What was your worst gig?


Friend of Leo's
Jul 31, 2012
Spring TX
How about the one where I was playing a solo gig situated under a pavilion with no walls when a severe thunderstorm swept in with an F1 tornado imbedded that hit the pavilion with 80mph winds swirling around. Needless to say, the crowd scattered, and I lost a book of chords and lyrics that just disappeared into the "breeze," flapping its wings as it went- never found it. The balance of my equipment was drenched, so the gig ended quite early. Fortunately, I had been paid beforehand...

charlie chitlin

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Mar 17, 2003
Egremont, MA
played Daisy's many times... they have a pool table. Once when we were coming in to set up, a famous motorcycle club (the wild one movie was based on the area) was having a meeting in the bar. They spotted us and smiled and said, 'everything is cool if you load in from the back' so we did... some of the 'ladies' were playing pool, and so we just loaded in around them.

When the guys saw this, they became irate with the women and told them to 'move the dang pool table for them boys' (i'm paraphrasing)

those gigs were always kinda crazy, the guys were super nice to us, but we saw the violence meted out to others and other things that were nuts.

always a little stressful, but big tippers and did not put up with anyone hassling the band.

Bikers don't dance.
I'm glad I was warned early on that there is a certain breed of biker lady who will come on to you very strong hoping you'll step over the line, then she can watch her old man beat you.
I did a lot of 1%er gigs and never had a problem.'
But...yeah...saw some rough stuff.


TDPRI Member
Jul 16, 2012
Ontario, Canada
Any gig story that ends with ... "but we got paid" is a good gig.

But playing to an empty house or almost empty house is the worst.

My funniest gig story i think, is when our drummer in an OCD moment, lept off the stage at a pub gig before the end of our last number to chase down a patron who left his bicycle helmet on the table, knocking over everyone's beer in the process. It was pretty bizarre. He didn't last.


Jan 25, 2005
Hallettsville, TX
The worst one I remember:

there was a family that lived near me that had a touring gospel band. Some years later, the son called me up and wanted to know if I would come play for a birthday party for his aunt at their property where they lived. He said they would just be playing a lot of standard country type stuff. I showed up for the gig, and they had since built a beer joint on the corner of the property. The girl running the bar was a rough talker. Place was full of cigarette and cigar smoke. Half way thru the night, a male stripper showed up and stripped for the aunt down to a G string. I was just totally blown away by what I was witnessing. End of the night, he paid me. I loaded up and started driving for home. My clothes smelled so bad, I pulled over and took my shirt off and threw it in the back of the truck.

One more, if you don't mind, a story my dad used to tell me about a band he played in. They were playing in an old un-airconditioned wood dance hall with the windows open. The band-leader, who was the drummer, was throwing down the beer like there's no tomorrow. During one song, dad noticed the tempo kept getting slower and slower. He looked around and ol' Clarence's head was getting inches closer to his snare drum by the second. Dad keeps playing and suddenly there is no drums. He turns around and looks - no Clarence. Clarence evidently passed out and fell backwards out the window onto the grass outside.


Jul 23, 2021
New Jersey
My worst played gig , I was about 20 around 1994- went fishing all day on a road trip to the Delaware water gap, drinking too, and made it to the gig about 9pm... I was told I made a few mistakes . Long story short . Sort of scolded by several band members . It was a long day. My buddy u went fishing with, whom I seldom see, still brings up that day


Doctor of Teleocity
Aug 6, 2012
I'm glad I was warned early on that there is a certain breed of biker lady who will come on to you very strong hoping you'll step over the line, then she can watch her old man beat you.
I did a lot of 1%er gigs and never had a problem.'

I was doing a gift where a bikie gang turned up. We’re at the bar getting drinks and there’s two bikies next to me. One is very agitated about something. The air is turning blue. ‘These £~€~£~’fbdn’ etc. I’m trying not to listen. But the words are floating across the 2 feet separating us. Slowly I realise - he’s talking about his return on his superannuation and how he had to work another two years to get the income he required to retire.

