Monday, January 28, 2013

Top 10 Things to Bring to Your Next Gig


I was cleaning out some of my road cases this weekend, and it occurred to me that there are certain things that I will not leave the house without whenever I do a sound/dj/karaoke gig. This might seem kind of basic, and surely your list will be different, but here goes:

1. My notebook and a few pens. My notebook is my gig bible, and it includes equipment lists, diagrams and notes from previous shows. Obviously I need a pen to keep notes, but the extra pens are for other people. You would be amazed at how many people (including the people in charge) never have a pen. Make sure one of them is a Sharpie.

2. A multitool with pliers and a knife. Need to cut a tie-wrap, a huge wad of tape or a guitar string? Need to get a screw or nut loose when you are in the middle of a huge park and your car is a mile away? Without a knife or a pair of pliers, life becomes much more difficult. I prefer the Leatherman or Gerber brand tools.

3. A compact flashlight. You would be surprised how often you need a flashlight, even in the daytime; the recesses of an equipment rack are awfully dark. They have nice compact LED flashlights everywhere nowadays, and they are dirt cheap. Check at Harbor Freight or Home Depot.

4. AA and 9V batteries. Not for my stuff, for other peoples’ stuff. It goes without saying that I will make sure I have spares for my tuner, flashlight and wireless equipment, and my wireless microphones ALWAYS gets new batteries before a gig. But guitarists and bass players never bring spares. Active bass = no sound with a dead battery and no spares in sight.

5. A schedule. This is a pipe dream, though. It amazes me that more than half the time, I am the one that has to put the event schedule together – after I get to the venue. Of course, I put together a darned nice schedule.

6. Playlists on my iPad. At every gig I have ever been to, the host will ask for me to play filler music between sets or background music while the guests are being seated, or are mingling or eating. It is not that hard to put together a bunch of two hour playlists that are appropriate for kids, adults, dance parties, holiday events and god knows what.

7. A change of clothes. Unless it is a shorts and t-shirt event I never plan to set up in the same clothes I will be wearing for the event. I don’t know about you, but I hate crawling around in the dust and dirt with my good trousers and shoes. Plus I tend to get kind of sweaty when hauling speakers and gear boxes into the venue. I have become an expert at changing in parking lots, and at my age I no longer care who sees my chonies.

8. A microphone and cable. No matter what the gig is, bring them. Even one of those $20 cheapies from Musician’s Friend is better than yelling at the top of your voice.

9. An Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad charger. When I do shows, about 90% of the music that dancers and performers show up with their music on an iPhone or iPod, and they never think to charge them ahead of time.

10. A direct box and a guitar cable. When was the last time you had a bass player show up for a gig with no amp or cable, figuring that he/she could just run straight into the sound board? I thought so.

So, let me have it – post some of the things you cannot live without!



  1. I can live without microphones but, I must have guitar or bass strings a towel or rag hand sanitizer, small med kit,soldering iron and solder,etc.

  2. And gloves (mechanic brand is preferred)

  3. Earplugs, charger for my cell phone and my bandmates' cell phones, bass strings, guitar strings, electronics repair kit (if you like tube stuff from the 60s), water, first aide kit, two spare cables, and laptop.