what was your worst gig?

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by OLD ROCKER, Apr 19, 2021.


    OLD ROCKER Electromatic

    Apr 11, 2021
    In the late 1960's I left Belfast and emigrated on my own with £60 in my pocket to Australia. I worked underground in a goldmine in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
    On a Saturday night I played in a band ( guitar was a Guild Starfire then ).
    If anyone has ever seen the film "The Blues Brothers" that will give you some idea.
    Total riot, fights everywhere, tables and chairs flying everywhere, bodies getting knocked onto the stage. The hotel manager shouting at us " keep playing lads, keep playing!" Happy days.
  2. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Biker bar , 1977 . Me and my buddy played after the headlined bluegrass band ( all bikers ) and the place was packed with all their friend . We did 2 songs , packed up and ran out of there like 2 thieves in the night ..................... to this day we're lucky to be alive :p:p:p
  3. wizard_23

    wizard_23 Gretschie

    Jul 18, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    haha. My only trip to Kal was in 2012 and even then the place seemed like walking into an old Western. There's a real "better wear a mouthguard" vibe. Wild.
    thunder58 likes this.
  4. michelb

    michelb Synchromatic

    Mar 27, 2020
    Had a gig in some cultural center once. But it was during some art festival and the audience were very artsy-fartsy. So they diminished further and further the more the show went on.
    They weren't very Rockabilly minded, so we just took it as a payed rehearsal. The "band" after us, was some kind of impro thing, where someone played music and a second person painted his feelings on a canvas :confused:
  5. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Wedding for a major local car dealer's daughter. What did they expect from a Pink Floyd tribute band? "Turn it down!" and "It's too damn loud!" were the primary compliments.

    We showed up to do a gig at Notre Dame for a dorm---they have no frats. When we got there, we were told, "We couldn't get the hall; you'll have to play on the dock. Instead of the $250, we could only come up with $100."

    Still better than a gig a buddy played in a NW Indiana bar where he got shot. Flesh wound, thankfully, but, still...

    Worse gig I know was the one in Indy where the stage collapsed at the State Fair and seven people were killed, and many more injured. Thank you, Sugarland.
  6. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Gretschified

    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    This sounds silly but...

    I played every little craphole in northern Canada at least twice but the one that stuck out as my worst gig ever was not those, although some of them were dreadful.

    I did 6 weeks on a Scandinavian ferry going between Stockholm and Helsinki. Sounds pretty good so far, right. They paid ok, about the same as gigs at home but I thought this would be a great adventure.

    You played a couple of shows per day but also when the ship was loading and unloading to bring the passengers into the bar to buy really expensive drinks. So far, so good but it also means you never get off the ship the whole time because you have to play.

    The first week was fun and the ship was huge. The second week was not so much fun, the ship wasn't near as big and it went downhill from there. Accommodation and food were included in the contract but the food was awful and the staterooms were tiny, in the belly of the ship, hot and noisy. I did get lucky and convinced one of the cooks (a nice guy from England) to smuggle me out cheese sandwiches. You were not permitted to mingle with the passengers so Inga and Agnetha fantasies went right out the window. No way to phone home either.

    By week four it was a prison ship on a never-ending voyage to Botany Bay.

    At the end of week six, I was off that tiny little boat so fast I left a smoke trail.

    Because of scheduling, I had to spend a day in Stockholm (a beautiful city) but then my plane got sick and I had to spend an extra day. By the time I paid off three-night hotel in Stockholm (one in, two out) and the plane flight and the extra fees ScAir Canada charged me for my guitars and two suitcases, the gear rental in Stockholm and my bill from the ferry company (I smoked back then and couldn't get off the boat to buy cigarettes. Had to pay ship's prices) I had actually netted about what I would make for two weeks work at home.

    My agent called and said the ferry company loved me and when did I want to rebook? Four letter words filled that conversation
  7. tonejam

    tonejam Electromatic

    Nov 3, 2019
    You really wanna know?

    OK, true story.

    I was about 19 and very green, in my very first gigging band, we played country.
    The bass player liked a drink or five. By the end of the night, he was off his face. He told me he was booked to play at a nightclub directly after our gig, and asked if I could fill in for him. I said I didn't have the gear. He said I could use his. I needed the money.

