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Top 5 Not Always Obvious Gig Tips

April 19, 2009

I love live music. There is nothing like seeing a live band. You hear their music, but more importantly you feel their energy. A great live show is usually what separates the professionals from the amateurs. Our friends at Hypebot recently provided us with some great tips for improving your live show. So instead of rehashing I think I’ll remind you of a few, often assumed yet rarely mentioned, tips for improving your live show.

1. Respect the crowd

Nothing is worse then a band antagonizing an audience. If you’re playing music for only yourself then stay at home. You’re playing a live show to spread your music and hopefully make some new fans. Insulting the audience will not create those fans. In fact you may get your ass kicked. 5 musicians vs a drunken crowd typically ends up with a lot more then a couple of spilled drinks. You could loose your pay, have to pay for any damaged equipment, break your own gear, and be drenched with drinks. Speaking of drinking….

2. Stay sober

We all love free beer, and yes, you deserve it. But for your own sake, save most of those alcoholic beverages for after the show. Know your own limit, and respect that. Playing drunk is fun when you’re camping with your friends and they ask you to play around the fire. But hopefully all your gigs aren’t drunken campfire sing-a-longs. You need to hit the right notes, listen to each other and communicate on stage. Too much alcohol will severely impair all of those things.

3. Thank the bar/club/wait staff/sound person etc

Part of repeat bookings at clubs is having a good relationship with that establishment. Be courteous and respectful and you’ll be fine. No sycophantic behavior required. When you’re up on stage thank all of the appropriate parties. It shouldn’t be a Grammy acceptance speech, just make it real and to the point.

4. Make the connection

When you’re rocking out on stage remember to look at real people. Staring at the ceiling lights can work for some people but when you really look at people in your audience you can make more then a quick musical connection. The people who respond to you eye gazes are the people who come talk to you after the show, buy a shirt, and tell their friends. If you’ve really made a connection through onstage eye sex, you can even get more then some merch sold. You may find a warm bed to stay in. Because nobody wants to pay for a hotel.

5. Respect each other

Have you ever seen a band fight? They are disgusting. They typically are petty and childish. Yes, please, I’ve paid the cover charge to see you scream at the drummer for playing the song at a slower tempo…. right.  On stage fights between band members reek of amateurism. If you can’t get along and play nice then you should not be wasting my time. I know touring can get grueling but sort out your issues like adults and out of the spotlight. Keeping an open dialog and talking about your problems is the best way to avoid this and any type of band conflict.

If you have more obvious, yet not so obvious gig tips, send them our way and we’ll modify our list. And to give you some idea of what not to do we’ll finish off with The Brian Jonestown Massacre.  A band that was as explosive as they were talented.

Take Control of Your Music


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben Saunders permalink
    June 4, 2009 11:41 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! Do you think you could give some articles on finding gigs.

  2. June 5, 2009 1:46 am

    Ben! Look up up up to the top of this page. There should be a link to The New Rockstar Philosophy Book… that will have many of the answers you seek. Merci

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