Three years ago I was filling in for a drummer of a group I had heard great things about and was quite excited to jam with such talented musicians. The moment I showed up to the show, they greeted me with thankfulness as they contacted me on short notice and were impressed that I could pick up their material so quickly. Everything was looking up and things were looking good for the upcoming show. Doors opened that night at 8pm and some of their fans started showing up early in support of their new favorite band. After setting up, the four of us in the group went to the bar area to grab some drinks and chat with folks at the bar who were there to see us play (or so I thought that's what we were doing).
Talking to fans and even people who might potentially become fans is one of my favorite things about playing out live. I learned early on that making new friends become fans, that networking with other bands or artists and even starting relationships with the bar owners can really go a long way when you're starting out in the industry. For the band I was playing with that night, it was far from the truth for them. The group turned away from each person excited to see them, ignored the bartenders when asked a question and even ignored the venue manager when we were told to go on. While I sat up on stage all by my lonesome, watching them drink their beers, and making the decision to go on when they wanted to, said a lot. The problem? These guys were acting like rockstars before they had even done anything. A mistake that many bands tend to make. Guess who was never invited back to play at that venue again? Yep. A few weeks later, they called me to play with them again, I thankfully declined. I made it a point that night to apologize to the venue manager, apologize to the bartenders, leaving them a hefty tip for serving me free drinks for being in the band, and even stayed two hours after the band left to hang with people at the bar. Guess who was invited back to play for house bands when the venue was piecing together the acts for future shows? Yep.
First impressions and your attitude are often everything when meeting someone new. Might be a first look at your shoes or your shirt. Or maybe it's the first words that come out of your mouth that determine whether or not they think you're going to become a good friend. For a band, it's the same formula. If you walk into a venue and demand to be treated like a rockstar, you will fall very fast. But if you show respect, treat the bartenders and the managers well, network and treat customers as if they were your biggest fan, it will put you a step above the rest.
Do you have any stories of bands that you have played with or saw live that changed the way you looked at them because of a first impression? Share your thoughts below!