, but I have had some 'less than favorable' ones.


The last Travis Shredd show in Seattle was a pretty bad experience. TS played first, this local band called 'Beef Kurtain' played second, and then Yogi & Half Zaftig closed the evening. Playing two sets in one night, in two different bands was rather fun, other than that, uhh... yeah. TS started almost an hour later than we were supposed to because the house sound guy was the most incompetent person on the entire planet; and he moved slower than a lethargic sloth. When TS got done, it took approximately forever for the sound man to get The Kurtain setup and ready to play and they are only a three-piece. Of course, it didnt help much that all three of them had been drinking since something like noon. It was their bass players birthday and they had been celebrating all day long. Nice. Recall that TS had started an hour late. By the time El Kurtain started playing, it was damn near midnight. They thankfully did a very short set, partially because their bass player had run off the stage to the restroom half way through a song so he could perform a bit of a technicolor yawn. Tons of drinking before hand + more beer and shots on stage + jumping around a lot != a good idea. We setup as quickly as possible and thanked the die-hard people who had stuck around to hear us play. This was a weeknight, which I failed to mention earlier. I believe we started at 12:45 we played a very abbreviated set and that was that. Oh, there were the completely and utterly hot chicks from Australia that saw us play that night so that was a bonus to an otherwise miserable evening. This was Y&HZs second live performance ever and the last show ever for the Travis Shredd band (or so we thought, we did play that party at Penns house last month). Not that this wasnt already bad enough, I played the same club a week later with another band. Same bad sound guy, same horrible results. Although, that night I got the And Justice For All bass mix. Yogi had come that evening to check this band out (and the lead singer, hotcha! Shes purty.) At one point I looked at him and mouthed, can you hear me at all? To which he responded with a, no. I then proceeded to play about 4 measures of chromatic, a-rhythmic nonsense. He just shook his head, nope, still cant hear you. Excellent.


Ive done the play to the other bands and the wait-staff/bartender gig before, on several occasions. Thats always fun or, or not so much.


By far, the worst ever gig story that Ive heard is something that happened to the guy who was Travis Shredd; obviously a stage name, his real name is Eric. Eric was playing at a club somewhere in Idaho. It was the early 80s and his band was a very Devo-esque sort of affair, complete with odd hair colors, spandex, and what have you. Well, it seems one of the patrons of the establishment didnt particularly care for their music and was voicing his opinion during the course of the evening. No big deal. Then things got bad. Eric was playing the Star Spangled Banner with his teeth, all Jimi Hendrix style, and while he was doing so, aforementioned big, angry, disgruntled patron got out of his seat, got on stage, took Erics Gibson Explorer out of his hands and proceeded to break it over his head. A fucking Explorer. Broke it over his head at the neck joint. Eric got knocked out cold. The sound man that they toured with is a big guy who played amateur hockey for a number of years. Very versed in the arena of hand-to-hand combat, as it were. The sound guy reached Disgruntled Man right after he had smashed said guitar over Erics head and began beating the living shit out of him. The response from Disgruntled Man was not what he was expecting. Disgruntled Man started smiling and laughing and getting up after being knocked down. Apparently, he was all whacked out on heroin or something and was feeling no pain. It took several people to contain him until the cops arrived and brought him off to his cozy jail cell. Eric made a full recovery, but his Explorer did not.

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Ibescotty-sorry to hear about that gig. Here's one.


The place: A fairly well known university in a state known for it's party schools;

The time: 92-93;

The situation: So I am playing with a 5 piece pop rock band, big fish in a small pond kinda thing. Regularly playing to 500-800 people 2 or 3 times a week at a gigantic nightclub, for decent pay and cheap beer. So far, not much of a problem.

We also picked up other gigs whenever possible, in addition to the club gig. Which leads to- The gig at the fraternity house...

No parking within 1500 feet or so of the grass lot, then a load in across the hot parking lot, across what seemed like a quarter acre of grass, 3 of us moving gear for 5, and it's around 95 with 80 degree humidity.

Get to the "stage" to find plywood sheets on milk crates, outside in front of the frat. All AC from generators, lots of people randomly milling around and getting in the way, and too many of them "in charge".

By the time we have everything set up, it is playtime, so no soundcheck. The frat had actually acquired a fairly nice PA from somewhere, with two wedge monitors (!), but the guy running the board (note I didn't say soundguy) said he'd fix he mix while we played. I guess he tried his best...

