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Bad Gig Recovery

LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
Last night's gig was going well--people were complimenting me on my voice, the crowd was getting warmed up with my newly confident "stage banter" (I am only with this band for 5 months and still learning all their songs--I stepped in after their front singer passed away) UNTIL the following went wrong:

1. I missed cues on several songs. I could not hear the backdrop software in my earpiece and screwed up more than once. The fact that I am not too familiar with these songs didn't help--AND
2. I pulled my chest voice up with too much weight on one of the songs and completely could not reach one of the higher notes. The worst part is, I thought I could "push" it, but then it was too late. I should have known better, as Ken makes it a point to warn us NOT to pull or that weight up or we will get stuck.

So right now I am trying to recuperate from a bad gig. To make matters worse, The gig was supposed to go till 1AM (bar room setting) but by midnight the room was empty--Was it because of me, I wonder?

My questions are two:
1--Any tips on recovering from embarrassing flub-ups?
2--How would I know if I should just step aside and ask the band to find another singer?

I come from a musical theater background so singing with a band is all new turf. I dont' want to make them look bad, either by screwing up like I did last night.

Thanks for any advice or wisdom you can share.


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    I'm sorry you had a bad gig. I think you're amazing for getting up and performing. Very few people could do what you did.

    There are some concrete things you can address. Not being able to hear the backdrop software in your earpiece is something that needs a solution. And you can work on becoming more familiar with the songs (as I'm sure you already are). Those are two things you can take active steps on right now. You can also continue training your voice with Ken's workouts.

    Talk with your band. Don't assume anything about how they're feeling or what they're thinking. Discuss everything that happened, with the aim of finding a solution and the best way forward for all of you. If they've been a band for a while, they will have a lot of experience of live sessions, and will know what is something to be learned from and then left in the past as a learning experience, and what is something that is a dealbreaker.

    Bad experiences are things we all have, and they are things we bond over. Whatever you're feeling is okay, and will help you help others when it happens to them.
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    Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,407
    @Lina , sorry to hear it did not go to your expectations.

    the turnout, don't blame it on yourself, people might have just had other plans and left.

    talk with the band, as @Sophia suggested. Don't make assumptions. they might not have picked up on half of what you think are mistakes. they are probably busy with their own parts. if you let them know this was not how you imagine the perfect show to go down, that's better than if they think you thought it was perfect and stop working on yourself. replacing someone is not that easy normally, so don't feel too insecure about your place in the band.

    at the risk of it being something that you don't like to hear (I told that to several people who were meant to sing in my band and they didn't want to hear it): the singers should know the lyrics by heart in my opinion. you are meant to convey the feeling of the song, and if you don't know the lyrics, it will just not be possible. a cover band singer with dozens of songs will have a harder time than a band with 20 songs, but still, to me this is very relevant. some people have an easier time memorizing songs, others will have to work on it a lot. it is part of the skill set of a singer.

    they should give you some accomodation time, but there should always be some audible/visible progress. I had a singer read the same 7 songs off a piece of paper for 6 months of practice, and then I lost my patience (I told him to learn it every week, and he even said, "oh, I really have to work on it", then, next week, same procedure).

    once you got that sorted, it will help you with relaxing into the show, knowing you are well prepared, and also, with freeing you up for eye contact with the band. you can get cues from your band. if they know it is the part that you always miss, they can give you a nod or something. eye contact is hard to do at first, but it makes it so much better once you are used to it. it will also make the audience see that you are a band that has fun together.

    the perfect performance does not exist, you will always have things you want to change, it is a process, and you can learn a lot from past mistakes. don't sit on it too long though, look for the positive, what to improve etc, and move on. the next show will be even better! remember, it is not about life and death, it's only show biz.

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    LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Thank you, Sofia and Klaus. Yes, my next step is to talk to the band members and pinpoint how we can improve as a team, and also me individually. Or, if they prefer to look for another band member (which means they would have to start all over again with someone else). I really feel I let them and myself down. I think one thing that might help me with the large number of songs that came my way all at once, is if we could work from a set list (they don't like to and woudl rather decide "spontaneously" what song will come after the previous one). If I know, lets say that I will be doing these 30 songs one night, I could devote my efforts to memorizing those 30 . Klaus, you are right--once they are memorized it will be easier to listen for the software backdrop that just keeps going no matter what--which is fine as long as I can actually hear it! Thanks for the encouragement!!
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    Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,407
    @Lina , oh wow, it sounds like you have a big song catalogue there. maybe you can get them to reduce it in the beginning, so that you can at least work on LESS songs for now. it would be in their best interest to play perfect songs from a limited list over playing spontaneously but ill-prepared. you can work up from there. you will eventually be able to do it, but you need to grow into it. give them a perspective, but be realistic. better being honest about it, than putting too much pressure on you with impossible milestones. show them you will work on it. they must know that this is a tall order.

    everyone doing gigs will tell you it is much easier to work from a setlist, because you can practice the set in order, make sure you work from easier to harder songs (better warm-up curve for you voice), prepare banter parts that match the mood etc. maybe you can compromise, I'm assuming they want to be spontaneous so that they can react to the crowd. you could make a limited selection with them, so that all the categories (ballad, dance, rock, ...) have a few good entries so there is some meat to pick from, without having to "own" the full back catalogue.