Seems bikie gangs have mellowed.


May 21, 2003
Sedona, Arizona
As a player:

Got a call about 11am, asking if I could play a wedding at 1pm. The "singer" had booked it a year before, his band had broken up, and he was in a bit of a tight spot. Meet at the gig, I knew a few of the other guys, and we just sort of jammed for a set - with the singer ad-libbing his way thru some parts of songs. It actually went well, considering - dancing, clapping, etc. We take a break and the singer chugs a bottle of something, and passes out in the front seat of his truck, face up. Obviously, we can't play, and the bride is furious, screaming at me and the bass player - "You ruined my wedding!" Of course, we didn't get paid.

Another wedding, dead of summer. It's 100 degrees and full-on humid. We were booked for the afternoon, 2-5 or so. The bride is the only one who wanted live music, so we played 3 full sets, in tuxes, of hard core dance music (Brickhouse, Love Shack, 1999) to an entire room of people who just stared us down. Not one clap, or a single dancer - just an evil vibe. It was too hot to go outside during breaks, so we were stuck.

There was one in particular where I went into a venue to mix a band on the house system. I didn't know the band, nor the house, and certainly wasn't prepared for the condition of the PA. You would pan on this supposed stereo rig & it would instead travel the audio spectrum from high to low & back. I wish I had thoroughly checked the system before I jokingly introduced myself to the band as the guy who would be wrecking sound for them that night.
Then, I proceeded to deliver on my word by having one of the worst nights on a console of my entire career. I no longer make that joke.

As a soundguy:

I was hired by a band I'd recorded, to do sound for their gig at an outdoor place on the lake. They said they'd bring their system, even tho mine was smaller and a lot nicer, and the same price. I get there and it's a big pile of Behringer crap, which they'd set up and said that it was all working fine. We did a quick line check and it seemed OK, altho not great-sounding.

They started, and as the set progressed, and they started asking for things like more monitor, etc. it became apparent that it was mis-wired. I can't remember exactly what was wrong, but it was not working as it should have. Some of the outboard had been mis-patched, altho the more of that junk I bypassed, the better it sounded. <g>

And, they had "modded" their mics with plastic and tape, to "reduce bleed" which had the same effect as when idiots cup the mic - it turned them into omni-directional feedback generators. so I couldn't get any gain out of the monitors.

During the first break, I fixed the wiring problems, and it went slightly better, but man...

The cherry on top? The day after the gig, they sent me an email with an itemized list of what they felt I did wrong, and how I should strive to do better next time.


Poster Extraordinaire
Jun 2, 2009
South Australia
Was backing some female singers on " I Love Rock'n'Roll" and they were singing it like Britney Spears , I was playing the original version , they couldn't get it right and the song fizzled. Boy I was embarrassed . They sunk through the floor. " Shows Over Folks " was all I could say and got out of there.
Later found out that the girls copped the blame for not being professional whereas at least I kept playing.


Dec 26, 2014
Walland, Tn
Please tell me you kept that tape.

Dude, read the thread title again.

This reminds me of one. Hospital fundraiser at a country club, band dressing room/PA storage room is the room generally reserved as the bride's dressing room for weddings. I'm hanging out in there with some PA crew dudes waiting for the show to end so we can tear down. One of the guys is Gaither, who looks like a muscled-up Yaphet Kotto. He's also wearing a Boy Scout uniform, since he just finished leading a Scout meeting before heading to the gig. Gaither needs to hit the bathroom, so he leaves. Unnoticed by anyone is the fact that there are two doors leading out of the room. One leads to the banquet hall, Gaither has used the other one. About two seconds later he runs back in, slams the door, backs up against it as if to hold off a murderous horde on the other side, and whispers, "that's the ladies' room". I'm not sure what the society ladies thought of a large black man in a Boy Scout uniform barging into their bathroom, but no one ever said anything.

