The first paid gig is usually very special for bands and you might be feeling a lot of pressure right now. The first thing you have to know is that not giving the best performance will not automatically ruin your career. Lots of acts had very bad first experiences on stage and were still able to make a name for themselves. But it’s always better to pull off a great performance as you never know who might be in attendance. This is also a chance to build a core fanbase. Let’s take a look at how you can prepare for your band’s first paid gig.
Before you even start working on ideas, we suggest you get involved in the local scene and attend a few shows. We know that it became the cool thing to not listen to what other acts are doing, but you need to study your contemporaries. This will give you an idea of what works and might give you some inspiration.
We also suggest that you attend events in the same venue where you’re going to perform. This will help you in many ways. First, you’ll be able to take a look at the venue and start thinking about logistics. Getting familiar with the venue before you perform will also help you feel more comfortable on performance day.
You should start looking at things such as the quality of the sound, how many people are allowed in the venue and how close they are to the stage, how big the stage is, and the quality of the PA, among others. You have to check how good of a job the person on the soundboard is doing and the quality of lighting as well.
The next step is sitting down with your band and brainstorming ideas. You will need to start thinking about things like which songs you’re going to play, what you’re going to wear, any props or special effects you’re going to use, etc. Make sure that everyone can get their word in and that everyone’s opinion is being respected.
Rehearsals will be essential if you want to have a great gig, but you shouldn’t don’t overdo it. Your band should rehearse pieces enough so that they’re familiar with them, but they still have to feel fresh. If you practice songs too often, you might start getting bored with them and your performance will suffer.
If you want to rehearse as the pros do, you have to perform pieces in their entirety in the same order as you will in your show. You should also find a great studio that will feel as close to the real deal as possible. If you’re looking for a great rehearsal studio in Houston where you’ll be able to feel as if you’re in an actual venue, check out Pirate. They have all the equipment you’ll find at your average venue and you’ll get similar acoustics. Their studios are open 24/7 and you’ll have access to everything from a soundboard and amps, to mics and drum kits.
One of the biggest fears for performing artists is forgetting their lyrics when they get on stage. This is something that can happen to anyone, even if you have rehearsed your songs a million times. If that’s a worry of yours, we suggest that you hide a cheat sheet somewhere you can look it up in case you get in trouble. If you have a guitar, the back would be a great place to put one. However, since you won’t have too much space, you need to focus only on parts you think you might struggle with. Even if you end up not using that sheet, you will get a sense of security that will allow you to perform with more confidence.
Once you have your sequencing mapped out and feel like your show is finished, you should get a few practice gigs before you start. These can be pro-bono too. You can have a small party and perform for your friends or offer to perform at something like a bar mitzvah, for instance. This will allow you to get a general sense of what it’s like to perform in front of a crowd. You will also get an idea of which songs are hitting and which ones aren’t.
One thing you will have to know before you perform at a venue is what equipment will actually be available to you. Most venues will have a PA, mics, and a drum kit which may or may not include cymbals. You need to know what you’ll need to bring and what you’ll need to share with other bands. You should also consider bringing your own stuff even if the venue has it since venues don’t tend to replace their equipment too often.
Once you know what you’ll need to bring, you can start assembling a checklist. This is very important as one missing piece of equipment could make it impossible for you to perform. Besides the obvious like your guitars, pedalboard, and amp, you will also need to consider extras like batteries, strings, and leads. You will also need to bring a few things in case you have to make last-minute repairs or adjustments like a tool kit, duct tape, and WD-40.
Like we said earlier, you don’t know who might be at your show and this is your chance to start building a brand and a following. This is why you need to make people remember your name and have your brand displayed somewhere. It can be on the drum kit, on shirts your band will be wearing, or on a banner. This is a very important part of the show and should be worked into its design if you want to make the most impact.
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