Since I’ve been playing out, I’ve had everything from power surges to stunned June beetles try to ruin my performances. Here’s my top 5 preventable train wrecks onstage, and how I would prevent them from happening now:
Nightmare #5: On the last note of my first full band gig, I hit my keyboard and the stand collapses. The keyboard hits the ground like a bag of bricks.
Solution: Always buy a double braced keyboard stand, and make sure before playing that all pins and safety cables are properly connected. I ended up having to sell that keyboard for a loss because of a broken middle C key, which cost a lot more than a double braced stand would have.
Nightmare #4: I show up to the venue, and forget my power cable. I have to drive all the way home to get the power cable, and miss half of the show. I’m never invited back.
Solution: Make a checklist of all of your gear and cables, and then religiously check it off before you leave for the show. Don’t rely on just your memory- your career is too important.
Nightmare #3: I attempt to sing into a microphone, and receive such a violent shock to my lips that I sound mentally disabled the rest of the evening.
Solution: Insist on grounding all of your equipment. It’ll keep you from painful electrical shocks, and eliminate a host of other ground-related issues.
Nightmare #2: Just as I settle into playing a 3 hour solo piano set, I discover that the sustain pedal squeaks like a dying squirrel every time I touch it.
Solution: Buy a simple piano repair kit (WD-40 included), learn to use it, and take it to every show where you rely on the venue’s piano. Most problems can be solved in a few moments before the show.
And finally. . . .
Nightmare #1: I’m onstage in front of several thousand people, and my entire keyboard rig, including the band leader’s keyboard that is running off of my MacBook Pro, crashes. It takes 5 minutes for it to relaunch, while the lead singer tries to keep the audience entertained with dumb jokes.
Solution: Don’t ever, ever run all of your keyboards on one computer. Make sure your rig has redundancy, and includes rock-solid hardware keyboards that are virtually immune to crashes, even in extreme heat and cold.