"When you perform, you are out of yourself-larger and more potent, more beautiful. You are for minutes heroic. This is power. This is glory on earth. And it is yours, nightly." Agnes De Mille
You're there, loaded in, safe and sound, your merch is set and you're ready to perform. The lights go down, the crowd shuffles to the stage and the alchemy that is music performance begins.
The particular power of the stage is connection. And connection to fans is crucial to success. Consider these ten do's and don'ts to make the most of your performance.
1. DO acknowledge your audience. Look at the people looking at you. Acknowledge their choice in sharing these hours with your band, your music and your dreams. It doesn't matter if 10 or 1,000 have shown up. Let them know you are grateful for their presence.
2. DO have fun. When you're having fun the audience is having fun too. If you miss a note, forget lyrics, drop a beat, remember MOST people in the audience never even know it happened unless you screw up your face and SCOWL. Laughter is a great way to cover mistakes.
3. DO always have a set list. Attention spans are brief. If you spend too much time tuning or picking out the next song, you're going to lose people. Plan your sets but realize flexibility is important as well.
4. DO acknowledge the bar staff, the waitresses and the sound tech. A quick shout out is a donation to your karma credit card. Thank the venue from the stage for hosting your group. A grateful band is a busy band.
5. DO remind your audience you have merchandise and you will be at the merch table to sign cds and photos and give away stickers at set break.
6. DON'T forget your banner and neglect to introduce the band. I've been to lots of shows where the band has no banner and I have no idea who they are and there is no merch, no manager, and no one else knows who the band is either. Your name is valuable. Use it.
7. DON'T complain about the crowd, the venue or the show from the stage. This sets a tone of hostility. Even if it is the worst gig of your life, DON'T complain.
8. DON'T make political statements. Unless you're Sting or U2.
9. DON'T get drunk and think you perform better. You don't. Enough said.
10. DON'T hide in the van or dressing room during the entire set break. People have come to see you so they can SEE YOU. Interaction and connection are your biggest assets. A moment between a fan and a performer can be a lifetime memory. Be sure you're present to make that moment happen.