Are you an engaging performer? How'd you get there?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Crowder, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    Chattanooga, TN
    Are you the kind of performer that people want to watch on stage? Can you draw the crowd into what you're doing? Do people commonly respond to your music in a positive way?

    If so, what do you think you do that creates that feeling?

    Was there any "a-ha" moment or turning point where it just clicked for you and you became more engaging?
    derekd likes this.
  2. derekd

    derekd Member

    Sep 10, 2007
    In a van down by the river
    When I think about this, I think about introversion/extroversion personality types.

    I think it is easier for some to engage groups of people than others. I'm primarily an introvert but because I've worked in front of large groups for years, I've developed a lame snappy banter style that engages others and earns a few chuckles.

    If this isn't something natural, I think scripting a few comments and jokes is the way to go but be sure and cycle them through. I've heard the same comments/jokes from the same artists through the years and they can become stale.
    FFOGG, Me Again, NicDo and 2 others like this.
  3. Surgeon

    Surgeon Member

    Jun 13, 2008
    I've been performing live for 23 years and the last 15 years (many many shows) have been 95% solo work. At first I was the kind of performer that wanted to let the songs do the talking, entertaining, etc (the musicians I admire were never big talkers but I've come to realize that they can afford to do this because they're famous already). I spoke but not that much. It's the experience that finally made me realize, about 10 years ago, that I needed to engage the crowd more. As a solo musician I need to be more than *just* a guitarist/singer/harmonica player, I need to be an entertainer too if I want the crowd to be/feel engaged in the show. It turns out that realizing this and working on it really made a difference in the enjoyment people get out of my performances, which turns out as more recognition. I'm not a shy person, nor have I ever gotten stage-fright, so it became just a matter of making sure I tried to stay focused (I never really map-out what I'm going to say, maybe just the big lines, but if I'm adlibing I try avoid ranting or going on tangeants...that kills the mood in no time)

    When you're in a band, the situation is different, but you still need at least one member who's the engaging one. Usually it's the frontman but it could be different. If you can create a good band dynamic with more than one guy it's even better. It was actually what I brought to one of the best bands I've ever been in. They were great musicians and I learned a lot from them. However, they were the first to recognize that once I joined, the live shows got "better" (their word) because I brought a whole lot more stage-presence and engaged the crowd more...
    Me Again likes this.
  4. bailydread

    bailydread Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2019
    i am pretty sure that most showmanship consists of convincing the audience that you are in some way mentally not all there and playing in spite of it. this is an oversimplification but when you really look at great stage presences (jim morrison, iggy pop, david yow, you name it), they almost always have this constant. the "never know what he's gonna do next" factor is deepest when the question is "is the performer actually even in a state to be performing right now?" And then when he does come through and deliver, its that much richer.

    i'm very introverted one-on-one, but i honed my way with public speaking through taking the opportunity to raise my hand in very large lecture halls in college. even if the course was some dumb gen-ed, i took the opportunity to practice addressing a large group of people. i would raise my hand, wait to be called on, and then remain silent until the entire lecture all was quiet and paying attention, then i would participate in the class. this was fantastic practice, and it deepened my comprehension and retention of the material as well!

    as for the crazy factor, it helps to be very neurotic and have a weird, dynamic personality ;)
    Me Again, derekd and JiveJust like this.
  5. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    For me it just kind of grew as my confidence grew until I got to the point where I kind of became fearless on stage. Once you get to the point where you're out of your own head and just letting the music flow your body and face just seem to follow along. All you really need to do is relax, have fun and just go for it.
  6. Yer Blues

    Yer Blues Member

    May 26, 2013
    Do I care? I guess... but I'll never be the jumping on tables during guitar solo type.
    However, it's a lot easier to be engaged when I actually enjoy the music I am playing. It's hard to be engaged when it's something I don't like.... but sometimes the gig is the gig.
  7. drewl

    drewl Member

    Jul 1, 2008

    Actually just imitating the moves of the people I admired onstage, like Jimi, Townshend, Page etc.
  8. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2004
    PNW, USA
    I'm an engaging performer. Some of it came naturally, some from was learned from playing lots of shows.

    Here are my top-ten tips:

    1. Remember that playing music on stage is performing, which encompasses way more than just playing music on a stage. Performing is acting.
    2. Exaggerate everything you do, well beyond the point where it feels natural. Because you aren't acting are performing (aka: acting).
    3. Don't act passive. Smile, look like you're having a good time, or look intensely into what you're doing.
    4. Engage with your fellow musicians. A lot. As far as the audience is concerned, the band is best friends. Sometimes this requires acting.
    5. Don't stand still, ever. Your feet should never be rooted.
    6. Look up. Look up. Look up.
    7. Single out individual people in the audience, and interact with them, individually.
    8. Develop swagger. If you don't have it naturally, fake it. You should look absolutely confident that your part of the stage belongs to you.
    9. When you make a mistake, laugh. When a bandmate makes a mistake, laugh. When things go horribly wrong, laugh.
    10. No capes.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
    Capador, Cb, sideman and 22 others like this.
  9. JiveJust

    JiveJust Member

    Mar 14, 2009
    Cedar Park, Texas
    I play in pretty heavy/loud/fast bands e.g. Psychobilly/Metal. I find it’s best to say very little and have no dead air in between songs. Everyone gets their moment of spotlight while the rest of the band puts them over. That’s a nod to Rockabilly showmanship and even Metallica when Cliff got his spotlight moment during the set.

