Nightmare gigs. We all have had one. Hell fire, I have had a few too. They are the worst moments in your musical career as they are going down but somehow become some what fond memories later on in life.. Whether it is equipment failure, band members getting so drunk they pass out on stage or as the late great Bon Scott once said, “Getting ripped off, under Paid” its happened to us all. I recently put out a bulletin on a local music message board and waited for the responses. I have to tell you, there were alot of good ones and at the end of the article I’ll give you a couple of mine … …
I’ll go first, about 8 years ago a friend at work told me that her son’s ‘punk’ band had a gig in 3 days and their drummer had just quit. I had just left the metal scene, was laying low for a while. I thought to myself, “I could probably do this. I went through my punk phase in the mid-80’s I could get these guys through 8 or 9 songs.” So I quickly told her I’ll do it. “This should be fun.” I thought. I get a demo disc the night before the show and for the sake of everyones feelings here. I’ll describe this band as the the type of band that time keeping, and symetry was not a priority. Showtime comes, and I have no monitor, other than the back of a 30watt combo,and a farting, single driver bass combo. It was one train wreck after another, and getting worse. I abandonded all hope of following them and started to just throw in blurred solo pieces in and out of simple 4/4 beats. It was like fantamas, before fantamas existed, yikes. I vowed never to assume I could just” wing it” again.
well chuck you should remember this gig it was memorial day weekend of last year .We where playing in a minor leauge baseball stadium in marion illinois.The deal was we were supposed to play from 9 till midnight after the game .(The team oddly enough was playing the evansville otters who beat the sh*t outta marion btw).
The whole thing started off bad .
We show up and this “sound ” company had the pa and side stage set up.Everything looked cool.But I had my doubts when I lent the guys my noise gate and they had no idea how to use it.
But we did the sound check everything sounded amazing .So back to the hotel room rest and get ready to play.\
We get a call saying theres gonna be fire works and blah blah blah so now we go on at 10:00 whatever less we have to play and and still get paid the same great . So we get ready and finally at 8:30 we go over to the stadium.
First thing I do is go up to tune my guitars,well as a nice bad omen there is no power to the back of the stage . No problem I think so I go to find the owner of the sound company who told us at 4 that afternoon he was gonna be there .Well he ‘s no where to be found. Instead he left some fat guy and two emo kids in charge ……f**king great sign.
It takes dashboard confessional 20 minutes to figure out someone unplugged the mains. So at this point I’m doing what i always start to do when things are looking fubared. I get pissed and complain.
Chuck did his calm down its okay routine we always go through and of course our bass player was out following his girlfriend around like a puppy.
Then the game goes into extra innings. So we are waiting around for this fiasco in the making to begin even longer. And in this time frame muarrys pet bulldawg steals a heating tray full of burnt turkey legs.
So finally this chick that booked us comes up and tells us that its almost time for the fireworks and blah blah blah. I’m just ready to go home at this point (I didnt get to but thats another fuck up and not that important to this story) so I throw the iceman on and get ready…to wait another 30 minutes.
So when finally the game ends and the fireworks start ,We take the stage and start the first song. Not too bad it sounds good and loud my voice is shot because I had been sick with a sinus infection the previous week. No big deal I make it through.Next two songs go by fairly okay the crowd could give a sh*t less cus they lost big time and it’s almost midnight and most people are going home .
In the middle of sweet child of mine right where the guitar goes doo doo do da doo dooo
I suddenly couldnt hear a f**king thing .
I was mid doo doo “PWink when I looked at chuck panic stricken
I couldnt hear me him, Val or even worse the drummer was completley lost . There where no monitors whats so ever.
So anyways fallout boy comes running up to the stage saying the whole board just redlined and he had to swipe it . He then told us we had to turn our amps down because they where too loud.I looked at this little sh*t and sneered I cant f**king hear as it is and you expect us to turn our sh*t down becuase you dont know what the f**ck your doing !!!!!!!!!!!!!
So at that point it was a cluster f**ck the equvalent of driving without your headlights in pitch black.
So mercifuly it was over after another painful 20 minutes.
After the show the little twits came up and said good show, I growled a nice f**ck you at them and went off to teh hotel pissed.
These assholes got 400.00 to basically f**ck us , there is a whole lot more bulsh*t but
its too much to put down
let’s just say when I think of spinal tap moments thats now the grand gunoli of bad gigs for me
I’ve got one…this place in St. Louis, I think it was called Frankies Lounge.
I was asked to play the drums for this chick I knew in college…she loved Tony Iommi and she played her guitar like dog poop. So I said yes. Afterall, what are friends for. Oh, I failed to mention that she took horse traquilizers, on top of a list of other substances. Nice chick, just a f…ked up life.
