How to Prepare for Your Next Gig

The Worker’s Club
09.10.19

Welcome back, readers! This week we’re going to talk about what you need to do to get ready for a gig. 
I just played my first full-on gig at The Worker’s Club, this Wednesday the 9th, and boy, was it a change of pace to the acoustic sets I have done in the past. This time, I was playing to my fully produced tracks (arranged by the wonderful Nick Mason), and only took to the keyboard for two songs in the middle. 

I was really lucky in this instance because I had around 5 weeks to prepare for the show, and I made sure to plan my time accordingly. It’s important to get all of your ducks in a line by the time you’re at least 2 weeks out, so that there’s ample time to focus all your attention on the rehearsals and iron out any creases in the set.

1. Finish and gather your material

The first thing I needed to do was get in the studio with Nick and actually finish my newest song ‘Veins’. I knew I wanted to play this one at the show, but I didn’t realise how important it would be to my set by time the performance rolled around. I also needed to get my other backing tracks from him, and there were some edits we worked on along the way to ensure that everything was sounding good, clean and ready to be performed in a live setting. Some tracks that we had produced a few years ago needed a spruce-up, but overall, once I had the backing tracks, I was a lot more confident in myself and ready to start rehearsing. 

2. Organise your setlist. 

Slowing down the pace for a minute.

You need to figure out how many songs you’re playing, what order you’re playing them in, and in my case, how many I wanted to play acoustically. I always like adding a couple of acoustic songs to my set, to break up the pace and add another dimension. 
Originally, I was going to do two opening tracks with backing, then play three at my keyboard, and then do the last two with backing tracks to finish off the show. I was rehearsing them in this format for a while, but was feeling like the big chunk of acoustic in the middle wasn’t sitting right. At the last minute, I decided to get my backing track for “Ocean Floor” and play that one without the keyboard, and I think this was the absolute right choice. This kept the pace of the set more consistent, and led into the keyboard section seamlessly.

3. Rehearse! 

If it’s just you, then you have it easy. Start rehearsing whenever and wherever you want! If you have a band, it might be a bit more difficult to find enough rehearsal time, what with everyone’s different schedules. But, you can just stick to your usual weekly band practice, and make sure you learn all your parts in your own time, so that you make the most of your session when the group comes together.
I would recommend filming your rehearsals, so you can look back and see what needs to be improved. Sometimes, when I watch it back, I’ll realise I was off key or out of time in a section, and this is something I don’t pick up as I’m singing the song. Videos don’t lie, so get out someone’s phone and record yourself! 

4. The finer details…

What are you wearing? How are you getting there? What time should you be there for sound check, and how are you transporting your equipment?

Me? I wore this FANTASTIC shirt from Nasty Gal vintage that I had buttoned wrong the entire set. It was on purpose, I swear.

This was relatively easy for me, as I only needed my keyboard, stand and leads, along with my laptop for the backing tracks. As only 1 person, I was only relying on myself. Bands will have a bit more of a discussion about these things, and it’s smart to do so as early as possible so everyone is on the same page. If you need to hire a van for equipment, get that task out of the way as soon as possible. The less stress for you all, the more you can focus on what matters: the music. 

5. You! 

The show won’t go on if you’re unable to perform it, so it’s super important that you look after yourself in the lead up. Your health and mental health should be priority. I got so sick in the week leading up to my performance (through no fault of my own, I’m looking at you, mum and dad) and I was worried it wouldn’t go away in time. I lost a week of rehearsals, but I knew that if I pushed myself it would only get worse. So I took two days off work to rest my body and voice, and did some soft vocal exercises when I could. But I came through for the show! And only had a slight blocked nose, which affected my breathing a bit, but was nothing to worry about. 

If you have an upcoming gig, I hope these tips come in handy! Obviously it’s not everything, but these are some things that worked for me, and I was so proud of how my set went on the night. Make sure to focus on what’s important, and keep it simple at the start, so you can build up the show as you go on, and don’t end up getting overwhelmed. And at your next gig, I wish you all the best of luck!! 

Til next time, 

Al

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