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Bluewine

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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.

 

Blue

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Edited by Bluewine
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Oh how I agree with all of this. I ran a covers band for 15 years and tried and tried to get other members of the band to realise that the audience comes to be ENTERTAINED. The music side is important but there are so many other elements to people going away feeling happy. Our guitarist had a perpetual scowl on his face even though that wasn't his personality and the lead singer(s) would not plan things to say in between songs ie: "Hello we are...... etc" As we used to play 3 or four songs in tight succession they only had to find a dozen or so things to say during the night.

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I agree with all of this … often people forget that in a band your role is to entertain the audience and make it a fun experience.

 

You see many bands who think they are there just to play songs and that’s good enough, it really is much more than this.

 

A good band with a good front person can make a huge difference 

 

Something missed off the list and again often neglected is sound 

 

Listen to what the whole band sounds like and make it the best sound you can achieve more so than accurately playing the songs !

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Good points from everyone.

It's good to remember that the people in the audience listen with their ears and their eyes, how you do what you do is important to the audience, as said above it's music and entertainment.

In one of my bands two members show no real reactions to the music and rarely even smile. The drummer and I are much more animated on stage and as frontman I have spent a lot of time working on my between songs patter so things flow smoothly with no awkward moments. We are a swing/standards/jazz band and people love the stories about the songs we play and we move smoothly from song to song, of course this takes time to prepare but it is far better in my mind than silence between songs or a few mumbled words. 

The audience won't be having fun if you don't look like you are having fun, this approach has worked for me for 60 years and I can't wait to get back to gigging, we are rehearsing but not much live music in Canada yet. 

 

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Good advice but I find planning what you are going to say can be a problem if like us, you were playing the same places in a small town. The old "Hello Cleveland, this is one from our first album" doesn't wear here. When half the audience sees you around town you can't come away with rock star stuff or you would get crucified. We used to face up to the fact that most people were there to get pished and pick up girls, not listen to an old rock band.If we could get a cheer or a clap after a song we were delighted.

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3 minutes ago, Nail Soup said:

Good advice.

Another tip I saw (on BC I think) was that the audience like to see a bit of chemistry between band members... be that a little bit of banter, body language, mentions of each other or whatever.

 

Very much so. We have a comedian in the Bowie band who rips into all of us when he has a mic at his disposal. He's very quick and sharp with it; always produces some laughs.

I guess it goes back to what @Bluewine was saying, the audience like to see the band having a good time too.

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Can I add? Me being the frontman (singer as well as bass player) I tried my best but our acoustic guitar player always looked like someone had killed his cat. People commented on it but he would never crack a smile whilst playing. Our lead guitarist tried his best too but he was the main reason for long gaps in between songs as he tuned up constantly.

Back when smoking was allowed he used to spark up, take a few puffs, take a sip of his drink, take another few puffs, tune up, take another few puffs, take another drink from his pint, then turn to me  and say right, are you ready? All this time I am staring at him and waiting. Ready to kick into the next number. It used to drive me up the wall!

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15 hours ago, ubit said:

Good advice but I find planning what you are going to say can be a problem if like us, you were playing the same places in a small town. The old "Hello Cleveland, this is one from our first album" doesn't wear here. When half the audience sees you around town you can't come away with rock star stuff or you would get crucified. We used to face up to the fact that most people were there to get pished and pick up girls, not listen to an old rock band.If we could get a cheer or a clap after a song we were delighted.

 

Agreed, in general rock star banter at the local level is dangerous.

 

Walk On Music is another one, not really appreciate at the local level.

 

I saw Tower Of Power today at Summerfest. Their walk on music was really cool.

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15 hours ago, Staggering on said:

Good points from everyone.

It's good to remember that the people in the audience listen with their ears and their eyes, how you do what you do is important to the audience, as said above it's music and entertainment.

In one of my bands two members show no real reactions to the music and rarely even smile. The drummer and I are much more animated on stage and as frontman I have spent a lot of time working on my between songs patter so things flow smoothly with no awkward moments. We are a swing/standards/jazz band and people love the stories about the songs we play and we move smoothly from song to song, of course this takes time to prepare but it is far better in my mind than silence between songs or a few mumbled words. 

The audience won't be having fun if you don't look like you are having fun, this approach has worked for me for 60 years and I can't wait to get back to gigging, we are rehearsing but not much live music in Canada yet. 

 

After 50 years, I still struggle with eye contact and smiling.

 

Another thing I'm working on is walking properly on stage.

 

I do this thing when Jenny is soloing where I walk over by our other guitarist and we stand side by side by her and the audience gets the groove we're playing to support her solo. But that's not important , what I'm concerned about is how I look walking back and forth across the stage. I'm 68, I don't want that " old man" walk. I want to look energetic and youthful.

 

Blue

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No one ever asked if you’d like to go and ‘hear’ a band

You go to ‘see’ a band. 
Look good, feel good, enjoy the gig, beer is optional 🍻 

Edited by Bunion
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3 hours ago, Bluewine said:

After 50 years, I still struggle with eye contact and smiling.

 

 

Man back in the 90's when we were really busy, I found that the easiest part. I was always making eye contact with girls and loved if they were doing the same. I did some amount of sh***ing back then because of the band. I used to slag my mate, the guitarist because he always got guys coming up to him and asking about his pedals and I used to get girls because I was the singer. We used to say that he got all the boffins and I got the babes 😂

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4 hours ago, Bluewine said:

I saw Tower Of Power today at Summerfest.

 

 

 I went to Summerfest many years ago when I briefly dated a girl from Texas who lived in Chicago. Her friends drove up to Milwaukee and we went to the festival. It was huge and I remember seeing Def Leppard. I was disappointed when Wolfmother came on right enough because the benches that were great for sitting on during the day made perches for people to stand on and if you didn't have a space you couldn't see the band. So I heard Wolfmother but didn't see them!

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The first gigs I did were in the Punk era, so sneering contempt was the look our audience got, and spitting back at them in the face of the inevitable gob-fest :)

Subsequent post-punk outfits had a more "serious and detached" persona, no smiling or anything like that !

I guess it entirely depends on the genre as to how you present yourself.. Ultimately it's all "acting" really.

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I agree with all your points @Bluewineexcept this one 

 

“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.”

 

I played in one of Essex, UK’s most successful/popular rock covers band doing over 100 gigs a year with each gig packed 

 

But that band had a golden rule - play the song exactly as the original recording.

 

And that’s what made us successful/popular 

 

As a bass player you can watch cover bands and you can hear when the bass player has simplified a line 

 

For instance

 

1. Killers Brightside does he get all the chords in the quiet section

 

2. Muse Hysteria does he get all the notes

 

And other players would do the same so a drummer would as on Zeppelin Rock n roll does the drummer get all the fills 


People appreciated hearing our covers exactly like the record without any changes and definitely no extended guitar solos 😂😂

Edited by gareth
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