Guide to getting and playing better gigs


   

Stage Presence

     
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Depressing, innit? You sweat blood developing your technique, and what happens? Along comes a bunch of tarts with all the ability of a dead elephant, and suddenly they're selling millions, while you're still playing to 35 people on a good night. You can eff and blind all you want, but what this tells us is what just about every big-time pro will confirm: that successful music is often at least as much about image as music. Image isn't an optional extra. If an audience is listening to you, they'll also be looking at you.......

Some bands spend hundreds of hours, and pounds, putting their wardrobe together, while others just chuck on whatever smells least after they've bailed out the washing machine. Others let the record company sort it out when they (maybe) get signed. All are valid but, like musical styles, every dress style is some kind of 'uniform'--even if the basics fit the image you want, you may need some kind of gimmick to make you different. Dress-wise you could consider items such as caps or hats, boots or shoes, even belts or buckles. It's your 'dress code' and, unless you wanna look like a wannabe, you need something that nobody else has. Just think of Jay Kay from Jamiroquai and his stupid bloody hat......On the other hand, maybe not....

With many semi-pro bands it's left to the front-man to do all the body-talk, while the other players concentrate on ballsing the next verse. Bad move. There's nothing basically wrong with the old approach of 'showcasing' each band member, especially during solos, but even at other timesit helps if everyone shows occasional signs that rigor mortis hasn't set in just yet. This needn't involve heavy-duty choreography: as with dress gimmicks, you can develop the kind of stunts that actors call 'business'. A classic semi-pro example is where the drummer triumphantly throws his sticks into the air (and then spends several minutes scrabbling through the gig-bag looking for the spares that aren't there....)

Most bands are turned on by audience appreciation, but not all seem to have grasped that audiences like appreciation too. Inter-song chat and banter are good, but eye contact is better. Listen to your audience when they applaud you. If you pick up that they're more into one kind of number than another, adapt the rest of your playlist to suit. The customers may not always be right, but they're still the customers. Beg, borrow or buy a camcorder, and video one of your gigs. Then sit down and watch it. What kind of impression are you creating? If you find your attention drawn to the temptations of a chicken-curry, it's time to give your image a serious makeover.

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