Re: Getting noticed.
- From: Brian Running <brunning@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 16:51:14 -0600
I agree with what's been said about performance being about "show" as much as "music." As musicians we'd like to believe that our musical ability is why people are drawn to our gigs, but most of the time that's not it. They are after a vibe, a feeling and energy that live music brings into a room and spreads throughout the audience. There are many ways to build that vibe; jumping up and down, making eye contact, telling jokes between songs or even picking the right songs that connect with the listener. I've done gigs where the right song, played at the right moment, connected with the audience better than any show of musicianship could.
True. But, scientific studies have proven beyond a doubt that 99% of all musicians are in actuality only 1% as good as they think they are at showmanship. 117% of all musicians are incapable of pulling off "snappy patter" with an audience, and of that 117%, a full 267% will be way ahead by simply shutting up and not saying anything at all. This is all proven by hard science, I've got the data somewhere...
There have been times, when I've been witnessing a live band performance, when I think it may be more humane in the long run to allow the shooting of musicians with high-powered rifles, right off the stage in the middle of a set, than to allow them to do their crowd patter any longer. Principles of utilitarianism require the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and bad showmanship in band shows is a leading cause of embarrassment and misery in the modern world. Of course, it must be a clean kill to minimize suffering, so nothing smaller than a .308 should be used.
Seriously, though, it seems like it's a one-in-a-million occasion when the commentary between songs has a positive effect, or at least doesn't leave the band looking like buffoons. Audiences expect to be entertained by music when they go to see a band, that's taken for granted. They also expect to see performers that deliver that music in the framework of a nice-looking visual setting, and with some personalized attention to the audience. I really think that audiences want sincerity much more than they want phoniness -- surprise, surprise. I like bands that do nothing more than smile, say "thank you," tell little real-life stories, show some personality and humanity, and make me think to myself, "I like these guys. I'd like to hang with them." Performers that try too hard to be hip, or slick, or funny, or whatever -- try too hard, period -- fall flat on their faces 100% of the time.
One recent show that stands out in my mind is Dickie Betts a couple years ago in Milwaukee at Bastille Days. Great music, great sound -- and everyone on stage was so genial, so real, so natural in their roles, that it just came off so easily. Every audience member felt connected to the band. The overall mood was absolutely perfect. That's what everyone should shoot for, I think.