Alright guys, I’m excited for this entry. Last week, I had my first official, paid gig at The Workers Club in Fitzroy, and I’m here to tell you all about it!
I’ve done gigs before. Open mics, band performances in high school, and some solo and duo shows as well. But this was the first ticketed one, and the first gig since seriously launching my music project, and the first one that I was playing all originals (well, one cover, but I’ll get to that later).
I landed the gig a couple of weeks ago, through Amber Mic Productions. They book artists for small gigs and festivals around Australia. I’ve been a member of their Facebook page for a while, although not an active one. I saw an ad for a gig in 2 weeks time, and thought “screw it, it’s now or never“. I commented my interest, and the next day I was booked.
Right away, I realised I needed to get my figurative shit together, and organise a set list. I headed to The Music Book.
The Music Book is a big folder of all of my original works, the earliest one dating back to when I was 13. I had songs all over the place on random pieces of paper, so when I was around 14, I decided to start The Music Book so I’d never lose a hook or a verse again.
I picked my songs. 9 originals. I then realised that I relied so much on my own writing that I didn’t know how to play my songs without the music in front of me. HOW was I going to be an artist if I couldn’t even do the simplest of tasks? Panic set in.
This, however, was just a small speed-bump in the grand scheme of me being a professional performer. I was determined to overcome it.
Time to learn my songs by heart. First thing’s first: I compiled all of the songs for my setlist onto Ultimate Guitar. You can save your tabs as personal if you’re not ready for the world to see them yet.
Now, my music was mobile.
From there, re-learning my songs was surprisingly easy. I memorised what key each one was in and what chord it started on, then relied on my music knowledge and knowledge of work that I wrote myself, to know where it went from there. I also stuck a cheat sheet to my keyboard in case nerves got the best of me on the night.
After that, it was practice, practice, practice. I filmed my rehearsals, I sang my set in the car, and I took great care of my voice in the lead-up.
I re-arranged my setlist by bumping an original song, and adding one of mum’s favourites – “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon.
Promotion came down to posting on social media, and word of mouth. I told all of my friends that I was playing my first gig, and as true friends do, they booked the night off to come and see me. My parents even invited some friends of their own. I posted about the gig on my Instagram – @alexcarpimusic, on my Facebook page, and personal profile. I did this multiple times over the 2-week lead up, and also shared my rehearsal videos as a ‘sneak peak’. It seemed to work, as we had a turnout of around 60 people on the night!
I expected to be far more nervous than I was. I had done the work, so I knew that whatever happened on the night would be okay, I just had to go in and do my best. The first two acts, Steph Strings and Chelsea De Witt, were amazing, but before I knew it, I was up.
The best part was that the lights were so bright that I couldn’t see anyone. This meant that no-one’s reactions could put me off or distract me. I performed my set, bantered in between some tracks and told the crowd what some songs were about.
All-in-all, I had an awesome time. I really do love performing, I love the rush it gives you and the payoff at the end. When I came off stage, I couldn’t stop smiling, it was the best feeling in the world. Fruity Lex was up after me, and he killed it.
My advice to any artists just starting out, would be to make like Nike and Just Do It. Bite the bullet and get yourself that first gig. As they say, 1 performance is worth 100 rehearsals, and you’ll get so much better and more confident when performing in front of a crowd – no matter how small.
I wish you the best of luck if you’re trying to land that first gig, and as always, drop me a line in the comments, or via firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to chat!
See you next week!