Don’t Patronize Your Audience
And Four Things You Shouldn’t Do On Stage
We’re down to the final day of CMW in Toronto for the year 2013 and can you remember the names of 4 bands you saw?
The word showcase has lost its luster, how do you call it such when the bands are nothing more than hype, so many of them only have two released songs that sound like the same stuff everyone else is doing. The worst part is that so many bands seem like they don’t even want to be on stage. If you don’t look like you care, why should anyone?
If it’s your first or fiftieth show, it doesn’t matter, you have to go out there and make sure you’ve put in the practice to give the audience the best show they’re going to see that day/week/month. Showmanship is an art lost on many of the bands I’ve seen at CMW this year, stepping on stage and playing songs is never enough. Keep in mind that if you’re not dynamic on stage, most people are going to skip over your album – you just lost your best chance to impress potential fans.
Here is a list of things I saw happen at CMW this year that you should absolutely not do under any circumstances:
Don’t Patronize Your Audience
This should be so simple, so easy to understand that it shouldn’t need to be mentioned – but here we are. Sure, you want to be cool on stage but you aren’t going to gain fans by insulting their intelligence. I saw one band playing a showcase and they were falling flat by their 2nd song. The music just wasn’t good enough and their stage presence was absolutely non-existent.
They started berating people for not clapping loud enough, not understanding the music, not getting the ridiculous and obscure references they were bantering about in between songs. It was overbearingly passive-aggressive. Instead of realizing their bland music and stage presence were the problem, they started to externalize their problems on the crowd – something they definitely won’t have next time they play.
Do More Than Stand There
Why is it so popular to just stand and stare at the ground while you’re playing? 10 years ago, every show you went to the band was making eye contact with the audience, they were moving around, it looked like they wanted to be there playing music.
It’s a different time, sure, but don’t make it seem like you’d rather be pouring coffee to your Starbucks customers than attempting to make a career at music. Don’t tell people to move up if you’re not giving them any incentive to do so.
If you’re going to win fans you need to engage them. Great, you got them to the show, it doesn’t come close to stopping there. Make them feel like they want to be there, interact with them, interact with your band, play to them instead of at them. You need to make it feel like more than a practice session.
Complaints Are Useless
So you didn’t get the time-slot you wanted, don’t bitch about it on stage, you sound petty and immature. If you’re playing a show at CMW and 5 people show up, don’t complain to them about it. Did you promote your show to more than friends? What’s different about your show and band that makes it worth going to see?
You can rationalize your problems all you want or you can figure out how to get people to care. That’s the difference, successful bands recognize a problem and improve or change to create a solution. Unsuccessful bands come up with excuses as to why nobody showed up, why people left before they played, why they couldn’t get added to a certain show.
Once again, what are you doing to get people to care?
Don’t Overestimate Yourself
I saw this too many times at CMW 2013, bands with hype getting on stage and absolutely blowing away…nobody. It’s nice to have that write-up in NOW or Exclaim! based on your first song and upcoming EP but make sure if you’re in this position that you’ve practiced and practiced and practiced your show until you know it’s up to professional standards.
You can tell when a band is nervous on stage because they haven’t practiced, they exhibit shoe-gaze syndrome and overcompensate by telling bad jokes instead of just playing their music. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re ready to play a show, much less a showcase, don’t. You’ll be doing yourself a favour by being able to play the next one without having to beg for it.
Take it Down a Notch, Frankie Wilde
We all know you have a sweet new Orange amp that sounds great and has perfect tone but the audience can’t hear a thing you’re doing in a 200 capacity club if you’ve cranked it to 11. Earplugs or not, if you’re too loud for the space, you’re going to sound distorted, muddy, and poorly mixed.
Do you have more than four members? This becomes even more important if you want people to gauge the fidelity of individual instruments. Your band bio reads ‘their eclectic sound ranges from South American bossanova notes to early 1990’s Norwegian black metal’, cranked to 11 it sounds like the first show your high school band played.
If you want people to hear your creative genius live, you need to make sure that they can hear the next day too.
That’s it folks, go and be fruitful by practicing and not being a dick to your audience.