The "crowd" ranged from heatdazed to drunk to stoned to all of the above, mostly trying to "hook up" and numbering no more than 50 or so total, but that was over a half an hour or so, as people came and left the area, and in a pretty large field. Looked like 15 people.

And then it rained halfway the set, which made us all scatter, me trying to protect my bass and an ancient Acoustic head while gathering cases for the drummer.

Amazing how fast you can strike a stage in the rain.


Long story short (Too Late!!) :rolleyes:

It later turned out that we had been the frat's "second choice", it took us almost a month to get paid, and it was for less than we had agreed upon.

Hope this helps...Keep playing!






I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.






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I've played some empty rooms before, none with anyone getting up and helping us out. In my last band we played at the same bar in town about 3 times. Most of the crowd was our friends. I remember one time the sound guy came in the middle of our set and asked for some of his pay right then because the bar 86 'd him. And he's in charge of how we sound! Needless to say he doesn't get much business anymore in town.

With my current band, we have done a couple of all age show on a Sunday night. No crowd. Maybe 10 people. You can actually hear a difference in the sound in an empty room.

Still fun though.



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scotty- Sounds like your playing in the soulard. I used to play with a cajun band that played in your area occasionally. Our experience was that (pay wise) the soulard pais the least and the wineries paid the best. The soulard averaged about 200. A few places that paid slightly better were the Broadway Oyster Bar, The Venice Cafe, and the Tap Room. A good strategy for getting a crowd is to book in the busch Stadium neighborhood on the night of a Cardinals home game. Don't know what style your playing but I hope this helps. We quit going to the city because we were getting paid better in little ol carbondale IL. Our new band is going to try and play up there this summer. If you see an ad for Chickenfoot Gumbo drop in and I'll buy you a beer.




If a frog had wings, he wouldn't whomp his ass a hoppin'.

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Hey Earl your right!! It was a dive on South Broadway. Sucky pay too. We collected 2$ at the door for part of the night to suppliment the lower pay and only made 28$. We gave up after a while. We are trying 3rd base again after a Cardinals game downtown. It's just past everything but this time we go on after a game at 4:00 during the St. Louis fair. We're also going to try playing right out in the street according to the bar owner. Unfortunatly I think the Beach boys are playing at the same time or something. Oh well maybe we can grab some spill over. I'll have to come check you guys out. Let me know when and where your playing.


I'm thinking of good vibrations...

Double Posting since March 2002

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I totaly relate,


Our band, only been gigging for about 2 months now, we had our best stage performance last Friday night. We were tight and we had the feeling. Only problem was no-one was there to see it. There was the guitarists wife, the drummers gf and the other guitarists flatmate. The bar manager pulled the pin after the first hour we got paid a third of the agreed gig price. There was no-one in the bar before we showed up, no-one there while we played and no-one there after we left. Such a sad little pub... Such a sad night... :cry:

Providence over serendipity any day.
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(I posted this on the guitar forum once. Thought you might enjoy it too)


OK, I'm in a metal band in the '80s. Hair, spandex, everything. We get called to play for a party at some civic center. We arive to find approx. 200 senior citizens and assorted other ages in wheel chairs, walkers and folding chairs(not moving a whole lot). I explain to the lady "no hard feelings, but I don't think you really want us to play" I explain that we play heavy metal, and she says to go ahead and do it anyway. Come to find out this is a group of mentally handicapped people who all live in a facility together, and this is their Christmas party. We shrugged and proceeded to rock them hard...and they loved it! I had little old ladies coming up afterwards and giving me egg nog and cookies and hugging me! They were really starving for entertainment. I just hugged them back and hung out with them for a while and then got our measly $200 and went home.

That was some fun back then. Weird but fun.

Hey you white boy there

Go play that funky music

"ok...what's it pay?"


first smoke, then silence

your very expensive rig

dies so gracefully

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I played at a block party in a rednecky Virginia town and someone got stabbed by a biker-guess we shouldn't have played all those Rolling Stones tunes! Played in a southern rock band,was waiting in line in the bathroom to take leak and the 15ft 900lb biker in front of me turned around and said "If you don't play Freebird we will kill you". I said "How many times would you like to hear it?" Played a very posh wedding and when the bride came into the reception room one of our backup singers looked up and in front of the live mic said "Hoowee! All I want to know is when do I get to f**k the bride?". One of our roadies in the southern rock band pissed on the wall of the club while we were setting up and while people were eating. The club manager screamed at him mid-stream "What the f**k are you doing?" He turned his head around still leaking and said "F**k you!" Yeah, I sure miss those days :rolleyes:
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Had one of those "little old lady" shows...but we knew in advance it was a nursing home (don't ask...) We gave them the Doors, Alanis...and they just ate it up.


