Tuesday, May 11

Your Craziest Gig Stories

With Moondance booking wrapped, we've started to think about how tough life on the road can be. A couple of Airplayers had interesting tour stories, but nothing too wild.

So we want to hear from you. What was your craziest gig? Wild fans? Crooked club owners? Horror stories from the road? Share them in the comments of this blog post, and maybe other Airplay bands can learn from your experience.


Anonymous said...

Anyway, I’m in this band and we played a gig in Boothbay Hahbah, Maine. Hahbah, it’s like pahk the cah in yahd Muffy. Boothbay Harbor universally renowned for having the highest tooth per head count on the entire Maine coast. So we pull into town and ask a local for directions to Gray’s Wharf Old man on the corner sez, “Heh, heh, you’re just about standin on it sonny”, ha, ha everyones a colorful local character here, great. So I tell him, “Just give me the directions old man or that won’t be all I’m standin on!”So we cross the street and enter the club. The 6'10" 400 pound barman wearing a Hell’s Angel’s vest helps us load in and then informs us that they play both kinds of music there. “Country and Western,” I smartly reply. “No, he sez, good music and the kind that gets pencilneck musicians thrown off the end of the wharf har, har, har! Great again, we’re playing for the rednecks from Deliverance. I wisely resist the urge to tell him “you sure gotta purty mouth” and instead instruct the band to set up quickly and whip into a stirring rendition of “Flirtin with Disaster” You know, “I’m travelin down the road I’m flirtin with disaster, Bomp, bomp, bomp, yeah” we finish to thunderous applause and a women approaches the stage, “You guys are really great do you know any Madonna?” There’s four guys in our band and I’m dying to know what it was exactly in our rendition of Molly Hatchett that just screamed these guys must play Madonna?” “Well, she’s pretty good.” Great! Right now being thrown off the end of the wharf is starting to look pretty good. We’re just about to play on when the barman comes up again. “Great music boys, could you do me a small favor?” Sure we’ll do anything that will keep us out of the harbor. “Great, my Uncle Brud is gonna join you on stage for a number or two. “Wonderful.” I say. Brud, hmmn, sounds a homebrew. “And what exactly does he play?” I ask. “The spoons, you’re gonna love him!” It just keeps getting better. So they wheel up the 90 year old man who earlier gave me directions and we mic up his spoons. “Brud” plays all night and we are henceforth renamed Brud and those guys from away. We finally finish our set and are just ready to leave when that girl who wanted Madonna is back. Seems the Blondie line was a come on.“You’re such an awesome musician, you remind of Eric Clapton. “Hey, uh, can I go home with you?” Well, now I’m feeling sort of studly in an Urban Cowboy sort of way. Then she adds. “You see I’ve got a restraining order on my boyfriend and I’ve been kicked out of my apartment.” “I see.” Well she’s kind of cute so I ask, “And where is your boyfriend tonite?” “Oh, you met him, he’s the barman that helped you load in. “So we grab our money, run for the exit and are speeding down route 125 breathing a large sigh of relief when...the blue lights come on. Yes, Johnny Law is pulling us over in Boothbay Harbor Maine. Visions of the local jail dance in my head like so many don’t drop the soap in the shower jokes. A flashlight shines through the back of the van over the guitars, drums and other equipment and I’ll never forget his first line. “You guys in a band or something?” “Why yes Sherlock, we’re a band we played down at Gray’s Wharf tonite, and now we’re tired and just want to go home.” There’s a brief pause and then he smiles and says, “Gray’s Wharf, hell you must in Uncle Brud’s band, have a good night!” Buck T. Edwards

Connor Shaw said...

haha!! That picture is hilarious!! Someone does not know how to mic a guitar!!

Anonymous said...


John from Sixty Miles Down said...

My band Sixty Miles Down played a CMJ show in NYC a while back. The CMJ shows come around once a year and a lot of industry people go to them to check out bands. A bunch of clubs all over the city host these CMJ shows so it's a pretty big event. Anyway,we promoted the hell out of it because it was going to be a big show for us. We handed out post cards and flyers and gave away samplers of our music in front of clubs at least a month before the show. I would say about 2 weeks before the show the guy who booked us said the club we were supposed to play at was raided and shut down for drugs. So he had to rent space somewhere else in the city to hold the show. So now every flyer, cd and post card that we have handed out has the wrong address on it.
We showed up at the venue at 5pm. Right on time. Of course no one else was there yet. After a while of waiting the guy who booked us and put the show together shows up and lets us in the place. It smells like a damp moldy basement. Wires are literally hanging out of the wall. The stage looks like termites holding hands and the bar is in 2 pieces piled up in a corner of the room.
We actually helped set the place up. We put the bar together, filled garbage cans full of ice for the beer and even helped set the stage up. Of course he's running behind(way behind) and tells us that doors are going to have to open an hour later than scheduled.
Finally everything was set up for the most part. All we could do was wait for the doors to open and for someone to tell us when we were going to go on. We were the first band to go on and had a 45 minute set. We had a guy waiting outside from a major label that came to see us. He ended up leaving because he had other clubs he had to go to and couldn't wait any longer for the doors to open. There were maybe 6 other people outside because no one knew that the venue had changed last minute.
Then after all of the waiting and after all of the help we gave this guy to set up the place... After all of the inconvienences and waiting we put up with he sends his buddy who was working the door over to us. This guy looks at us, opens his mouth and says,"If you go on in 10 minutes you might be able to play a twenty minute set." and walked away. We went on and played maybe 4 songs to 4 people. The two guitar players in the band almost got into a fist fight after the set and the band was in total chaos for a couple of weeks after that show.
That was by far the worst experience I have ever had playing in this band. Everything the show was supposed to be ended up being the complete opposite and we got so screwed in the end on top of everything else that went wrong. That's my horror story.

Jennifer 8 said...

My craziest gig was my when I first started playing live. I essentially have a one man band, so I was used to singing into a four track, or in front of studio engineers, but live -- it scared the hell out of me.

