I made this post in r/guitar and it seemed to be a hit so I thought I'd ask the UG community the same question.

I'll start.

When I first started playing guitar (age 10, and 22 now) I played here and there usually around school and of course my performance skills weren't top notch so I don't really count those ones.

Having played some professional gigs by this point, I would have to say the worst one I've ever played was a jazz gig with a weak pianist and weak guitarist. I was actually playing bass for this event. The piano player was very arrogant and thought he was the leader because he was the oldest in the band. He was constantly bringing out his reharmonized lead sheets for standards that we were already used to playing. We kept getting lost playing over the weird changes and the whole night was just a disaster. I admit we were all playing with bad time. The piano player would tap his foot very loudly to try and stabilize everyone but he wasn't doing it with good time so it actually made everything worse. The guitarist would play lines completely out of time, and I kept slowing down the more up tempo tunes because I wasn't good enough to walk bass at 200bpm for more than a few choruses.

None of us really clicked on a personal level either and that is something I find makes or breaks the night.

What do you guys have for stories? Cheers
nothing too tragic outside of the usual local band not playing to a super super large amount of people on a consistent basis thing

years ago we had some other band play like 20 minutes longer than they should so instead of the venue telling them to knock their shit off and kick them off the stage they decided to cut our set in half
My worst live experience was actually another band. I went to see Cigarettes After Sex, who play poppy, dreamy and very "delicate" type stuff. Not intricate musically but in terms of the sound, it's something you'd want to fall into and rest to

the crowd were a bunch of hipster fucks, and talked over literally all of it, save perhaps for the first song. A whole room of people ruined the night for the 10-15 genuine fans there.
they're coming to take me away
Played a solo set doing Irish tunes at a charity festival one time. It was like mid September but like still 102. So I get on stage and the stage was in direct sunlight so I couldn't see shit and sweat was coming down and burning my eyes. The heat and direct sun made my instrument go right out of tune and it was terrible. Played some jigs and goofed them. Forgot the words to Wayfaring Stranger. Goofed the punchlines to the jokes in between. Everything that could have been bad was bad.

And the worst part of playing a gig like that, as anyone who has had a super shitty gig can tell you, is that people afterwards tell you how great you were and usually they are being genuine. The only good thing was that I saw a guy there that I hadn't seen in like a year because he sort of turned into a jackass and then became agoraphobic and didn't leave his house for almost a year and I knew that he would be honest and I pulled him aside and asked him and he said it was really bad. I thanked him and told him that that was what I needed to hear because I know that it was really bad but everyone else thought it was great.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
i have two. first one was volunteer, second was paid (kinda) (you'll see).
i was asked to help lead musical worship for a local colleges "sneak day", where the seniors surprise the rest of the students by waking them up early and they all go to a theme park or something. the service was early in the morning that friday. i was asked to play electric guitar by the person organizing the event, but i suggested something along the lines of "maybe are we trying to be too extensive for what the service is about?" just a few obligatory songs, really. but i was told, "no, she (the musical leader) really wants to wake them up!" so i went with it.  a few red flags pop up. firstly, the musical leader i have never seen do anything musical at the college. second, she wanted to do 2 random gospel songs i am sure none of the student body knew. but i went with it.

the first practice day comes up and another issue arises: the kick drum pedal is not to be found, and the drummer is otherwise not very good. the rhythm guitarist and the pianist are okay, but the leadership was confusing. no bassist. but the musical leader herself: not good. we had to change the key of one of the songs and she somehow was able to stay in the original key despite our best efforts. and she wanted harmony and what not too. no bassist. practice is just not productive and difficult. another red flag: the musical leader asks me after practice: "are you dating anybody? because you should think about -person organizing event-". i said i am interested in someone else, although i haven't dated anybody since. and the person organizing is engaged now (not to me) so glad she is happy.

second practice day comes up and it gets so bad to the point where i basically say "we suck and since i have experience directing musical worship and you do not, i am going to take over. sit down". i said it much softer but i am sure that is probably how it came across. i am not a singer but at least i could stay mostly on pitch. i got rid of the musical leader and drummer and kept the pianist and rhythm guitarist. we kept one of the gospel songs just because they had worked on it so much. we have our separate practice day and it works reasonably.

the day comes and i get up early as butts so we can have a sound check before the service. i stop at a store to pick up some coffee. i am running a tiny bit late so the pianist texts me "are you coming?" so i reply yes, and i get there in a few minutes. but as soon as i go to open the door, i remember i left my multi effects pedal at home. i think "i'll just get the sound check and run home and get the ped-

