You can also find out why XS monitors are a special tip in this article:
It's dark despite of the sunny day outside, the ceiling hangs low. Entering the insignificant building, you can just about see the stage across the main space. Over there, you spot the bass player with his big amp searching around for a power strip that works, while the support band's drummer tinkers with the unfamiliar drum kit belonging to the headliner. The 30 square meters in front the stage have evidently been the scene of hundreds of boozy nights, while every centimetre of the floor tells a tale of days gone by. Doors open in 3 hours. They can't start the sound check yet because a guitar amp hasn't arrived. The band that's bringing it is stuck in traffic. If worse comes to worst, we'll improvise. It's going to be an unforgettable night. A declaration of love to the gig format that most bands start out with. To the nights straight from the bunker rehearsal room, garage or basement: club gigs.
Lots of music lovers and bands are passionate about small club gigs. For the youth centre and/or arts centre around the corner, where kids spent the afternoon at Zumba lessons. Why? Because they radiate a very special atmosphere. They're wonderfully imperfect, sometimes with disastrous acoustics, and yet the venue for some of the most beautiful nights of the year. Basically, neither the band nor the audience really knows what's going to happen on the night. For bands, they're the start of an exciting journey. What makes them so attractive? Here are five hypotheses to help you indulge in memories or make you want to go to the next gig.
1. You're closer to the audience
The interaction between the band and the audience is quite simply more direct and intense, because they're close to each other. There's no "trench" between you and the audience, no security, no photographers. It's only the stage and the people standing before it. In small venues, the audience usually forms the well-known “U-shape” in front of the stage, because nobody wants to be in the centre right in front of the band. Take advantage of this: your frontman or frontwoman can hop off the stage and sing a few verses along with the audience. You can't get much closer than that. Three slimline monitor speakers on the stage are enough to make the barrier between the listeners and musicians vanish.
2. The entire night turns into a big house party
At large concerts, in halls, not to mention stadiums, the individual music fan is an anonymous guest among thousands of others. Or actually not a guest at all, as that would assume a host who cares for them. The music fan is a customer much rather a customer. That's not the case in a small club with 80 guests. The same thirsty punters keep appearing at the bar, the bands mingle with the audience after the gig, the punk from earlier on at the bar is queuing up for the toilets, the six-foot guy stood in the front row is just outside having a smoke. The event organiser is bustling about looking for a condenser microphone for the last act of the night. It's a party with lots of familiar faces, little sense of rank and none of the commercial madness.
3. Relations with the event organiser and the venue are more direct
What differs is that the relations between the band, event organiser and venue manager are usually somewhat more informal. But not necessarily any less professional. You should still sign a guest performance contract. But as a band or event organiser, it makes a big difference if at least some communication takes place on an equal par. Youth centres, as well as small clubs or pubs are more or less in the same league as the band and the event organiser.
4. Admission is cheaper
Not very relevant for you as a band, right? Well, actually, it is. Apart from the fact that you should consider whether to have a door deal or fixed fee in your guest performance contract, a low admission fee means not only that more people will be able to afford it , but that more people will be happy to pay the price. The 6 Euro threshold is a low price to pay at the door for local bands. It almost doesn't even matter who's playing. People just come, meet up and listen to a band they don't know (yet). That's perfect for newcomers. People come with an open mind and rather tend to have their expectations exceeded. Being the support act for a big scene band for € 45 would be completely different. Although, you can be the positive surprise here as well, you're basically just delaying the start of what everyone came for: the main act's performance.
5. Automatically hook up with other bands
At small club gigs, there are usually two to four bands on a single night, and you share parts of the equipment with one another. One band brings the drum kit, which everyone else can use (except the cymbals!). Then another crew brings their bass speaker, and so on. You meet new people, maybe even develop some friendships. What some people refer to as “networking” happens automatically. A band may even bring along an FOH mixer! Perfect, get their contact details straight away. Gig swapping is also common: I invite you to a gig I'm organising in my city and "get" a gig organised by you in your hometown in exchange. That way, even small bands can really get around the country.
Headergraphik © Adobe Stock - jovanning
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