Reflections on my First Gig

I wrote previously on preparing for my first gig. Now that the gig is over and done with, here are some thoughts on how it went.

I spend my days in the world of software and one thing that is often done in that universe is a Retrospective where we pause and ask questions like, "What went well?" "What did not go so well?" "How can we do it better next time?" I do this in various other areas of my life. With my family, we do this on a somewhat regular basis - we call it "Family Meeting". And sometimes we do it for events, like a holiday or a vacation. So it's only natural to retro on my first gig.

What went well

I was very well prepared. I had rehearsed all my songs several times. I practiced setting up my gear and playing through it (this is borrowed gear, keep in mind). I had a good list of songs and the order was reshuffled several times.

My wardrobe was also good, although I may have been overdressed. Better than being underdressed!

What did not go so well

I did get there early, but it took awhile to set up all my equipment and by the time I was all set up, it was go time. I prefer to have a little bit more of a buffer before I have to start.

I prepared for a concert, not a gig at a coffee shop/bar. That may seem like a subtle difference, but it turned out to be quite significant. It turns out that people really only half listen to the music at a coffee shop. They are really there to hang out with their friends and chat, and drink coffee. So, rehearsing introductions to songs and transitions between songs was a waste of time. Nobody was really listening while I was talking. There were a couple of times when I told a joke or asked a question and sometimes some people where paying attention. But basically, everyone was talking.

In fact there were several times when I finished a song and all I got back from everyone there was crickets. Other times, people clapped (sometimes politely). And sometimes, folks belatedly clapped. (As in, Oh, I just realized there is no more music, the song must be over. 👏👏👏)

Also, I have done some social justice type songs on my channel and I realized while those are good songs, they may not be the best songs for this type of venue. People really are there to just drink a beer and chat with friends and enjoy themselves. Which is totally fine. Some songs may not really fit that vibe.

What can I do better next time?

Plan on walking in the door at least 30 minutes before the gig starts. I think I left my house 30 minutes before the gig and got there about 20 minutes before.

Don't sweat the time in between songs as much. If everyone is quiet and listening, well then maybe I need a Dad joke or a story ready to go, but I don't need to worry about that until it actually happens.

Choose songs that are really more about the fun and happy things in life. While We Shall Overcome is a great song, it's probably not the best fit for this type of a gig.

This was not mentioned in the "What did not go so well" section, but I would like to memorize as least some of my songs. I didn't really have any memorized. I definitely can do better in this area.

Overall take-away from the gig? It really was awesome and I had a lot of fun. And I plan on doing it again soon. And most importantly, I learned a lot in the process. There are a few things I can tweak so that I can do even better next time!