So I had two choices, do the Jim Morrison thing, and sing with my back to the crowd, or get over my fear. I began this little ritual where I would have a couple of beers to numb myself, and I would take off my glasses and wear shades so everyone in the crowd became a blur. This worked well, until I spotted my ex in the front row of one of my shows. I had a few too many beers, but figured hey, at least I'm not nervous. Yeah right. I stepped up to the mic, the band tore into the first song of the set, and I couldn't remember the words.

Suffice it to say, me and the guys had a good laugh about that later -- much, because at first, they did the majority of the laughing. My lead guitarist still asks me to this day; "how did you forget the words to your own song, you wrote it?" I still don't have a clue, but I strongly suspect "The King of Beers"...

Will Bennett said...

A recent, crazy, gig was playing the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with our friend, Spencer Michaud, opening for us. At the start, the crowd was light - so light that it was just our friend, Spencer, and our band, The White Ravens, and a few personal friends. We looked at each other and unspokenly decided to have some fun. Spencer, an amazingly talented singer-songer writer, decided to do some Beatles covers and asked for requests. He got two he did not anticipate - Piggies and Octopus's Garden. Amazingly, he rose to the challenge and even performed the instrumental parts with using his vocal technique of mouth trumpet. The audience was laughting - they loved what Spencer was doing and the crowd was slowly building.

Then then it was our turn. Spencer may deny this but he definitely made Amy break down out of her usual cool composure and burst into laughter during the performance of one of our original songs. Once her composure was restored, she and I decided to launch into some covers, including Elton John's Crocodile rock - Vince and I spontaneously decided to do the falsetto la-la-la-la-la's which took the audience by surprise and got them further laughing again. We got an encore request from one of the employees back in "tea land" and compliments from the audience afterwards. It was really quite fun!

anonymous said...

That's crazy?

Katie Knipp said...

Ah, my craziest gig story. I make it a point never to stop in the middle of the song no matter what. I just don't think it's professional. However, in playing one of my many coffee house gigs, one of them had me set up right outside. Everything was going smoothly until about a half an hour into my set. The automatic sprinklers turned on me and all my gear. The umpteen year old barista forgot to turn off the automatic setting that night. Needless to say, I stopped, moved my gear (I was still making payments on it), toweled off, and played another 2 hours. Luckily my gear wasn't damaged.....

Katie Knipp

Yvonne Doll said...

I once played a show in which, two very very drunk people asked us to play something "romantic", so we pulled out a slow song. They started making out and were inching closer and closer to me (there was no stage)... they kept keeping closer and closer until finally they fell over and started "getting busy" on my feet.... um yeah.. true story.

sunspot_wendy said...

This gig at the Dixie Taverne in New Orleans on 12/29/2004 will always stand out in my mind:

We showed up at the club at 9:30 PM for load-in. Jen was bartending and a guy named Darin was working at the door. There were a few people sitting at the bar, including a really loud guy who was obviously very intoxicated. He kept daring people around him to punch him in the face… Unfortunately, nobody obliged (what better way to start the night than with a good ole bar fight?).

They told us we could pull up onto the sidewalk and just park there, but there was already a big white truck parked outside the front door, so we sort of double-parked and unloaded everything into the bar. Then, Ben took the van and trailer and parked it on the sidewalk a little ways up.

We were scheduled to play first, so we started setting up on stage. While we were setting up, the drunken guy fell of his bar stool not once but twice. He could’ve used one of those shirts they sell in the shops on Bourbon Street that has “If you can read this, please put me back on my bar stool” printed upside down on it.

A few minutes later, I went to use the bathroom, and while I was in there I suddenly heard somebody yell “CALL 9-1-1, THERE’S A MAJOR ACCIDENT RIGHT OUT FRONT!” I ran outside to a horrific sight: All of the cars that had been parked in front of the club were smashed, and the white truck that had previously been in front of the club was in the crash, turned sideways in the middle of Canal Street. Two (possibly three) cars were completely totaled, and one of the totaled cars had been pushed into our trailer.

MIRACULOUSLY NO ONE WAS KILLED. The drunk guy (yup, you guessed it, it was the wastoid who couldn’t stay on his bar stool) was the only person involved in this crash, all the other cars were just parked out front with no one in them. Apparently he was injured, but he survived and I am absolutely amazed that he walked out of that one.

Of course, all of the cars involved belonged to patrons of the Dixie Taverne, and the “totally totaled” car that got pancaked into a tree and then hit our trailer belonged to Jen the bartender. Obviously that put a major damper on the spirits of everyone at the club. But, they still wanted us to continue with the show so we did. It was just creepy to have a crime scene – it really looked like a war zone out there – right outside.

By the time we finished playing, the totaled cars had been towed away and our trailer was “freed” from the accident scene. The front left side of got pretty dented, and the left wheel well was completely dislocated from the trailer. It was a terribly disheartening sight, since the trailer is really REALLY nice and Ben just got it two weeks ago. Darin (who had been working the door and thereby monitoring the accident scene the entire night) was a mechanic and very kindly offered to take a look at the trailer to make sure it wasn’t structurally damaged. By an amazing stroke of luck, the trailer was still safe to tow. Darin helped us patch up some of the dented side at his shop, so it would still be weather-proof. He really went out of his way to help us… It never ceases to amaze me how people who just met us can be so generous.

J. Whitman said...

In 2008, I was with a band called Brand New Relic. Our guitarist had booked a gig for us at this club called The Red Cove in Ventura, CA. We were sharing the stage that night with Lineage, another band we knew through mutual friends. Upon arriving at the venue, we walk inside to find that all the patrons were in the back of the place playing pool, and the front of the venue was empty. Small stage, and all: no one was there to pay attention to a couple of rock bands playing their hearts out. We spent the entire time we were supposed to be playing debating whether or not we should play in the first place. We tried to talk with the manager about this, but he was as interested in our presence there as the customers he already had. After two hours of wasting our time, we decided to leave and vowed that we would never book a gig at that place ever again.

In the short history of Brand New Relic, this is the gig we refer to as "The Gig That Never Existed". I think you can see why.

Anonymous said...

My craziest story happened in early March, 2010. I was playing at an event sponsored by the local library. It was a writers event, so I was doing an original song "Won't You Help me Dr. Phil?" when a small dog came up on stage and started mounting my leg. Needless to say, the audience broke out in gales of laughter. I did finish the song. The library was video tapeing the event, and posted my performance on youtube. You have to go to youtube, then type "PARLtube" in the search box to see the video.

