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  • What's the Weirdest Gig You Ever Played?

    As you can imagine I've had some pretty weird gigs in my life, but I'd bet money that many of the noble denizens of SSS have had weirder ones.

    For example, if I had to pick my absolute weirdest gig, it would have been a gig back when I was 16 or so, gigging with a rock band of fellow high schoolers. We showed up and all seemed perfectly normal - a large, afternoon/evening private party, with us set up in the pool area. Couples were walking around, making small talk, having drinks..the usual.

    Then I started to notice the couples often went somewhere, and came back 10-20 minutes later as different couples.who seemed like a lot more than just friends, if you know what I mean.This went on all afternoon and into the evening. It is when the concept of "permutations and combinations" became more than an abstract mathematical term to me. Yes, we were playing a wife-swapping party.

    Now, bear in mind we were all under 18. If that happened today, they'd probably be arrested but all I knew is 1) I got to play music, 2) I was paid so I could put more money toward the amp I wanted, and 3) whatever.
    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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  • #2
    This is technically two gigs, but I need to set it up. I guess it qualifies as "weird" if only because it's highly unusual.

    I played keyboards in a Hollywood Goth band at a club one evening. The sound engineer was a complete a**hole, yelling at our female bass player for something, and after the gig, shoving her down the stairs of the stage, with lots of commotion and arguing with various band members.

    We called the club to complain about this, but nothing was done. We had a gig there in a couple of weeks, and requested that we not get the same sound engineer.

    But of course, we showed up a few weeks later only to find out that we had the same sound engineer again. He drank beer and slapped women on the ass as they walked past, doing anything except for the sound.

    However, anticipating that we might have the same sound engineer, I created a bunch of samples in my Korg DSS-1 (yes, this is an old story...). I had it all: crackles, buzzes, microphone feedback, loud 60-cycle hums, the whole bit. And the whole band knew I had them.

    During our set, I unleashed the full breadth of my newly-created samples at inopportune times. BZZZZTT!! Wrhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuu!!! Kzz-zzt--zzzt-zzzzzt!!! Krak-Krak-krackle-buzzz!! Hummmmmmmmmm!!!!!

    We found it nearly impossible to not double over with laughter as we saw the sound engineer diving for a fader to try and stop some "microphone feedback" or cable crackling noises.

    Just to drive the point home, we kept having our friends keep complaining to the manager and the sound engineer that the sound sucked, and could he do something about the feedback right now because it's hurting the ears!!
    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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    • #3
      One was pretty simple - We were playing for a group of forest rangers and they expected us to sing the Smokey The Bear song. If they had asked us before the gig, we would have learned it, but they were disappointed that we didn't already know it. "Everybody knows it" they said.

      The really odd gig, but it had its really good moments, was six months playing at the US Pavilion at the World Exposition in 1970 (Expo 70) in Osaka, Japan. We had recently backed up a friend, Joe Glazer who was, by day, a labor negotiator at USIA and in real life was a well known songwriter and singer in the labor community. The head of the pavilion group knew Joe and asked him if he knew any folksingers who might want to perform in Japan. Joe thought of us (we were a trio) and asked if we'd be interested. We spent quite a bit of time with him working out what we wanted to do there, which he brought back to the Expo group, and after a lttle back-and-forth, they agreed that we'd have a stage to perform on (we knew a few people who played at the New York world expo and basically they were buskers - we didn't want to do that, even on salary), that we could do workshops, play for schools, and other generally good things. So we made arrangements to take six months off from our jobs and signed up.

      When we got there, there was no stage, and it turned out that what they really wanted was some "wandering minstrels" to entertain the people standing in ling waiting to get in to the pavilion, often a 2+ hour wait. We had our return plane tickets and were about to head back to the airport, but in the first week we were there, we had made some friends in the pavilion administrative staff, and they told us to hang in for another week. Joe was coming over and he'd try to get us what he was told we'd have. We had a pow-wow and they built us a stage and got us a sound system. Both were too small, but the pavilion architect liked us and, when he saw what the local carpenters built for us, had something better built, and I got to pick out the sound equipment. This was in the days of the Shure Vocal Master and I'm happy to say that we did better than that. But still, the gig was playing outdoors to the waiting crowd. We played four sets a day and they wanted someone there every day, so we took turns taking days off and managed to get throught it.

      It was an interesting place to play, we made friends with musicians from all over the world and played at other country's pavilions and had some of them come over to play with us. The architect became a famous Japanese architect in the US, we played for the opening of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan,

      Woudl I do it again? Nope. I didn't like being a professional musician even if the pay was OK.
      --
      "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
      Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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      • #4
        I was in a band that got a job playing at a wake. the person( a young man) had died in a car wreck. We got there( a private residence) and it was all subdued and somber. I thought what a buzzkill of a show. I decided to just go nuts and encouraged the band to do the same. opened up with BROWN SUGAR and just went for it. they wouldn't let us leave, did three sets twice and about fell off the stage, I was so worn out at the end of the night(wee hours of the mornin). the father of the dead dude gave us literally WADS of cash. ended up playing for the same group of folkes several times after that. go figger?

