Two years ago, I was the guitar player in a band along with a drummer, sax player, bass player, and a female vocalist who also insisted on playing keyboards and harmonica, despite all admonitions that she did not have the chops. Because she was the so-called leader and ‘manager’ of the band, she was going to play them regardless of what anyone else thought.
We had already played a few gigs together. They were, shall we say, rough but I felt the band was improving to the point where I thought we could do a live performance at a community cable TV station that had a regularly scheduled live show featuring local bands. There was also the added bonus of obtaining a broadcast quality video that we could use for promo purposes. It would also give this woman an opportunity to really showcase her ‘talent’. Therefore, I contacted the studio and they booked us for a two hour time slot.
When she arrived along with the sax player (who was boinking her at the time), it was obvious that she was half drunk. They emerged from their vehicle with drinks in hand, boozing it up while driving to the gig. Swell. We unloaded and set up our gear just in time for the start of the show. Things went south immediately. She missed her cue to come in on her lead vocals during the first song and gave me the stink-eye as if I was the one to blame. She was singing flat on every song she was the lead vocalist on. Even worse, her boyfriend sax player, whose instrument was out of tune, was stepping on everyone’s vocals, my guitar solos and even her pathetic attempts at playing keyboard which generally consisted of just hammering the same chord couplet over and over again.
In between sets, the ‘host’ of the program was interviewing her. She had a look on her face that was a cross between a ‘deer in the headlights’ look and a scowl. Her answers were terse and dismissive and showed contempt for the small studio audience as well as her fellow band members.
During the second set, we were playing a blues song in G, while she was pathetically playing a harmonica in a completely different key, with obviously embarrassing results along with the out of tune sax honking away. Mercifully, the show was over after a few more songs.
Later that evening out of my presence, she was ranting and raving to her boyfriend and the drummer about how I blew the first song and a litany of other complaints and that she was bragging about ‘firing’ me from the band after we were done with playing two upcoming booked gigs. The drummer tipped me off as to her intentions. I decided to take that pleasure away from her. After considering how embarrassing this gig was and her behavior in general, the next day I sent e-mail to everyone telling them I was quitting the band. So did the drummer.
I got booked to play in the horn section for a one-off concert with an artist who was filming it for a DVD. Also on the gig were The Artist’s Daughter and a Guest Artist. Soundcheck/rehearsal was scheduled at 6pm the night before the show. We arrived around 5:30, and the crew was just starting to set up the stage and hoist the PA/lights. There is a big difference between “load-in” and “soundcheck”, and apparently nobody knew the difference.
It was 8 pm before they had the stage set up and ready to go. We’d arranged to have in-ear monitors for the horns. The sound crew handed us some brand-new units, never opened. Completely untested and un-dialed-in. For a live DVD shoot. We spent the next 45 minutes trying to get our monitors to work which, they didn’t. The in-ear sound was cutting out at random moments, and the soundguy had no idea how to fix it. The clip-on mics were equally untested and equally crappy. We had to roll up the mic cable and stuff it in our pockets to make it work. Finally, at 8:50pm the band was ready to run a tune. We ran one tune, which kept train-wrecking because The Artist couldn’t keep a steady beat. Finally we got through it. One tune out of 20. Then we were informed that we had to stop due to the noise ordinance.
So The Artist called us all in for a massive 4-hour rehearsal the next day, ending at the moment the doors opened. As the band tuned up, Guest Artist noticed his violin was flat compared to the rest of the band. Obviously, it had to be the band’s fault. He asked for the entire band to lower pitch to match him. The keyboard player played a reference tone on his electronic keyboard, explaining that everyone had tuned to the keyboard, which was obviously in tune. Then the Guest Artist’s WIFE stepped in and asked if maybe the keyboard was out of calibration, which was resulting in the Guest Artist seeming to be flat, but in fact maybe the entire band was sharp. The keyboardist patiently explained that, no, the keyboard was in tune and that the Guest Artist would have to match the band. Guest Artist huffed and sighed, but the crisis seemed to be averted.
The Artist and Guest Artist rehearsed their tune, at which point the Guest Artist was to leave the stage and the Artist’s Daughter would do a tune with her dad, The Artist. She walked out and stood in the same spot the Guest Artist had stood for the previous number. Guest Artist interrupted the rehearsal, telling The Artist that he didn’t want Artist’s Daughter standing in the same spot under the same spotlight, because that would imply that she was worthy of the same status as He, the Guest Artist. Could she maybe stand farther back onstage, with a different color spotlight to indicate her lesser status as an artist?
Rehearsal stumbled along like this for 4 hours, until it was time to open the house doors. We still had one tune to rehearse, but we never got the chance. We hoped the horn chart would work. It didn’t. The chart ran out before the song did, so we just quit playing with cameras rolling, and the cameras quit pointing at us. Meanwhile, despite written instructions that family members could not be backstage, Guest Artist’s wife was roaming around wearing sequins, as if she were a star. At least she was getting in the way. Massive amounts of editing were done in the studio afterward to fix everything, including The Artist re-recording half of his material. Somehow the finished product sounded good, but it wasn’t what the audience heard, I can tell you that.
We were playing a packed show at an all ages venue in downtown Terre Haute, IN, that for whatever reason was being broadcast. The show so far was amazing. We had an amazing crowd, our sound was tight, etc. I noticed about half way through our set that the stage was only about a foot off of the floor and that the audience was beginning to mosh. Add a wireless and me, a cocky bassist, to the mix and you have a recipe for a bad time.
I hopped off the stage to join in the crowd's rocking out but after only a few seconds some of them began to mess with my bass. Before disaster could ensue I began to make my way back to the stage. I should have mentioned that I choose not to wear not my glasses while playing, and I'm blind as a bat. This prevented me from noticing the monitor in my path as I was making my leap back on to the stage.
My foot clipped a corner of the monitor causing me to fall flat on my face in front of 300 people and several cameras. A loud "THWANG" shot out of my amp as my bass slammed on the floor. I left the show that night with a busted knee, a bass that hasn't played right ever since. and video that my bandmates like to pull out when they want a laugh. I know now to never leave the stage during a performance ever again.
I am the Videoman, the Producer, Director, Financer and promoter for a known act. I set up my close up camera to get the guitar player rolling down the neck of the Strat. Seven months of pre-production for a three minute song about a lovestruck rocker trying to woo his sweetheart. I have a blockbuster vid and bring it back to the studio only to find that the sound man pulled my plug. OUCH!!!