So, it’s Thursday night and I am out at the Annex Wreckroom watching three local bands play to about 30 people. No, it’s not that they suck, or that they don’t give a shit… It’s simply that there is no team work, no banding (sorry for the pun) together to get people out and make it a crazy good night.
Unfortunately, I see it time and time again at the hole in the wall venues that make Toronto what it is. You will see three to five bands in a night, but it never seems like there is flow or consistency, a theme even. Nothing ties these creative people together- or to their audience. So the question is why… Why does this happen at 8 out of 10 gigs around the city?
The answer is bandiquette.
What is this you ask? Well… Common courtesy for one.
1) if there is backline, use it.
Work together, communicate a week before the gig about backline and see what the bands can share. This will make your fellow bands happy and make change overs a breeze. Audiences appreciate when there isn’t a long silence or bad house music in between sets.
2) be prepared and communicate.
If one band is responsible for the door and merch people, make sure they have adequate float and knowledge about the product. You’ll sell more and therefore make more money. Make sure posters are up at the venue and a communal Facebook event page is up and promoted.
3) Think bigger picture.
The key to a successful show is a great lineup. Make people have a reason to stay for the whole show. This takes work and communication with your fellow musician (or diva) but it will pay off in the end. Spend some time thinking about what your fans want, and how the other bands fan base would react. This is always a great opportunity to cross promote. Don’t waste this perk, it may be all you get from that dive bar.
4) Don’t be MIA, it makes you look like a dick.
Stick around for at least a few songs of the other bands sets. They will reciprocate and Wa-La! A full room. It’s awkward when the room is empty and the other bands are outside smoking. Of course there is some time necessary for drinking and socializing, it’s part of being a rock star. But that doesn’t mean disrespecting the people you share the stage with. Have their back, they’ll have yours.
5)Ask before you touch any other equiptment.
I’ve seen this one happen a lot. Bands during sound check move stuff out of their way. If you are opening and even think about touching the headliners set up, you will look amateur and will probably never get called for that gig (or many other) gigs. Don’t touch. Be thankful for the line check you are getting, get levels wherever you can and do your best to not be demanding of your sound person, one flick of the finger and you have no sound.
6) Bad move, bad sound.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T for that person running mic’s and telling you to turn down. He knows what he’s talking about, and if he doesn’t, hire your own.. Or don’t play there. Sound if the most important thing and a sour sound person could hurt all the bands in the lineup. Do your self a favor and buy them a drink (hell if you have the money, buy a round for all the bands).
7) Thanks all around.
The other bands, the bar and the audience. EVERY BAND. Period.
8)Settle it right away.
That night, you calculate and distribute the nights pay. Everyone should have already agreed on the split so there should be a fairly easy way to count out what everyone gets. Give each band a copy of the calculations so everyone’s clear. If there were expenses or a guarantee, a venue charge (that’s a whole other post… we’ll get to that later.) these should all be documented.
Be fair and honest.
9) Stay on time.
It always sucks when shows get pushed back or one band plays too long or takes forever to tear down. Have a set schedule from load in to load out to insure a smooth running event.
All around. If you are a nice, social artist – people will remember you.
That’s it. Hope you learned something.
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