"why do i hear music"


i had the wrong time. well, i was never explicitly told the "right" time when i first agreed to help. in fact i do not ever think there was a scheduled time. iirc, the service was supposed to start at 7, or that is the time i remembered and was told.

they started without me. the rhythm guitarist pulled a few very sleepy songs.

so i change guitar strings at the music store (when it still existed) for this lass who does country music, both in the local area and in nashville. we connect details a tiny bit, it is mentioned i play guitar. so a few months pass and the lass contacts me for a full band, professional-level gig. country was a mostly new avenue for me, but new country (most of the content for this gig) is p. easy and some of the parts are really similar to church music. so i agree. full band, professional-level territory. i get to connect with guys in the industry. sounds great.

she gets a bunch of people lined up and a practice day set in stone. i am practicing my butt off, kind of stressed, but a good learning experience. i listen to their original recordings (some of them mastered, some of them not), write my own nashville number system charts, timing, lead lines, etc. basically memorized.

as the practice day comes closer, things start to fall away a bit. some people are leaving and being replaced, etc. i stay steady. i think, "i am going to show how professional i am by staying true to my word." however, as i listen to one of the artist's music, i think: "... she cannot sing." i am also playing for another artist and to her music i think, "... she can sing." but the one- who is also the one organizing- is not so good. a friend of mine who is a really good drummer mentions that he was asked to play for her a while back, and shared negative experiences. i got kind of excited to see what i was in for and what i could do to raise my own agenda up.

practice day comes and i arrive with my valveking and guitar, because i did not want to bring my spaceship the first day, just to easily see how things played out. and here is the fun bit. drummer does not show and from what i understand he was sleeping through the practice time. guitarist does not know the songs at all. pianist does not know the songs at all. the not so hot singer does not know her songs at all. i am trying to explain the songs to them. the pianist leaves towards the beginning of practice.

i don't think it was their fault they didn't know the songs. i think they did not have proper time to learn them because they were not told in proper time. i was thinking, "these guys are going to be able to listen to the song once and have them memorized. i have to do my best to just scrape by". nope. i'm tearing those changes up, leaving them in the dust.

we organize a second practice date. i bring the ac30, board, guitar, and the silly amount of cabling to go with it. the pianist has dropped out completely. still no word on a bassist. the drummer shows up this time, but now i am told we are only going to have a cahon, not a drum set. the other guitarist's grandma or aunt dies so he's out. so it is just me, a cahon player, and the not-so-good-singer. singer orders like 4 pizzas for 3 people because she had short notice on a lot of the drop-outs. cahon player does not know the songs, not-so-good singer does not really know them either. i hang in there because it is me or nothing at this point. the gig will not happen without me, and i'll have a few people thinking i'm a flaky quitter. really, i do not blame any of the others for quitting- bad direction, busy lives, etc.

we organize a 3rd practice date, which is after we play at a small event at a local church to raise money for an AED. the idea originally behind this was the full band for the gig was also going to help here. but there is no band at this point. also 3 new singer-songwriters randomly show up among the first 2 we had. one of them is okay, the other one not so much, another bad. for sound design, we all used our acoustic guitars- but we all shared 1 cable. so they did like 25 songs for a small audience of like 30 old people, singing songs about sex and boyfriends and trucks. to raise money for an AED. even funner, the not-so-good singer cannot play guitar very well in general so i awkwardly sit in the back, take the cable, play her songs, give the cable back, and sit down until the rotation comes back around. emphasis on awkward.

afterwards we have our practice at the location after everyone left, so that we can work with the no-so-good singer and the good singer with the tiny band we do have. not-so-good singer did not communicate very well that we needed sound design for our practice, because the tech there did not know about it when i asked him. we have a bassist now, kind of- and one of the singer-songwriters is functioning as a rhythm guitarist. but i am trying to help them along with the changes. percussionist doesn't show, he is working or something. the bassist gets smart and says something along the lines of "i don't think i am going to do a good job, i am not really prepared for this. also i may not even be able to perform, it depends on my work schedule. so i think it would be safe if i didn't perform". which was a noble cause. i help the okay singer-songwriter from earlier to learn the changes but catching on was not quick. also i had to communicate to him that it was my understanding that i was playing lead, he would be playing rhythm. really, it would have worked better the other way around because i knew the songs so well. but i didn't care at that point. really i played rhythm anyway with small touches of lead.

