This weekend I had a show to play, and I’m going to use this post to reflect on it and think on how to improve for next show.
What Went Wrong?
Wardrobe Failure: First of all, I was a moron and wore a plain white shirt, which would be completely see-through under stage lights. Had to get a new, red shirt after load-in for that. During the first band’s set, my old pair of jeans ripped down the seam of the back pocket, had to replace those as well. bonus, the jeans we bought in a complete rush are the most comfortable pair I have.
I had too much stuff to set up, especially compared to everyone else. My rig last night consisted of an Axe-FX II, a Bugera 333XL head, and a Bugera 4x12 slanted cabinet at my backline, two guitars, a tuner pedal, and a Behringer footswitch. I also brought a pick holder that I didn’t really get to use at all.
Wiring Woes: My head, Axe-FX, and Cabinet were set up on stage left, and there was no lighting at all behind my equipment to see anything with. This lead to the following problems: I could not see anything. Behind my head and cab is the most busy place cables wise: Power to the Axe-FX II, Power to the Bugera 333xl, 1/4th inch guitar cable from 333’s FX send to input 2 of of AFX, 1/4th inch cable from AFX’s output 1 to 333’s FX return. 1/4th inch guitar cable from insturment in of AFX to front of stage. MIDI cable from AFX midi in to front of stage. Then, at front of stage, I had to power the tuner and footswitch, then connect the Midi cable to the foot switch and the instrument cable to the tuner. Then I plug another instrument cable into the tuner, then that into my guitar. I also had two guitars that evening and a pick holder, and in general didn’t have enough time overall.
Soundcheck. The rest of the band managed to soundcheck while I was setting up, and I didn’t have enough time to get myself fully balanced before everyone else decided to start playing, which left my microphone live at front of house and muted in my floor wedge, as well as my amp much too quiet to be heard by itself on stage. I got really lucky with my volume in the floor wedge on my guitar, at least.
I still don’t have proper clothes on stage.
I’m still really out of shape and uncomfortable moving around a lot on stage.
What Went Right?
The performance itself felt fantastic. I’ve started playing with Stiffo Jazz III picks, and they feel great. I’m going to be keeping Yellow (.73mm) T3 and Green (.88mm) Sharps as backups.
Those who were on the floor apparently thought I sounded fine singing, which is good.
Spot-on instrumentation — Caveats: Zack shortened his solo unexpectedly during Broken Symphony, so I didn’t play the outro with him (not a big deal), I messed up the chord progression on Get Up And Go at one point briefly.
How Do We Improve?
More songs. Currently, we have six songs that we play live. They are as follows, in the order we played them live: Big Blue Lies, Broken Symphony, Get Up And Go, Escape, My Own Worst Enemy, and Make It Or Break It Down. Of those, My Own Worst Enemy is the only cover, and none of the original songs were written by any of us. They were all written, to my knowledge, by the singer of Save The Drama, Spencer Jones. I have had limited contact with Spencer and was only on stage with him once during my time with ‘Drama, but my experiences with that band are best saved for another, much more ranty post. That just isn’t enough for a local band — the same people here us play every show, we only play at one venue currently, we won’t make fans if we play the same show every night, We’ll just be a stale local act.
Consolidated Gear. I have too much equipment to set up, and unless I have full-time help getting on stage, I cannot possibly run that set up long-term. My plan and hope is to get into swap my Bugera head out for a Matrix power amplifier that I can mount in a rack with my Axe FX and a power strip. If I can’t do that, I’ll have to get a Tube Screamer and cut my Axe-FX instead.
More Practice. This was a problem during my time in Save The Drama as well — we do not practice enough. A band practice is not “meet up in our drummer’s basement and run through the songs once”, a band practice is run through them repeatedly, making sure we iron out any details we need to iron out, trying any new things that there are to try out, and working on new songs to add to the setlist.
Better Organized Set Up. We didn’t start removing instruments from cases and moving gear from our green room to the stage until the previous band was unloading from the stage, which was bad form all around. We should have set up in such a time frame that getting on stage was just moving gear out onto the backline and setting it up, rather than transporting it from the lower floor and a dozen yards away.