Anonymous said...

I received a call from a friend asking me if I could do gig with him at a new club about fifty miles away from my place. Always up for some fun, I accepted and asked for directions. He told me he didn't have directions but we could go together and he was pretty sure where it was.Well, we found the place, just on the wrong side of the track and next to a power station. They had a cardboard bifold in the parking lot announcing their opening night. My friend and I walked in saw the manager and started to load in and set up. When he and I were half set up [the rhythm section was late] He started to speak to my friend with an ominous opening line, " I know we discussed money on the phone but we're trying to do something here". Well, he tried to cut our money down 20%. We talked nicely until it was clear he wasn't budging. That's when we decided to leave. Magically, he went off somewhere, came back and declared he would pay us the original amount. Finally, the rhythm section turns up and while they are setting up I decide to walk around this club. I see some fliers and read that we are going to play disco all night. I know some dance songs and we can play some kicking funk, but disco wasn't going to happen. I spoke to my friend who's name is Johnny B. and showed him the flier. He said " Oh shit, there is an old guy named Johnny B. who plays disco. They must have thought I was him. I don't even know how they got my number. They just called me". So, I had to go tell the guy who didn't want to pay us the discussed amount that we weren't the band he thought he'd hired.
We played anyway to the 6 people who showed up and had a great time with them and the staff. After packing up it was time to collect. The "Manager" told us that because we hadn't taken a pay cut we would not be returning to play at their "club" again. He did pay us the proper amount though, I think he was afraid of us. There are many of these stories and they are usually fun...........

Chris said...

We were touring from San Francisco up to Seattle and back down. The jerk rental place guy didn't have the van we reserved and talked us into a new Ford Explorer with him paying for the U-Haul. They Explorer didn't have a hitch so the guy installs one of those temporary, clamp-on hitches. Outside of Sacramento we suddenly hear SLAM! behind us. We look back and the trailer is flying free, bouncing around, still connected by the safety chain with the hitch assembly bouncing off the road, sending up a terrific rooster tail of orange sparks. You've never seen a CA highway clear so fast! Then the safety chain would grab and yank the trailer, slamming it into the back of the Explorer. I just remember looking out the back window and seeing .... UHAUL!! (wham!) .... UHAUL!! (wham!)... UHAUL!!! (wham!)

Laserz said...

We are in a band called Laserz in Austin. We started out as a three pice. Myself and the drummer had never been in a band before and had definitely never played any gigs. Well, we scraped together about six songs to play for a show that our drummer at the time Charlie had "booked". It was at the Creekside Lounge in the Red Rivfer district in downtown Austin. It is a venue that many seasoned bands would jump at the chance to play. He got the booking through as "friend of a friend" who said we were confirmed. So we were super excited like a bunch of rookie newbies and made posters and plastered them everywhere. That night we packed up the truck and showed up a few beers deep at the front door of the place ready to unload. We noticed our name was not on the door. Charlie asked the manager and he did not know who the hell we were. Our hearts were pumping because we had been hyping this up to all our friends and publicizing this event. As skater and BMX'ers we have a pretty close, pretty large group of friends. As they were telling us no deal, they began seeing groups of beer-drinking fools show up to see us. It was then that they decided to go ahead and put us at the front of the line up. As first-timers we had never sound checked and the sound guy ragged on the drummer and I mercilessly. We put on a mediocre show but it didn't matter. Everyone was sotked to see their friends on stage playing at the Creekside. The bar had great beer sales so they were happy and we were super excited to play our first gig. We even got paid for it. Sonce then we have been playing all over and bringing a rowdy crowd.

Anonymous said...

We had a gig at a popular club just outside the city, 5 nights a week for two weeks. We performed Tue and Wed nights and the response was surprisingly good. We got to the club on Thursday for a late afternoon rehearsal to go over some vocals and run through some new material to find chains and padlocks on the door. It took almost 2 hours to find out that the state police had put the padlocks on the door in an afterhours raid the night before. It took another couple of hours to finally convince an investigator to get someone to come by and unlock the doors so we could get our gear out of the place. Needless to say the gig was off and we lost 2 weeks of pay.

Bill C said...

Did a gig at a huge club on an access road to a popular ski mountain. They had a second floor with a three sided balcony. The place was rocking, including a group of about a dozen women - all boarders, came off very extreme... they were partying on the balcony which opened up to the stage and the dance floor below when during a high energy song two of the girls fell off the balcony and landed on the floor right in front of the stage - piling up a few of the dancers below. We were stunned! and a couple of us jumped off the stage to see if everyone was ok... the song stopped, the dancers all got up (hearty skiers) but the two that fell of the balcony were still on the floor when suddenly they both just popped up and started screaming - whoooooaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! a couple of chest butts... the drummer counted us off and the party was back on... no law suits and free beers for everyone involved... long live rock and roll!

mike falzone said...

Just watch this...it explains our worst night as a band!

"How to get kicked out of a band"
Mike Falzone & The Peppermint Trick


lyrisist16 said...

Im not as large as some but i have had my moments back in the day i was performing in Club Funkadelic in GERMANY and it was an every night gig , I had a German DJ she was bad her name was lady d she an I were a hit in europe I was considering signing to sony productions and different acts were coming in to compete for top spots,that night was specific. I and a couple of buddies of mine were doing the same oh same oh and one of my buddies came up to me and said guess who just came into the club, I said "who"
and he told that George Clinton was there, well me being fresh out da box I started thinking about performing in front of the "Atomic Dog".The club started jumping and a little group came on stage that look like the group that once was know as "Kris Kross" they got through performing and the did a good job but I told them to now let the Master take the stage, I knelt down behind the DJ booth while Lady showed her pure back side on the ones and twos and she came up with this beat by mixing. I jumped in and started flowin without standing up and I bet about 50 people came on the dance floor, they were dancing and screaming and waving their hands and all of the sudden Lady cut the music. She took the mic and said "wait yall wait yall" I just got to let you know you been dancing and partying hard and you dont even know that we got a live artist doing this track in da house tonight, she told me to stand up and i did I looked around and everybody had come to the front of the stage and she introduced me in club Funk in front of George Clinton and put the music back on. That was the first real look at my audience and fans and it captured my soul. I started flowing tuned with the beat track and instrumentals and i knew then that I was an Artist ..The people started clapping and waving their hand and before i left one young girl started crying and said we love you..............so know 18 years later im in it to win Lyrisist16
The club

BETA said...

