There have been a lot of times at soundcheck or even during the gig when I thought "Damn! Only if I had that thing right now".
As a performing musician, apart from the obvious things like your gear and costumes, you definitely need to carry some extras in your gig bag just to be on the safer side.
Most of it is small easy to carry stuff which won't significantly increase the weight of your bag but will go a long way in helping you get through a smooth gig.
Here a list of 7 things I think are necessary:
1. Power strip / Extension board: You never know how far you are going to be placed from the electric supply. Sometimes, the sound guy doesn't have enough boards or the cord isn't long enough to reach you. Having an extension board handy really helps.
2. DI box: Especially for keyboard players. You have one of these and the sound guy can never ask you to go mono unless of course, he has a very small board with limited inputs. In that case, write a mental note to get a better gig next time.
3. Cables: Carry your own. Spend money here and buy good ones. Long enough for you to move around the stage if you are a guitarist. It is better to have cables you trust then wasting time during soundcheck figuring out where the hell is the buzz coming from.
4. Masking Tape: Small, easy to stick, tear and remove. Comes in handy for a variety of purposes from cable management on stage, to damping your snare and toms, to sticking your setlist somewhere, to fixing your foot pedals to a smooth stage surface to prevent them from sliding.
5. Batteries: Especially 9V. People using acoustic guitars, effect and volume pedals have a very handy use of these. Don't buy cheap ones here as well just to make sure they last you throughout the gig. Keep at least 3-4 in your gig bag.
6. Markers & Paper: To write down your set lists for each band member. Usually, we prepare the setlist right after soundcheck (bad habit) and I have had a lot of shows where band members are hunting around for something to write on just before the show. Having a set of papers and a nice thick marker in your gig bag really helps.
7. Business Cards / Demo material: Very important. Assuming you played a nice show, people would love to get in touch with you for your music or for a gig in the future. It doesn't really give a good impression if you go around mouthing your phone number or writing it down on napkins. Get a professional looking business card which mentions your contact, your website (if you don't have one, you know what your weekend assignment is) and your e-mail address. Also, having a demo CD handy saves you a lot of trouble of following up as well.
If you think there is something I am missing, do let me know in the comments.
Have a great gig!
This article is contributed by Hardik Vaghela, Co-Founder of Muziclub and Alif.