I have some funny band stories, but all the really screwed up ones are PA stories. Like the time the ceiling collapsed on me at a fancy hotel in Boston. Or when I lost the only useful member of my local stagehand crew when he got arrested at lunch.

A female friend once hipped me to the fact that a lot of straight girls go to gay bars to dance and have fun without having to be hit on by a bunch of skeezy dudes. If you can manage to be the only straight guy in the place in that scenario and be cool about it, you can get a LOT of attention from the ladies. FYI.
Considering the girl looked like a teletubby dwarf...the title went in to consideration. Plus, I got hit by a floor tom as it flew across the stage


Poster Extraordinaire
Jun 21, 2006
Vienna, Austria
Wedding gig with a fight ending with blood, playing lakeside being eaten alive by mosquitoes, playing with more people on stage than in the audience, playing outside in freezing temperatures - done all of those.

Here's the weirdest gig I ever played:

My rockabilly/country band had been booked to play some kind of summer festival at a spa resort a few hours away. When we arrived there, the manager met us in the parking lot, and told us that we would be playing on the roof terrace, which had a bar, sauna, and swimming pool area; he also told us not to be alarmed that people weren't wearing a lot of clothing - well, duh, swimming pool, makes sense...

... except, it turned out that the festival had been organized by a nudist organization, so they weren't wearing ANY clothes AT ALL - and the average age seemed to be well over 60, so gravity was clearly demonstrating it's effects on multiple parts of the human body; plus they had an open bar, and free fried chicken for the members of the club. So basically we played for a bunch of nude, drunk, greasy senior citizens...

But that wasn't the worst part - after every couple of songs, the club's president would make statements from the mic on stage, honor club members, and, announce the winners of the raffle prizes they had - and he would proceed to bend over and pick up the prizes from the floor to hand to the lucky winners.
Did I mention that I was sitting behind my steel guitar - which was standing right behind the microphone stand that this guy (also nude, of course) used; so everytime he bent over to retrieve a prize from the floor...
Well, you can imagine the rest...
Last edited:


Aug 12, 2014
Turku, Finland
Right... I'm gonna go again here... these stories are from the time I played bass very actively in a band.
(See this post for background: https://www.tdpri.com/threads/how-do-you-reel-in-a-bass-player.1084384/page-3#post-10992314 )

The worst gig I played with this band was an out-of-town -gig. We were slotted to play a two set gig at this bar.
Fair enough, we set up, sound-checked and then we played the first set. It was a bit early in the evening yet.
It went as well as expected from our point of view. Afterwards we retired to a couple of tables off to the side of the stage.
I'm not sure how long we waited then... 45min... maybe an hour... but then we finally decided that perhaps it's showtime again.
We went to the proprietor who was also the bartender and suggested we'd start the 2nd set. He said something like "nah.. not yet...".
Fine. We waited some more. We asked again. The barkeep goes: "nope... not right now... we'll see...".
Hours pass. We ask again and again and get no for an answer every time. Then, when finally he gets tired enough of our yapping
he comes clean: There's not gonna be a 2nd set! Why? Because he had seen some would be patrons enter the establishment during
our first set, seeing us on stage and then turning around and walking out again. This was during the early evening during the 1st set that
this would have happened and at this point in time it's now in the middle of the night and the bar is packed to the brim with party people and
we're set up on stage and good to go... but no. Not happening. So, his line was basically "Sorry, I'll pay you the agreed sum but you can't play
anymore because you're scaring off the customers". Those customers would be the party people who at this point were keeping the place packed.
So we came all the way here for this? Fine... can we go then? Well, no. Because the barkeep would not allow us to carry out our equipment
through the back door as it was apparently against some regulations to have the backdoor open while the bar was open, and the barkeep also nixed our
proposal to carry the stuff out through the front door as he did not want us lugging stuff through the crowd. So where does that leave us?
Sulking at an upper balcony because we're not allowed to play as agreed and not allowed to leave before the bar closes.
The bar was named "Number One"... sure felt like number two at that point. They're out of business now though, so yay!

