so you've got this band together and it's going
really well. Good players and tightening up nicely.
The only problem is that the audience doesn't seem to
respond the way you expect they would if you're
getting as good as you think you are. So what's
wrong? What's still missing? Well, if you're like
most bands in this predicament, you may be forgetting
that music is a form of communication. A more
sophisticated version of the spoken word, because of
its ability to convey emotion with sound.
Communication involves not only words and sound but
also physiology. You've probably spent a great deal
of energy on tone and rhythm, but what are you doing
onstage while you play? Are you doing anything to
involve people in the show or are you hiding
comfortably by your amp?
If you want your audience to watch you, you have to
do something VISUAL. I've seen too many otherwise
good bands that just play to each other or stare at
their guitar necks. It's probably the same way they
play at rehearsal and they don't even realize it. I
believe the goal of the show is to get the attention
of an entire room focused on one thing. The song.
More accurately, each and every movement of the song,
as it unfolds. It's almost like mass hypnotism. It's
very powerful and equally hard to pull off, but
people will remember the show because they were in
it, not just at it. They may not even be aware of why
they enjoyed your band so much but they'll come back.
To work the room or hold the crowd is an art, but
there are some simple things you can do to get better
response quickly. The rest can be considered ongoing
Number one is, get into a band you like! Life's too
short to play shitty tunes with jerks.
Second, be ready in every way. If you're not
comfortable with the material, you can't expect to
play with confidence and blow away your audience. If
you're late, or your equipment sucks, you're going to
be distracted. Frustration is probably not what you
want to send out to the crowd.
Next, be aware of what is happening OFF the stage.
See what the audience likes and what they don't like.
Look at them, make eye contact, let them know you are
performing for them. I'm not saying you have to jump
around like an idiot (unless of course, you feel like
one at that moment). Just move around, do something.
It's a live performance. BE ALIVE.
Remember that it's important to be real. You love
music or you wouldn't be up there. The only thing
worse than a good band that's boring is a crap band
that thinks they're the hottest thing going. You can
tell they're just doing what they're supposed to do
because no one would be that far removed from reality
(would they?) Above all, open up and let go. Get off
on the music. The audience will get off on you and
then feed the energy back. Everyone plays better in
front of a responsive crowd. It's what we're there
for. The band's job is to make the audience feel the
way the song feels to them, to express emotion
through the performance and start the cycle. To get
"caught up in it" whether it's a sad ballad
or a no brainer party tune.
You're supposed to be able to do just as good a show
for the three people who bothered to show up on a
Tuesday night as you do for a packed house on Friday.
I know that's an idealistic goal but you have to at
least try. If you're not at least a little
uncomfortable you're probably not doing enough. if
you go far out of that comfort zone, you'll appear
phony. You may not feel right going mental in an
empty house but if you don't do something, the room
will stay empty. So learn to read your audience and
give the people what they want.