No matter what instrument you play, no matter what kind of music, there are a few universal items you’re going to want with you. We divided them into categories because we’re, you know, OCD.

We’re gonna need more power.

If any part of your show requires electricity, don’t assume the bits and pieces will be provided for you. Bring 9-volt batteries, a universal power cable, a power strip, extension cord, etc. You can leave the soldering iron at home. If it gets that bad, it’s probably time to pack up and go.

Accoutrements for your instruments.

If you’re a sax player, bring an extra reed. If you play guitar, you WILL break a string in the 3rd song so pack accordingly (that includes a string winder and wire cutters). Pack an extra capo, grab another strap, bring extra cables. Something always breaks. Always

Cold, hard cash.

Aside from love and happiness, money can buy just about everything, so have some with you. No musician in the history of musicians has ever managed to be completely self-sustaining at a venue. Maybe they charge the talent for cocktails (they shouldn’t), maybe you need to buy that A&R rep from My Mom’s Phat Records one last martini before she agrees to play your stuff for the big boss with the hot sauce. Or maybe you ignored the “Instrument” and “Power” sections (see above) and you have to spend the 19 minutes before your first song scouring the neighborhood for a hole-in-the-wall music store just waiting to charge you twenty bucks for a pick and more than your monthly car payment for a capo.

The bottom line.

Be ready for anything. The audience is counting on your to be a rock star. When was the last time you saw Keith Richards try to talk the asshole guitar player from the opening band into lending him a slide. Never happens.