How to Quickly Recover From a Bad Gig | What to Do After a Bad Concert

    Audio Engineer

    What to Do After a Bad Gig or Concert

    Some musicians tend to live life to the extreme, especially when it comes to their live performances.

    Some musicians will always think their last gig was the worst ever and they'll never be satisfied no matter what you try to tell them. They don't know how to recover after a seemingly bad gig and will spiral into an abyss.

    Then others just can't say enough good things about how amazing their last show was, and that they will go down as the greatest to ever do it — as you can see, the pendulum swings from one extreme side to the next.

    Typically, the reality for both musicians lies somewhere in the middle. In many cases, the gig was as good, if not better, than it felt. Many concert-goers don't understand the little nuances of a performance. What may have been a glaring mistake to yourself on stage could have easily been overlooked in the crowd.

    But then, sometimes, the show was as horrible as it felt.

    When the bad gigs happen, and they will no matter how long you've been performing, there are a few things to keep in mind as you deal with it.

    For your own peace of mind, we will discuss these tips to recover from a bad gig below.

    Table Of Contents

    Recover From a Disappointing Gig

    Figure Out What Went Wrong

    Worst gig of your life

    The first thing you should do is figure out what went wrong in the first place. Was it a lack of practice? Poor focus? An overly rowdy crowd? Were you under the weather?

    Understanding what went wrong during the gig will help you to prevent it from happening again during future performances. Even if the issue was out of your control, figuring out what happened and then taking responsibility for it is the best thing you can do.

    Taking responsibility for any issues that happened during the gig will help you keep them from happening again, but it will also help build trust with your bandmates. Take our word for it; trust between your bandmates is critical.

    As the performer, it can be challenging to pinpoint what exactly went wrong at a gig, since you have a unique perspective on the performance. Again, you should consider whether or not the crowd even noticed what went wrong.

    That's why you shouldn't be afraid to ask your trusted friends or even your touring manager or concert promoter what they thought of the performance.

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    Don't Make Excuses

    It can be easy and simple to blame the bad gig on everyone around you. But is that the best approach?

    Your bandmates, the engineers, the noisy group at the bar all serve as great scapegoats as to why your performance wasn't up to par.

    This probably seems like the best thing to do when you're stuck in the heat of the moment, but what you're really doing is refusing to take responsibility for what happened, and until you take responsibility, the same mistakes will keep repeating themselves.

    If you consider yourself a leader in the band, it is important to take responsibility, even for a negative experience. Finger-pointing can just lead to bad blood between band members. Remember that critical word from the section above? Trust.

    A major component of a fantastic set is every member of the band trusting one another.

    If that trust is severed by playing "the blame game," it could lead to many more bad gig experiences.

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    Accept What You Cannot Change

    what do you do after you play a bad gig or concert

    There will always be things that happen that were out of everyone's control that you couldn't do anything about.

    You can get better at dealing with these unexpected issues like a crazy, drunk audience or technical difficulties, but there will still be nights where you want to rip your hair out because it feels like everything has gone wrong for no apparent reason.

    On those nights, the problem-solving approach might not work very well. These are the broken strings, ridiculous audio feedback, pedalboard cord not working kind of nights.

    Do you want to know one guaranteed thing you'll never be able to change? The past. Learn from the past, but do not dwell on the past. 

    Instead of:

    • Getting angry with yourself for the mistakes
    • Dwelling on the poor gig
    • Imagining what people in the crowd were thinking

    Try the following:

    • Let the poor gig motivate you to do better
    • Take the initiative whether it be on your own or at band practice, to prevent the same mistakes from happening again

    Focus your energy on something that you can control, like preparing for the next show, or working on your new CD.

    Maybe your next hit single will be about how awful your last performance was.

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    Fix What You Can

    On the other side of the coin, there will be things that go wrong that you can absolutely fix.

    If you had a bad gig because you and your band had an off night, all you need to do is keep practicing.

    You'll also get better with each performance you have under your belt.

    Analyze everything you can about the show so you can find the things that went wrong that you or someone else can fix to prevent it from happening again.

    If your gig went south because your sound guy wasn't giving you a good mix in your monitors, then you can work on getting better at communicating and dealing with live sound engineers at your future gigs.

    The same rules apply when you're faced with rambunctious crowd members.

    Audiences can be fickle, but good performers know how to deal with all types of audiences, whether they're rowdy, attentive, or distant.

    That skill comes with practice and more performances.

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    Any Experience Can Be a Good Experience

    As cliche as it may sound, there really is no such thing as failure as long as you learn from your mistakes.

    Sometimes the best way to deal with a bad experience is to find out how to put a positive spin on it.

    Just look at Taylor Swift, for instance. She turns real-life issues into hit songs. Sometimes the cliches of "look on the bright side" and "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" have some merit, after all.

    Use the bad gig experience as a chance to learn, grow, and build character.

    Also, remember that everyone, even the heroes that you look up to, has an off night. We are human. There are no exceptions.

    It is a great mindset to aim for perfection, but If you expect perfection night in and night out, you will likely be disappointed.

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    Stay Motivated After a Bad Gig

    recover from a disappointing gig

    No matter how awful you feel now, the feeling from the poor gig will pass.

    Even if it feels like no one in history has performed worse than you just did, you will eventually get over it, and if you learn a thing or two from it, you'll be better off because of it.

    The key is to not be so hard on yourself, never expect perfection, learn something from each mistake, and find the silver in every poor performance. It is healthy to stay in the middle ground. Don't get too high after your great shows and don't hit rock bottom after a poor performance.

    Be reflective, learn what you can from each experience, and then keep grinding on your craft.

    If you're interested in learning how to get more gigs, click here.

    Beef Up Your Performance Skills

    Do you want to increase your performance preparedness?

    One great opportunity to elevate your stage performance and start knocking gigs out of the park is by attending an accredited music college.

    The Atlanta Institute of Music and Media offers degree and certificate programs that help you maximize your instrumentation skills, master audio engineering and music production techniques, and receive excellent live performance experience.

    You can enroll in the following programs at AIMM:

    If you want to hone your craft, boost your confidence, and leave bad gigs in the past, you need to learn more about the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media today.

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