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View Full Version : Surviving yout first gig... Share stories and advice



kitsunegarcia
11-16-2018, 07:50 PM
So my bandmate and I bit off more than we could chew landing our first ukuele gig. It was 3hrs, evening, and outdoors when the weather was windy and in the high 40's. I know that's summer weather for some folks but not in my area. ;)

I learned many things I should have done but I bet some of you know more! Share please.

1.) should've brought handwarmers. I dressed warmly enough but I didnt account the standing still part as a factor.

2.) should've brought a headlamp and additional lighting sources. Once it got dark it was harder to see where cords are.

3.) our sound guy that we brought with was untested and freaked out when the venue handed him a milk crate filled with un labelled cords an hour before sound check. Prob best to have an experienced person but hey we were noobs and sound guy seemed experienced... Ugh

4.) should've left more time between sets...i mean geez 3 hrs...was action packed the whole way through

5.) is there a website or place i can go to learn how to piece the mixing board and everything else together?

What we (think we) did right:

1.) make sure to thank our host and venue

2.) bring duct tape. It fixes everything. No lie!

3.) show up an extra hour earlier than what venue said was 'normal'.

4.) divvy up money correctly

5.) repeated songs from first set in last set as filler because most people missed the first 3 songs.

Loveiz
11-16-2018, 09:56 PM
Sounds like a baptism of fire!
But you got through it eh.

pix.fairydust
11-16-2018, 10:07 PM
Well done on doing it and getting through it! Excellent learning points!! Thanks for sharing

ksiegel
11-17-2018, 02:08 AM
I always bring my own sound equipment, and actually have duplicates for every mic, cable, and a spare mixer.

When I switched from using a pair of Powerworks 50 speakers with stands to a JBL Eon One, I initially brought the other speakers and stands with me. At a larger venue, I would use both the JBL, as one channel, and the Powerworks as the other, flanking the stage.

Lots of power cords, in various lengths.

I have a 25-foot XLR snake to run from mic cables to mixer, if needed.

We use music stands - our last outdoor gig was windier than expected, and we ran out of clothes pins - bringing a lot more, next time.

Thanks for mentioning the lights - we haven't done an outdoor nighttime gig yet, but I will add that to my list.

And a couple of good carts are a must - I have a small Rock 'n Roller, and a rolling platform, which will generally carry all the gear in one trip, if I bungee strap everything (including instruments) on to it.


-Kurt

Rllink
11-17-2018, 06:00 AM
This is probably four or five years ago now. I had not ever played in public. I was trying to get something going with other ukulele players to do an informal jam session at a local coffee shop, so I posted a bunch of flyers around town inviting ukulele players to meet on a certain Saturday evening at 6:00 and to call for more information. Nothing happened for a couple of weeks, then it got close to the date and a fellow called me up on the phone. One of his first questions was what we had for amplification and if I had a sound system. I told him we had no amplification, I had no sound system, that we were just going to get together and play. Then he asked me about lighting. I told him that the coffee shop had lights in the ceiling. He had a few other questions, like what kind of music were we going to play, what time it started, what time I intended to get there, who our contact person was at the coffee shop, tons of questions. I told him to just bring some music with him and we would have some fun. I found out later that he thought we were doing something different.

So the day of the jam came up, we were supposed to meet at six in the evening and I got there at a quarter til. When I arrived there was a whole sound system set up in the corner, amps, a mixer, two microphones, some lighting, it looked like a band was going to play there. The tables had been rearranged so that they all faced the corner where the gear was set up, and there were already twenty or so people sitting around. I thought that I had made a mistake and planned the jam session for a night someone else was going to play. The fellow, who I had not met in person before, came up and introduced himself. He said that he wished we had gotten together and practiced a little, but he was good with whatever and he had printed up some copies from his playlist to share with me. Luckily I had done the same. We compared music for ten minutes or so and neither he nor I had anything that looked that difficult, and we had a dozen or more in common. He had also invited forty some people to come listen to us. He had been a member of a cowboy band and he had a following. While I was unsuccessfully trying to figure a way to get out of it, my wife came back with two beers. She told me to drink up, there was nothing I could do but play and sing. I was scared to death. He plugged my uke into the system and we went crazy for an hour and a half.