Another bad gig with this bunch, which I already touched upon in the link above but I'll repeat a bit here. It was some place at the outskirts of town where
ragged gnarly men come to drink beer and be unhappy about it. A few songs into the first set, their compact indifference to our show took a turn
for open vehement disgust as one of the patrons shuffled up to the stage area, dug out his wallet and started haggling:
"How much for you to leave? Seriously... how much money do you want to just stop, pack up and leave?! How much are you getting paid for this?
I'll match that as long as you stop right now and leave!". This guy persisted. This scene was repeated after the following songs as well.
Our(female) vocalist/keyboardist decided to take matters into her own hands quite literally as she left the stage in the middle of a song to go
dancing with this guy! All the while she tried to talk to him to get him to stand down... while dancing with him... while we played the song without keyboards and vocals.
As inventive as that plan was it didn't gain much traction though. It wasn't like this guy was one bad egg either... the entire place just did. not. want. us. there,
but this guy just was forward enough to get creative about ejecting us. So apparently at some point the vocalist said "Fork it!" and quit the set. We shrugged and followed suit.
After a little while our vocalist went back up on stage, started playing the keyboard and singing various well known chart hits and classics.
After a little while I joined her as well. Grabbed my bass. Sat down on the stage and did my best to keep up. After a little bit our drummer joined in too.
That's how the show was concluded. Playing unrehearsed soft classics to an indifferent audience while both our guitarists(and founders) sat in a corner
sulking over their beers because they had that whole "we're not in this band to play covers" -thing. Looks like we needed the covers at his point though, just saying...

One more "epilogue to this tale of sadness" to quote Bart Simpson. Another one of these glorious holes in the wall at the outskirts of town.
The audience was once again compactly indifferent to our music and our performance of said music. Our manager(don't know if that's the correct word
but he did get an equal share of our earnings for promoting us and getting us the gigs we played) thought that the place might liven up
a bit if somebody would only make the first move. Well... he locates some beer hag in a corner which time forgot, at the back of the bar and pays her
to get up and dance in front of the stage. As Joseph Fiennes said in Enemy at the Gates: "We need examples, yes, but examples to follow!". This wasn't it.
There we were playing our way too intellectual minor-key epics about the end of the world while this paid beer hag is shaking what her mama gave her
in front of the stage. This against a compact backdrop of crickets.

Would you look at that word count! Time for another potato!


Engine Swap

Friend of Leo's
Nov 28, 2014
Not my gig, but went to see a friend's rockabilly band on a Tuesday night. Almost empty house.

About 20 mintes in, a guy gets up from the bar, briefly "dances", and then runs head-first into a wall. His head went completely through the drywall. The bouncer got to him before he could do it again.

I remember all 4 guys in the band standing there with their eyes and mounths wide open.

Larry F

Doctor of Teleocity
Vendor Member
Nov 5, 2006
Iowa City, IA
A real favorite of mine was a residency at a biker bar in the St. Johns area of Portland. Everything seemed to indicate that we were just what they wanted. We were able to cut loose with our version of jazz rock. The guys near the stage became our friends at the club. This was important because the old eye contact games we had to play with the others. You would meet their gaze, but without seeming to challenge somebody to a fight. I had a strict policy of shutting up and minding my own business at gigs like these.

Nonetheless, we were able to wrangle more dates out of the "manager." He sat in silence as we started setting the schedule. Afterward, he agreed to the added dates.

Speaking of dates, there were almost no women in the place. This seemed to reduce the threat that some guys had imagined. Playing for a virtually all male audience turned out to be really fun and sort of stress-free.

In contrast, we had once played at a Saturday event hosted by something called Girls' State. The hall was set up with long tables for maybe 200 girls. It went fine, and we were able to snag some unopened subs. I soon realized that eating customers' table scraps was not a particularly good idea.


Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Apr 30, 2016
Crawfordville, FL
I had everyone, and I mean everyone, in a bar fire water guns at me when I walked through the door. It's was an outdoor gig at a little biker/oyster bar that I had never been to before. I had just finished unloading my gear, and I walked inside to get a beer.

It was bizarre. I think they thought it was a clever and funny prank to pull on random patrons walking through the door. I don't think they knew that I was with the band. They probably wouldn't have cared anyway.


Tele Axpert
Ad Free Member
Nov 15, 2009
Austin, Tx
Onstage fight between myself and the vocalist. It didn't end well.

When I was 19, my band, Revolver, got a gig at the Villa Capri Motel here in Austin.
The bar was called the Club Caravan, and was considered a good/upscale gig at the time (1976).
The band was myself on guitar, Craig on keyboards, Dave on bass, Bob on drums, and “singer” Jeff.
Jeff was older than the rest of us, about 26.
The rest of us were around 20.
We were doing a Deep Purple tune, and Jeff was murdering it.
He was a friend of the Craig’s, but we all knew he was awful.
None of the rest of us sang, at all.
He was mid-screech when I walked up behind him, put my foot on his arse, and pushed him off the slightly elevated stage.
I’ll admit right here and now that I was wrong to do this.
It was unkind, uncool, and uncalled for.
He wasn’t hurt, except for his pride.
He came back onstage, and made a little noise about fighting me.
It would have been extremely unwise of him to do that, and he backed down quickly.
I asked him, incredulously “Man, can’t you hear that?”
Poor guy was seriously miscast.
He looked a bit like Joey Ramone.
Tall, skinny, long dark hair.
He went on to great obscurity.
Silly story, eons ago.


Sep 20, 2021
A long time ago, early 90s I was playing bass at the time, in our teenage band. we were all 15 to 17...
The singer had plenty of connections and his family as well. A friend of his mother was a stylist and there was a fashion show planned at a local theater.
His mother suggested that "the kids could entertain the guests" when entering the theater. We were eager to play anywhere.
One by one the attendees enter the theater. Men in tuxedos, women in dresses and all the jewelry on... All past the 50-years-old-mark.
So we are at the theater entrance, just passed the door. You can hear people chatting, having drinks and gently laughing.
We plug in and we start playing.
Maybe it is our look (I was wearing jeans and flannel shirt for sure given the time period, the singer was probably wearing leather pants), maybe our volume (my guitarist had a new JCM900, full blast as he wanted to try it out) but everyone suddenly stops talking or moving and starts staring at us. Many hands raise to cover ears. And then the whole crowd storms out the theater hall, into the theater. Doors close.
It's us playing our set to the theater attendant and the waiters...


Friend of Leo's
Gold Supporter
Jun 7, 2007
Washington, DC
How about the one where I was playing a solo gig situated under a pavilion with no walls when a severe thunderstorm swept in with an F1 tornado imbedded that hit the pavilion with 80mph winds swirling around. Needless to say, the crowd scattered, and I lost a book of chords and lyrics that just disappeared into the "breeze," flapping its wings as it went- never found it. The balance of my equipment was drenched, so the gig ended quite early. Fortunately, I had been paid beforehand...

I had a similar experience with an acoustic gig, but fortunately we saw it coming. We were setting up the PA for a nice outdoor wedding reception when the temperature dropped about ten degrees and a stiff breeze started kicking up. We had a quick discussion and decided to load the PA back out and play without it in case we had to get out of there quickly. And hoo boy did we ever. We found out later that a tornado had passed not quite a mile away. Half the pavilion collapsed, a table loaded with plates and glassware blew over, there were tablecloths and flower arrangements flying, and at least a couple of people were injured.

But once we all got inside the house, the caterers set up a buffet line, we claimed a corner and played, the bride got flamboyantly drunk, and it was actually a success.