New Gig: Does Chicken Wire Indicate Trouble?
His agent has booked him a new gig at a club he’s never been to before. His agent tells her that he may be a little “rustic,” but he’s worth the money. You and the band, having a busy schedule, will only arrive in time to get settled in and play. There’s no time for a qualified sound check. But you’ve done this before and you’re not worried. You pull up and are greeted by a gravel parking lot littered with beer bottles and empty half-pints from the night before. Whatever, you’ve also seen this before. You open the front door and immediately look for the band stage and… What? Chicken wire!
Perhaps you have not been in this situation. But usually there are signs that will tell you what kind of club you are going to play for. It is true that there are a couple of places that still have chicken wire. This is not a bad thing. It is to protect the band and band equipment if necessary. But mostly these kinds of things have been exaggerated. Especially after the movie The Blues Brothers.
Parking is a key. If it looks like the one described above, you may want to take a look for yourself. This usually indicates a place that has a lot of power drinkers. Energy drinkers bring pints and half pints to the club in their boots, among other things. I guess they’re afraid the club will run out of alcohol. They retreat to the parking lot and have a good buzz, come back and order a beer and look for someone to dance or fight with. Just stay out of the way. It really isn’t hard to do.
Settling in late and the club is already full of highly intoxicated people is another warning. These types of troughs are very loyal to their customers. They spend most of their weekly check at these places. Any type of comment that comes your way at this time should not be ignored. That will only bring a torrent of the same throughout the night. At the first comment, he would usually proclaim out loud, “Bartender, these are my kind of people. I want to buy the house a round.” Expensive? I call it cheap insurance.
I was always aware of the pool tables. You wouldn’t believe how many fights this little game can cause. I never played pool in a bar I was playing in. The pool causes resentment, especially if there is money involved. I have seen the ambulance called due to an altercation over which room was next. Again, you just want to stay out of the way.
Your best friend in a club that you suspect might be rude is the bartender. I always tip the bartender at the front. I usually tell him that I appreciate how hard he has to work and I want to show him my appreciation in case he forgets when the night is over. The good bartender can tell you who the troublemakers are. Usually he won’t tell you directly. You have to see his posture and his offhand comments to the waitress.
I don’t want to cause you, the young musician, any undo alarms. I played every kind of hole you can imagine for over 30 years and never got into a single altercation. Do you want to know how? I just mind my own business and stay out of the way. The best way is to recognize potential problems before they blow up and just not be in the middle of it. Good luck!