I’ve been going to see bands for years, so I have a good idea of what bands can do to get (and keep) my attention. I’ve seen amazing shows, horrible shows but most commonly forgettable shows; the worst thing a band can do in my opinion. You want your audience to walk away from the show talking about what they just saw, telling their friends and hopefully growing a bigger audience.
Here are a few things that stand out for me when seeing a band for the first time.
Confidence. I know performing in a band isn’t the easiest thing to do. It takes a good amount of courage (or liquid confidence) to put yourself up on that stage and play your heart out. It’s really noticeable from the audience which bands have confidence and which bands don’t. From my experience, bands that seem completely relaxed and “at home” on stage fare better than the ones who give off that awkward vibe. I’m a huge fan of stage banter in between songs too and the confident bands tend to have the audience laughing (or at least listening) in those quieter moments in-between songs.
Practice. You can’t really fake this one. Before you get up on a stage, a band better make sure they can perform their songs live, backwards and forwards and eyes closed. How do you get to that point? Hours and hours in a practice space. Just when you thing you’ve had enough time in the garage, head back and do it all over again. The last thing you want is to look like you don’t know what you’re doing up on stage. And I guess the more practice you have, the more of my first point (confidence) you’ll accumulate.
Energy. I won’t remember a band that doesn’t move on stage. I guess this really depends on the type of music I’m seeing (singer/songwriters aren’t required to go wild), but if we were talking any type of rock, I’d hope to see members of the band using the stage, rocking out and getting into the music. Bored looking musicians breed bored fans.
Variety. Mix it up a little. Have band members use multiple instruments, or better, have them switch instruments. Mix slower songs with faster ones. Create an arc to how the set is heard and build up your audience to the finale. Variety helps keep your audience’s attention and doesn’t give them a reason to start a conversation with their friend, if they’re always looking on stage to see what’s going to happen next.
Personal Connection. I love a band that will make a personal connection to the audience. Whether through conversational banter in-between songs, or orchestrating audience participation, I really remember bands that try to bridge that gap when performing. When all is said and done, you want to remember that those people we’ve put on a pedestal, are really just like us. It gives us all hope that one day, some how, we could be those people on stage.
Those are the key things that I take notice of when seeing a band perform. What grabs your attention?