Are you GUI? GUI – Gigging Under the Influence. Are you guilty?
GUI – or Gigging Under the Influence is something I’ve been concerned about for a while now. I’ve been to a few shows as of late where you really can’t tell the difference between the band and the drunken bachelor party flopping around wildly at the table down in front of the stage. Now, I’m no “goodie two shoes” and I’ve done my share of drinking at shows, but I’ve always managed to keep it under control and still do my job as a preforming musician. Apparently that is not the case with a lot of bands these days. A little alcohol can do wonders for the anxiety or stage fright and it’s nice to have a full beer while you’re up there rockin’ out. But there is a line and when you cross that line, things can get bad REALLY quickly. I watched a band a couple weeks ago go from tight to total shit in a matter of a couple hours. Why? They were getting tanked on stage, 2 or 3 shots after every song. It got so embarrassingly bad that it was giving me anxiety from just watching them. Talk about unprofessional behavior, my bet is that they won’t be playing that bar again anytime soon or maybe ever again. Playing that drunk on stage is like playing on a broken swing set. It still sort of works, but it’s dangerous, unpredictable, probably going to fall down and you’re going to end up on the ground with people laughing at you.
Keep your drinking to a minimum! I can’t stress this enough. No one wants to listen to a slobbering drunk person ramble on about nothing while smashing his guitar into his face during what he thinks is an epic solo. Another thing I should mention here, never EVER beg for shots or drinks from the crowd, if they bring you one on their own accord, great! But begging for drinks on stage makes you look like a total desperate alcoholic dork. I have personal experience with this. I played in a blues band a few years back and our lead singer would constantly be asking the crowd for free booze. It was horribly embarrassing. She was unstable and kind of crazy, but was sure easy on the eyes. So it wasn’t hard for her to get what she wanted. After about 3 shots her voice would go, she couldn’t remember any of the lyrics to her own songs and she would just stagger back and forth on stage muttering nonsense into the mic. Then she would ask for more booze. At that point it was no longer “cute” or “fun”, just desperate and pathetic. An uncomfortable silence would wash over the club and people would start leaving in droves. No one wants to sit and listen to that. Needless to say, that band didn’t last very long and ended poorly. It’s too bad, that band had potential but since she couldn’t control her booze intake and be a professional, it went crashing down in flames.
Another topic I would like to cover here is the access to free drinks at the bar or club. If you get free drinks, don’t abuse the privilege! Sure, get loose, but keep it on the level. You’re a professional, remember? Not some 20 year old frat boy trying to impress the babes with your jaw dropping ability to pound down the brewskies. I’ve played many clubs that used to provide free beer all night for the musicians, but have since stopped that perk because the bands would just get trashed and not be able to play. It seems to be becoming a really bad problem these days. I’ve even had promoters and venues that require that we sign a special contract stating that we WILL NOT get too drunk on stage or after the show and cause a scene. Really? We have to sign a written legal statement about drinking now? Has it gotten that bad? Come on, people. Get it together.
Then we also have those that are making the unreasonable demands from the bar/club. Demanding free top shelf booze and high priced beer is a sure fire way to not get asked back and get yourself too wasted to play. Remember, it’s really easy to cross the line and affect your playing. Remember, you are there to play and entertain, not get wasted and act the fool. Don’t be one of those bands that every other band hates because you ruined it and they took away the free beer.
Play with your heart, not your liver.