Lessons about performing, lesson sixteen: Security is Important!

Gotta write another damned intro… This might be the hardest part! Otherwise, the front page is a damned mess. It is, too. I’m way too wordy for a blog. Shit, I’m half-tempted to use page breaks.

It occurs to me that I should never do a “Top Five Widgets List!” That’d be like a mile long. I better stick to this format. Sheesh…

I’m kinda baffled y’all keep reading these.

Where was I? Oh…

Here’s the complete list of rules for performing musicians. (Hopefully, I’ll have that list updated by the time you read this. I’m a slacker.) Basically, they don’t seem to put this stuff in books. So, that leaves the job up to me. There’s probably people better suited to doing this job, but you get me.

Sorry ’bout that. I’m all ya got between you and 38,000 screaming fans who want to steal your stuff, a manager that drinks your booze, and a bassist who’s been making eyes at your backup vocals – all of them, including their voice effects.

This one is about the first on that list. Security!

Rule #16: Security Matters!

Yeah, you’re just playing your local watering hole. Nothing bad can happen, right?

Bullshit. Things can and will go wrong.

It’s just a wedding. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?

Bullshit, my worst gig was at a wedding.

I’ve played punk, moving to alternative, and then to grunge. I’m not entirely unfamiliar with people climbing up on the stage. I’ve played in bars where we’ve had people climb up there and try to play our instruments. (Give the patrons a musical toy to play with – seriously. Tambourines work wonders. Toss one on the edge of the stage.)

I’m gonna tell you a story – slightly altered to keep me from getting sued.

We’re gonna call him Paul, because that’s his actual name. Paul is the kind of guy who calls you up from the Daytona 500 and talks to you for 30 minutes while you can’t actually hear a damned word he’s saying. Because, you know, it’s a damned race track, Paul. A race track. It’s LOUD. I can’t hear you.

He’s lovable, but let’s just say he can be strange.

We’re playing a wedding for [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], our drummer, is related to [REDACTED]. Rumor has it that our drummer shagged [REDACTED]’s soon to be wife – the night before the wedding.

We’re up there on the stage and Paul’s cracking jokes. He’s commenting about the now married [REDACTED] having no dance rhythm. To be honest, we were all very drunk and hung over.

He finally said something along the lines of, “Well, I hear she likes [the drummer]’s rhythm pretty great. We could hear it all the way from … “

Which is when hell broke loose. I believe a nose was broken. Several instruments damaged. There were a few bloody lips and noses. I think someone broke an arm – but they went to the ER and I never did find out what happened to them.

See, they rushed the stage and the worst part about it is that our drummer, the actual culprit, played straight through it. He played like he didn’t even notice a damned thing. Almost as bad, he didn’t even get hit. No, we took the brunt of it.

If you try to climb on the stage on my side – I’ll step on your fucking fingers. If you try again, I’ll kick you in the face. You’re assumed to be a threat. I have guitars on the stage that cost more than your car. I’ll hit you with them and I have a lawyer. You’re a damned menace!

Go climb up on the bassist side. He’s not busy and could use the company. I don’t mind. I ain’t even gonna go help him. Nope. Imma watch that shit and giggle. He’ll learn…

Good security could have stopped that. Great security would have been in our hotel rooms and stopped it earlier. Even better security would have crawled up on the stage and punched Paul right in the damned mouth so the groom didn’t have to. I have very strong opinions about Paul. Yes, yes I do. Love him like a brother, but… Man… The stories I can tell…

There’s no such thing as a harmless gig. They can all go sideways – and things go sideways quickly.

Then, there’s the emergency aspect. Good security is trained to deal with shit like fires! No, you don’t know what to do in a fire in a strange venue. Your dumb ass didn’t even check for fire exits before signing the contract. You didn’t even hire a manager to check that stuff and give you a walk-through of the venue, including (for a tiny subset) secure rooms. You don’t know any of that shit, that’s why you’re reading my blog and why I’m typing this out.

If you can’t get venue-provided security, considering budgeting to hire your own. Consider it like a condom, except you hope you never have to rely on it. They should be well trained. Go ahead and ask about their training and any certification.

Or not… Just go out there and get your ass kicked by a horde of angry drunks who are upset that your dumb ass gave the drummer a mic and he just called someone’s mother a whore. It can happen… If you play long enough, it will happen.

I’m surprised y’all read these, but I’m glad you do. Hopefully, you’re learning something from my experiences. Someone should write a better book than what I’m writing here. Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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