As a bass player for over 50 years now I feel compelled to present some advice to anyone in a local band to ensure you're capitalizing on the opportunity live shows give you and to make sure your connecting with you audience.
Because everyone has internet-connected phones, it's far too easy for people to become disconnected from your performance and relegate your music to background noise. However, there are a number of pitfalls I see band after band falling into that are easy to avoid.
Take or leave the following, but I can almost guarantee that bands who put these things into practice will see improvement in their short and long-term audience engagement and growth:
1. Plan what you are going to say to your audience whenever you are not playing a song. I see far too many bands get stone-faced, have awkward pauses while they stare at each other waiting for someone to say anything meaningful, and then vomit up some meaningless word salad that people instantly forget the moment the next song starts.
In addition to planning your transitions so that you don't look like idiots, make sure you include at least something that can potentially produce an ROI. Mention where people can go to find your music, when and where your next show is, your social media handles, etc.
2. Stop turning your backs to the audience! Doing this occasionally and briefly is fine, because I know sometimes you get into your groove and face each other, etc. However, I've literally seen people turn their backs to the audience for anywhere from 30 seconds to over a minute, and that is a VERY quick way to get your audience to disconnect. While we're on this subject, LOOK THEM IN THE EYES occasionally. Yes, it can be awkward if you overdo this, but neglecting eye contact all together is an egregious sin. Remember, that part of what you're doing while performing is selling yourselves to the audience. In sales, they always teach you to make eye contact with your customer, and this is no different.
3. Plan your set list to follow some kind of dynamic roller coaster. In other words, don't do a bunch of fast/heavy/upbeat songs in a row or vice versa with slower songs. Have some ups and some downs. Vary it up. Tell a story with your selection of songs and make their ordering purposeful and thoughtful. Designers of roller coasters understand this concept. They make the ascent to the top of the first drop deliberately slow to build suspense. They also don't have every twist, turn, and loop feel exactly the same. There is variety, and that ultimately bodes well for everyone.
4. If you play covers, spice them up a bit. Obviously, I'm not asking you to fundamentally change the song. However, adding some kind of twist to make it your own and the listening experience unique for the audience will make you more memorable. If your audience is engaged with you, and they should be, they'll pick up on even subtle things you do and likely appreciate them.
5. Talk to your audience before and after the show. Thank them for coming, and encourage them to follow up in whatever ways you have open to the public. Take selfies with them. I guarantee you that people appreciate this, whether it's apparent or not at the time. People will remember how you make them feel, and a pleasant conversation with them will drastically increase your chances of building a more long-term fan base. I would further state that you should be doing this on social media as well, even after you become "big".
6. Move around and get animated when you play/sing. Obviously, if you're doing highly technical stuff, then you can concentrate on your playing as needed, but don't stand there the entire show like a plank of wood. If it's not readily apparent that you're having fun on stage, I guarantee you your audience won't either.
There are probably allot of variables depending on the band, what do you think.