    Got to the nightclub to find a pianist and drummer, both middle-aged and VERY very good. They played sophisticated jazz and I was way, way out of my depth. Oh well, I thought, I'll just get through the night, take the money and run. I set up the amp, got the bass out, started tuning up, and said DANG!!.

    Left-handed bass! Forgot our bass player was left-handed, and he was too drunk to see the problem. The night would be spent playing "Moonlight in Vermont", "Misty", Sophisticated Lady" on an upside down left-handed bass.

    Now, you might be thinking "what else could possibly go wrong"?
    Half-way thru the night, the pianist says "let's go backstage, the guest artist has just arrived, we need to look over her charts". Did I mention I didn't read bass clef? Not even treble clef very well. But there was going to be no way out of this. In the back of my mind was the gladiators' creed "we who are about to die, salute you". I approached the stage.

    I stood before the music stand, and placed the charts on it in careful order. As a last thought, I picked them up, and turned them upside down. We began to play.

    Mercifully, I don't remember any more past that.
  8. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    I played bass with this Texas blues trio (the guitar man was a real ace picker, a lot SRV) 3 days after they removed the cast on my right hand's first finger (I had a bad injury during a basketball game, the bone came out from the back of the finger. Luckily enough, it didn't cut any tendons so they just put the bone back in his place and closed the cut :)). I couldn't move the finger (which was my main for playing) or playing with a pick (couldn't hold it). Long, long night. :D
  9. michelb

    michelb Synchromatic

    Mar 27, 2020
    Yea cruise or ferry ships aren't really that fun to work on in general. Small accommodations, you're allowed to go anywhere, but you're not really allowed out of your cabin when you're not on duty.
    Tony65x55 likes this.
  10. Penguin Picker

    Penguin Picker Gretschie

    Apr 2, 2021
    Most of my gigs were all great, no barroom brawls, never even broke a string so the only story I have that fits here is my first band's first gig (I'm not counting solo or duo performances).

    We were supposed to play this house party, it was supposed to be a summertime block party bash. So we set up in the backyard of the organizer's house (this married couple I knew), there were probably 100+ people between the house, the driveway, front and backyard and we thought yay, us, this is gonna be great! Lights strung everywhere, a bbq, a tiki bar, the works.

    Well, the cops showed up during our second song. So, we had to move inside. The other guitarist and I did the entertaining as a duo, the drummer and bass player partied and the bass player hooked up with the wife of the couple hosting the party and the couple got divorced.
    Flouswa, KuKuKu and JeffreyLeePierre like this.
  11. NervousJohn

    NervousJohn Electromatic

    May 8, 2017
    My worst gig was in a bar on Worthing seafront I did with my Americana band- we were supposed to be closing an open mic night.

    So we had to get there at 6pm for a 10.15pm kick off, soundcheck, which was basically turning my amp and to a really low level, then trying to fix the bass player’s amp, before he called a friend to bring another one over. Which didn’t get a check as it was too late.

    The open mic was awful, all badly strummed acoustic balladeers. Which is fine, everyone starts somewhere. Then we took to the stage!

    Well I say stage, it was a 5’x8’ raised area to small to set us all up on so that’s where I was. The drummer was down on the floor, as was the bass player and the singer just went handheld with his microphone.

    Highlight of the gig was when someone shouted “play something we know!” (We were an originals band) and the singer responded with “can’t do that, but you’ll like this one, it’s about incest”, which the song wasn’t but by that point we had lost most of the audience and the bar was almost empty.

    At the end of the gig we got what could best be described as cricket applause and we started packing up. At which point a lad with an Acoustic guitar jumps on the stage, elbows me away from the microphone and proceeds to badly cover some Oasis songs.

    I asked the promoter if I had heard right and were closing the show, and he said that was the plan but this lad wanted to get up and sing. So I then had to sit through all his wailing before I could load into my car.

    We never played there again, and ever since I’ve tried to either be opener or 1st support band. Rock up, load in, linecheck, play, load out and have the evening for fun. Much better.