During the first annual Holobora festival in the midwest we took stage to a freezing and damp crowd--but drunk nonetheless. Towards the middle of the set we all got to enjoy watching this girl get on the stage and attempt to do back flips off of it; which ended on her back and neck. Not once, not twice, but yes, three attempts.

Metalworks said...

One of our craziest gigs was on August 29, 1981, at an outdoor concert and keg party called the Stone Mountain Jam II. It took place in a large field behind Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia, a field that was owned by the family of one James Venable, who, unbeknownst to us, was the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, we were playing on the same field that hosted the rebirth of the Klan in the early 1910s. The event attracted some 4,000 or so kids from around DeKalb and Fulton Counties, who could have cared less about the Klan or its purported mission. In fact, while we were onstage -- we later learned -- about half a dozen Klan members (complete with robes and hoods) showed up in a pickup truck and tried to hand out Klan literature to the kids, and were soundly run off by the latter from their own ceremonial field. Our performance was videotaped, and the video is available for viewing on our official website (http://www.metalworksonline.org/page1.aspx) or on our MySpace site (http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=61493276). You won't see any of the Klan (Thank God!) but you will see a lot of people having fun listening to us!

Ben Calvert said...

After a gig supporting Hamell On Trial in the deep cold North of England, I'm miles from home with no place to rest my head for the night. Two lads of nineteen who've watched me play, kindly offer to put me up for the night. When we get back to the house, one of them gets cold feet. It's his sister's boyfriend's house and he's worried that I'm going to nick the stereo, TV, CDs and everything else. I explain it's going to be hard to get all this back to Birmingham on the coach while I'm carrying a backpack and guitar at 12am.
We all drink some beers, and the would-be criminal Ben Calvert ends up looking after both of them while they're both sick in the bathroom, before putting them to bed with iced water by the bedside, tidying up the night's mess of beer cans and overflowing ashtrays, then doing the washing up. I leave them a thank you note and complimentary CD's before leaving. Rock. And. Roll.

Shoes said...

I played guitar in a Virginia Beach-based Hardcore band called Clock Strikes Murder. We were scheduled to play a full set at the Norva in Norfolk, VA, which is the venue all local bands want to play. It's similar to the 930 club in DC, or Rams Head in Baltimore. Anyway, about a week before the show I was in the woods with my K9 search and rescue group and I got poison ivy allover my lower back and yes, down my crack as well. Now, this wasn't "a little itchy" it was seeping and painful. Time came for the show and I was leaked poison ivy juice through my pants. I told my band members before the show about it and of course they couldn't sop laughing. But needless to say, I put on a very awkward performance. I'm still playing music, but have since stopped serach and rescue...

Ruba Say said...

Should I start w falling in holes on the stage and disappearing from view,or guitar necks snapping in half gashing my forehead? Lip-synching to our song "Animal Rage" for Star Search at a local mall trying not to fall in the fountain? Nah, Gotta be Patriot's Retreat in Florence, SC....Walk on stage from backstage entrance...put on my guitar, strummed 3 "C" chords to make sure I was still in tune....Then a booming voice rang out "Don't you know what's going on?" I turned and a very large deputy sheriff was standing behind me w a sawed-off shotgun..."It's over! It's all over!!!" He then cocked his weapon and pointed it at me..."You get the message?" I'm like "Yeah", hands up...Fortunately (Depends on whose view) The girl who had rented the bar that night Jumped on stage and screamed "You can't do this! This is a private party! Where's your warrant?" He said "Here's my warrant right here and flipped the rifle bottoms up; thought he was gonna smack her; he shouldered the gun and he and 2 or 3 other police drug her off so he forgot about me for the moment..they did arrest 13 people...said something about the area being part of the "haunted house" killings down the road from like 40 years before...bizarre...The club later "mysteriously" burned down...That MIGHT be the craziest gig....

Sean Russell said...

I got that beat for the crappiest gig story and worst tour ever executed. My band had a long run between Dallas and Tuscaloosa at University of Alabama. Our show was at the Jupiter Room. We were opening for some tool who booked as "Perk". When we arrived at the University, we went to the radio station and had a great "in studio" performance and plug for the show, then headed to the gig.

When we got there we met Perk. He wanted us to go out on the street and handout the promo flyers on the main street to get the word out. We were more interested in beer, but the picture on the flyer was him hanging from a street lamp like some gay cabaret and had his hat turned sideways, muscle shirt, etc. It was like he was Fred Astare swinging around town.

We declined his generous offer, played a great show, then broke down and decided to take a walk while Perk set up. -This is when the tour went to crap-. While we were playing, a few people were shot in a driveby a few doors down. Then we went back to the truck to lock up a few more items only to find someone had broken into a bunch of cars while idiots like us were watching the carnage out front and talking about how BA we are. The thieves thankfully left the gear but stole bags which had laptops and ipods mostly.

Perk finished up his show and we were going to settle up in the morning over breakfast because we needed to fill out a police report that evening. The next morning Perk wasn't picking up his phone, we had to hit the road, and we didn't get paid. A few days later he emailed me and justified his actions by saying he was pissed because we wouldn't go hand out the flyer, he was the headliner, and everyone there only came to see him (and his cover band).

This tour, coupled with my first SXSW gig which ended up being at the Trasure Island Pirate Bar in Austin (the bar that happens when some dumb A foreigner or corporate entity with tons of money and no class decides to "buy in" to the 6th st Austin music scene and ruin it).

Music is fun,

Sean Russell

Da Enigma01 said...