performance day comes. i get to the venue and am told by the not-so-good singer that our sound technician does not really know much about sound design, that he is mostly just a dj (which in this case means he sets up the equipment, hits start on a playlist, and grabs a beer and a burger). okay. well considering all we have now is acoustic guitar, a cajon, and a voice (i am just using my amp acoustically), i can deal with that. he sets up a way-to-extensive setup, but whatever i go with it. the singer-songwriter playing rhythm brings an electric guitar and a tiny terror, along with his acoustic. yeah okay.

not-so-good singer is kind of upset at the cahon player because he has not practiced the songs at all. he gets in tears and calls for his dad to pick him up. i try to convince him to stay (because at this point, having him and him play sloppily is better than not having percussion at all- and i already set up and eq'd his mic), but he does not stay. i get kind of upset at the singer and almost threaten to leave. really, it is the singer-songwriters + some random electric guitarist at this point. there is no band. i am a wanton extra. i managed to convince myself to stay, though.

we play through the set. i only play for the good singing lass and the not so good singing lass. the okay, not so okay, and bad singers joined us as well, and they went first. it was really boring, just an acoustic guitar and a voice. not even reverb or delay to help out. sound design is awful. and the audience turn out- like, 40 people for a room that could work 200. my mom and friend show up so they help to make it better. but they all agree with me- it sucks.

the good lass and the not so good lass are at the end of the night, in that order. the good lass's songs go relatively well. the audience can be seen to visibly like them. i think they clapped each song. her last song was a cover of hotel california. on the harmony guitar solo (which i did not play with harmony) my high e string slipped and we had to end the song early. the rhythm guitarist kept going like he didn't get the hint.

the not so good lass was last and i cannot remember much of that. it was not good.

here is the funnest bit:


i got paid $40.


the not-so-good singer said, "would you be upset if we didn't get you your $200 like we promised?" and i said no, i didn't really do it for the money. to which the good singing lass said, "oh what a guy, will's like my favorite person ever." and my statement was somewhat true- i did it mostly for connections. but of which i only gained 2 connections, only 1 of which i actually value: i stayed a bit behind and talked to the good lass and offered my help whenever she was in the area, or if she is doing big stuff i'd love to travel and help out.

all that work (not in position to write a contract), busting my butt to be seen in a professional light. sticking through it all. $40 and a connection of which, regrettably, i have not heard from at all. the not so good lass has contacted me a few other times but i have smoothly declined each time.
Last edited by Will Lane at Jun 18, 2017,
my worst gig by far was thankfully only a small impromptu one.

I was in this cover band at the time and we'd been learning some new songs for an upcoming gig. The week before that gig we went to see some guys we know playing in this tiny little place, and they suggested we play 4 or 5 of our new songs before they went on because they didn't have an opening act...

essentially we were a bit too deep into the beers at that point and it sounded rough lol.
haven't we done this before?

oh well:

me on bass, friend on guitar/singing.

no drummer.

did a cover of Whoops I OD'd with just me playing bass and friend singing

friend forgets lyrics near end, shoves mic in my face, i fuck up the rest.

end of set.

get in car and leave quickly because former drummer had shown up with a gang of NJ mall punks.

they threw rocks at us as we drove away.

and please, laugh it up, because this story is hilarious to me in retrospect.
Played a small charity gig with a few people I knew
I was the closest thing to a professional musician on stage
All acoustic and they decide to spread out
No drummer
I was playing bass louder than everyone and they still didn't pay attention to me
Whole group is playing at varying tempos and at various stages in the same song
No one knows how to fix this because they're all basically self taught and have almost no experience playing live
I play bass and cringe as we play about two songs right on half an hour
I pack up my bass and amp and leave immediately, totally embarrassed
opening for a local high-school talent show, about 200 ppl there, i am drummer, i am with a guitarist and bassist

the bassist gets embarassed sometimes when he fucks up something small or misses a note so we told him to not worry cos nobody will notice, just keep going 

we start playing I believe in a thing called love by the darkness

12 seconds in, the bassist must have missed a note because he takes his cable out of his bass, puts his bass on the floor, and walks past all of the crowd, while mumbling to himself about how shit he is and punches the double doors open and gets out of there

me and guitarist play some system of a down song or something idk. was hilarious in retrospect
Click here to hear my BOB DYLAN (Blowing in the Wind) out right now May 2k17
A couple with drummers who couldn't keep time, nothing all that interesting.

Worst gig as an audience member though...
Can't remember who was playing, I have a feeling it was The Subways, Skindred, or maybe a ska band.
I was in the crowd, enjoying myself when a guy behind me grabbed my ass. Then he tried to shove his hands down the front of my shorts... I push him off and give him a funny look and he says something creepy along the lines of "it's okay, don't be scared".

8 years later and now I'm his wife.