    OLD ROCKER Electromatic

    Apr 11, 2021
    And let's not forget that at every gig there's always someone's Uncle Fred who, after he's had a belly full of jungle juice, decides he wants to sing a song with the band. Staggers up, beer in hand, trips over the cables on stage, pouring his beer over the amps.
    Hasn't a clue what key he sings in, totally irrelevant anyway as it's something like D sharp with an added third and pregnant fifth. Doesn't know the words to the verse only knows a bit of the chorus. Can't keep in time. Oh what fun. NOT!
  13. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Apr 5, 2014
    This one. 4th July 'party' in a back yard. Everyone was related to the other guitar played which had a weird vibe to it. We were under rehearsed so I got lost a lot, my amp died on the first tune and I had to make do with a Fender modeling amp that I couldn't find an 'amp' setting on, every option seemed to be dripping flanger and off echo. Could NOT hear ANY vocals.

    Yeah, good times :/

  14. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    I've heard enough horror stories about ship gigs that they make country clubs look good. You couldn't get me aboard one of those floating disease factories.

    I've done the too small stage before. It'd hold either the drummer or my Hammond (minus the Leslie), Did a roller rink that wanted us to hang our amps from the ceiling.

    The "incest" line had me laughing out loud.
    That'd go over the heads of some of the folks around here---and it'd fit.
    A buddy had a standing gig, two night a week, in the basement of a rough bar. No long necks, only plastic Solo cups. The bikers were the mellow ones. Lights were always on full bright. One kid stood right in front of the band all night singing into his lighter. His parents were "related".
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  15. El Marin

    El Marin Gretschie

    My worst gig is yet to come
  16. speedicut

    speedicut Friend of Fred

    Jun 5, 2012
    I've probably mentioned this gig before, it was a private party out in the country... the real boonies. Host as really cool and had some awesome local moonshine that I was sipping on all night. Beautiful evening, big friendly crowd, large outdoor stage, everything was going great.
    Then the bad element showed up.
    First just a few fights but it soon devolved into a riot. Our sound man was stabbed and was taken away in an ambulance, the fights rolled up to the stage.. We had to grab our guitars and make a run for it.
    Same band, on New Years Eve, the lead guitarist and drummer got into a real knock down dragged out fistfight on stage, right at midnight. The crowd was counting down 'six, five, four...' and those two were bloodying each other up real good.
    We managed another set but that was the end of the gig and the band.
    Good times...
  17. Flouswa

    Flouswa Country Gent

    You win. (I laughed the whole time I read this, thanks for the entertainment!)
  18. SpaceCowboy

    SpaceCowboy Electromatic

    Aug 16, 2019
    We reluctantly agreed to play a frat gig in Arkansas ($$$) for their big party week. Driving up we saw all the houses in frat row had huge rough wooden fences around the properties, obviously a recent addition. We were met at the door by a guy and his date who were dressed like Fred and Wilma Flintstone, turns out the theme that year was "Caveman!" They said we could grab some leftover BBQ in the dining room since we were late but there was nothing in the dining room but bones and BBQ sauce all over the floor and walls. They had a food fight earlier and it looked like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in there. Barney Rubble showed us to the basement where they had us playing, a large, very empty concrete room with nothing but a small stage. As expected, the sound in there was unbearable. Every now and then a couple cave people would drift in, stay few minutes, then leave. Most of the 6 hour gig was just us in the concrete bunker. End of the night finally came, the cavemen upstairs were raging drunk and destroying their house. We quickly loaded out while dodging the couches, chairs, and other furniture they were throwing out the 2nd story windows. We realized in our haste to get out we hadn't been payed, so one of us had to go back in and find the cave dude with the money. Fortunately he returned quickly and without incident and we got the hell out of there.
    ronbo and JeffreyLeePierre like this.
  19. lathoto

    lathoto Synchromatic

    Apr 23, 2020
    I was cancelled at Carnegie Hall because I didn't practice enough.
  20. afire

    afire Country Gent

    I played a show in Chicago a few years ago. By the last set I started feeling dehydrated and was losing my voice. By teardown, I could barely stand. I was in no shape to drive back to Madison so I booked a hotel in the 'burbs and spent the night. I spent the next 24 hours in a hotel room deliriously sick. I guess the gig itself wasn't that bad, but the whole outing was a nightmare.
    JeffreyLeePierre likes this.
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