Our most insane gig was when we did our Atlanta Gig back in 2007 at the Atrium Theater the gig went well,It was the same night as The Metro-Times Hamtramck Blow-Out Festival, which is one of if not the largest Amater music gig's in the country, We flew down to Hot-Lanta earlier in the day and went straight from the small time to the big time in a few hours,, Thanks to our contact DNYC we were the invited guest for Atlanta's Ga's the dungeon family a sold out show so that was insane we got the respect and industry respect that were always dreamed about!

Anonymous said...

Yo all Father Time Magazine fans

I going to share a studio craziness session.
It was a few years back. George Clinton and the Pfunk crew(Our illegitamate cousins)were recording in studio A. We had just finished a 48 hour drum track seesion. I was so tire I fell out in the lounge at the studio. Unknown at the time a large sack of cronic was left for me to guard as i slept. When I awoke I needed to call my home. I dialed for an outside operator. Greg the studio owner had instructed me on how to get an outside line. I dial 1-9 waited than dialed 11 than my number and waited. Alone in the lounge I heard a knock on the door a Scream could be heard "Open up this is the police" I could here inside the studio Who called the Police. People were running all over the studio. All the toilet were flushing. I could hear Georges voice and all the 420 ers demanding Who calle dthe police? I jumped back on the couch and pretended to be sleeping. I blamed it on father-time

Wendy said...

Miché Fambro does a video series on just this topic called, "Guitar Lessons." For a taste of his response to wild gig stories, check out: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE-vEc2MYNI. Another about playing with a snake onstage: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO6L9cYT6z0
You can find others from the series at www.miche.com. Musicians will love these episodes.

joe DOE said...

The craziest show I ever played was with my hip hop group Triple Vision, a show at this awesome little hole in the wall called The Brass Rail in Fort Wayne, IN. The place was packed, definitely beyond capacity for the size of the place. We had a lot of lights at that show so it was kind of hard to see the crowd clearly, but we were doing our thing, telling people to fight the system. The crowd was going nuts, moshing in the front, and I was like "yeah, they love us." But really the whole place was breaking out into fights, everywhere. It was a battle royal while we kept on performing. Until some people starting going behind the bar and stealing bottles of liquor, then the owner came on stage and told us to stop, the cops were coming. I was in the zone, I was like "we only have 3 more songs!" But people started clearing out & we realized what was going on. I found our own door guys outside, brawling. Eventually everyone dispursed and the cops never even came. We could have finished our set, shit!

Mark from This Frozen Star said...

My indie rock band was asked by a hardcore punk band to play a regional agricultural show with them, three thrash metal acts and a soulful roots trio.

The stage was pretty well decked out, but set up about 150 metres from the stands in the anticipation of the tens of thousands of fans who would throng in front of it. Fifty or so ganged round the front, but the rest stuck to the seating arrangements. It was a motley audience of parents with young children, teens, hayseed farmers and horse enthusiasts - most of whom looked baffled by the lack of country and/or western.

After we had played our second song, the countryfied announcer cut in and said in an annoyed voice: "Look, whoever owns the white Ford, can you get it out of the way because the fireworks are going to start soon. Now, let's strike up the bands."

After we had played our three most hard rocking songs, someone shouted: "Play something heavy!". To cement the fact this wasn't going to be our fast track to superstardom, one song later I broke a string. Then to cap it all off our bass player got hit by a utility on the way back to the van, which fractured his leg. And if you thought that was bad, you should have seen the crowd reaction when low-grade thrash metal met a country audience who really REALLY wanted something familiar to dance to.

Never, never again...

Sharp Practise said...

Beware of venues who say they'll pay you per flyer your fans bring into the club. They tend to have street teams offering flyers for even cheaper admission working the locality of the club. The solution - get your street team to stand outside the club, explain what's going on, and get everyone to come in on your flyer to spite the club owner!

C.P.X. said...

Several years ago, I (Brandon) was in a band called "piT." (that's how we spelled it) and Michael was doing his own thing. We needed sound for a place in Bloomington, IL, so I asked him to run sound, which really amounted just to vocals, and he said sure.

So we get to this place called the WindJammer, who has a set group of regulars who just wanna listen to the jukebox. But as they're leaving when the bands start to play, we're bringing 3 times as many people to watch the bands.

Well the owner's regulars are leaving, so she gets pissed. And she's drunk as hell, so she keeps yelling at me and Michael to turn it down (which we really can't cuz we're only running vocals).

By the time the 2nd band gets on (we haven't even played yet), the owner is so drunk she gets up on stage and yells, "Do you know who I am? I'm gonna throw the breakers off and kill the power!" The crowd boos her drunk ass off the stage, and she passes out at the bar during our set.

I come off stage, having dealt with this all night, and the bouncer says, "Someone took a baseball bat to the bathroom." I walk in, and sure enough: urinal destroyed, broken glass everywhere, water...the whole 9 yards. I knew our fans had nothing to do with it, and I got him calmed down, as he thinks it was some other drunk guy that the owner also pissed off.

The only shining moment (other than one ROCKIN show) was I walk back in the next day, and the owner pays me $400, saying how great the show was and she wants us to come back!

WTF? I think maybe after she sobered up, she saw the cash register and had a change of heart, but I still will never play there again!

Alzara said...

One of my craziest gig ever was with a former project in San Francisco. Someone wrote up this blurb about the event the very next day:

"Despite the campy pink interior, swaying tinsel and happy Santas, strange tensions were brewing at the Stork Club in Oakland on Thursday, June 10. Opening act, The Hard Boiled Dicks weren't more than half way through a song when an anonymous spectator, sporting a large plastic pig snout, jumped on stage and began grabbing butts and slamming into the musicians. The masked man continued these outrageous antics throughout the set, screaming jibes such as "You all suck" and "The only thing good about that song is that its over!"
Although duly warned to discontinue such behavior or suffer some serious consequences, the heckler was sufficiently provoked by Plavu's (the 2nd band) brand of space-fuzz-melodica to leap on stage with such vigor and aggression that bassist/singer Alex Ionov was bruised and singer Alzara Getz was violently thrown across the keyboards whilst being grabbed and assaulted. The music came to a standstill. Ionov announced that Plavu was going to take a couple minute break to "F- up a pig" and jumped off stage in pursuit. Following his cue, keyboardist and several audience members rushed to assist in making the threat good. A scuffle ensued and Mr. pignose was promptly shown that taking things too far was not a good idea. The fervor was only assuaged when 2nd guitarist Sean Murphy gave a peace talk over the mic.
The disrupter turned out to be none other than the bassist for headlining duo that night. With loud apologies, the headlining singer appeared on stage in a black fish net body suit and thong, while pig-nose hid behind his bass rig, sporting a new full face GI Joe mask."

