• Joe Sage

4 - How To Survive The Gig

You’ve been working hard, written a few tracks you’re proud of and have nailed them in the rehearsal room with your bandmates. You’re now ready to hit the stage…

But what if you’ve never done that before? Will people expect you to know everything already?

Myself, with a little help from the RIVIA lads (veterans of the live scene), are going to help you out with the do’s and don’t of playing your first few shows. Read to end to find out some more info about RIVIA.

Be Profesional

Treat it like you would any other job. Seriously. If you were to start a brand new job and they told you to be there at 9am, you’d get there before 9am. The same applies to playing gigs. Promoters, stage managers and everyone who works on putting on live shows has enough to worry about without panicking about where one of the artists are or if they’ll show up on time.

If a show is well run, you can expect military precision when it comes to the schedule. If you’re late for loading your gear into the venue, that’ll affect the soundcheck. This will then have an overall knock-on effect on the stage times, especially for a busy festival. In some situations, you might be turned away and not do the gig at all.

“ If you want to look like a professional band, come prepared to each gig. One thing we always do before a gig is check all of our equipment. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a gig with missing cables or having to ask to borrow an amp.” - Warren (Guitarist, RIVIA)

I had an old mentor who liked to use the phrase “If you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late… and if you’re late, you best be at least look like you’ve nearly died for it to be a reasonable excuse” (he was a very scary man). You can find similar nuggets of wisdom in my free e-book The 5 Biggest Mistakes Independent Musicians Are Making'. Get your copy here.

Respect The Line-Up

It’s easy to let the excitement of playing a live show bubble over but remember that if you’re not headlining, you’re not the most important person. There's an argument for you not being the most important person even when you ARE headlining!

“One of the worst things you can do is noodle about in the soundcheck. Play when you’re asked to play and remember to shake the sound engineer’s hand at the end to say thanks.” - Chris (Drummer, RIVIA)

Always be respectful of everyone else on the bill, no matter the order, as you never know when it’ll repay you or come bite you in the ass.

“Be nice to people on the way up because you might meet them again on your way back down.” - Wilson Mizner

Be A Good Hang!

In the words of Australian comedian Adam Hills, “Don’t Be A Dick”.

Putting on or playing a live show is a stressful experience. For some, it’s even their livelihoods so try to keep that in mind. You don’t know what kind of catastrophes the stage manager has had to deal with that day already, so if they’re a bit short with you, just let it go.

Try to not let anything be beneath you. If someone is struggling with load in, then offer to lend them a hand. If someone has lost a phone charger, be the first to offer it to them. Those small things, coupled with you playing an awesome set, will get your remembered by the right people, for the right reasons.

Consider this… I’m a promoter and I’m looking to fill a support slot. There are 2 bands, both with an identical following, both giving an equally good live show but one of the bands is mega helpful. They turn up on time, offer to help with load-ins and pack downs whereas the other band just plays their show and leaves. Which one would you book?

Enjoy Yourself!

It’s important that playing live is still a fun experience. If you’re having a good time on stage, that’ll translate to the audience. People ultimately want to be entertained when they go to see a gig. If they wanted to just hear your music, they would just use Spotify from the comfort of their own home.

“Remember, no matter how good your music is, if the band is standing still looking at the floor then in most cases...so is your audience. Put on a show, enjoy yourself.” - Warren - (Guitarist, RIVIA)
Warren (left) & Matt (right), of RIVIA on stage

I’d like to conclude by saying a huge thank you to the guys from RIVIA who you can catch on their upcoming tour. I’ll also leave a link to their socials underneath;

Sheffield - 19th June 2019 - West Street Live

Leeds - 29th June 2019 - O2 Academy

Manchester - 3rd July 2019 - The Nigh And Day Cafe

London - 7th July 2019 - The Fiddlers Elbow

Glasgow - 19th July - The 13th Note

Liverpool - 24th July 2019 - Phase One

Go give them a follow;



As always if you have any thoughts or questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Your friendly neighborhood mix engineer,