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Thread Common live performance mistakes - don't do what I've done!

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  • 3 participants
Topic Common live performance mistakes - don't do what I've done!
Here's a list of mistakes that I've made and constantly see with local bands, so when you're wondering why you just played a song flawlessly but everyone's still ignoring you biting into their medium-rare t-bone, this might be why:
  • Songs are too long: unless you're improvising/mixing it up, 2-3 choruses is often sufficient
  • Repetitive song: 16 bars of the same verse riff will get lost on an audience after 10 seconds. Mix it up!
  • Out of key guitar solos: this one's common sense but still happens all the time....no one's there to see you shred noise
  • Bad appearance: unless you're playing somewhere where you KNOW no one will pay attention, look like you belong in a band
  • Predictable set lists: you need tempo changes or style changes at some point, otherwise the ultimate 10 song set list will sound like 1 long song to people who aren't familiar with it
  • No Harmonizing: fill out your music, vocal and instrumental harmonies truly are game changers
  • Standing still: a little stage presence goes a long way. If someone just wanted a perfect rendition of a hendrix solo they would listen to the record. In fact, playing flawlessly but not moving at all is more awkward and less enjoyable for the audience. This is a big point that I learned early on :D:
  • No audience interaction: especially if they paid to watch you play, you gotta involve them by at the VERY LEAST looking at them while playing
  • No interaction with bandmates: this kind of goes off the standing still point. Make it fun to both watch AND listen to you
  • Being too drunk or stoned on stage: trust me, you don't sound as good as you think....
  • Fiddling around with your instrument between songs....we're not in high school anymore
  • Too long of a pause between songs: if you aren't talking or playing, you aren't entertaining
  • Singing out of the key: common sense, but unfortunately an even more common problem
  • Playing too slow of a list: this is more prevalent if playing at a bar. Depends on the venue
  • Not taking it seriously: even if you're just starting out and playing a show for 3 or 4 people, play your heart out because who knows, they might each bring 3 or 4 others...

Anyway I've seen some comments in this forum from more experienced producers and performers. This list is clearly geared towards the latter. Did I miss anything?
Sounds like mistakes made by a very specific type or style of musician...

Music is incredibly subjective. You say not to play too slow of a set list, meanwhile radiohead is out there with zillions of fans listening to what one might argue is all slow or similar sounding music (at least within In Rainbows, for example, which I for one think was a fantastic album)
I have to agree with APK47 that some of this kind of pigeonholes the reader. As a musician and soundy who regularly plays at a pretty good club that regularly boasts smaller international acts, and has even (on occasion) hosted some huge acts, I've seen the best and worst of shows. With that said, I agree with much of the above list but here's how I would go about preparing for a live show:

  • Know where you're playing: Often times a venue is genre-specific, i.e. is known for techno, blues, dance music, rap, or even mellow university crowds, pissed off after-work crowds, etc. It's important to offer a set list specific to their genre. Even if your band is the perfect match, like a blues band in a blues club, you still might have to switch around or slightly adjust your set list regardless.
  • It sucks but it's true, image is important: I am a horribly dressed person in general, and by all means support whatever image you want in your day-to-day life. But when you're playing at a venue that sees countless 4-man bands, and you're 4-man band wants to start playing regularly, how are they gonna stand out? You have to get creative, break whatever rules you want, avoid fads that fade (musically and image-wise), and don't worry about looking outlandish and crazy. You can look almost freakish, but if you're playing awesome music, the ridiculousness will make it THAT much easier to be memorable and asked about. Great example: Nixon outperformed JFK in polls of radio speeches, yet he got clobbered on video speeches/debates. True, JFK was ridiculously goodlooking while Nixon looked like a turd, but Nixon was the visual version of being audibly monotonous, while JFK would say things that maybe many didn't agree with, but said it with passion and charisma to win the crowds over. Don't be Nixon, be JFK!
  • Get into the music Don't look like a robot. The crowd loves passion and seeing you have fun. that doesn't mean you're screwed if you play wicked guitar while standing still and HAVE to do powerslides off stage while biting bats heads off, but do what you need to in order to show the crowd you're enjoying playing for/with them, and that you're sharing the experience. Not unlike making boomboom in the bedroom :lol::lol::lol:
  • Don't depend on your soundy, but collaborate when possible: At the very least, respect your soundy. he/she is there to make you sound good. this is not someone you wanna mess with...
  • Play every show like you're rocking out a stadium: Like minihendrix mentioned, your crowd might only be 3 people, but those 3 people can lead to many others by word of mouth if they see you're giving it you're all and doing your best to entertain and play awesome music. There are even times that I've seen a show with a crowd of 5 people grow to 50 halfway through because people are enjoying watching you play your brains out, never take a show for granted.
  • Be nice and respectful: Very G-rated, I know, but probably the most important rule!! Sometimes a great local band will never make it because they're a bunch of douchebags that nobody wants to deal with. In an industry where who you know can open more doors than what you know, avoid being an asshole at all costs. Besides, simply being nice (and ideally a bit charismatic) with anyone you meet will make them want to help you and watch you succeed when possible. Do NOT underestimate this rule, no matter how bad-ass your death metal band is...

So there you have it. Man, writing about live shows makes me wanna go play one right now!

[ Post last edited on 09/05/2014 at 08:00:54 ]