When it comes to live performances there are certain things that a live band should and shouldn’t do. This is for the benefit of both themselves and their audience, let’s run down some of these together.
DO – If it’s not a solo gig be sure to communicate with other bands on the bill before hand. It’s common for supporting acts to share the majority of their drum kit with the headline act, except the snare and cymbals. Guitar speaker cabs and bass rigs tend to be different for each player too.
DON’T– Disrespect the gear of the headline act. They didn’t spend thousands on their equipment for it all to be ruined by some supporting act.
DON’T – Assume you can just turn up and share gear without agreeing so before hand. Ask the venue or promoters for contact details for the other acts and make arrangements so the gig will run much smoother.
DO – Bring what shares you have available. There’s always the chance that something can go wrong, it makes for less problems if you have a back up. This also means it’s likely you’ll have to grovel to get help.
DO – Turn up on time, in tune and ready to take to the stage when the sound engineer needs you . Despite what the likes of Beiber and Rihanna might think, being on time is important takes planning. If you are really late and hold up proceedings then chances are you wont be asked to play at the venue again.
DON’T – Irritate or be disrespectful to the sound engineer (this and the previous point are pointst we already made in a previous blog about gig preparations). They control the sound levels throughout your set and if they don’t like you they can make you sound bad.
DO – Set your amps to sensible sound levels on the stage. Appropriate levels mean that the engineer can better control the sound at the front-of-house. The monitors don’t need to be pushed to high levels and produce feedback just so the singers can hear themselves.
DON’T – Treat Soundcheck as a live band rehearsal. One or two short songs are more than enough for the engineer to do their job.
DO – Prepare a set list. You are not Bob Dylan and will probably get lost during your set without one. It also decreases the risk of your audience getting bored or confused during the set. Opening with a strong hook and punch is usually the best choice. Also don’t play every song you ever wrote, stick to the time slot you’ve been allocated.
DO – Make sure you are well prepared. Having a mini-rehearsal backstage will also help ease any pre-show nerves. If you love what you do, things may come more naturally when on stage. Perform your music as best as you can but don’t get arrogant. Earn the audience’s respect in the right way and they might buy your music, there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence.
DON’T – Tell the audience what each song is about before you play it. The occasional story is ok but doing so before every song tends to insult their intelligence (they can figure this out for themselves when listening to the song). The songs should be strong enough to stand on own without requiring long explanations.
DO – Tune up quickly and silently between songs, the BOSS TU-2 is ideal for this and it keeps your songs sounding as best as possible. To retain the audience’s attention, the lead singer can talk to the audience to either promote the band or to just to tell a joke. Fans are paying attention to you so it’s good to also pay attention to them, only ask questions that you genuinely want to know the answer to. A smooth transition between songs makes for a better audience experience.
DON’T– Purposely take your time when packing away, unless you are the headline act. The next live band wants to get on stage as soon as possible. Once you’ve packed away you can drink to your hearts content.
DO – Make friends with the other live bands on the bill, it’s a matter of respect. This is a good way to build relationships and could even lead to collaborations and gig swapping. Being invited to play in new places and venues is invaluable for bands and it is down to you to make the most of it. Don’t mess it up.
Paying attention to these simple but effective steps will make a vast difference not only for you but also for those around you. It really is the little things that make the biggest difference.
One key thing to take away from this is to think about your own experiences at gigs. Think about the last live band that you saw, consider what they did that you did and didn’t like and apply them to your own gig.