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  • Performing while feeling like crap

    Anyone who's been gigging longer than a week or so has gone through this. You have a show scheduled, and you wake up that morning hacking up copious amounts of lung goo, or have a fever that feels like you could fry an egg on your forehead. Or a headache that makes you weigh the possibility of beheading yourself to alleviate the pain.

    The old saying, of course, is "the show must go on". And in this age of modern miracle medicine, there are plenty of pills you can pop that will momentarily give you the illusion of not feeling like hell.

    But in the meantime, you're expected to put on a show. Now, that's hard enough to do well when you're in tip-top shape. Dong it when you're not quite sure if you're going to spray the first three rows with vomit during the next verse is hard, really hard.

    What do you do when you've got a gig you really want to/need to play but feel really sick? I usually just hope that the adrenaline will override the illness for long enough to make it through.
    Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

  • #2
    I just usually do it anyway unless I just can't physically do it. I've gigged while on Oxycontin because my back was all jacked up several times, and I've gigged while really sick. I just go out there and do it and then collapse. And oddly, it's come off well, with people complimenting me on the show afterwards. I don't bother to tell anyone in the audience that I'm ailing so I don't draw attention to it.
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    • #3
      I just go out there and do it and then collapse.


      Yeah, that seems about right.

      And oddly, it's come off well, with people complimenting me on the show afterwards. I don't bother to tell anyone in the audience that I'm ailing so I don't draw attention to it.


      Yeah, that's the other question: volunteer excuses or not? I think I'll wait to see if I sound like I'm gargling when I sing. If so, I may alert them of the civilization of bugs that are living in my lungs at the moment.
      Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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      • #4
        This is why I could never be a singer. It also reminds me of one of my favorite stories to tell about band days and being sick when the show had to go on
        My friends have big houses and new cars. I own music equipment.

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        • #5
          I vowed never to drink an entire bottle of cough medicine with codeine in it again.


          Probably good advice regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

          I enjoy my rather new role as a solo singer/songwriter. I have a good voice under normal circumstances, and am confident in my ability to do a good show. But you're right: voice is a whole other thing to worry about, and at the moment, the idea of singing tonight is on parallel to my playing with three broken fingers. Yikes.
          Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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          • #6
            At times when I can't even imagine singing because my throat is so screwed up, two things seem to fix it for as long as it takes to do a gig, two things seem to work pretty well: 1) honey and lemon, and 2) Corvoiseur.

            Seriously. For the honey and lemon thing, just take a tablespoon of honey, squirt some lemon juice on it and eat it. I probably don't need to tell you what to do with the Corvoiseur. There are probably other cognacs or brandies that would do the trick as well, but that works particularly great for me.
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            • #7
              Lee, that sounds like a great idea. I was planning on doing my tea with LOTS of honey before my gig tonight.

              In actuality, it's more my lungs at the moment than my throat bugging me. I'm coming off a grueling three-week work period with very little rest, flying from coast to coast, working a trade show, and having a young man with bad bronchitis in my house. Between the germ immersion and general exhaustion, I'm not exactly sure why I feel like death warmed over, but I find that I'm too tired to even analyze it.

              So yeah... ibuprofen, honey, vitamin C, and maybe a little brandy. That'll be a nice combination to hurl on my large diaphragm condenser mic.
              Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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              • #8
                Ah, never mind. I'll delete the post that later got picked on. Honestly I did count my gigs because I was so insecure when I started doing this years ago. And I'm proud of my work record ... the show must go on - drink tea and honey and play the gig as long as you can still play and sing.

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                • #9
                  I'm trying to remember... but I don't think I've EVER cancelled a gig. Then again, I've never been in labor, to the best of my recollections.
                  Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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                  • #10
                    I have played before when I felt like heck.
                    Golly gosh darn, feeling like heck sure isn't swell at all.
                    Originally Posted by PHILL MOSSING


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                    • #11
                      Back in my bar band days I had a couple of really bad ones. Not because I was sick, but because of excessive self medication the previous day(s). But, of course, in my 20's I had a massive tolerance for pharmecuticals, and considered them an important part of my day for the most part.

                      But in a few cases, like after coming back from a trip to the beach just in time for a show, I was just completely wiped out. I leaned back against my amp the whole show just trying not to throw up, and half asleep. Interestingly, the very next night was one of the most bangup shows I ever did, and the Muse was smackin me all around.

                      Over the course of a couple years I never missed a show. Though we only played two or three nights a week so that's not as impressive a record as it might sound.
                      Dean Roddey
                      Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems, LTD

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                      • #12
                        I just did an acoustic thing last month with Carolyn. We both take turns on lead vocals.

                        I had been suffering from the throat/chest crud, but thought "What the hey, I'll give it a shot"...

                        Carolyn sang a few...then I thought I'd do something easy.

                        It wasn't there. At all. Barely half a notch above laryngitis. I struggled my way to finish the song, then Carolyn sang the rest. Good thing, it was just a couple hour set, not a full night.

                        The only gig I've missed due to illness was a wedding reception. I had pneumonia, and like a 104 degree fever. That was a long time ago. I hope I never get that sick again.
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                        • #13
                          I struggled my way to finish the song, then Carolyn sang the rest.


                          I've got a solid hour and a half all by myself tonight. Wish me luck. Cough!
                          Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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                          • #14
                            Oh, and I'm doing all Neil Young covers, which are out of my comfortable range on a GOOD day.

                            I'm going to record the show, just for ****************s and giggles. Speaking of ****************s... ah never mind. Don't want to jynx myself.
                            Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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                            • #15
                              In the 80's I was gigging 5 nights a week minimum. After a while I just learned to not sweat the fact that I was sucking if I was sick. It just is... so you do it... then it's done.

                              But I'll tell how you get your voice happening. Sing. Really.

                              Lightly, and I mean very lightly, warm up all day. Soft humming of scales right in your comfort zone. Very gradually stretch the comfort zone closer to your real range. Take your time though or you will blow it out. Go slow... and you'll have a voice by night time.

                              This is what opera singers do when they're ill.
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