Performance Tips – Breaking It Down (or Get Off The Stage Already!)

The last time I stressed the importance of getting your ass on stage quickly. It keeps everything on schedule, let’s you play your whole set, or more, and shows everyone that you are considerate and makes you look pro. This is all good, but what about when you are done? Well, if I’m in the next band you had better be packing up and leaving. Because you are eating into my time. That’s right, when you are done playing, get the hell off my stage!

It still surprises me that I know people that have been playing clubs as long as me or longer and don’t have the decency to get their stuff off the stage so the next band can play. Just like getting your gear on stage quickly keeps things moving, getting your gear off is equally, if not more important. It’s just plain disrespectful and inconsiderate and totally not pro. There isn’t room for all the equipment, and room for the members of 2 bands, so why are you standing around?

First of all, the stage isn’t your living room. So, what on Earth are family, friends and fans doing on the stage? There is no place for anyone to be on your stage except when you invite them up during the show to participate in the performance. When you are done playing anyone that wants to see you should be waiting by the merch table, backstage or at the bar, not on stage! I’m not going to blame the fans, but fans really do know their place and usually respect that the stage is where we do our work. It’s friends and family that cross this line, wanting to shake your hand and congratulate you on a wonderful set, and tell you how great you are–or worse, to say goodbye. Believe me, your friends and family probably don’t respect you or what you are doing. If they did they wouldn’t be climbing on stage when you should be working. It’s a novelty to them–they know the person on stage and that makes them feel cool. Think of playing as if it was a 9-5 job in an office. When you finish typing up that all important report for your boss you don’t have your mommy or best friend going into your cube saying to you, “good job!” No. You move along to the next bit of work. And it’s the same when you are playing a concert.

Secondly, there’s no time to pat each other on the back, mill around or disappear. Save the, “Hey, dude, great show!” or, “Man, we sucked!” for AFTER you are done cleaning up. And why do so many drummers feel the need to get off the stage for a few minutes before breaking down? Get to it, take a breath, and start moving–especially if you have you whole kit. Singers, you can pitch in, too. There’s no reason for you to be disappearing. If you aren’t working the merch table, help break down the drums, get the drum and guitar cases, move stuff off stage. Anything!

Thirdly, get out of the way. Don’t spread your stuff all over the stage. Put everything right in the cases, bags or whatever and move the out of the way. You have to leave room for the next band to get on and you don’t want anyone tripping over your stuff. Remember, there is only 10-15 minutes for you to get your stuff off and the other band to get their stuff on. If your stuff is in the way the next band can’t get set up. If you’re in the next band and the other band’s stuff is in the way offer to help, and if they say “no thanks,” just start moving stuff anyway. That’s your time that’s being eaten up by these inconsiderate jerks.

There is no reason for any band to behave this way, especially if you “want to make it.” If you want to be a pro, start acting like a pro. You can socialize, rest, debrief or whatever backstage or at the bar. Absolutely none of this should be done on stage. You don’t see Aerosmith, Metallica, Bon Jovi, or any other professional rock band doing this, so why should you? So, the next time you are playing tell your family and friends that the stage is off limits. Tell them to wait until you are done–and done means packed up and ready to load the van– that you’ll see them in a few minutes, and then hustle your ass off the stage. Someone needs to say goodbye to you? Too bad. Are you’re feelings going to be hurt because you didn’t see someone leave or say goodbye? You’re out of breath because you played for 45 minutes and need a break? Then get a real job, you don’t deserve to be playing on the same stage as the rest of us.