That was my first public performance and I was hooked. Luckily we did several gigs together after that and I was able to follow his lead and learn from his experience. We also actually got together and practiced before hand. I've also been lucky to play a couple of dives that have their own sound system and I've met some other performers along the way who have given me a lot of tips. I've learned a lot from them all. We never did find anyone else to do an informal jam session with us. My friend is very meticulous and plans for every eventuality. I wing it a lot. Like our first gig, he gets there early so that he can fiddle with everything, and I show up tuned and ready to play. I always want to get going and he always has one more thing to do to get ready. Eventually his obsessions and my lack thereof caused a little friction and we don't play much together anymore. That's a bit sad for me as he was the person who literally forced me to perform and I'm grateful for that experience. So that is one thing I learned, make sure that whoever you are playing with is compatible.

kitsunegarcia
11-17-2018, 09:47 AM
This is probably four or five years ago now. I had not ever played in public. I was trying to get something going with other ukulele players to do an informal jam session at a local coffee shop, so I posted a bunch of flyers around town inviting ukulele players to meet on a certain Saturday evening at 6:00 and to call for more information. Nothing happened for a couple of weeks, then it got close to the date and a fellow called me up on the phone. One of his first questions was what we had for amplification and if I had a sound system. I told him we had no amplification, I had no sound system, that we were just going to get together and play. Then he asked me about lighting. I told him that the coffee shop had lights in the ceiling. He had a few other questions, like what kind of music were we going to play, what time it started, what time I intended to get there, who our contact person was at the coffee shop, tons of questions. I told him to just bring some music with him and we would have some fun. I found out later that he thought we were doing something different.

So the day of the jam came up, we were supposed to meet at six in the evening and I got there at a quarter til. When I arrived there was a whole sound system set up in the corner, amps, a mixer, two microphones, some lighting, it looked like a band was going to play there. The tables had been rearranged so that they all faced the corner where the gear was set up, and there were already twenty or so people sitting around. I thought that I had made a mistake and planned the jam session for a night someone else was going to play. The fellow, who I had not met in person before, came up and introduced himself. He said that he wished we had gotten together and practiced a little, but he was good with whatever and he had printed up some copies from his playlist to share with me. Luckily I had done the same. We compared music for ten minutes or so and neither he nor I had anything that looked that difficult, and we had a dozen or more in common. He had also invited forty some people to come listen to us. He had been a member of a cowboy band and he had a following. While I was unsuccessfully trying to figure a way to get out of it, my wife came back with two beers. She told me to drink up, there was nothing I could do but play and sing. I was scared to death. He plugged my uke into the system and we went crazy for an hour and a half.

That was my first public performance and I was hooked. Luckily we did several gigs together after that and I was able to follow his lead and learn from his experience. We also actually got together and practiced before hand. I've also been lucky to play a couple of dives that have their own sound system and I've met some other performers along the way who have given me a lot of tips. I've learned a lot from them all. We never did find anyone else to do an informal jam session with us. My friend is very meticulous and plans for every eventuality. I wing it a lot. Like our first gig, he gets there early so that he can fiddle with everything, and I show up tuned and ready to play. I always want to get going and he always has one more thing to do to get ready. Eventually his obsessions and my lack thereof caused a little friction and we don't play much together anymore. That's a bit sad for me as he was the person who literally forced me to perform and I'm grateful for that experience. So that is one thing I learned, make sure that whoever you are playing with is compatible.