We arrive to a sh*thole just south of downtown STL, owner greets us in a green leisure suit and top gun aviator sun glasses. We go to his “green room” where we sit around a big table and he opens a few boxes. I quote, “help youself.” You name it and it was somewhere on that table. Little did I know that it was considered our pay. I just thought I was a drummer for one night, actually a guitar player, playing in STL. How cool. …all free, except the beer!?
It was the sh..tiest, fastest, yet seemed to drag-all-night-gig. We played with some stoner chick band that thought they were a cross between the Monkeys and the Mama’s and Papa’s. Nice mix, considering that we were basically rolling out metal…ha!
And the people in the crowd, all 5 of them were dazed the whole time and looked at us like we were Gods. Yeah maaaaaaannnnnn.
Worst gig, yet it somehow turned out to quite fun.
Hell, I can’t keep track. A couple weeks ago I was doing a Tuesday night gig and forgot my snare stand and drum throne…I don’t know why…my girlfriend driving me nuts maybe? Ha,ha!! Anyways, I took a chair from one of the tables and found an old nasty lookin’ bucket which had some height to it. I stuck the snare on the bucket and it actually sounded really f**ckin’ good! I couldn’t quite get the angle I wanted but still did the gig and it was alright. So I guess this doesn’t qualify as “worst gig ever” but if I would’ve freaked out and got pissed off about leaving my stuff an hour an half away at home with no music stores open it could’ve been. So I’m thinking maybe a positive attitude and a little bit of creativity can make just about anything alright. Well, there was this one gig…
anothe one from JAMZ
Similar deal, I had a gig in Carbondale, and I was completly triggered at time,(my kit was so dampened that it had no acoustic value at all.) I’m speeding through Eldorado when I realized I left my powerstrip, with all of wall warts & power cords for the D-M5, the EQ’s, my monitor amp, everything, at home, on the’ Eastside’ of Evansville. I was over an hour and a half late, the club owner docked us $200.00 ($600.00. gig)
Yea, good times.
Absolute worst gig ever? Goes as follows: drunken buddy of our old singer (who goes to every gig) wants us to play a “Company Labor Day Party” about 5 years back. We’re told its a corporate gig, so other than the usual corporate PITA list, what can go wrong. Well, in no real order, here we go:
*It’s not a Company function- it’s a field party in this guy’s backyard, in which he’s invited
some “friends from work”
*Being a field party, there’s no stage or real power hookups
*Invited friends invite other friends, and soon there are 300 folks in backyard
*Massive amount of beer arrives (not necessarily bad), as does every controlled
substance known to man;
*Invited friends soon include teens and sub teens (see bullet point directly above)
*So, we have kids, booze, drugs, loud band in the backyard, and my brother/guitar
player/school teacher about to freak because some of these kids are his students
*Of course, the mandatory drunken strip contest ensues and all hell breaks loose
onstage, drunk dancing chicks, drunk groping guys, my BC Rich Eagle bass (good one
not a sheatty chinese one) getting the smack-down from a drunk dude wanting to
“perform” during a break, etc.
SOMEHOW we got out of there without getting arrested, or my brother getting fired from his day job. Not the funniest gig story I have, but definitely the worst
We played a relay for life gig in a football stadium a few years ago. It being a relay for life we donated our services. They had a stage set up on one side of the stadium and in the field they were playing games and such. No big deal until some idiot got on the stadium PA and started doing play by plays on the games in the field. We had a decent PA ourselves, but it could not compete with the stadiums PA which had speakers in every corner of the stadium. We just had our club sized PA which was admittedly too small for the venue. The announcer kept drowning us out. We were pretty upset and left feeling very disrespected.
I had a band about 13 14 years ago called Night Life. We where playing at Hopkinsville Eagles( Yea I Know) and things where good but not great. Me, Shawn Chambliss, Darrel Cavinaugh, and Mike Perkins. Friday night we had a good crowd. Mike and Darrel got hammered. Darrell was the worst he destroyed almost every song we did. I could’nt take it. At the end of the 3rd set I decided to confront him and he started CRYING! So I backed off trying to just get through the night. Mike was a “Mad Drunk”. He was mad cause he felt I made Darrell cry. At the end of EVERY song I would look over and Darrel had tears just F#$KIN rollin down his face. The man is at the time was 42 years old. Anyway we finished the night with almost a fist fight in the parking lot. I ended up firing both of them on the spot.
We still had Saturday to go and I called Randy Stone to play bass. Never played or practiced together. We played 3 piece. We played Saturday night and I swear there was people coming up to us saying ” Yall are a lot better than that band they had last night, one bastard on stage was even cryin!”
