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14 musicians tell us about the first gig they ever played

March 17 2017, 2:43 PM EDT By Mackenzie Hall Caitlyn Ralph


It takes a lot of guts to perform for the first time, and some of the musicians we asked had some pretty hilarious situations that got them onstage in the first place. From metal to musical theatre, here’s where your favorite artists got their start.

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Alex Costello, ROAM

[In high school], my mom booked a holiday for me to see my friends in Dubai. My friend in Dubai is in a metal band and he was like, "Yo, I'm in this shredding metal band and we want a clean vocalist to just come and try out. Do you want to?" So I came over and we practiced it—in Dubai—and he was like, "This is sick, do you want to do a show next week?" And I was like, "Uhh, okay," being nervous cause I'm normally into John Mayer and Taylor Swift. That was what I was into, just playing acoustic guitar. So my first show was playing in a metal band in Dubai. And we were playing at a community pool, so we played the room and then jumped into the swimming pool.  

Ally Einbinder and Abby Weems, Potty Mouth

Einbinder: Our first show was in a basement of a punk house in western Massachusetts in May 2011. It was a show I was already booking for a touring band, so I used it as an opportunity to throw our newly formed band on the bill as the local opener. We had only been a band for three months and only had five songs, but we wanted to play a show before Victoria [Mandanas, drums] left town to spend the summer in South Carolina. Abby [Weems, vocals/guitar] and I didn't have amps at that point, so we had to borrow some from one of the other bands.

Weems: It was a good goal for us to commit to playing a show despite being such a new band. It pushed us to write enough material for a set, and even though we started the band just for fun, playing shows gave it real purpose.

Benji Madden, Good Charlotte

The first show Good Charlotte ever played was in Phil Miller’s basement, opening for DayBreak, a Green Day cover band from our school. They were also very popular kids, so it was very big deal for us to get to open for them. Joel sang with his back to the room the entire set and we did about eight songs, all originals. There was maybe 12 people watching. It was awesome. We were hooked.

Chris “Fronz” Fronzak, Attila

I will never forget the first Attila show. It was Halloween night in 2004, and we played in somebody's driveway. Not even a house show—a driveway show! It was amazing! That night was a huge part of my career because everything kinda clicked for me. I knew I belonged on a stage—or more driveways, for the time being.

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Daniel Wand, Capsize

It was pretty spur of the moment, actually. Mind you, everyone that I'm about to refer to was 15 years old at the time. A random local band from my high school, or maybe even middle school, was playing a show and the singer literally got grounded a couple nights before. [Laughs.] So, they had me go up and do it and honestly, I did not even know what I was doing, but I made it through their set so they could still play. It was probably the worst thing ever, but that was my very first time ever being onstage. My first real show where I was doing my own thing ended up being at that same venue, which was pretty cool.

Garret Rapp, The Color Morale

It would’ve been Steve [Carey, drummer] and I's local band we had before we became a hybrid of the Color Morale. I think we had six songs and maybe two of them had lyrics, so it was very improv, and I'm the most ADD person ever, so for me, improv is way better than planned.

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