    @bailydread nailed it, in my genre going a little of the rails is where it’s at. It’s entertainment and it’s a blast if you’re into it.
    Crowder likes this.
  10. theroan

    theroan Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    Toronto, Ontario
    It's yes and no for me. When I play guitar I'm pretty stoic, I have to remind myself to move and I'm pretty stiff when I do. When I fronted a metal band on the other hand, I was a crazy person. I was an extrovert extrovert with a microphone. I was cracking jokes moving around, engaging with the crowd. Probably because the job was easier.
  11. orourke

    orourke Member

    Dec 15, 2005
    Bronx, NY
    For me first I’ve always been prepared. If I’m worrying about remembering parts, or what I have to do next I’m not going to have the bandwidth to perform well.

    Second is learn from your hero’s. I particularly think it’s important to watch other bands live in person. You really get a sense of what engages an audience when you are a member of that audience.

    As a kid in the 70’s, even though I have always been a lead guitarist not a lead singer, I really learned watching singers. I got to see Iggy Pop when he was doing clubs, he was famous for his violent antics but his theatrically was amazing, he really knew how to strike a heroic pose. Willy Deville was another great performer. Johnny Thunders was guy who was electrifying no matter how ****ed up he was.

    More recently I’ve seen Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem a few times. You can’t look away from their live shows.

    If you want to learn, go to a show.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
    Crowder, Me Again, Guitar Stu and 2 others like this.
  12. themannamedbones

    themannamedbones Member

    Oct 27, 2013
    First off, I studied great performers. Watched them to see what they did and honestly stole lots of moves.

    Second, I got out there and did shows, sucked at first but I got honest feedback and learned and grew.
    Crowder and Guitar Stu like this.
  13. atomicmoondog

    atomicmoondog Member

    Jul 25, 2015
    Some members of the audience find me engaging and entertaining.
    Some members of the audience do not.
    Some women think I’m hot.
    Some women do not.

    I understand that those that show up to hear the band play are investing their time and money to hear music and be entertained. I try my best to be empathetic to my audience and engage them on their level. I engage as the situation dictates, while always keeping the product (music) front and center.
  14. derekd

    derekd Member

    Sep 10, 2007
    In a van down by the river
    I was totally with you until that last one.

  15. Franklin

    Franklin Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2005
    You beat me to it derekd!

    For me I’m having trouble “faking it” and performing well. I work on it, but it’s tough for me. Without the guitar I’m very engaging, but add a crowd or guitar and I’m jello.
    FFOGG and derekd like this.
  16. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Sometimes you don't have to be engaging, just do your job, but look like you belong.
    Are you Tina, an Ikette, Ike, or the bass player? Different jobs, imo.
    Shine in your moment, if you get one.
    'Make the hard stuff look easy and the easy stuff look hard.'
    Despite how I may look in my avatar I am not amusingly gleeful all the time.
    Fronting can be hard work.
  17. derekd

    derekd Member

    Sep 10, 2007
    In a van down by the river
    That's why those who are good at it are usually well known.
    Tone_Terrific likes this.
  18. frijoleghost

    frijoleghost Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2012
    i do shoegaze, but pedal board is the size of vermont...people don't pay for my "performance"
    bailydread likes this.
  19. stimpson

    stimpson Member

    May 10, 2016
    i was an actor in a lot of school plays before i ever played guitar onstage. it helps to keep in mind that the audience wants to see you show off. make eye contact and act like you're crazy
    Crowder, supergenius365 and Me Again like this.
  20. wire-n-wood

    wire-n-wood Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    All good, all good. But I'm *not* naturally an engaging performer, so I have tips from that angle.

    1. Sometimes allow yourself to tune-out everything else, and go into the zone. The entranced, eyes closed, head tilted up to the heavens, totally captivated in the moment - it's an introspective spectacle... but it is a spectacle.
    2. Move, sway, step, lunge, lean-in, lean-out... and however uncool your dance steps may be, totally own them. Quirky is good. As long as you "buy into" your own movement style, it'll look like it belongs on the stage.
    3. Sometimes there's barely room to move on stage, but don't stand with your feet together. Standing astride, or one leg forward, then the other... sooooo much better in the photos.
    4. When parts call for sparse playing, make a big gesture of striking that note.
    5. Point the guitars in different ways, especially during easy parts. Hold the neck to the sky, or point it straight forward from the hip, tommy-gun style like Wilco Johnson.

    ...ironically, it's during the easiest guitar parts that I can perform as though I'm putting more into it. When we get to a challenging solo... that's when I find myself standing still and concentrating on the tiny movements of actual playing. But at least I'm learning to prep myself for those solos by landing an "action" stance with legs spread, so even though I have dedicated focus during the solo, I don't look like the new kid first day of gym class.
    stanshall, Crowder, WordMan and 2 others like this.

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