    I would not bring up the "leaving-the-band subject" (unless it is your own wish). if they want you out, I'm sure they will tell you. if you mention it, they might get you wrong, and think you want to quit. or think you are easily discouraged.

    since you did not mention it, did you sort out that "dynamics" issue (where we suggested a compressor)?
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    LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Good pointers, Klaus. The dynamics issue was an issue as the drummer does the sound and can't keep adjusting it while he is playing it. I suggested a compressor, but for now, I got a new microphone (wireless) and learning how to move it closer or farther away from my mouth. So last night it was a myriad of other things, but thank goodness for small miracles--not the dynamic issue.Thanks for asking and remembering about that!
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    Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,407
    @Lina , cool, seems you got the mic technique sorted then! I am sure you can sort the other things too, over time
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    Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    @Lina , we all have those moments.
    I remember getting up on a stage to play for 3 major rock guitarists... I was confident and knew my stuff... however when I started a very ambitious piece, I quickly realized that the backing tracks were too low, and I kept losing my place, and subsequently my groove. I stuck it till the end, but I was totally demoralized by it.
    Another time, the bloody sound techs must have been freebasing, as they pointed my monitors out to the crowd, leaving me with little to nothing for reference what I was singing :neutral:
    I had to go almost completely on throat muscle memory and hoping that my initial pitch was on the mark so that my fairly decent relative pitch would save me.
    I managed to keep my cool and finished the set, and assisted the other bands during their sets.

    I listened back to some footage a few days later and it was just ok, but the vocals were low and muddy (maybe for the best lol). It wasn't as bad as I thought, but it was still nowhere near my personal standard, for obvious reasons.

    As the others have mentioned, it might be a good idea to have a band meeting to help understand where things set. Don't wait too long for it though, as you're probably like me in that you are your own worst enemy, and will rake yourself over the coals until you know the actual situation.

    Chin up, and remember you're the one doing them a solid.


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    LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Phillip, those stories you shared sound EXACTLY like what happened to me. Thank you so much for sharing, as I feel like I am no alone. I had a meeting with the band yesterday, and said I would like 1) to do better sound checks before we start playing--inwhich I can hear BOTH myself and the backtracking; and 2) have a SET LIST, which is something they have not wanted, but given I have so many songs to learn in such a short period of time, a set list would help me have a finite number to work on each gig. Also, Phil, when I asked around to various people who were there at the gig, it didn't seem to be as big a deal to them as it was to me (it was far from my personal standard, but at least not a complete disaster as I had imagined--and lost sleep over!).
    Okay...back to the drawing board with my head up and a good idea on how to improve.
    Thank you so much!
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    doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management Posts: 3,978

    good that you have recovered so fast. I could tell you dozens of similar stories. Someday I saw a Singer stopping the band and telling the mix engineer that he should do is job. The singer stayed very cool and focussed. After stopping the concert after a few measures the singer had the full attention of the mixing engineer. :smile:

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    Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    @Lina , so glad that you were able to navigate your way through it. Kudos to both of us for not losing it and having a diva moment :wink:
    The setlist is absolutely crucial, and it should be broken into maybe 3-4 show variants for rotation-sake.
    Case in point, I saw AC/DC maybe 15 years ago, and they stopped every few songs for a pow-wow about what to play next. To be honest, it felt like I was watching a basement jam band as opposed to a legendary rock show. So maybe tell them what I just mentioned. You want to come off as a polished act, so lean towards the best option.
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    LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Thanks so much, Guys! Don't know what I'd do without this forum. I"m still mortified when I think of that gig, but I try to concentrate on going forward as I -keep practicing with my course CDs, and not being afraid to make my voice heard, even though I'm the newbie in the band. If they decide to cut me, I will survive that too, but I do know I don't want to look like a fool --or make them look bad either--while performing, if there is any way I can help it! Yes, Phil , I so agree-"polished" and prepared is what we get paid for!
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    MikeyParentMikeyParent 2.0 PRO Posts: 42
    Late to the party here, but....

    Everyone has a bad gig now and then and just starting out you will make more mistakes - its normal and natural. The existing members will know this and SHOULD be helping you out in this regard, coaching you and providing moral support.

    Certainly botching one song part vocally is nothing to be ashamed of and you need to leave those at the door at the end of the night except as a learning moment to carry forward.

    Rooms empty for a variety of reasons. The band itself is only one of those. Happy hour or cheap wings starting/ending, time of day/month/year, the weather, something else happening at venue down the road. In short, tons of things.

    I have played shows where no one was there the whole night, or where tons of people were there at the start but no one by the third set. I have also played to an empty bar for two sets only to have 120 people walk in at midnight and blow the roof off. Gigs are funny and each one is different, even in the same venue. DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF

    Starting with a new band or material, a couple things that help are:
    - "Front loading" rehearsals: do a lot of personal and group rehearsal before you ever take the stage with a new band for the first time.
    - This is very "old school" but getting the lyrics to songs by listening to the song and writing the lyrics out BY HAND, while admittedly time-consuming, is an underrated and invaluable tool for etching a song into your brain - not just the lyrics but the repetition of having to rewind and re-listen to parts burns the song structure (and lyrics) into your brain like no other method I know. Also, In my experience 90% of the lyrics on the Internet are actually wrong.
    - If stage banter is an issue (I read your other thread) make notes right on the lyrics to look up and interact with the crowd - maybe jot down a certain reference or joke/ or story to do with that song. If its on the lyrics sheet it will remind you.

    I hope you stuck with it?
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    MikeyParentMikeyParent 2.0 PRO Posts: 42

    Another time, the bloody sound techs must have been freebasing, as they pointed my monitors out to the crowd, leaving me with little to nothing for reference what I was singing

    Wow. I have no words. wtf?
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