There was another time when I got pepper sprayed and then pulled over by the cops for "drunk driving," when I was really just delirious from the poison, but that's another story I'll post some other time. Sugarplums is kinda tame by comparison, but we've had some strange shows, we'll have to think on that one.

L.i.E. (Augusta, GA) said...

Our horror tale bridges two gigs.

The first gig was in Greenville, SC. The show went fine... but on the return trip just 20-30 miles outside of town, the trailer we were using to pull our gear blew a tire. We put on the spare, only to notice the other tire was also on borrowed time. Both tires had been stripped bare.

With only the one spare, we thought we could suffer through a very slow drive back home, but tire #2 blew less than 3 miles later. Fortunately, we were driving a large truck and were able to load our gear in the back of it. The trailer, however, was left on the side of the Interstate. After arriving in Augusta, we bought some new tires and went to retrieve the trailer, which made it back home safe and sound and no sign of wear on the new tires.

The next gig was in Savannah, GA, and we had decided to get a condo at the beach on Tybee Island for the weekend. En route to the beach, one of the new tires blew out. We put on the 'new' spare and proceeded, driving 100 miles at 25 MPH, which did not make other motorists very happy. By the time we got to the beach, the trailer was wobbling from side to side as if it would tip over.

Luckily for us, Walker's Trailer Repair in Savannah made a house call out to the island at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon where they welded us a new axle. As it turned out, the axle of this trailer was terribly bent. Feeling ever-so-stupid for not having inspected the trailer before using it not just once but twice, we had to shell out over $700 for two sets of new tires and a new axle.

Jango said...

these are amazing! some tough breaks (especially the car crash stories), but it's awesome to hear that the spirit of music is still alive and well.

Troy Castellano said...

The first one on my list is: when me and my band played a biker party (biker club to remain unnamed). The party was crazy as you'd think it would be. Guys shooting balloons that were held between the legs of the bitches (the person who shot out 6 first won). And yes they were live rounds! Bikers with their girls on the back of their bike trying to take a bite out of a hot dog hanging by a string as they drove their bikes underneath it, and much much more crazy sh*t. Most notably the wet t-shirt contest which we, the band, hosted from the stage. Every girl who wanted to participate could, even the band guys girls friends. The winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd) were chosen by crowd response as we highlighted each girl. The girls with the biggest response won. The contest went off with out a hitch until the crowned 1st place winner was one of my band mates girl friends. There was one girl up there who's "old man" start complaining loud and violently about how his girl won. We tried to calm him down to no avail. Other members of the club finally got the guy to calm down and the party went on with out any more incidents. But, here's the kicker, about two weeks later my band got formal letter from the biker club's board of directors. The letter was a "formal" reversal of the contest decision complete with rant from the objecting couple! It was 5 pages of complaing! Needless to say the real winner never had to give the prize money back back. We thought that was funny as hell, a big bad biker complained to his club head and they sent us a formal letter changing the contest outcome in their favor. Why didn't they juts kick the sh*t out of us and take it? I'll never know but I still have the letter!

Troy Castellano said...

My next story: It was a Friday night, I was running late from work to get to a gig about 80 miles away. I had to carry my drummer and my gear in my pickup which had a topper (camper top). I loaded the gear and hopped in my truck and sped off to the gig. About 5 miles out I had to stop for gas. As I came out of the station after paying I noticed my tailgate and topper doors open. I immediately noticed that my drummers kick drum was missing. I looked around to see if it was anywhere in sight or if someone noticed it being taken but no one saw anything! I soon realized that I must have left the tail gate open when I left my house! Argh! Already late, I hopped in my truck and headed back to my house scouring the ditches and roadway for the missing drum. I arrived back at my house and didn't see hide nor hair of the drum! So head hanging low, I jumped back in my truck to speed of the gig to lay the bad news on my drummer. About 2 blocks from my house, just as I was thinking about what I was going to say as I drove down the street I looked into the garage of a local repair shop I was driving by and noticed two guys looking a something. Low and behold it was the drum, still in it's case! I braked hard and turned into the shop. I ran up to the guys yelling my drum, my drum, where did you guys find this? They said the removed it from the middle of the road in front of their shop. They were just going to open it and see what is was and who it belonged to. I said thanks for getting off the road and saving the drum! You guys saved my a$$ I told them. I threw the drum back in the truck, shut the gate tight and headed off to the gig. I made it but I was a 1/2 hour late. I told the owner of the club what had happened. He laughed hysterically but understood why I was late. I told him please don't tell my drummer. He didn't. Years went by and I finally told the drummer. The kicker was, the way I told him was by handing a magazine that had printed my story in an article called "Gig Nightmares". You should have seen the look on his face when he read it. All he said was "I wondered how my case got marked up like it was dragged on the road". BTW, I later bought them guys at the repair shop a 6-pack of Heinekens!

Joseph said...

Well , when I was 12 .I was singing at a coffee house, we could only do 2 songs. The guy before me sang the song I was going to sing. I got sick, and wrote a song on the spot, when I set up to play,I put the lyrics on a coke can and started the song half way through the song the coke started too bleed through the lyrics and I sang Blah Blah Blah. I won the show !!Peace.JJM

Joe said...

STAY AWAY FROM THE UNTOUCHED WINE AT THE WEDDING!! First off let me say I am not proud of this, but it was pretty crazy!!. This is back when I was still an active alcoholic mind you!!

We were playing at a wedding reception in Burlington and I decided during the first break it would be fun to go around and drink all the extra glasses of wine that had been put out but left undrank (is that a word?).

This of course was after consuming many beers adn indulging in various other mind and mood altering substances throughout the day.

