My band and I are playing at a Battle of the Bands sponsored by my school in about a week. I sing lead vocals and play Rythm guitar. We are playing In Bloom by Nirvana, an original, Say it Ain't so by Weezer, an original, and Where did you sleep last night by Leadbelly (Nirvana version). I was just wondering if anyone has any tips/advice for a first gig and what your first gig was like.

Last edited by noah.kankanal at Feb 28, 2015,
remember to take it slowly on stage and be ready. On my second gig I was so excited and my bend was so in rush that I forgot to turn my non-volume knobs on my guitar up. So I played a very bassy guitar for the entire night.
You''l find this in every article ever on gigging, but please, for the love of god, look active and excited. I get that you have to play guitar and sing, but at least always smile, or look at the audience.

I have multiple performances that i consider my first "gig". My first first was when I was 11 or something. It was absolutely terrible. I don't even remember what I played
My first performance I consider a success was also terrible, but still totally awesome though, I played a ukulele version of Seven Nation Army, and literally everyone from my school screaming "Alle Duitsers zijn hooomooo!" (Dutch for 'all Germans are gay" it's a Dutch tradition)

My first with my band was okay, nothingg went bad, nothing went good.

Good luck!
Enjoy and it don`t get drunk. I was hammered and nearly fell off the stage at my first gig. Don`t stress, your first gig isn`t going to define you. Take it steady and don`t fret about your tone too much.

Most of all enjoy yourself. It`s a great experience!
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If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can happen through music.
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The biggest piece of advice I can give you is don't worry about ****ing up. When you worry about ****ing up, it will actually make you **** up and throw you completely off if you're unlucky. Not caring about it lets you think more outwardly and you can do a better performance that way.

It's okay to play a bum note. Take a look at Slash for example.

Another piece of advice I can give you is about being an entertainer as well as a musician whilst on stage. Those awkward silences between songs as you mumble out to the crowd what you're about to play can really dampen the energy of a gig. It can be very hard to think of what to say however and here are some examples of 'stage banter' you can do:

1) Tell Stories - A prime example of this would be Axl Rose. He would tell little stories to do with the songs, or even just what's happened to him in the past week or so. It's good filler whilst everyone needs to tune up. Funny, dramatic, or informative stories can really sustain the energy in the atmosphere.

2) Crowd Pickup - This isn't just picking out a hot girl in the crowd and trying to chat her up from stage. It's a useful technique I've learnt for those gigs where the crowd is loud, all chatting with each other, and attention is divided. A good example would be to look for the loudest voice in the room. They are usually back chatters and most often have the attention of a group they're talking to. If you single them out in some stage banter (comedy works well here), you not only grab their attention, but the attentions of all the people who previously had been paying attention to them!

3) Don't Introduce the Band Members - Makes me cringe every time. Nobody cares lol.

4) Use some energy - If you're going to do the stereotypical thing of asking if the crowd is ok, do it with energy. The more energy you put in, the better response you will get.

Could probably think up some more but don't wish to overload you! Hope it helps
Be ready. Inventory your gear and make sure every thing is ready to go. Cables, spare strings, extension cords, everything you need. I showed up at a gig one night and had to drive 45 minutes back to the house and get my guitars...I got lucky, I got back with 10 minutes to be onstage. On the other hand, that's not time enough for guitars to come to room temperature, I couldn't stay in tune the first set. Get all guitars and basses out of their cases to come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before stage time. I prefer 45 minutes. Be sure they are all in tune the last 5 minutes before you play.

Dress the part. Anybody that shows up for a performance in baggy jeans and a t shirt just looks sloppy.

Type up and print a set list for every band member. No dicking around onstage, count off the next song and go. I don't like to have more than 10 seconds between songs, and if we have more dead time than that somebody better be talking to the audience. Preferably someone else, I suck at that...

Don't announce the name of every song. Professional bands I've seen like Jethro Tull, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Aerosmith, Styx...play 3 or 4 songs with no more than a few seconds between, talk for a few seconds and maybe give the name of a song and 3 or 4 more songs.

Don't be scared shitless.

Act like you're having a good time even if you think it sucks. Ignore any mistakes. Play right through as if it never happened. A lot of the time if I try something in a lead that works out way wrong I'll do it again and try to make it sound as if it were intentional. Sometimes it works, sometimes it sucks twice as bad...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Thanks guys! I appreciate it a lot! Everyone had some great advice and some great stories! I think I'll be fine for the gig haha, just gotta be chill.
Last edited by noah.kankanal at Feb 28, 2015,
There's some good advice here, some I don't really agree with though.

Quote by Karstaag666
Another piece of advice I can give you is about being an entertainer as well as a musician whilst on stage.

I agree with this, so practice moving around during your gig and doing your best to look like you're enjoying yourself during the gig.

Quote by Karstaag666
Those awkward silences between songs as you mumble out to the crowd what you're about to play can really dampen the energy of a gig. It can be very hard to think of what to say however and here are some examples of 'stage banter' you can do:

At no point does Karstagg say "don't say anything, play the next song". This is exactly what you should do if you have nothing to say. The audience wants to enjoy your music, and whilst talking a couple of times during the set is desirable to introduce a bit of personality to the set, talking between EVERY song will lose the audience.

As a tip mark on the setlist the times when you are going to talk, and those times that you are simply going into the next song. Practice the transition with the band.

For example you're playing "Say it ain't so". This would be an excellent song to start immedately after another song because it's just a solo guitar. If you need to speak, you can speak over that part before the band kicks in.

So these suggestions:

1. Tell stories
4. Use energy

Are good, but only when you need to speak, which really isn't as often as you think.

As for these suggestions, I don't like them:

2. Crowd pickup

This is a bad idea, really asking for trouble. Even if you effectively "call out" the loudest member of the audience, you'll just look like assholes. When the audience thinks you're just a bunch of assholes, they'll just ignore you. Don't do it.

3. Don't Introduce the Band Members

You can do this if you like, but to integrate it right just do it in an appropriate part of the song. Just say "Mr X on the guitar" when they're about to go into a guitar solo.

Crossing down to Paleo's points, I like all of them.

Otherwise just practice your ass off and make sure that you rock up on time (an hour before starting is a good goal). As this is your first live gig you'll probably be getting nerves and freezing up anyways, probably won't play your best. But by arriving on time and actually knowing the songs back-to-front you'll put yourself in the best position that you can be to get through it.

Good luck!
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
One thing I forgot, if you can, bring an acoustic or two and take a few minutes to warm up a little not long before stage time. We do this outside, where nobody hears us trying to sing dead cold...we laugh a lot, we all are off pitch, can't hit the high notes, voices not warmed up and ready to go, don't sound as good as we should, and this is why. Don't push it, just warm up some. What we do is go outside with just my Takamine, play 2 or 3 songs, maybe 4, doodle around a bit, loosen up the vocal chords, and go back inside. We do loads of harmonies, all 3 sing lead, and we're not exactly spring chickens any more, so it's necessary to warm up.

Anything cold, carbonated or alcoholic is bad for your voice. I drink coffee or water with a little lemon juice at room temperature. The lemon juice helps a lot, even if it is a bit tart...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
^^^ Good point. I do do vocal warmups and chromatic exercises on the guitar before every gig.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.