I've had a couple of pretty bad covers gigs this week. This happens sometimes, even though I love my job and wouldn't want to do anything else, some gigs aren't as good as others, and some are just downright awful.
When you're getting paid to play other people's songs in a bar or restaurant, you're aware that you may end up being backing music. When you know that this is the case, then it's quite easy to accept and you get on with your job and find ways to amuse yourself whilst singing. I don't often consider these to be bad gigs, they're just gigs that happen and they tend not to be memorable.
Bad covers gigs are often ones where people are just rude for no reason. For example on Friday, Danny and I were playing a covers gig and we were in the middle of Crazy in Love by Beyonce. Danny started doing the Fresh Prince rap in the middle instead of the Jay Z rap, and everyone was loving it. A guy at the bar walked over and made his way onto our little stage and started insisting that Danny give him the microphone as he was a rapper. Now we tend not to do this, we're paid to provide a certain level of entertainment, and it's not karaoke. So I was trying to usher him away whilst trying to explain that we had a lot of expensive equipment around and that we're not allowed to let anyone sing (our standard excuse when someone comes and asks, but in truth, some venues do say "don't let the punters sing"). He then turned to me and started on me, I just ignored him and we carried on singing. He made his way back to the bar and in between every song he decided that his must be the voice that everyone in the room heard and it would be used to slag us and me off. This continued right up until we packed down and left. There wasn't anything about me that wasn't up for insulting, but all the obvious ones were used. My favourite was: "Look at his stupid hat. What is it? A Turkish Hat? Well I know the Turkish mafia, he wouldn't stand a chance."
These kind of situations don't happen often, and the best thing to do is just try and ignore them, but it does affect the gig and your mood. Danny even delayed going out for some "fresh air" after our set for fear of what might happen if he left me alone, which was quite sweet but I never felt like I was really in any danger. I still actually enjoyed this gig though. There were some really lovely people there and they were really enjoying what we were doing.
When you're booked to play your own songs however, there's an expectancy that the people at the gig will want to listen to some new music and they're all there because they're music lovers or regular gig goers. Now, if no one turns up, that doesn't always mean it's a bad gig, it might be a bit harder to get the adrenalin going, but if the one or two people in the room are responsive you can have some fun with it, plus as my dad always said to me, it doesn't matter how many people are in the room, always perform your best, as you never know who that one person is, or who they may know. Sometimes things just aren't right though, and here's a list of some of my favourite worst gigs. As a singer/songwriter, the worst ones are when there's a group of people (sometimes just a small group, but it can be most of the audience) talking loudly while you're playing your songs. I've had some pretty awful experiences with this, once in Coventry when I was opening a show in which the audience were all friends of the promoter (who had never promoted before), so just came along to show support but spent all their time with their backs to the stage talking to each other not showing the slight bit of interest in the music. I tried everything to try and get their attention, and in the end resorted to shouting down the microphone, "Well Coventry's a shit hole!" I was expecting at least one person to turn round and either look angry or agree, but no. No such luck.
When things like that happen, it obviously kicks your ego a little bit. I feel frustrated for those who have come to a gig to watch an act and can hear other peoples conversations over the music. I've been to a few gigs where this had happened and I've always said something to shut them up, but I know that some people don't like confrontation so instead let it spoil the gig. When we pay money to go and watch a band or a singer, we need to be aware of others around us. As a tall man, I'm always aware that I'm probably in people's way, and try and find a spot where I feel I can enjoy the show without ruining it for others. Drunk people can obviously cause problems as well. I don't want people to not drink at gigs, but you've got to try and respect the vibe of the room. If you're watching singer/songwriters then being quiet is obviously what is required, if you're watching a band then it's unlikely you'll be able to chat, but if you are, then you're probably not offending as many.
Anyway, most of my gigs are pretty damn good and I really do love my job, whether I'm playing covers or my own stuff.
Have you got any experiences of performing or being at a gig that was bad? I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories.
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