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        • #5
          I've got another one.

          It's not really a gig, but close enough.

          A long while back, I was in what I believe was a Hilton in Beijing, but regardless, it was an enormous hotel with huge atrium, and a large black grand piano in the middle of this large atrium.

          A guy in a black suit, maybe a tux, I don't remember, was playing piano, playing that sort of typical pretty "I'm a piano player on the Nordstrom's floor" sort of way. He got up to take a break. One of the guys I was traveling with said, "Hey, you play piano, right? I heard you're pretty good. Why don't you go play?"

          "Uh, not sure if other people are supposed to play that..."

          "What's the worst that can happen?"

          "I get kicked out?"

          That didn't seem so bad. So I walked over in my typical traveler clothes, not really looking very sophisticated, and played a few originals I had at the time. At this point, I could actually play piano really well (I've let it slid horribly since then, but I used to be pretty good at solo piano), so I played two originals, which were considerably more flashy and attention-grabbing to the guy's background music.

          After two songs, or maybe it was three, I stood up. To my surprise, I received a standing ovation. My travel friend and I started laughing as we walked off.

          There. There's another weird gig. I don't know how weird these are really, but hopefully they are somewhat entertaining.
          Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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          • #6
            I think the above may have been a Holiday Inn. I haven't thought of these stories in a while.

            I played for a Goth band, this also a long time ago. We drew about 2000 people at a club for one of our gigs as a headlining act, and i was playing keyboards. I loved the sheer power and ferocity and emotion of this band mixed with these really tender passages, and I was only to happy to add to it with delicate ambient piano passages, analog synth filter sweeps, bizarre noises, strange industrial percussion, and flute passages with delay, weaving its way up and around the roar of Marshall stacks and mesmerizing percussion. We played to a sea of people in black. Black clothes, black hair, black lipstick, black fingernails, and really white skin. It was surreal to see so many people dressed up so similarly. They swayed, a sea of swaying people, singing the lyrics to our songs as our singer wore a Medusa headpiece of snakes and spit up blood.

            Many Goths have these airs about them, and, well, they sort of expect the band to be like that too. I was never really Goth. I am Asian and had a good tan, and used to joke with the band that I would have to quit because I was going to lifeguard during the summer and get too much of a tan. But anyway, many might expect a certain sort of detached cool or a sense of reserve. Consequently, when someone came up after the show and spoke to me and gave me a compliment on the band. I whirled around and said in a rather un-Goth-like manner, "Wow, coooool, THANKS!!!" The poor guy was slightly startled, but composed himself, and we exchanged a few more sentences. I guess I had slightly too much enthusiasm.

            Someone else came up, dripping in black, lots of guyliner, jewelry, jet-black hair so black that it sucked in the color surrounding him. He extended his hand slowly and said very slowly, almost somberly: "That...was....the....greatest....show....I....hav e.....ever....seeen...." His hand was very limp and somewhat clammy.



            Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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            • #7
              Originally posted by rlspencer View Post
              I was in a band that got a job playing at a wake. the person( a young man) had died in a car wreck. We got there( a private residence) and it was all subdued and somber. I thought what a buzzkill of a show. I decided to just go nuts and encouraged the band to do the same. opened up with BROWN SUGAR and just went for it. they wouldn't let us leave, did three sets twice and about fell off the stage, I was so worn out at the end of the night(wee hours of the mornin). the father of the dead dude gave us literally WADS of cash. ended up playing for the same group of folkes several times after that. go figger?
              I'd bet money that if the dead guy had been alive, he would have approved and given a big thumbs up.
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by UstadKhanAli View Post
                I played for a Goth band
                That alone is weird
                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                • #9
                  A long time ago my band played for a wedding reception in Rock Island IL. The brides relatives were in the sanitation workers union, and the grooms were all county deputies and city cops. By the end of the first set they were all out in the alley behind the hall fist fighting each other.

                  Since it was cops involved in the melee, nobody showed up to stop it, and it went on for the better part of an hour. All us band members, tired of playing to an empty hall, had gone out on the fire escape to watch the action after doing a couple songs from the 2nd set.

                  Finally they tired themselves out, dragged the unconscious and injured out to the street for ambulance pickup, and went back into the hall were we did 2 more sets. Interesting gig.... I sometimes wonder how that marriage went.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Anderton View Post

                    I'd bet money that if the dead guy had been alive, he would have approved and given a big thumbs up.
                    I think so. It sounds like the music totally made those guys' day. And past that.
                    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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                    • #11
                      So here's another maybe not weird, but unusual gig. This was back in high school, where we played for a hospital for children with learning and other disabilities. We did a fair amounts of benefits and such.

                      We pulled up and started unloading the gear. One of the staff greeted us, told us where to set up, and was very personable and super-nice. He helped us out with setting up, and mentioned that the hospital was grateful we came out there. I was a little taken aback that someone that young was running the show, but hey, competence is competence.

