Paul Diamond Blow's Rock Musician Resources

Is Your Band Ready for the BIG GIG?? Preparation Tips Here!
Got a killer show lined up for your band? Here's how to prepare for a gig to maximize the awesomeness and avoid disaster.

by Paul Diamond Blow

So your cool new band has lined up a live show and you're ready to rock the house and become overnight stars. Awesome! But are you sure you're ready for the gig? Are you GOSH DANG sure? Now then, here is some advice as to how to prepare for the big show, so that it doesn't turn into a disaster... READ ON!

Guitarists: The worst thing that can happen during a show is to break a string. You don't want to stop the show to change a string, no. Make sure you always bring a backup guitar to each show! Make sure that guitar is in tune, and is set out on stage (or nearby) with it's own strap and pick, ready to be picked up and played at a moment's notice. If you have two guitarists, they should each bring a backup guitar. Also, you should put new strings on your axe a few days before a big gig -- this will cut down on broken strings. Just make sure you play your axe a few times before the show, so that the strings are properly stretched. A big mistake is to restring THE NIGHT of the show -- chances are the guitar will go hideously out of tune AT LEAST A FEW TIMES during the set.

You should also always carry an extra guitar chord, extra batteries (for your stomp boxes), extra picks, and if you can afford it -- an extra set of power tubes for your amp head. You never know when something will go wrong with your gear, but rest assured it WILL HAPPEN eventually... be prepared!

Drummers: It's always a good idea to replace your drum heads occasionally, especially the snare head. Not only will the drums sound better for it, but this will help you avoid busting a drum head during a gig. Bring a couple spare pair of sticks to the show -- we all know how easily they break in the heat of the moment, don't we? Also, at the show do not wait til the last minute to assemble your drums. You should be assembling them while the band going on before you starts playing, if not sooner, so that when it's your time you simply just carry your set up on stage ready to play.

Bass players: Well, just make sure you're in tune, dang it! Bass strings don't break that easily, but it's always a good idea to have a spare set with you, and if you have two basses BRING 'EM BOTH! The bass player in a band I was in once broke TWO strings during a show, and he was not prepared. We had to beg for a new string from the other bands... very embarrassing.

Singers: I read in an interview with Don Dokken once, that he'd always drink a shot of whiskey before a concert to lube up his vocal chords. I tried it myself, and IT REALLY WORKS! 'Course, more than one shot may slur your speech. You can also try hot tea with lots of honey... mmmm, good! I recommend drinking your shot 5 minutes before you take the stage and you will sing like an angel.

The whole band: Okay, you're at the show on time to load in, you've tuned up, checked your gear -- all systems are go. Now, you feel like having a few pre-show brewskis... STOP! A couple beers is allright, but DON'T GET DRUNK BEFORE THE SHOW!!! That is, if you want to sound good and have everyone in the band remember how to play the songs... Save the free drink tickets for after you've played. It's also a good idea to get a couple pitchers of water on stage before you play, in case you get thirsty... especially for the drummer and the vocalist. Those stage lights can get pretty hot... Also, it's always a good idea to do some stretches back stage to loosen up before you go on. I always lead my band in jumping jacks, stretches and tai chi before we take the stage. You don't want to pull a muscle while doing a crazy stage maneuver, do ya? Very embarrassing!

Make sure you have SET LISTS for the show, on large (11x17) paper written with a jumbo marker or even better, printed out by a laser printer. Make a copy of the set list for each member of the band.

Assorted tips: Never set a drink on top of your amp head -- if it spills you could destroy your amp! Make sure you have long (20 foot is good) guitar chords -- unless you plan on standing next to your amp all night. Do not throw the stage mics on the floor during or after your set -- the soundmen REALLY HATE THIS! Bring lots of stickers, CDs, and tee-shirts to each show -- throw 'em out at the crowd during your set, and people will love you! Don't forget to say your band name during your set, at least a couple times. You want people to know who you are. If you can afford it, a large professionally-made banner backdrop with your band name and logo is always good on stage.

About load in times: If the club or venue your band is playing at tells you the load in time is 6:00 PM, show up at 6:00 PM ready to load in! Don't show up at a gig at the last minute making everyone wonder if you showing up at all. Also, it's a pain in the butt trying to load gear into a crowded club while another band is playing, and it's down right disrespectful to the band playing on stage (if you must move your gear into the same room they are playing in, anyway.) You'll also have a much easier time finding a place to park close to the front door of the club if you show up early.

Okay, that's all I have for now. These tips also are good for preparing for the recording studio. Now, GO KNOCK 'EM DEAD!!!