I've got another sort of health related topic today. In many places where we practice our craft there's booze flowing and we've got the option to imbibe if we choose to. Here's a bunch of reasons why you shouldn't.
Alcohol is a depressant and as it's slowing down all your reactions it can make you sloppy. Missed cues or solos and other stupid avoidable mistakes become more common the more you drink. But beyond that, there are some tiny muscles in your ear that are affected as well. Your ear acts like a compressor in the presence of loud noises. If you concentrate you can actually hear and sometimes feel your ear contract on a loud snare hit. If the muscles that do that are slow to respond, the release time gets longer and the mix will start to pump in your head. As the one person in the room with access to dynamic control, it's a good idea to have as clear a picture as possible when you're making adjustments that affect everyone.
The second reason to abstain is your image. I've been at more than a few gigs where by the third set the sound guy can barely keep his eyes open and the lighting guy is literally asleep at the switch. If it's just your buddy's bar band this might not matter, but if you're trying to cultivate a professional appearance you'd do well to refrain from getting blitzed. I'm a real lightweight when it comes to alcohol so I've often been the only sober guy in the room. I didn't think about it until just recently that by doing so I really elevated my status in a lot of peoples eyes.
I've never made a big deal about staying sober at a gig, but people have noticed. If you think about who your working for and who is paying to see them it starts to make sense. A lot of these people couldn't conceive of playing or watching a gig without having a few drinks. By staying sober I showed them that I was serious about the work I was doing for them and that translates into real dollars in the end.
And the last reason is safety. At the end of the night the band is going to put their stuff in the cases and hopefully hop in with a designated driver and vanish into the night. The crew then has to come alive and run a load out. There's no way around the effects of alcohol except taking the time to have it wear off. You might picture a rigger or forklift driver at an arena gig and say yes, absolutely those guys should be sober. But even at a much lower level it's important. If you've got a pole speaker in your arms and trip on a mic cable for instance. It lands on some girl's foot and her biker boyfriend takes offense. Need I say more? With so much at stake and so many potential dangers, it just makes sense to stay straight.
I won't drone on about it. That's my stance and I'm stickin' with it. You can offer to buy me a drink at a gig. Except in the rarest of cases I won't accept. Offer Mountain Dew instead. Our industry runs on the stuff. It's like liquid hit points and if you drink enough of it you level up and go into consulting.