Five Gig Cliches That Must Die!

The ‘We Might As Well Start Now’ Start

Nothing rocks more than being drawn into a set from the very beginning by a well-conceived opening. Whether it’s some kind of well-done intro tape (like Metallica using ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’); an atmospheric, moodily-lit stage beginning to swell with sound; or a curtain drop to a harsh white light as the band leaps into a high-energy punkfest, the way you begin your gig has to make an impact. So why do so many bands at the club level think it’s okay to walk out onto the stage, start to tune their instruments and maybe mess around with their pedals a bit until the singer says ‘Um, we might as well start now… uh… okay. 1… 2… 3… oh wait, what’s our first song? Oh yeah. 1… 2… 3… 4…”? It doesn’t matter if you’re just playing at the local watering hole or if you’re filling Madison Square Garden. Establish a definite beginning to your set.

Making A Big Deal About Tuning Down To Drop D

“Okay, that song was called ‘Promised Land.’ Next up we’re gonna play a song called ‘Silent Scream.’ It’s in Drop D. So uh, we’re just gonna, y’know, tune to Drop D.” What follows is about 90 seconds of incrementally descending low notes and out-of-tune power chord strums while everyone zeroes in on that elusive whole-tone drop. Guys, this is what the mute button on your tuner is for. Don’t subject your audience to this crap. Bring along an extra guitar or retune discretely.

The Bit Where You Get On Your Knees And Make Science Fiction Noises With Your Delay Pedal

Did you know that when you turn up the feedback knob on a delay pedal and then move the time control up and down, you get spacey, oscillatey, science-fictony sounds? Yes, of course you did, because every person who ever got their hands on a delay pedal discovered this within about 20 seconds of plugging in. Doesn’t mean you have to torture your audience with it. This is always done with such an air of pretension: “Oh look at me – I’m so awesome that I transcend the mantle of mere guitar player and am in fact a Sound Sorcerer. Listen as I kneel before my pedalboard conjure squealing Theremin-like notes from thin air.” For extra pretension points, throw in a few other pedals at the same time (wah and fuzz are especially cliche) or if you’re really ninja, hit a few delay pedals at once. Show you are a true douche by concluding your noise solo by kneeling with your head down for a few minutes, as if you need some time to come back to the real world after the blissful few minutes spent in your internal Technicolor wonderland.

The Ironic Cover.

‘Dude, we should totally cover, like, Lady Gaga, or um, Britney Spears or something.’ ‘Dude, Britney Spears was like ten years ago.’ ‘Oh. Well what about Hanson?’ *facepalm*

The End-Of-Gig Feedback Thing

Last song’s done. Let’s lean our guitars against the amps and walk off while they feed back. Nah, it’ll be awesome. Then some poor roadie’s gonna have to come out and unceremoniously switch the amps off. Or we’ll have to walk back out onto the stage and turn them off ourselves and then strike our own gear, which really shatters the ‘don’t give a fuck’ image that the End-Of-Gig Feedback Thing is supposed to portray.

Can you think of any others? Comment below!

11 Replies to “Five Gig Cliches That Must Die!”

  1. Vocalists Cupping the mic then looking at the soundguy as if to say where’s all the feedback coming from and why do I sound muffled dude! gets me every time! Also putting your feet on the monitor grilles when soloing, looks stupid and caves the grille in against the speakers!

  2. When the band finishes playing a song and the singer says “thank you” before the audience begins to applaud. I did not realize that the “thank you” was the cue to applaud.

  3. There are a lot of cardinal sins as to the live event.1) bands that are so unexperienced that they look as if they wish they weren’t playing live in the first place. Often times turned away from whatever audience they have playing to each other. ofc this is unavoidable once you’re new, but some musicians never seem to get past this.2) painfully long breaks between every song.3) Bands that play way longer than they can keep the audience interested. 4) Most importantly, spotlight solos…

  4. This article is right on, except for one thing. Sometimes it’s nice to see a band start casually, unceremoniously… You’re making fun of guys who make space-sounds with their pedals – fair enough! – but cheesy intro-tapes and introductory bravado is okay? Cherry-picked cynicism. Get outta town. :)

  5. I half way agree with the ironic cover. Doing a cover of Demi Lovato just ’cause your a metal band won’t work. You really have to like the song in the first place to get the most out of it.

  6. The one about sf sounds is ridiculous. Sometimes such tones are an integral part of music, and some musicians like looking for something untypical. Of course, if you play with your pedals between songs it’s irritating, but you can say the same about people playing some stupid solos between songs. Why didn’t you mention that?

  7. Thanks for the comments, folks! Obviously this post was done as a bit of a joke, and hopefully its tone indicates that it should be taken as such. Anything in music is valid as long as it’s done with creativity and honest intention. But a lot of these cliches are things that I’ve seen from bands who seemed more concerned with lookin’ cool and hipstery than making good music. And the lack of a clearly defined start to the gig is something that my old band’s singer used to do all the time and it always bothered me. The delay oscillation thing can be a great sound (and of course I’ve experimented with it myself) but if you care enough about it to comment on it here, obviously you put more care into it than some of the people who I’ve seen abuse it as a crutch.

  8. i like a bit of an ‘ironic cover song’.. Especially if its a band that i dont know very well, or a new band… If everyone knows the song and gets up on their feet for a sing along and a boogie, well that can only be a good thing.. :)

  9. Oh man.. I totally did the delay/feedback/everyothereffectihave.. It was like.. a solid part of each set I did for a while (solo weird stuff)..

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