Lessons about performing, lesson eight: Bring extra clothing!

By now, you know the deal. If you don’t, click this magical blue shit and it’ll tell you all about it.

I kind of hate writing these introductions, more so when I don’t have a lot of free time. (And my free time is getting more and more rare.) But, if I don’t write them, I end up with a mess of a front page.

Granted, not many folks come in from the front page – but it looks horrible. It’s like three miles long! Balls, I can be a wordy SOB.

So, here’s your damned lesson for today!

Rule #8: Bring extra clothing!

You’d be surprised at how often this rule is overlooked. You’d also be surprised at how important it is.

As I’ve very recently returned to the stage, I’ve discovered the joys of inexpensive LEDs. Those are lovely and if the venue doesn’t have ’em, bitch until they do.

It’s hot up on that stage. They might have LEDs and fans – and you’re still gonna get all sorts of swamp ass going on. I’ve never considered the caloric expense of performing enough to actually try to quantify it, but you’re up there working (hard) for a while. Often, your sets may be an hour. Sometimes, you may even be up there for two-and-a-half hours – with nary a break.

And, you’re going to get pretty nasty.

If you’re lucky, there’s at least an employee bathroom where you can change. If your famous, or really lucky, there’s a dressing room. These come in all shapes and sizes, very few of them designed for purpose and many times they’re shared.

Chances are, no matter what sort of plumbing you have, you’re going to want to primp and preen. So, a dressing room is nice. Yes, many performing musicians wear makeup. Yes, I’ve worn makeup. Yes, I’ve even worn lipstick.

I ain’t scared to admit it. It’s just a part of the job.

In other words, part of your job (grunge and punk musicians are mostly exempt from this) is to look the part. Y’all gotta look good up there.

Your looks should be considered as much as your stage presence, your show, your set lists, and your ability to actually play music. Remember, you’re not going to be a damned rock star – you’re going to be playing covers in dive bars for $100 a night.

If you look good, you can maybe move up to the $250/night payments. If you can draw a crowd, you can move to the $500/night segment. If you can invest, and do all these things, you can maybe move into the $1,000/night market. If you really nail it, you can get a band and demand a minimum of $10,000 a show – and insist only on fairs and venues that hold a few thousand people. (It goes up from there – but you really have to know your shit – and put all these things I’m telling you together.)

So, bring extra clothing. Usually, two sets and a spare set is enough. I go in with clean clothing, change to stage gear, and then change between sets. If nothing else, I’ll at least change my shirt.

What do I wear? Well, stage clothing. My stage clothing is used exclusively for performing. I like to wear shirts that say something funny. Sometimes, I like to wear big puffy and frilly shirts – sometimes they’re even pink! (That’s not a joke.)

I have hundreds (a whole closet and dresser dedicated to just the clothing) of outfits that can be turned into many, many other outfits. See, I’ve played in pretty much every popular genre.

I’m willing to (because I sold my shame a long, long time ago) do most anything that the crowd needs to see. If I’m in a punk band, and I have been, I’ll go get holes punched into my face. I’ll do anything but cut my hair short. I’ll get it died funny colors and more.

Shit, when the grunge phase went around, I went through great efforts to look like I hadn’t bathed in a month. (Granted, I’m pretty sure the band I played with took the whole not-bathing thing to heart.) I still own more flannel shirts than is reasonable for any one man to own.

Curiously, I don’t own any overalls. I know, right? I should own a few pairs. I used to own some that they called “painter’s pants” but the 1980s were horrible like that. Horrible!

So, change your clothing. Have a set for after-show mingling or events. Those will vary based on the venue. I’ve been to some where I was expected to come out in a suit and tie afterwards. In fact, I’m attending a similar event soon – and will be performing. Then, there’s a meet-and-greet, free food and drinks, and the possibility of going back on the stage.

(If you’ve been following the lessons, you can bet your ass that’s all covered under the contract. We aren’t even obligated to lug our own gear – they’ve got people to even help with loadout. Contracts. Get them.)

You need to be able to look good. You need to be able to smell like you bathed this week. I shouldn’t have to tell you that last part but, man, have I been in some bands… Oh, the stories I could tell about buses.

Anyhow, I enjoy writing these. I should probably edit ’em up a bit but I ain’t scared. Everyone reading these knows a bit about me and we don’t actually get traffic from normal people. So, it’s all good. I’m glad you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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