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Shit Venues (to play).

There are a many reasons a gig you’ve played can be shitty:  your band is under-rehearsed; the lead guitar player is drunk; someone gets stage-fright.  There could be issues external to the band: the venue is empty; there’s a heckler in the audience; or you’re put off-stage early because the promoter is trying to fit 5 bands into 2 hours.  Then there are the gigs that you knew were going to be shit the second you walked into the venue: the drum-kit is held together with electrical tape; there is one amp with a rip in the speaker and what you thought were monitors actually turn out to be beer-crates holding the stage up.

The following is a list of venues where the gig was ruined by the venue:

  1. The Sugar Club
    OK, so The Sugar Club isn’t the worst venue I’ve played in.  However every time I have played the Sugar Club, I have had a shitty monitor mix.  I don’t know how this happens!  The mix is usually fine during sound-check, but by the time I’m halfway through the first song, I’m standing right in front of my amplifier to hear what I’m playing.  This is a simple fix – it can’t be anything more complicated than a loose connection.  The Sugar Club is a great venue to play in, otherwise – good atmosphere, good sound, a dance area that will look full with 35-40 people on it – but a bad monitor mix leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
  2. Slattery’s
    of Capel St.  There’s a venue upstairs.  It’s quite nice. Although, when I say a venue, I mean it’s a lounge with a stage in the corner.  And when I say a stage, I don’t want you to misconstrue – you might imagine something you could perform a small play on.  It’s a platform just big enough to fit three guys with guitars on. If there is a fourth member of your band, or if you have a drummer, you’d better hope you’re all very comfortable with each other’s body odours.
    This is simply a poor choice of venue for band.  It’s fine if you’re just another mopey fucker with a guitar and “something to say”.  But if you want to rock it out, this is a bad venue.  The PA is not good enough, and the only monitor set up that you will get is standing very close to your amp.  This is also the venue that left me with a permanent aversion to good mic-technique.
    I was a slightly beardy.  I was singing backing vocals.  Every time I got near the gorram microphone, I got a jolt of electricity in my stubble.  To this day, I cannot sing into a mic properly – I have a pavlovian fear of microphones that comes from being shocked in the mouth constantly for 40 minutes.  I don’t know why there should be a current running through a Shure SM58, but there was through this one, and then through me.
  3. Pravda
    I played a gig in Pravda recently.  I will not be playing in Pravda again.  There were three mic’s on stage: one sitting on the blanket inside the kick-drum, and the other two on inappropriately long boom stands for vocals.  The only monitor on stage was there to keep the mic-stands from falling over.  There was enough cable on stage for you to trip over yourself and get caught on cable again before you hit the ground.  The hi-hat stand was supplied sans-clutch.  The kick-drum was supplied sans kick-pedal.  The sound check consisted of some kid who cannot yet shave telling us that he would not be mic’ing the amps, and that if he waved at us, we should turn up or down.  To sing harmonies, I had to look at the faces of the few people who were actually near the stage to tell whether or not I was in tune.
    These problems all actually stem from a larger issue of night-clubs trying to put on gigs.  More on this later.

I’ve played shit gigs in great venues, but less frequently than I’ve played shit gigs in shit venues.  To put it more poetically (or pretentiously, if you’d rather), the venue is the canvas on which you will paint your performance.  If you are relaxed and at your leisure, you will play better.  If the stage is well set-up, then however many people show up will see and hear you at your best.  If there is a decent monitor set up, you can focus on playing, not hearing what you are playing.  It’s not impossible to play well in a bad venue, but it is more difficult.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Michael | 2009-08-10 at 10:05 | Permalink

    I was also shocked by that exact same mic in Slattery’s. Not fun.

    Engineer: “Try it now!”
    Engineer: “Hmmm… Ok, try it now…”
    Engineer: “Right, how about now?”

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