This blog is about how I spend my time before a show. Always get a good night's sleep, as much as possible. If the show is out of town I might bring a small travel practice pad to loosen up sometimes the night before but definitely I warm up in the room for 10 to 30 minutes before going to sound check.
A typical sound check might begin at 3pm. I will be using a "backline" drum set in this example. The first thing I do upon arriving at the venue is survey the drums and cymbals. Once I assess all the components (usually set to a rider) I'll then set up the drums to my positioning and tuning. Once all set up I will take a break while the stage hands set microphones on the drums. By this time all band members are set up and ready. Next we do a 'line check' with the sound engineers (FOH and Monitor) and go through each part of the drum set so they get their gain structure, eq, gates whatever the engineers wants to do or may need to fix (which usually isn't anything if your tuning is good).
Once the whole band has line checked we next need to set our individual monitor mixes. We do this by first giving general verbal requests to the monitor engineer and then play through a few songs. Usually in the beginning we start and stop a lot to satisfy each musicians individual monitor mix requests. After everyone is happy with their mix, we'll then play through a few songs to get a feel for our mixes, our instruments and space before the stage goes quiet.
What I do next depends entirely on how much time there is before downbeat. I like to be in a quiet place, I don't like a lot of conversation and socializing before a show. That's just me and I am not always like that but most of the time I am. I like to focus on my job, I visualize the songs, the set and my moves in certain sections. I also take deep breaths, close my eyes and somewhat slow my breathing. I have already played enough in sound check and my warms up so now just being in this more relaxed quiet state of mind and body is my way of preparing for a show (although many times, if I am feeling stiff or cold I will have a pair of sticks and work out somewhere backstage to keep loose.. again).
I definitely will eat before a concert. Whether it's a dinner (when time allows) onsite or somewhere close by (walking distance) I am going to eat something. I always travel with a few power bars and nuts... I will only eat a little if it is close to show time but I'll eat something more substantial or a normal meal when there is more time before the show. Some people don't like to eat before a show at all, for me I need the energy and don't want to feel hungry during my performance. I am not much of a drinker so don't ever have alcohol or any other drug before a show.
So that's it, I have witnessed countless episodes of high drama, extreme hyperactivity, pre-show backstage performances, listening to other music, friends and associates wanting to chat, fights... I certainly haven't seen it all but what I do see most often is kindness, professionalism and genuine hospitality by all. I always, always bring my most positive energy and grateful self to any performance situation. I see it as a blessing and a privilege and understand the importance of the moment.
Great advice Dave, I like the positive energy point. There are always issues at every show and I have forgotten a time or two not to let it affect my attitude.