Oh my goodness! How cool is that? What an exciting experience! I'm sad you guys don't play much any more, but I hear this happens. Groups break up all the time.
I will probably try out some other bands because my musical prefs are different from my bandmate's.
Also my band mate is starting to lose his hearing and keeps not wearing his hearing aid which almost caused me to melt down in the 2nd set because I am that personal that likes to plan. I don't mind a little chaos but like less than 20% chaos is good because you can't eliminate it completely.

kitsunegarcia
11-17-2018, 09:50 AM
I always bring my own sound equipment, and actually have duplicates for every mic, cable, and a spare mixer.

When I switched from using a pair of Powerworks 50 speakers with stands to a JBL Eon One, I initially brought the other speakers and stands with me. At a larger venue, I would use both the JBL, as one channel, and the Powerworks as the other, flanking the stage.

Lots of power cords, in various lengths.

I have a 25-foot XLR snake to run from mic cables to mixer, if needed.

We use music stands - our last outdoor gig was windier than expected, and we ran out of clothes pins - bringing a lot more, next time.

Thanks for mentioning the lights - we haven't done an outdoor nighttime gig yet, but I will add that to my list.

And a couple of good carts are a must - I have a small Rock 'n Roller, and a rolling platform, which will generally carry all the gear in one trip, if I bungee strap everything (including instruments) on to it.


-Kurt

Thank you Kurt! I did remember to label all cords and personal items just in case someone takes off with it. How funny you mention cart. I just procured one of those carts that can climb stairs. I brought a music stand but mine was crap. The venue stand was nicer! BUT WEIGHTS OR BINDER CLIPS! to keep pages from flying off.
Eventually I want to be self-sufficient like that and be able to set up without borrowing! Nice!
Would you invest in cords first?? or speakers first?

kitsunegarcia
11-17-2018, 09:53 AM
Thank you Loveiz and pix.fairydust! Iím still recovering from a cold I developed from being so run down after the event. Phew! But this gives me time to catch up here and post. Trial by fire indeed! <3

Rllink
11-17-2018, 10:07 AM
Thank you Kurt! I did remember to label all cords and personal items just in case someone takes off with it. How funny you mention cart. I just procured one of those carts that can climb stairs. I brought a music stand but mine was crap. The venue stand was nicer! BUT WEIGHTS OR BINDER CLIPS! to keep pages from flying off.
Eventually I want to be self-sufficient like that and be able to set up without borrowing! Nice!
Would you invest in cords first?? or speakers first?
I do a good bit of busking over the winter and I end up using public transportation or my feet to get to where I want to play. I try to keep it down to the essentials. I try to not bring along stuff that I might need and only bring the stuff that I'm going to need. I just don't like a lot of stuff to deal with. I guess that I pride myself in travelling light. Just my thing. My biggest burdens are my amps and my microphone stand. I jump on any chance to play somewhere that they already have those.

DaveY
11-17-2018, 11:20 AM
A search for "how to set up live sound" will get you many relevant sites so you can learn how to do that.

I think the more self-sufficient you are, the easier it will be; that is, bring your own sound (as mentioned already). Also the simpler and lighter you can keep it, the better, and then you might not need the cart, especially with two of you to carry things in.

This light -- https://www.zzounds.com/item--MUPLED102?siid=115397 -- might work for you.

I'm not one to name my ukes, but if I did, I'd hope I could come up with as great a name as "Spruce Bringsteen."

cyber3d
11-17-2018, 02:18 PM
Here are a couple of tips from Tom Morello's class. If you are using an electric uke don't plug in straight to the socket. Loop or run the cable over the strap pin so that if you step on the cable while playing it won't pull out! And before you pull the plug or put a plug in be sure to turn the amp volume all the way down otherwise you'll get those loud pops.

ksiegel
11-18-2018, 01:21 AM
Thank you Kurt! I did remember to label all cords and personal items just in case someone takes off with it. How funny you mention cart. I just procured one of those carts that can climb stairs. I brought a music stand but mine was crap. The venue stand was nicer! BUT WEIGHTS OR BINDER CLIPS! to keep pages from flying off.
Eventually I want to be self-sufficient like that and be able to set up without borrowing! Nice!
Would you invest in cords first?? or speakers first?

