How to Play Great Shows: Quick advice
- Know your songs.
- Be confident.
- Practice your stage act.
- Have fun.
- Be memorable.
If you can't play it straight through during practice without making major mistakes (or worse, stopping), don't expect it to magically come together at your show. Play the songs you know. If you want to throw in one or two that you're shaky on, you better have a really good stage presence to pull it off.
We've all seen shows where you could point out a half-dozen mistakes the band made, yet the crowd loved them anyways. Think big picture (it's just one show) and play through it. There's no such thing as a microphone big enough to hide behind. Be bold. And don't wait until a show to get confident, train yourself to be bold (see below).
"Well, if this was an actual show I would…" This strategy never works. You'll forget and revert to how you act during practice, and if that's leaning on an amp for 45 minutes, that's what your audience will get treated to. Remember, your job is to entertain. Be brutally honest: Would you enjoy watching you on stage?
Spend your energy making sure you and your audience have fun and no one will notice or care that you were a half second late on the change. It's far worse to play everything perfectly and realize after the fact that you bored your audience to tears. Engage your audience. Study the techniques of other performers: musicians, stage actors, even mascots. Give away merchandise. Talk to your audience (mumbling the name of each song doesn't count). Take requests once in a while. (You might butcher the song, but if you do it with a warning and a smile you'll keep the crowd's attention.) And don't give up. Persistance works. No matter how 'dead' the crowd is, they will eventually respond. It might take 3/4 of your set to do it, but fun is contagious. Just keep dialing it up until they start turning your way. Go to 11 if you have to.
The how is up to you, just remember that the absolute worst thing to happen is to be forgettable. This can be achieved by playing awesome music that's different than what's out there (isn't that true for every band?), getting your audience to have so much fun they actually ask when your next show is, heck, even wearing costumes works for some bands. Ask yourself, "What makes my band different that the other ones we're sharing the stage with?"
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