January 4, 2006

Things You Don't Want To Hear Your Bandmates Say On Stage...

by Chris Randall
 

I was just listening to "Shadows In The Rain" off of Sting's Dream Of The Blue Turtles album (yeah, whatever. Sue me.) and the beginning where Darryl Jones goes "what key is this in?" always cracks me up, especially when I hear Sting go "ohhhhh," because I know the feeling. I've played a couple thousand shows, and I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of the top things you _don't_ want to hear on stage when you're the leader of a band.


1. From the drummer: "How does this song start again?" SMG had a rotating roster of drummers, and we got short-shrifted once by a guy that rehearsed well, but didn't do so hot on stage. SMG songs were, for the most part, straight-ahead rock numbers. One, and only one, was in triplets. So I'm announcing the song, and I hear him behind me asking the guitarist how the song starts. I don't think much of it, but I count off, and he starts it in straight time. So I stop the song, turn around to him and say "hey, this is in trips!" I count it off again, and he starts it in straight time _again._ So we repeat the above. I count again, and he starts in straight time a third time. I turn around, grab his cymbals and go "stop, motherfucker! TRIPS! You know. 123 123!" He was fired shortly thereafter.


2. From the guitarist: "How does this song start again?" See above.


3. From anybody but the drummer: "What key is this in?" The worst is when you're already playing it, and you can tell something is wrong, but you're not sure what. All of the sudden, a solo section comes up, and it's blindingly obvious that someone is playing a half-step off. I hate that.


4. From anybody but especially the drummer: "Dude, I'm soooo fucked up!" This is a hard thing to hear about the third song in, because you know the rest of the set is gonna be a trainwreck, and there's nothing you can do about it. I've had a long-standing policy that someone that gets fucked up before a show won't be playing the next show. I can play every instrument but drums well enough to pull off a set, so I don't have any problem shitcanning someone for unprofessionalism.


5. From anybody, in the middle of a song: "What the fuck?" Or alternately, "dude, my shit is fucked up!" 99% of the time, this is from the guitarist, and is a result of a pedal malfunctioning, and usually this is because he didn't change the battery. You'd think they'd learn.


6. The worst thing of all doesn't come from on-stage, though. Rather, you're playing what you thing is a really good set, and you look up, and you see the soundman with a look of panic on his face as he stares at the console, and his arms outstretched, palms up, in the universal "what the fuck?" gesture. There are few things that can take the wind out of your sails like that.

 
 
 

10 comments:

 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 1:19 PM
neB
Well, I got a few to add along the lines:

1. I hate it when my singer's woman tells him something along the lines of 'What the hell is [enter ex-girlfriend/fling name here] doing here" before a show. That can put a damper on things...well, actually, anything any of our women says before the show can potentially be a real downer.

2. Right when the set is going really well and we're about to go into the last few songs - which we know will close the night on a high note - you hear from the sound guy 'last song'.

3. The guitarist pouting and mumbling how he 'HATES this song'.

4. Drummer suddenly has somewhere he ABSOLUTELY has to be after the show, so we have to load out all his shit for him...after, of course, he already had somewhere to be BEFORE the show when we already loaded in all his shit.

5. And then...lastly: "I thought YOU got the merch?!??"

 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 1:27 PM
Chris Randall
Oh, those are good ones. Especially #4.

Regarding #5, my worst fuck-up ever is along similar lines. There was a party after a show in Denver last year that everyone but me wanted to go to. (If there's one thing in this world I can't stand, it's after-show parties, mainly because I don't drink.) They were all trilling on about it, three bands worth of people, and loaded out fast (for a change) and were all piled in the van by the time I had changed my clothes. So I hopped in the van, and drove them to the party, then went to get something to eat.

I found a 24 hour BK or something up the street, and I'm sitting there in the parking lot eating my burger, and it suddenly occured to me that I forgot to get paid by the promoter. That is the worst "Oh, my, god..." moment I've ever had on tour. I was able to track him down the next morning, but I had to take a reduction, or as he termed it, a stupidity tax. Luckily, our next show was in Colorado Springs so we weren't late or anything.

-CR

 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 1:32 PM
joe
>>Regarding #5, my worst fuck-up ever is along similar lines.

So is that what "So Brand New (The Denver Incident Mix by Sister Machine Gun)" is all about? Or is there still another sly reference in play?

 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 1:35 PM
Chris Randall
That's what it's referring to. You're correct.

-CR

 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 2:53 PM
D' MacKinnon
Number 4 is the bane of my existence.

I also hate getting shafted with loading out all the equipment because somebody has plans right after the show. Of course I own most of the equipment so I don't have much choice.

 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 6:39 PM
Dave McAnally
Haha, oh man considering the morons I've played with I could make a pretty long list

1. Drummer yelling at you and making the "time-out" sign 30 minutes into the set saying he needs a break (and sweating like the fat bitch he is)

2. Singer decides to tell a pedophile joke (a bad one at that) between songs

3. Soundguy is visibly smoking a bowl behind the board during your set

4. Drummer sneaks a pizza up onstage with him and "needs a minute" so he can stuff his fat face between songs

 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 8:40 PM
americanjunky
Was just talking earlier today about some of the weird things that happen onstage, what about when an audience member is calling you the "N" word when the whole band is whiter than wonder bread, I still fear for that kids mental state.
 
 

 
Jan.04.2006 @ 9:54 PM
Chris Randall
Ahhh. J'aime Montr?al au printemps. Yeah, that kid was out of his mind. If memory serves me, I threw my guitar off in the middle of a song, and tried to jump in to the audience to tune him up, but several audience members got to him before I did. That problem sort of solved itself.

-CR

 
 

 
Jan.05.2006 @ 5:52 PM
leaftoe
a) we have two attractive females in the group.....at one show a couple of drunk/fat fortysomethings thought it would be funny to toss $1 bills on stage as if they were strippers....with about a minute left in the last song, i jumped down and went after the smaller of the two....he claimed that he was trying to give us extra money because we 'were so good'

b) [me] destroying a parker fly deluxe and not remembering it the next day....and since i'm the boss of my group, i played the next show!

c) backing tracks coming through the monitors in stereo....half came through stage left....half through stage right....a total mindfuck

 
 

 
Jan.05.2006 @ 10:38 PM
Heretic_D?
I think the lesson is that drummers are typically not worth having.

A friend of mine, at the beginning of every show sets up drums. He then searches the place for someone who knows how to play drums with relative competence, and gives him a few dollars to play the set with them. That way it's a disposable endeavor that won't let him down. Worst case scenario, he gets what he pays for. But he doesn't get anything less than he expects.

 
 

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