The Dying Art of Playing Live

By: TJ Liebgott

For most bands it’s hard to get noticed in the opening slot.  Most of the fans haven’t arrived yet and those who have are anxiously waiting to see their favourite band.  So how does your band get noticed?  Well for a lot of opening acts, it takes a lot of time and experience and most fail in the process.  The following tips though, can help your band get noticed and on your way to a killer live show.




            This is where most bands are lacking.  Think of your favourite band live and you will feel that electric energy that was generating throughout the venue.  Most inexperienced, and some experienced, bands just hit the stage and play their songs mostly standing around like statues.  This is not exciting for the general music fan.  You may think that you just want the music to speak for itself and it can.  That’s what CD’s are for.  This is live entertainment and you should treat it as such.  


            You don’t necessarily have to run around the stage like you just drank 47 Redbulls, but you should get into the music enough to have some energy.  Simple things make all the difference.  Move from one spot of the stage to another, put a foot up on a monitor and lean towards the audience, and if your feeling up to it even try a jump kick when the song goes into high gear.  The more you play, the more comfortable and fluid these antics will feel.




            Most bands also find it hard to connect with an audience.  Start with the foundations.  Try to make as much eye contact with the possible fans as you can.  Move towards them.  Feed off of their energy.


            Try and practice some segues pre-show.  If a song of yours has a background storey to it, tell it to the audience.  Just try to keep it short and concise.  Think of some back and forth banter to have with the audience.  Finally, if all else fails, come up with some kind of contest idea that involves the audience in some way either on or off stage.  Even a free CD of your band that they’ve never heard of can be enough incentive to participate.  Plus you may gain a fan out of it.


            Introduce your band, as well as its members, throughout the set.  This way people will remember who you guys are.  It makes your band seem that much more personal/approachable.  This way people will stop thinking about you as “that guy from that band”, but instead will know you as “Jim, the lead singer of Wilderbeast”.




            Get a banner with your bands name and logo printed on it.  The banner acts as a 30 minute, to an hour infomercial of who your band is (depending on the length of your set).  This way even if people start arriving half way through your last song, they may like what they hear and know who your band is so they can see you play next time.




            Try and get at least 2 of every instrument and have them tuned and ready to go before you go on stage.  Nothing drags a show out more than a sloppy guitarist who can’t tune his instrument or breaks a string.  Try and get more instruments if your band uses multiple tunings.  Borrow guitars if you have too.




            When all else fails get a shtick.  Wear makeup, cough blood, play naked, whatever you think it will take to get your band noticed.  



            Always remember that when playing live, your music may only count for 50 percent of the performance.  Draw influences from other aspects of your life whether it be theatre, movies, or even other live acts outside of your specific genre.  


            If your anything like me, try and remember when music first took a hold over you.  Odds are, when you were alone in your room, you would crank the volume of your favourite band and jump around your room playing a tennis racket guitar pretending that you were playing a sold out Madison Square Gardens.  If you’re able to recreate that level of passion for music, your band will surely get noticed.  I just hope that your songs don’t suck!


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