It turned out to be a BAD IDEA. The drunker I would get the louder I liked to play so when the second set started I was ready to CRANK IT UP. A few of the younger folks in the crowd had no issue, but some of the older C&W tilting fans were a bit unhappy. They started complaining and requesting we turn down the volume. My response was Fuck You Guys!! Not very welcomed I must say. Last thing I remember was coming out of a black out sitting on a curb outside the VFW hal. Guess some of my band mates had gotten me out of there before I got killed. Needless to say I felt really badly about it and have since made an apology to the bride and groom.

Oh I later decided (several years later) enough was enough and have now been clean and sober for 22 years. Oh yeah I play better also.

Alright, for those of you who question that, listening to my playing today, I assure you my playing, although far from STELLAR today, was much worse after over indulgence in alcohol and the array of substances used on a regular basis back in my youth!!. The show might have been a little more exciting but thats about it!!

Randy Mullet and the Red Hot Tyrannophonic Bunny Dogs said...

I agreed to play a "benefit" at a military officer's club for St. Patrick's Day. Basically, I found a number of public domain Irish songs that fit the occasion (like "Whiskey in the Jar") and made a bunch of copies of lyrics for people to sing along. The whole thing lasted about four hours, during which I would perform a few of the Irish songs as well as my originals.

Since this was for the benefit of personal friends, I paid the $10 cover for my wife, and she sat patiently in the back with her door prize ticket in hand through the whole thing. The weirdest part was when the sister-in-law of one of the members basically started hitting on me right there where my wife could see what was going on. The lady was interested in my "original" songs, she claimed. She was doing all the little flirty things girls do in such a situation, and didn't care who was watching.

Anyway, at the end of the night I wrapped it up, came back for an encore of another original song about being stopped by the cops (a public service message for designated driver recognition), and was packing up when they drew the last door prize ticket for the grand prize; a brand new iPod donated by a local business. My wife won it.

Well, the crowd absolutely ROARED in appreciation when they saw who won, and we went home from a gig I played for free with a brand new iPod we'd never have spent the money to buy for ourselves.

Also, my wife now has a LG ("Life is Good") t-shirt with the dog holding a set of drumsticks in his mouth, and the legend, "I'm With The Band" which she wears to scare off groupies (and she's WORTH it!).


I went on tour for 44 days around the United States with grammy award winning artist/guitarist "Vernon Reid" & DJ Logic, performing a song off their album i was on with "Slick Rick" in early 2003. I have athsma, so instead of me getting the Bottom "coffin" on the floor of the tour bus to sleep for the entire tour, the sound engineer had to switch places wit me.

Well, being pissed off cause of this, the sound engineer treated me like garbage the whole tour.
He would make sure my vocals sounded good during "Sound Check" , but when "SHOW TIME" came , he would lower my vocals so the crowd couldn't hear a word i was saying !!either that or "raise my vocals" so loud that it sounded horrible, and made it look like i didn't know how to Rhyme into the MIC correctly !!!

- At one show, he came up to me outside the venue and said "Sound check" was going on from "7pm-8pm" and told everyone it was from "6-7pm". So when i showed up, everyone looked at me like i was an @sshole for missing sound check.

- Finally , and this takes the CAKE, the CLOWN
aka. "Sound engineer" sabotoged my Mic, "which at this particular venue screwed on from the part you grab to the part you sing into. So here i am stepping on stage, when they call my name "REDRUM" to the staqe, and i go to grab the mic and rock the crowd and it falls a part, making me look like an @sshole of a "packed house/Club".

On top of this i'm getting tested by almost every college kid who wan't to see if i was the "Real Deal" during the whole tour. It wasn't until i was downing beers with fans after every show - Rhyming, beatboxing, and spitting the words to "Lodi dotti" (which a big crowd made me do to see if i knew the words)and free styling on the spot for any and everyone who aksed, that i started getting mad respect. I had college kids coming up to me saying "REDRUM, YOUR SICK, YOUR HOT, YOU DON'T SOUND LIKE ANYONE ELSE, YOU HAVE YOUR OWN STYLE". In front of a crowd of thousands ,i would have them saying "when i say who's this?, ya'll say white boy !" . And i'd start beatboxing and the whole Crowd would errupt and throw their hands in the air, and Scream out my name "REDRUM". So at the and of the tour, even a disgruntled "in house" sound man couldn't ruin, me from having an incredible experience with HipHop Fans around the United States and getting my name out there.

-REDRUM aka. Cane

Anonymous said...

We've had all the normal bad from sound tech that was so over worked that they fell asleep at the board, hotel rooms not ready for hours and hours or lost reservations, no backstage area or bathroom, wrong set up, gear or missing gear, instruments flown to the wrong airport and missing musicians...a la "don't worry about me, I'm just the lead singer."

It is the accidents that are actually, shamefully, some of our favorite horror stories. We have a "klutz musician" contest that has been going on for years within the band or those on the various tours. The last one hurt is up. We have had stuff one would think of such as fall off stage, fall off the drum riser, trip, trip over cords and pull your instrument off the stand, whatever.

But then we also had the stuff that has had us laughing for years...fall off the chair then off the riser then off the stage and some kid catches your guitar in mid air- which is great as the rest of the group was worried about the guitar.(just kidding)Or fall out/down the plane steps and watch as other passengers just jump over you with no regard whatsoever. We were amazed by that one. Or when a soccer mom with a van ran over our bass pedal player's FOOT in the parking lot of a convenience store prior to the gig. No fun at the time and lots of panic, but knowing that she PLAYED with a broken foot and "on with the show" was something - and still makes us smile, like a bloopers video of accidents. We toured with a national for years and this stuff happens even with them.

As far as the horror stories on the road that are truly in your control, spell everything out, get it in writing even if you are just beginning and that writing is only an e-mail. Print that stuff out to have on hand with you. You have to prove what you say you know. Have the best person you can get (or afford) doing the talking for you to stay on top of things, nicely.

I have been in and/or worked with/for bands all my adult life, but I have also been a promoter for music events and large festivals. The bands that get booked are the ones that are not only talented AND draw - but also cause the least amount of drama, be it the band members themselves or those with the band. It all reflects on you, good or bad.

V said...

