You've still got the pre-gig ritual to go through.
"What pre-gig ritual?" I hear you ask. Well, it's not what most people do, which is standing around twiddling their thumbs.
There are rules to abide during those pre-show hours, rules that will help you to make the most out of your gig experience and stay on side with the people that make a difference to the quality of your performance.
Heed them, and you'll find that you get a lot more out of the time before your gig than you thought was possible
Talk to Other Bands
While you're hanging out with your band before a show, it's easy to become a clique. Your bandmates are some of the people that you're closest to and you already spend a lot of time together - it's very tempting to huddle in the corner pre-gig and shoot the shit like you always do.
But, not interacting with other bands is a cardinal sin of pre-gig etiquette, and you're damaging your rep by avoiding them.
Pre-gig load-ins and soundchecks might seem like the mostly boring, thumb-twiddling periods that come before a show, but they're a great opportunity for networking. Striking up conversations with other bands, getting to know them and their interests is useful to you because it can lead to more shows, as well as useful contacts such as photographers, engineers and local press.
You've already got a common ground with folks in other bands; you play music, probably of a similar style given that you're on a bill together. So don't be afraid to strike up a conversation and make friends. Chances are it'll pay off in dividends.
Get to Know the Soundman
When it comes to getting the most out of your performance, having a good working relationship with the soundman is essential.
Because, while many bands like to think that the quality of the performance is down to the quality of their playing, the guy or gal moving the faders at the back of the venue determines whether you live or die on stage.
So take a moment to introduce yourself before your soundcheck - preferably a moment when they're not in the middle of soundchecking another band - and establish a connection with them before you start.
When you're getting your levels on stage, be courteous, be amenable and listen to what they say. Make sure you thank them afterwards.
Some of you will be reading this and thinking that what I'm saying is really obvious. While I once thought that as well, the amount of bands I've seen in recent years who got off on the wrong foot with the sound guy has dumbfounded me.
Remember folks, it only takes one fader slip to turn the house sound from sensational to shit. And trust me, if you're on good terms with the soundman, fader slips very rarely happen.
Set-up Your Gear
Please, please, please don't be the band that strands around idly for two hours, only to spend 45 mins frantically setting up your equipment when you're told it's time for soundcheck.
Part of being a professional and courteous to other bands is making sure that things run as smoothly as possible. Having your equipment ready to go by soundcheck avoids delays, means that the show starts on time and that any other band soundchecking after you gets the full time they've been allocated.
So, before you get called up onto the stage, set-up as much of you gear as you possibly can.
Put cymbals on stands, attach pedals to pedalboards, but batteries in things that need batteries and tune things that need tuning.
If you don't have any gear to set-up (singers of the world take note), you can still make yourself useful. Set up your band's merch table, do the aforementioned networking with soundpeople/other bands. There will always be things to do, so make sure you do them.
When it comes to pre-gig time, the pros don't stand around like lemons. Neither should you. Be proactive and things will run smoothly for you and everyone else.
Don't Get Wasted
If you're standing around for a couple hours waiting for the gig to kick off and the bar is open, the temptation is always there to get the drinks in. My advice? Don't.
Getting wasted before a show is a big no, no of pre-gig behavior. Yet, the amount of bands that still do it baffles me. I don't know whether it's out of boredom, pretentions of rockstardom or what, but the temptation for bands to get completely tanked before going onstage is as pervasive now as it has ever been.
And you know what?
Every single band that I've ever seen go onstage wasted has sucked balls.
They've also been completely unbearable to deal with pre-show. All that getting wasted served to do was undermine their performance and make them look like a bunch of unprofessional idiots.
Leave the rockstar pretentions in the 1980s where they belong. Keep a clear head before you go onstage and save the beers for after the show. You wouldn't show up to your day job completely off your face. If you're even half-way serious about being a musician, the same principle applies to your gigs.