#1 Leaving all the promotion up to the promoter.
Remember it’s your BAND that knows your fans and has contact with your fans, people wont just show up if your band is not also promoting the gig. Go out of your way to bring people out for your shows. For what it’s worth, promoters are more inclined to make repeat bookings for a band that does promote AND are far more likely to recommend this band to other organisers/events.
#2 Don’t show up late
For soundcheck OR the gig!
#3 Talking Too Much or Not at All to Your Audience
Hong Kong audiences tend to be familiar with local bands who do tend to talk a lot in-between each song – this is actually a good thing – make sure, you give your audience the opportunity to respond to you. Balance a lot of talking by not talking before every song. On the other hand, if you say nothing to your audience for your entire set, that’s not going to endear you. Of course, if you’re some mysterious band with an image/theme that matches non-verbal performances, then fine but if you’re shy, get over it! Connect with the audience, especially if they paid to come and see you!
#4 Playing too loud
IF you’re in a venue that relies on alcohol sales, then this is a huge no no. Not everyone has ear plugs handy! Plus this creates a struggle for the sound person, in making the sound balanced for your band (i.e. making your band sound good!)
#5 Never ever argue with the sound person in front of the audience.
The sound person could be an asshole and doing a shit job but your audience didn’t come to see you moan about the sound or act frustrated. Play the show and have fun performing. IF you truly think the sound person is a hindrance to the venue, let the venue owner(s) know and avoid conflict with the sound person as you may be playing more gigs at that same venue in the future! Hong Kong is too small to make the sound person your enemy!
#6 Tuning your guitar on stage or having a music stand on stage
As an MC, it’s super frustrating, for me, to ask the band “Are you ready to perform?” they say yes and then after I’ve done a huge loud introduction, the guitarist starts to tune his guitar (audibly) and the audience spends the next 3 minutes watching and listening to him/her tuning. Kills the vibe! LEARN the words to your songs if you’re the singer, and learn how to play the chords without a music stand. Sure you can write cheat notes on your set list, but there’s no need to block the audience view by having music stands on stage.
#7 Don’t play past your allocated soundcheck time slot OR your performance time slot
I have a whole rant here about how it’s not a rehearsal it’s a soundcheck.
Sometimes we have booked a venue for a set number of hours and if it runs over, either we have to cut a later band’s set shorter or we have to pay more money for the venue rental or in one venue’s case, the police were highly likely to turn up if the show continued after 11pm (so we had to end shows there by 11pm).
ALWAYS check with the promoter if you can run over, before playing your killer encore.
#8 Sneaking people into paid shows
Do I really have to explain why?
#9 Not bothering with stage image
If you’re a blues rock band, then sure turn up in jeans and T-shirts and sing the blues. At least try to look like a band, even if each band member has their own style/personality. If you have band tees for sale, make sure some of you are wearing them – you are your band’s best model! My take on Image: Image is actually even more important in this social media age, because the saturation of the music marketplace means listeners often need other elements BESIDES the music to make their decisions, which band will they check out next, which gig are they going to? Your image might attract them to come and see your show, then at the show, it’s the perfect opportunity to make an honest, genuine connection with them through your music.
#10 Turning up just before your set and leaving right after your performance
Sticking around to catch other bands playing at the same show – is a sign of respect and a very strong way for musicians to show their support for each other. If you’re not a Hong Kong band and you’re rushing to the airport straight after your set, then we understand but if your band just turns up for your set and then leaves right afterwards, the other bands (and some of the audience!) will think your band is arrogant and unfriendly and not really supportive towards the Hong Kong live music scene – you don’t even have to talk to anyone if you’re shy, your physical presence is enough to say “your music matters to me”.
It’s also a really nice touch to stay around after a gig and talk to those who have paid to see you. Not only will this be appreciated by the fans, but bands may even see an increase in merchandise sales too!
Written by Chris B. in February 2020