10 Tips for Playing a Mindblowing Set (Other Than Playing Really F***ing Well)

Sonic Bids

The Balconies at Horseshoe Tavern (via liveinlimbo.com)

Originally posted on Sonic Bids.

We all know those bands that completely transform when they step on a stage. True performers make use of every second of their set and push themselves to their very limits. These types of shows are truly memorable and leave fans wanting to sing their praises to everyone they meet!

There are a lot of subtleties that go into creating a truly mind-blowing experience for your fans. It’s a given that your music and playing must be absolutely extraordinary, but once you’ve got that in the bag, you can use these 10 tips to really take things to the next level. 

1. Dress to impress

Think of your clothing or fashion as an extension of your music and art. It’s a chance to further express yourself. All eyes are on you at a show, so take some pride in dressing up and looking nice. Coordinate some cohesiveness in style with your band and find a look that feels right and is a cut above what the audience is wearing to your show.

2. Feel good in your skin

Be proud of yourself on stage. It’s human nature to feel insecure and judged, but you have to understand that you are your own worst critic. Fans can feel when someone is holding back, and they would much prefer you demand their attention with your confidence than be nervous throughout the set. Don’t be afraid to go release all inhibition.

3. Take yourself seriously

Take each and every show seriously, and don’t play it if you aren’t. Make sure you’ve taken the right amount of time to rehearse before each gig and are in a good mental space. If you’re just fluffing a set you don’t care about, the fans can tell and you might as well have not played in the first place. Every show is an opportunity to turn on new fans one at a time,show a promoter that you’re a professional, and practice. Play every set as if it’s the last in your life. 

4. Practice your banter

Banter is a tricky beast to master, but when done well it can be quite fluid and really enhance a set. Ask your band and close friends for feedback on your banter and how you can improve. Was there something you said that worked or didn’t work for your audience? Constantly be improving your on-stage persona and learn the balance of preparation and improvisation that works best for you.

5. Don’t miss your soundcheck

Soundcheck is a great chance to work out any kinks, foresee any technical issues that may arise on the stage, and set you up for a successful set. Missing this opportunity leaves you potentially scrambling five minutes before your set and looking unprofessional to everyone in the room. 

6. Be in sync with your bandmates

When playing live, engage with your band members throughout the set. Be connected.Practice this when you jam, and it will get easier and come naturally. In addition, don’t let any personal stuff or inner band drama affect putting on a great show. Be a professional when you step out there.

7. Watch video footage and critique it

The only way you can improve is by hearing feedback and asking for it. Sit down with the band to watch live footage from your sets and give each other feedback – both positive and negative – on how you played. Sports teams and figure skaters do this to improve, so bands should too!

8. Give good face

We’ve all seen those artists who show zero emotion on their faces when they sing or play. Maybe you sound lovely, but if you look like you’re having a casual conversation while you’re performing, it’s harder for the audience to really feel what you’re belting out.Practice good face (that means singing/playing with emotion and showing it), close your eyes, open them wide, smile, show your anger if you’re yelling, etc. Good face goes a long way.

9. Perfect your pre-show ritual

There’s a reason bands who have been playing for years have a pre-show ritual. You need to truly be “in the zone” in order to get on stage and kill it. Get focused and find what you need to put on your best show. Is it three cups of water lined up on the side of the stage with no ice, or total silence before you go on? Everyone is different, and a true professional needs to fight for these consistencies.

10. Establish an on-stage persona

This one is more for the frontmen and women out there, but goes for everyone. You have this brilliant opportunity to truly become your music on stage. You don’t have to be your same old self – you can be a true star for that set. Live it up and establish who this person is for you, then just give it everything you have. This happens very organically, but if you notice some early signs of your on-stage persona forming, don’t be afraid to push it further and embrace the beast inside. 

I hope you find these tips helpful in achieving that next-level awesomeness at your future shows. But keep in mind that like with anything, practice makes perfect – and in this game, perfect is something that we know we can never truly grasp, but must always be chasing.

Sari Delmar is the founder and CEO of Audio Blood, Canada’s leading creative artist and brand marketing company. Through unique PR and promotional packages, Audio Blood continues to be on the cutting edge of music marketing and promotion. Their client roster includes the likes of Pistonhead Lager, PledgeMusic, Iceland Airwaves, Canadian Music Week, Riot Fest, Beau’s All Natural Brewing, The Balconies, Ben Caplan and more. At the age of 24, Sari leads a team of 10 out of the company HQ in Toronto, Ontario, has spoken at a number of music conferences and colleges, and sits on the Toronto Music Advisory Council. Read more from Sari at SariDelmar.com.

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