Wednesday, 6 May 2015

How to Play Your First Gig

The way you present yourself on stage in your first gigs can make a big difference to the success and longevity of your band. The music can be terrible, howling with feedback, out of tune or time. But with character and energy, you can gain fans who will come to more gigs and allow you to develop and improve musically. Just by having confidence, you can make it a great band!

In your head, you might aim for this perfect musical gift for the audience....

However, deep down you know that it's more like this kind of gift....

And that's where the first bit of learning comes in. Don't feel bad about what you do; be proud!

In your first gig, you are showing what you can do. Yes, you should rehearse and plan and promote all that you can, but being a good band is about persuading people that you are a good band. So which of these statements after the gig sounds like a good band?

"It's usually better when the drummer's in time. Sorry it was rubbish"

"Wow! that was great. I don't care if you don't like it. That's us"

But I so often hear the first kind of comment so many times from inexperienced bands. 

Never apologise for what you do; otherwise you might as well give up. After you have played 10-20 gigs, you will actually be much better and it will be easier for an audience to enjoy your playing. The problem is that most new bands fall out over terrible gigs and audiences don't enjoy watching an apologetic band. Many split up before they've had a proper chance - often because not everybody is committed to the project and there is no shared vision of what you're trying to achieve.

The band thinks that the issues are tuning, timing, playing badly, forgetting the words, not being able to hear...... all of these things can be sorted out with experience. 

However, the audience thinks the issues are ... lack of confidence, being boring, taking too much time between songs, looking shy, staring at the floor or the instruments, not being any fun, being self-indulgent, not being aware of the audience, looking as if the band hate each other ........ I could go on.

The point of playing a gig is to play it FOR AN AUDIENCE otherwise why not just stay in rehearsal, or ask your mum and dad or girl/boyfriends to come and listen to you if those are the people you want to play for. So think who you want to play for and what impression you want to create.

Top 15 tips for your first gig:

1. Publicise it well - not just to your friends but as widely as you can, at least 1 month in advance.

2. Don't involve your parents on the night.

3. Be prepared to spend a bit of money on tickets, posters, free sweets or other gimmicks.

4. Know which is your best song - start with it and do it again as an encore.

5. Agree a set list and practise the songs in the same order over many weeks.

6. Practise eye contact with the audience. Don't look at the floor or your guitar.

7. Look happy, cute,  angry, cocky or sexy. Choose one, or vary throughout the set.

8. Avoid on-stage clich├ęs. Don't ask the audience how they are. Get on with it. 

9. Make sure guitars are in tune, and be able to tune quickly onstage if needed.

10. Practise moving about while playing. Get someone to film you rehearsing.

11. The drummer should show character by waving, shouting etc occasionally.

12. Tell the audience you want them to dance, or move closer or clap or whatever.

13. Avoid stimulants. You need to be able to perform without if you're going to survive.

14. Look as if you love each other and are having a fantastic time, however bad it is.

15. Get as many people to talk/share with others about the 'amazing' gig then do it again soon.