To top it all off we loaded up. Sat in the parking lot and talked for awile. Then left. Drove half way home and realized during my talking I put my guitar down in the parking lot. Thats right left the F#$kin thing right there in the middle of the parking lot. Had to drive an hour back to get it. Thank God it was still there. Its not the best neighborhood
Two from Edhead
Winter 1990-91… It is an icy cold night in Marion, IN (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the name of the club). I’m playing in a band called “The Splits” based out of Indy. It is one crappy Thursday night where nobody in their right mind would be out (temp about 3, streets coated in ice) but we’re onstage anyway playing to a total of 11 people – 1 bartender, 1 waitress, our 3 man road crew, two couples at a table, a white guy at one end of the bar, and a black guy at the other end. At some point during our first set the white guy at the bar leaves. We had just barely started our second set when the door at the far end of the bar bursts open and through it 3 guys in full KKK regalia (white robes and hoods) come roaring in. The black guy jumps up and bolts out a door that’s just to the right of the stage with the Clan hot on his tail. This whole thing happened in about 10 seconds – and we never stopped playing (I think we were having a hard time processing what we’d just seen). After the song ended, I stepped off stage and looked out the door they had exited – seeing nothing, I went back in. The club we were playing at was located next door to a bar that was one of the local black hang-outs. We continue playing and during our next song the door opens and in comes a horde of angry black folks from the bar next door. I’m thinking this is going to get ugly pretty quick, but luckily the cops had been called and within minutes shut the bar down for the evening. A few days later, I’m in my local music store (in Washington) and the older lady who ran it told me “Ed, you’ll never believe what I saw on the news – The KKK chased a black man out of a bar in Marion, IN and the band NEVER STOPPED PLAYING!! Can you believe that?” I told her I couldn’t believe it and assured her that no band I was in would ever do such a thing…
I got another one – although this doen’t really fall under the “worst gig ever” banner, but it was almost the worst night of our lives. Again, it’s “The Splits” I’m playing with and we’re playing at Bently’s on the south side of Indianapolis. Warrant was playing that night at Deer Creek (this was back in the day when 20,000 people would go to a Warrant concert). At the end of their show, Jani Lane tells the crowd “Hey Indianapolis, I’m going to go party at Bently’s”. Suffice to say, our crowd really picked up around midnite. Jani gets there, says he wants to get up with us, and we go on a play “Roadhouse Blues” with him and at one point he actually pulls his dick out and flashes it to the crowd. None of this has anything to do with the incident that happened later – I just wanted you to get the vibe of the place that night. So we finish up the night and everyone’s buzzin’ – lot’s of people backstage wondering in and out. There’s a bartender who’s there on his night off and he’s pretty drunk and he’s talkin to someone in the back next to the employees bathroom. Our soundman (Tim Smith) is in the bathroom taking a crap. This drunk bartender pulls out a gun he’d just bought to show it off – and it goes off. The bullet goes through the bathroom door and grazes our soundman’s neck (it ends up leaving a very visible red welt on it) – it goes throught the back wall of the bathroom and enters the band room (you know the place where we’re all hanging out with who knows how many people coming and going). The bullet dings off a water heater – grazes the arm of a girl our bass player is talking to (it leaves white dry-wall marks on her arm) and pierces the case of our lead guitarist’s Les Paul shattering the bottom horn off. We didn’t even know what happened at first – it took a couple of minutes to realize that a gun had gone off and that any of us could have been shot. Our soundman didn’t even hardly raise a fuss (he got a free case of beer out of the deal). I’m sure if it happened today, there would be lawsuits – but it was “back in the day” – we were young, stupid, irresponsible… and having the times of our lives.
Well, I guess I’ll chime in here as well… There are so many good stories from over the years (at least they are funny to look back on NOW).
A band I was with about 5 years ago got booked for a one-nighter in Clarksville, TN. The person that did our booking at the time got this gig set up for us. She told us what we were supposed to make, that they provided the PA, lighting, and engineers. In all fairness, I talked to the sound guy a couple weeks before the gig and he listed some nice stuff. Our “wonderful” booking person (who will remain nameless) did not get hotel rooms included in this contract, but with the amount she had booked us for, we could afford to get it ourselves. In fact, our regular sound guy even went with us on this journey to sell merch. Our booking person was supposed to show up later in the evening.
Moving on, we roll into town, set up our personal rigs and the sound crew mics us up. We do a soundcheck that sounds good and we all leave to go get a couple hotel rooms. We find a little motel that’s cheap so we can keep more of the gig money. So far so good…
We roll back to the venue and the sound guy and light guy are there. Lighting guy appears drunk before the show even starts. Oh well… As the show goes on several things happen: Our regular soundguy (who is selling merch) gets drunk. Not regular drunk, VERY drunk. And he is your apologetic drunk so every chance he has to talk to me he is sorry for getting into this position. Okay, on top of that, the sound (and high end feedback) just continues to get worse and worse and the sound guy is acting like this is OUR fault. Then there’s the drunk light guy who decides to just put the lights on a very sensitive audio “auto pilot”. So, now every song, slow or fast, has a multicolered stobe effect. Of cousre, you can’t have all this without a pathetic crowd too. Small and unreceptive.
