...for friends and supporters of impoverished, minimally popular indie musicians everywhere...
1. If you cannot make it to the gig, don’t call on the day of the gig to let your friend know. Your call will be one of approximately 400 your friend receives that day, most of which are people cancelling. It is fine to text LATER that night, after the set is finished and send well wishes. Cancellation calls on the day of a gig make you feel less guilty but make your friend feel unpopular. Leave them.
2. When at the gig, if you see your friend prior to doing her set, it is fine to offer to buy her a drink but don’t attempt to engage in any kind of in-depth conversation. It is likely she will be feeling like going fetal under some table somewhere. This kind of thing is fine; ‘Hey can I get you a drink? You look gorgeous. I am so excited etc etc’. Got it? Generic enthusiasm. No hard-hitting questions. Compliments of physical beauty. Offers of alcohol. All. Good. Things.
3. The appropriate thing to say after a gig is ‘That sounded great’. If it didn’t sound great, there is NO POINT in telling your friend this immediately after the gig. If you must communicate it (and sometimes this can be helpful) WAIT until a suitable amount of time has passed (say 3 to 5 days) before suggesting that your friend needs her guitar turned up, or her bass player down or whatever. Any critique on the night of the gig will be taken VERY personally, and will probably make your friend feel quite shit.
4. If it sounded okay, but you just didn’t like the tunes, then here are some useful filler compliments you might like to use if you can’t bear to not say anything at all. 'WELL done', 'Amazing', 'Wow. I’m SO impressed.' (see these could refer to anything... the courage your talent-less friend has to get up on stage, the biceps of her drummer, whatever)
5. If there is a really BIG problem with the sound at the gig, and you are a sound-y type of person, DO something about it. If you choose not to do something about it, DON’T go on about it when the gig is done.
6. And here is a final tip. Follow all of the above rules. Then, when the gig is done, offer to lug your friend's gear to her car. In fact, pick up her amp and insist. And then here’s the clincher. Offer to DRIVE her car and gear to her place so that she doesn’t have to think about it- and she can concentrate on drinking post gig scotch. She won’t forget it. I promise.