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The chicken and the egg of stage energy

January 14, 2014

With live performance, showmanship is often a critical component. You need to be extra-entertaining in this multi-media age. Sure, James Taylor can get away with sitting on stool and telling a few corny stories about his songs. But you will probably need to make things a whole lot more interesting to keep your audience captivated.

And, after all, many times you will be competing for attention throughout a very busy room. People are mostly there to blow off steam, hook up, and have a good time – listening to music is sometimes a distant second. So audience ADD is a definite consideration. Liven things up and you may just pick up a few new fans…

What Comes First?
You may have heard musicians say that they need to feel the energy of the audience to get themselves energized. Sure, that can certainly help get you get in the mood. But more experienced showmen will tell you that the ball is in your court. You need to bring the energy first, because more often than not, it won’t be there waiting for you.

Some band managers deliberately have their acts get used to playing small, dead rooms, where the bartenders and servers make up the better part of the audience. This way, the band learns to turn it on, no matter what the crowd size or reaction. And of course, once you turn the stage energy on, you’re hoping for a chain reaction.

Energize Each Other
When you’re up on the stage, you need to count on every person up there to give it their all. It’s a big job and there’s no reason everyone shouldn’t kick in. It’s also easier to bring the energy when you’re playing with friends and fellow maniacs.

Look to each other for help. Have fun and it will become clear to the house that your band knows how to gel. But having fun is also the easiest way to put an audience at ease and in a more receptive mood for your music.

Bring some humor with you too. This helps create positive energy. If you’re not good at improv, work out a few things ahead of time. Remember, it’s called a stage and you should be well rehearsed.

Here’s a quick list of things to help build energy:

Pay attention - you can learn a lot about stage energy from air guitarists...

Pay attention – you can learn a lot about stage energy from air guitarists…

Move! Yes, just putting yourself in motion creates energy.

Feel the music. That’s what it’s all about for your fans, so goes for the performers, no?

Watch some reels. Videotape your live performances and critique them, just like the Broncos do after every. single. game.

Band rehearsal should be stage rehearsal. Set yourself up like you’re on stage and get out some big mirrors if you have them, or the video camera.

Find a costume or power symbol. It could be as simple as shades or a little makeup. There’s a reason the Indians wore face paint into battle…

You’ve worked hard preparing to play your music in public. Now just take that extra step to bring the energy. More lessons in showmanship coming up…

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