We finally make it through the gig and, as we’re tearing down, the sound guy comes up and asks if we want a CD recording of the show. I tell him sure. I’m thinking, even though it probably sounds like sh*t, it’s a nice gesture. He goes and gets the CDs and says, that’ll be twenty bucks. ARE YOU SERIOUS. So, I start complaining and finally give him the damn money because his bouncer friends are strarting to look at little 140 pound me funny.
But wait, there’s more… The guy in charge comes over and gives me the money. Thank God… Wait a minute, this is nearly half what we were supposed to get so I begin to debate the amount with this guy and he assures me that’s what we agreed on. It’s now 2am, our booking person never showed up therefore I don’t have a copy of the contract in my hand. I wake her up and ask how much we were suppposed to get. She told me a different amount that she had before. Needless to say, this was my last straw with her (there are several other stories about her “business practices” as well).
Apparently, the venue was correct. I apologized for accusing the guy. While all this is going on, the drunk light guy from earlier is over stealing a bunch of our merch since our soundguy is passed out somewhere and not watching it. Me and the guitar player chase this guy outside but he’s already in someone’s car taking off.
We finally get back to the motel, drag our drunk soundguy to the bed, put a bunch of Little Debbie wrapers we had just finished on him and he woke up the next morning asking if he had eaten all that. We never have told him any different.
We left that gig in the hole big time after paying for rooms, gas, and getting merch stolen. Plus, dealing with the pathetic crowd. Yeah, it sucked…
And there are so many more stories to tell.
Great stuff and good for you guys to share about those glory days long gone. I have a couple to toss out too. Here goes.
First off, I already shared part of it on bandnut.com. We played at the old Ross theater alot,we weren’t good enough for Kramers Lake supposedly..anyhow, I had a good friend named Brad Hatfield, (God rest his soul) he has since passed on..anyway, we were setting up one night and Brad would go to the pay phone and call The DJ at WGBF and tell him about us..The DJ is a good friend so he’s putting it out over the air..We literally had the whole concession area full of people wanting to see us because of that..Brad kept calling the station, and the DJ kept putting it out…It was hype city!!! Needles to say, we had a packed house that night, so packed in fact that our lead singer got stage fright and wouldn’t perform so my brother had to do vocals…We pulled it off but it wasn’t easy..:( It could have been a great moment in rock and roll history but it became spinal tap in a way. I stood behind him and yelled the lyrics to the songs he didnt know into his ears … I couldn’t wait for the night to be over. All my fellow coworkers had shown up and were sitting on the front row. There we were, slowing dying in front of them.
Okay, and the last one. We finally got to play Kramer’s lake. I had to pawn some guitars to rent a U-haul to take all the gear over there. We had stage props like fake tomestones and cemetary gates. We also rented new power amps since we didnt have enough power to drive our PA. When we rented the power amps they were literally taken out of the shipping boxes and handed to us. This was our big break.We set up the stage during the day. Sound checked and went swimming. Everything was coming together. To us Kramers lake was the mecca, You had to play there. We got to play there the night ZZ top was in town. In hindsight I am glad we did but more on that later. So its getting near show time and people are falling in like always. Not a large crowd since there was a major concert that night in town. We had “Church Hill’s speech” that was playing over the PA. We had by then got in all of our metal battle gear, make up on and hair all puffed out. It was the eighties people!! We took our places on the stage. It was show time. It was sounding sweet. The energy was building and we were finally kicking Kramer’s ass. At the end of the intro the house lights went out and we kicked off with “Aces High”. It was our time. Our stage and we were the rulers!! Kicking ass and rocking out like rockstars!! And then about one minute into the first song the power amps we just rented went up in smoke and shut down. The front mains went off line and we were dead in the water. No Power amps. They not only over heated but they wouldn’t come back on at all. We waited for over 30 minutes. Nothing. Finally, we had to turn the floor monitors around to face the slowly dwindling crowd and try to use them for mains. It didnt work, It wasn’t loud enough. That moment took the wind out of our sails. We tried to stall for time and our singer introduced our other guitar player so he could play a guitar solo but he introduced him with someone elses name. Totally pissed him off. The night was a disaster. I am glad ZZ Top was in town so the crowd was small but the damage was done. We were never asked back at Kramers. However, I did play there again a few years ago when the church owned it”)