I guess when you don't go anywhere, you'll take what you can get. Actually, it was kinda nice to have a gig where the board could blow up, and you'd still be loved.


Definitely more fun than playing to an empty room...and I've done that, too. Two older ladies wandered in during a Chris Isaak tune, and wandered away when it was over.

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  • 2 years later...

I played an hour and a half of solo sax pieces at a retierment home once. I did it for free. Your right, they do eat up any entertainment. Watch out though, they will never let you end a conversation. I Didnt have the heart to say, "I really have to go now".


Alright, I Have to start thinking about other things now because thats depressing.






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Welll.. there was the time back in '82 where we played 2 nights for the door receipts... $2 each, I kid you not.. But.. that same weekend.. I met the woman who became my wife of now 22 years (she was the door bouncer).. There have been many unfortunate situations/incidences over the years.. I think I've experienced most of 'em... Always grown a little bit from each one..


Nowadays we still get into the empty club/odd situation... this band I'm with now takes all that in stride... We call em paid rehearsals

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I played for like a billion old people. Because I was asked. they will never ask again, i hope. Plated for originals. The only people who gave a good goddamn were my girlfriend and my friend fish. We still kicked ass. And a scottslady(i'm like 3/4 scotish as is my girlfriend) "Ay you were pretty good but you need to move jump about a wee bit more" That made it all worth it.

I knew a girl that was into biamping,I sure do miss



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We played a nursing home once - a band of two acoustic guitarists and two fine girl singers - the other guitarist sang some, too.


The audience loved it! Some of them were mentally not all there, and they didn't all have perfect control of their elimination.... but they certainly appreciated having something to do other than stare at the walls!


It was unsettling in a way but I am glad we did it! I guess it really doesn't qualify as a horror story, although at first I thought it would be.


Oh, a half hour before we were done, another band came that also had been booked for that day, which the other guitarist wasn't happy about! We ended up singing a couple of tunes with them, actually. I think it was kind of cool in a way, though certainly I wouldn't want to deal with double bookings on a regular basis!

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Again, this is why I don't play gigs for pay anymore.


Too many drunks, idiots, and drunken idiots. Too many scumbag bar owners ripping you off and treating you like crap.

"Tours widely in the southwestern tip of Kentucky"
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I wish there were more places to play that weren't BARS!


Clubs are OK, where alcohol may be served, but the people are there for the music, not to get drunk! You can find idiots there, too, but most of the people appear reasonably sane and intelligent!

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I've told this story before, but here it is again.


I was once called down by the singer in the middle of a set. He chose to address me over the PA and told the crowd that it was me making him look bad.


There had only been one rehearsal the day before the gig. The singer walked in, handed us a set list and counted off the first song. After about 12 or so bars he would stop the song, tell us what we were doing wrong and move on to the next one. About a 25 song set; practice one hour.


Tried my best to listen to those oldies and catch the grooves. I was much less experienced then. So while the notes that I played fit the chord structure, some of the grooves were not what he was used to hearing. He got madder and madder as the set drug on. I thought we sounded fine, and the crowd was dancing. Finally he saw fit to call me down in front of everyone. And , boy, did he let me have it. Told me (and everyone else) that I was "ruining his show and making him look bad". "The job of the bass, drums and rhythm guitar are to make the singer look good".


And so forth and so on...


I finished the set took my pay and left.


He called me a week later and asked if I had been practicing and if I would cover another show for him. He was very politely told to go and f**k himself.


After that incident, he had to go at least fifty miles in any direction to find anyone willing to play with him.


God loves a bass player.

My whole trick is to keep the tune well out in front. If I play Tchaikovsky, I play his melodies and skip his spiritual struggle. ~Liberace
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I've played in Soulard about a half dozen times many years ago and it seems there were never any people around. The pay was poor also.


My horror story:

I was playing a weekly blues jam many years ago and using my 63 P bass (reverse tuners). A guy who was "supposed" to be a player asked if he could noodle around on my bass between sets and I said okay. When I got back up to play it hadn't occured to me to re-check the tuning because that bass never goes out of tune. When we started playing again not one string was even close to being in tune. I had to stop playing and retune during the song, a total embarassment.


Visit my band's new web site.









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