                      After we did a sound check and figured we were good to go, another administrator came up to us and apologized for being late, but appreciated that we'd been able to set everything up without any help. We said actually one of the staff had already been very helpful, and took care of everything. She looked a little confused.

                      Turns out the "staff" member who was so helpful was one of the patients.
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • Voltan
                        Voltan commented
                        Editing a comment
                        in a past lifetime I had the privilege of being a music therapist / recreational therapist in similar settings... your statement, " competence is competence" is exactly on the mark. As an ex rec program director I could easily imagine scenarios where one would indeed be better off in the hands of certain residents instead of certain rec staff... no problem. Just from my own perspective I've found that if one is able to become free of the constraints of ego, and erroneous common conclusions, the role of student and teacher is not always what it might appear to the casual observer.

                    • #12
                      I have two weird gig stories (actually many but these two stick out in my mind) -

                      One is recounted here: http://www.harmonycentral.com/articles/new-year-new-gig

                      The other - I played for a band called The Foundations for about 6 years in the early 1980's. They had the hits Build Me Up Buttercup and Baby, Not That I Found You (Later made famous by Allison Krauss). We were doing a Department of Defense tour and playing in a "square" at Guantanamo Naval Base in Gtmo Cuba. During one of our songs a siren went off and within 15 seconds, we were the only people left out of a crowd of a couple of thousand. We were just sitting on stage in the open air looking at each other with shrugged shoulders. Turns out a couple on the Cuba side of the inlet tried to swim across to the US base side to escape Cuba. The Cuban's were firing at them, and the US jumped into action to pull them to safety. We got the rest of the night off.

                      D
                      Keeping the Harmony at Harmony Central

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Anderton View Post
                        So here's another maybe not weird, but unusual gig. This was back in high school, where we played for a hospital for children with learning and other disabilities. We did a fair amounts of benefits and such.
                        Sometimes the disabled aren't as disabled as you think.

                        Some bluegrass friends of mine had a gig at a mental hospital, and when they got there, were warned "Don't bring anything shiny in there." They and their instruments managed to survive.

                        --
                        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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                        • #14
                          Well... all my gigs have been at least a little weird, because pretty much all of the bands I've played with have been some variety of challenging for an audience- playing psychedelic glam music for (at?) hardcore punks and skinheads, or a 9-piece noisy garage band with 4 female standup drummers, or an improvisational pop band with three guitarists, electric bassoon and contact miked toy percussion (no bottom end really separates the men from the boys... guess we were boys). Don't know how I got in this bag... ars gratia artis.

                          At least the band always had fun. But there were a few exceptions. One short-lived projectbandthing was based around a first-time bandleader songwriter fella who wrote catchy, intuitive songs, and sang and played guitar very amateurishly... which attracted the support of me and another friend, who responded to his Shaggs appeal, and gave him our crudest. The gig was doomed from the start for us, because the tighter we got, the less charm it had. Anyway, he was a great schmoozer and got a lot of gigs. One was for his art opening... which sounded good (I always liked playing non-bar gigs, and art galleries were always the right places for the groups I was in).

                          Except this one turned out to be on the sidewalk- his stuff was in a weird civic art space, behind a glass case built into a parking garage. Berkeley is an awesome place.

                          And because I was coming straight from work, I had entrusted the others to gather my drum kit. Nice of them. Except they forgot the bass drum beater pedal.

                          So I had to wing it with the old two-handed floor tom/snare technique. Well... I'd heard about the technique. Never done it, but it definitely knocked our tightness back a few notches. Be careful what you wish for.

                          Actually, outside the mental safety of four walls and an audience that presumably came to see you and knew something of what to expect, the whole thing was profoundly embarrassing. Our amateurish racket bounced off the buildings and down the block. People walked past looking away. It was a travesty.

                          But it got even worse. A teacherish-looking woman came up to us, waited until the end of a song, and told us that her class (yep) of UC Berkeley students were trying to focus on their final exam, in the building across the street. Could we... stop?


                          Hmm, that just reminded me of the time another band I was in was busted on-air during a live radio gig by campus police... 1AM and the students were trying to sleep.



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                          • #15
                            Naturally I thought about musical performance gigs, but a discussion on the Ampex list today made me think that this is a recording gig worth laughing about after it was over.

                            I was using a Revox A-700 for remote recording in the mid 1970s (it has a handle on it, but today I have trouble even lifting it) and I was recording Martin, Bogan and Armstrong in a dive bar in Elkins, West Virginia. The building was so old, I couldn't find a free AC power outlet, but they let me remove the light bulb in a pantry and take power from there with a screw-in adapter which, fortunately I had in my tool kit. Everything was fine until the refrigeration compressor for the beer cooler started up. Then the line voltage dropped to around 80 volts. The Revox has a servo motor driving the capstan, so the tape didn't slow down, but the power supply for the electronics dropped out of regulation and there was a couple of seconds of bad distortion until the line voltage came back up.

                            In a dive bar in West Virginia, you don't ask, no matter how politely, if they wouldn't mind turning off the beer cooler while the band was playing. By the next trip out, I had a line voltage regulating transformer.

                            --
                            "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                            Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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