Part of being a musician is that desire to perform your creations in front of other people, hopefully in exchange for their love and adoration! There are few better feelings than having an audience applaud and cheer for you – but is playing live really as simple as you thought?
Anyone can jump on a stage, plug in a guitar and belt out a few songs. In your head you may imagine that you’re giving a great performance but you may discover that the audience disagrees greatly. It’s not just all about playing the songs perfectly you know – audience interaction is key! Here are a few simple tips to ensure that you leave the crowd stunned and screaming for more!
Get Some Attitude!
The only way a gig is going to be a triumph is if the crowd digs it, and you’re not likely to get them pumped if you’re just there to boost your own ego! You need to remind yourself that you’re playing for them and not for yourself. Ensure that you know your material like the back of your hand so that you can concentrate all of your attention onto the crowd.
Appearance is Everything
Enslave a friend and ask them to video your next gig, and afterwards scan back through the footage and keep an eye out for any interaction with the audience. Watch the video back as if you were a member of the audience and ask yourself if the band is really capturing your attention. Keep an eye out for components of the performance that got the crowd going and then milk those ideas at the next gig!
I recently went to two excellent concerts – Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani. They were both great gigs, but the difference between the two artists was very noticeable in terms of the personality that each player exuded. Jeff was more subdued whereas Joe was smiling, jumping around, talking to the crowd and generally having an awesome time. I personally enjoyed Joe’s performance more because I could see that he was having a good time. So when you’re playing your next gig make sure that the crowd can see that you love what you’re doing by the way that you act on stage. This will make it much easier for them to do the same!
Connect with the Crazies!
When you’re performing to an audience you will notice that every person watching you is totally unique. Some people prefer just to stand and enjoy the music whereas others will love to lose control and dance and sing. Scan the crowd for members of the audience who are clearly up for having a wild time and focus on playing up to them. As I mentioned above, their enjoyment will make it easier for the rest of the crowd to let loose a little!
Plan It Out
You shouldn’t be embarrassed to prepare in advance how you are going to interact with the crowd. All of the great performers will work from some type of script even if it’s only the basic outlines. Have some idea of what you’re going to say to get the audience pumped, and when you’re going to choose to say it.
Today it’s all about looks and what better way to make yourself appear unique than some interesting fashion choices? Choose an outrageous wardrobe to make it easier for the crowd to remember you. Do you think bands like Slipknot would have made it big if it wasn’t for their elaborate stage appearances? Try and choose a quirky looking instrument as well … get your guitar painted bright neon pink to really stand out!
If the gig is going well and the crowd are up for having a good time then you may want to have a simple finale tune that the audience can sing along to. At the end of the Joe Satriani concert I went to he played his ‘Crowd Chant’ song where he plays a few simple licks and the crowd then sings them back. It’s a simple idea but a great way to leave the crowd wanting more! For an interesting twist on this idea maybe you could design a song that is also a drinking game – get the crowd drunk and they’re sure to have a better time!
Alternatively try and include a few well known covers in your band’s repertoire. If the audience knows the song they are likely to sing along and let loose. In a similar vein to the idea above try and have some parts of the song where only the audience sings, or try and employ specific areas of the audience to sing and have them battle it out to be the loudest!
If you have any of your own tips and tricks to get the crowd pumped leave a comment below!