Nothing, and I mean nothing, will have your live band working together like having a gig scheduled. When you have a deadline for a performance the whole band will suddenly become more focused on creating a great final product to present at the show. The constant tweaking of parts will stop, songs that just aren’t coming together will be dropped and the songs you do well will really start to get tight. Having an upcoming gig will give your band a sense of urgency that really will help you to polish things up and make them presentable.
You don’t have to schedule the biggest gig of your career. All you need is a gig that will be attended by people that want to hear your band. I’ve already written a great article on how to get out of the garage and onto the stage which talks about putting on a party for your friends and fans. All you really need to do is decide on a date and a place to throw a party and invite all your friends and family. That’s what I’m talking about today, setting a date to to that. You really need a set-in-stone date so that you have an actual goal to get your show ready for. Once you have that date then you can start to prioritize how you prepare your band to play the gig.
The things you need to do to be ready to play a gig will almost always be the same within about a month of playing the actual gig itself. About a month before the gig you should finalize the songlist by deciding exactly what you’re going to play. Make sure you pick your best songs and drop the ones that just aren’t coming together. After you have your songlist decided you can finalize everybody in the bands individual parts. As the last few weeks of practice happen before your gig you will want to make sure that everyone is rock solid on all the songs you’re playing. You don’t want to add any last minute songs, just stick with the ones that you know you play the best.
You’ll also want to decide on things like what you’re going to say between songs. It’s important to plan a fair amount of stage banter before you actually get onstage. That way you won’t be at a loss for words once you get up onstage. I’ve written a post on coming up with some good stage banter as well. Once you have your songlist and stage banter prepared then you need to have a dress rehearsal. Again, check out my article on the various types of band rehearsals and you will get some ideas on how to setup for a dress rehearsal. At dress rehearsal you’ll want to play the entire show start to finish as well as practicing crowd interaction as if the crowd was right there.
As your band gets more popular and you get regular gigs, you’ll be able to focus more on adding new songs and less on what you will say since you’ll already have the stage banter down. When you play a lot of gigs, your dress rehearsals will become more of a soudcheck and a time to run through new material. But if you’re struggling to get to the next level which is out of the practice room and up onstage, and you have enough songs learned to play a show, then you need to schedule a gig now and get out there and do it. Nothing will make you better than playing in front of people and getting that gig scheduled is pretty much the most important step for getting out and doing it.