If you are playing solo, I'd recommend a mic, stand, DI box, 2 mic cables, 2 instrument cables, music stand, stool or chair, quad 25' quad tap extension cord, a decent AC/battery-powered amp, and a 2/4 channel mixer that can also be AC/battery powered. Try and rig everything on a hand truck or small cart. If it all fits in your back seat, or you can drag it along on public transport wile carrying your instrument, you win.

I ended up getting four used Shure SM-58 mics with cables from a company that rented to touring Broadway shows, for a ridiculously low price, then got my mic stands, speaker stands, mixer and powered speakers. (one at a time.)

Then, after gigging a bit, I got another mixer (with effects - the only one I use is Reverb, and very light, at that) and some condenser mics, and a couple of years later got the JBL, which cost by itself about what I paid for everything else together. But it sounds nice, and I don't have to set up the speakers on stands anymore.

BTW, I use a preamp for the one uke with a passive pickup, and those with active go right into the mixer. I've just ordered a DI box to replace the preamp, because I've already got EQ at the board.

Rllink
11-18-2018, 02:51 AM
If you are playing solo, I'd recommend a mic, stand, DI box, 2 mic cables, 2 instrument cables, music stand, stool or chair, quad 25' quad tap extension cord, a decent AC/battery-powered amp, and a 2/4 channel mixer that can also be AC/battery powered. Try and rig everything on a hand truck or small cart. If it all fits in your back seat, or you can drag it along on public transport wile carrying your instrument, you win.

I ended up getting four used Shure SM-58 mics with cables from a company that rented to touring Broadway shows, for a ridiculously low price, then got my mic stands, speaker stands, mixer and powered speakers. (one at a time.)

Then, after gigging a bit, I got another mixer (with effects - the only one I use is Reverb, and very light, at that) and some condenser mics, and a couple of years later got the JBL, which cost by itself about what I paid for everything else together. But it sounds nice, and I don't have to set up the speakers on stands anymore.

BTW, I use a preamp for the one uke with a passive pickup, and those with active go right into the mixer. I've just ordered a DI box to replace the preamp, because I've already got EQ at the board.
What DI box are you getting?

Bill Sheehan
11-18-2018, 10:36 AM
My first gig was back in November of 1970, when I was 17. I had a band (a "group", as we used to call it) with my three brothers and a buddy of ours. The youngest of us was in the eighth grade. We played for a neighbor's wedding (in the church, off to the side of the altar; how the pastor let us get by with that, I'll never know), and then packed up our stuff and headed over to play for the reception at a local restaurant; we knew maybe 15 songs, things like "Get Back" (Beatles), "Mama Told Me" (Three Dog Night), "I'm Your Venus" (Shocking Blue), and "Get Together" (Youngbloods). We didn't own a bass, so my little brother just used the two lowest strings of an old Decca electric guitar to emulate the bass parts. We also didn't have a P.A. system. I remember walking into the restaurant and asking the manager, "Do you guys have any microphones?" He had one mic, on a stand, which he plugged into a receptacle along the baseboard, so the sound of the singer's voice came out from the speakers in the ceiling. Our drummer had a very minimal kit. In short, we were pretty clueless, but looking back, everyone seemed to enjoy it, and there was a lot of dancing. We went through the list twice, and I don't think anyone really noticed! The thing was, even though our setup was so primitive, we knew our material really well, and we loved those songs to death, so I guess that made the difference. Nowadays I do mostly solo ukulele stuff, and I try to pick situations where I can just grab the ukulele and go-- nothing but the uke and my voice-- no amp, no P.A. (very small coffee shops are good for this approach). As fate would have it, this coming February some of us are going to put together a twenty-song set and play for 90 minutes at a surprise birthday party for my girlfriend's daughter. My little bro will be playing a real bass (he became an excellent bass man). One of our songs will be "Get Together", about 48 years after we first played it! Where did the time go?