It was January, 2008. We'd booked the gig specifically as a much-needed break from recording. Our favorite manager of our favorite brewery/pub was having a highly-publicized birthday bash in a small town on the Oregon Coast. They wrote a full-page article on us for the local paper and booked us for a live radio set the morning of.
We arrived Friday night to catch up with said manager, let's call him Fred.
He had recently (maybe suddenly is a better word) married, with a baby on the way. His new in-laws were flying in from the other side of the country the next morning to meet him for the first time. He had been clean and sober for a few years, but had a good buzz going by the time we walked in. The band eyed each other curiously as downed pint after pint with us, but must have collectively and silently agreed that it was the man's damned birthday weekend and the poor bastard had a lot on his plate, after all.
Later, we piled in the van and made our way to the hotel, drank the gigantic mason jar of beer Fred sent with us and called it a night.
We were done with the radio show at 10 a.m. Saturday and went back to the pub to mingle. A still-drunk Fred, his new bride, in-laws and a few dozen locals were there to greet us. What started out as a great little meet-and-greet went strange, then sour, ending up plain ugly. The head cook, one of Fred's best friends, cut him off around noon, in a failed attempt at saving the man's dignity. This didn't sit well. He was cursing and ranting, fired the cook and then vanished. We awkwardly sat with the family and kept things light. The wife's cellphone rang and guess who needed to be bailed out of jail for going over to the cook's house and starting a fist-fight? Yep, The guy who was paying us.
It may have been wise to cut our losses and hit the highway then, but in the end it was probably one of the best birthday parties ever thrown for someone who wasn't there. Great show, great crowd, everyone went completely wild until closing. We, of course, had no contract with the brewery itself and felt somewhat responsible for enabling the whole mess. No pay, no hotel, but at least our GIGANTIC tab was covered. Last we heard, Fred had somehow got himself into the same mess at the only other pub in town that would hire him and had since been banished to Seattle to wait at a steakhouse.

Anonymous said...

Our guitar player was arrested in the middle of a song. We were stepping and singing, then we heard a loud feedback. The police laid the guitar directly against the speaker. Our guitarist bought what he thought was a new guitar, but it was a STOLEN GUITAR! It was CRAZY! The crowd thought it was a part of the show.

Steve Lamount Harrold said...

Once i had a gig at a cable station . The station had a 2 million people viewing audience .
I was performing one of my new released singles.
It was me , my portable keyboard and a microphone. I was at the climax of what I think
would have been the greatest performance of my
life . Then with out warning the cheap keyboard
stand my keyboard was sitting on began to slowly
sink down down down closer and closer to the floor . And as the station's workers and their audience watched , I won . I prove I was a real
pro experienced performer . I finished my song
1 inch before the keyboad stand hit the gound .
That station played that video for three months .
I counldn't planned that if I wanted to. Promo baby !
I sold a whole bunch of CDs after that show .

Anonymous said...

Hey man God Bless why is that when we have something that is valuable we look at it like what you have is not even worth. Kind of like having gold in your hands that u don't even know about

REZ REK said...

the craziest out the craziest gigs Michael jackson was at my last gig on may 16 2010
go to www.youtube.com/rezrek1 to check it out

i knew my named stood for sumthing? for real for real see if you can see em in the video
or am i the only who seen em if he really is dead may he's body rest in peace but his soul ives on...Rezie.....LYFE OF THA PARTY'S COMING SOON!

The Laughing Dogs said...

Once we were hired to do a gig for a biker party. The bikers drank lots and lots of alcohol and got really wild. They were jumping and fighting rowdily and shooting Roman candles at each others' bare chests from only 6 feet away. We had an open bass drum, and one biker lay on the stage with his head INSIDE the bass drum all night long, enjoying the sound reverberations. The bikers also insisted we play the same song over and over all night long - "Born To Be Wild", of course. We decided it was prudent to do what they wanted. Then I recognized the leader of the gang as someone I went to school with years earlier and he recognized me as well. So instead of killing us they only threw firecrackers at us.

Jimmi Accardi said...

I had a gig at a bar at a remote place in the California mountains, where there are a lot of loggers. At first everybody was enjoying the music and dancing, but then all of a sudden people were dashing outside. The whole club cleared out, and we didn't know why. Then we found out that two guys were fighting outside, and everybody went out to watch the fight. But that's not all - one of the guys got his chainsaw off his truck and started it up, and the other one got his. They were about to have a chainsaw duel! Luckily the police arrived before the mayhem started. I of course played throughout the whole event... something I'd learned to do early on when fights broke out in clubs.

Jimmi Accardi said...

I had a gig at a bar at a remote place in the California mountains, where there are a lot of loggers. At first everybody was enjoying the music and dancing, but then all of a sudden people were dashing outside. The whole club cleared out, and we didn't know why. Then we found out that two guys were fighting outside, and everybody went out to watch the fight. But that's not all - one of the guys got his chainsaw off his truck and started it up, and the other one got his. They were about to have a chainsaw duel! Luckily the police arrived before the mayhem started. I of course played throughout the whole event... something I'd learned to do early on when fights broke out in clubs.

Gig Stories said...

You guys should totally post these stories on GigAnecdotes.com

Flip said...

I've had three different near disasters involving fire on gigs. The first was in L.A. on the beach where the lady of the house and her friends were dancing around a bonfire on shrooms. Eventually her friends faded back into the crowd and she lay down on the sand and started rolling down towards the fire. She was wearing a shawl with tassels and I had a vision of it catching. We were in the middle of playing but I put my axe down and ran over and dragged her away from the pit. Second time was in Mexico during Day of the Dead celebrations. Fireworks were set off in the back yard, one of them backfiring, burning people, my hair was burning, and the house next door's pool house roof caught fire. We ran over and using pool water doused the flame. Third time was during a strange gig in a backyard with a huge tent set up. Beach Blanket Babylon was the headliner, but they had us going on afterwards. Not happy about this, if anyone knows their show clearly before would have been better. Well half way through our set pretty much everyone had cleared out, which is why no one noticed when the candle in the middle of one ofm the tables set the centerpiece on fire. In the middle of the song I jumped off the stage and found a water pitcher and put out the small fire. The bass player said I normally move pretty slow but not that time! Disasters make for better stories, but I'm glad these ended well.