Surviving In The Performance Jungle

Posted on November 20, 2010


Storming into the African Veldt on Safari is in a lot of ways similar to navigating the Gig Jungle. You’ve got to have a big elephant gun and be prepared for the hunt. Here’s a list of tips to get you home safe, and with a good trophy to mount over your mantle.

1. Plan to arrive at the gig early. It doesn’t matter what slot you have in the schedule, you can avoid most of the pitfalls by being at the show early.  You’ll avoid traffic situations, and the club owner will completely respect that you didn’t hinder his plans by being late for sound check or just showing up when he was in the middle of arranging the night around you being late.

2. Outside of a late start, being early opens opportunity to talk to other bands, meet guests and see the layout of the stage. You can also see anything that might hinder parking, load-in or loud-out and even build some working relations with the bands you see performing while you are waiting for your time slot. It’s more than necessary to arrive early, it’s beneficial.

3. If you are the only performer and your PA is going to be used, it’s great to have it set up and checked before everything else gets plugged in. It won’t matter about the amps and the mics if the PA doesn’t work properly.

4. If you are playing a roomy and comfortable stage, don’t spread the equipment out too much. Use the room to run around, but spreading the gear far and wide is going to change the sound you make. You’re going to want to hear the rest of the band, and the audience wants to hear the music as well as you hear it in rehearsal, so don’t try to be Aerosmith, just organize your gear in the way you know it to sound great!

5. Make sure everyone is on the same page by having a set-list at each member’s key stage area. Most people have the set rehearsed, but having it in black and white is going to keep members on target for the next tune.

6. Start with a great song and end with a great song. Use lots of energy. In a previous article I wrote about using your second best song first and your best song last. Go back and review that article. It makes a difference.

7. Make sure the set list mixes things up. Don’t run song after song in the same key or at the same tempo. Move songs around so each intro and every song is something special!

8. Make an effort to relate to the audience when you talk to them. Announce some songs, respond to the crowd and make a lot of eye contact. Get them into what you are doing! It leads to sales and repeat [performances when it’s personal.

9. Make the on stage interaction about the performance and avoid the moments where you break away and chat with each other. You are there to put on a show. If you were watching a film and suddenly the lead character started talking to the director in the middle of a love scene, you be bewildered. Keep the interaction between the audience and the show.

10. Love your bartenders and waitresses too! They are making a living, and you’re in the middle of it. Keep a positive relationship with them and remind the audience to treat them well during your performance. The relationship you make tonight will carry over to the next time you play there. Make it great!

With all that said, you should bag a top tier performance that opens the door for another, and another down the road. Plan ahead, arrive early and play a good hand. The trophy is a show that went well, you’ll be talking about it the next day … and so will the jungle animals.

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