How to Let Your Friend Know You Can’t Make Their Gig

Posted: March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I just played a gig on Saturday night and had quite a blast doing it! And as always there were people who couldn’t make it. Two days later I got a message from a musician friend who was originally going to make it and very keen to make it to the gig but couldn’t in the end.

She was actually incredibly considerate when she let me know she can’t make the gig and has inspired me to write this blog post. I’ll get on to exactly how later on.

As gigging musicians we all know this scene:

It’s the day of the big gig, you are nervous and excited in equal measures. If you are also the bandleader, then on top of your own anxieties you are also dealing with motivating and communicating with your own band. The anticipation of the night is building, you have done the final rehearsals, the set list is pretty much sorted and you have done your very best until the last minute to invite your friends to come along. You are now at the venue just before soundcheck and then suddenly..

You get a text from a friend that saying they can’t make it to the gig!

Their dog died, or their pet goldfish had to be fed or they had to wash their hair or they genuinely had a good reason not to make it 🙂

You were already crapping yourself before going on stage, even pysched up! But this just kinda poured water all over that feeling. A few more of these “no show” texts (I get more “no show” texts/messages than “show” texts before a gig) and now you feel depressed. Hardly encouraging is it?

So what am I trying to get at here:

  • If you can’t make a friend’s gig, don’t tell them 2 hours before they are about to get on stage. It is almost better to not show up and then tell them later. My friend did exactly that, and in her own words when she messaged me two days later “I thought I shouldn’t contact you on the night as it doesn’t help when you’re trying to get psyched up and excited, to get a negative text”.
  • If you feel ashamed about not attending the gig (because earlier you said you would definitely come and have now broken your word), the even worse thing is to stay quiet about it later on. It is so much better to tell the truth like “I didn’t feel like it or something else came up”. I am cool with this as when it comes to my turn to attend someone else’s gig and I don’t feel like/too tired/have something better to do I do let people know exactly why I didn’t make it later on.

At the end of the day the way you respond to this is a reflection of the principles you live with in life in general. The way you tell your friends is merely an outward expression of your core principles as a person. In this blog post I have written out explicitly on how to let your friends know you can’t make their gig, but it is who you are that makes all the difference in how you respond to such situations. I may not get this right myself all the time but I do try my very best to be considerate to other musicians and people in general.

Most people don’t have these principles, they will break their own word and then be quiet about it. But you are not most people. As a committed and motivated musician you should aspire to this.

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