Guest post by Luther Mallory from bandlimbo.com
Photo courtesy of photographyhd.net
You’ve got your NXNE showcases coming up. Time to rethink your stage
Peek your head into any small club on any night and you’re likely to see
a decent band playing decent songs comfortably on stage. Comfortable
enough, thankfully, that you can relax and watch without feeling
embarrassed for them.
There’s nothing worse for an audience member than an uncomfortable band.
It’s like watching a bad talk show interview - you can’t focus on
anything but the shittiness.
There’s nothing worse for an audience than an uncomfortable band but
there’s nothing worse for a band than being comfortable on stage. It
means the band is satisfied. It means they’re pleased with how well they
perform and their current level of success (in terms of fan base - the
only method of measurement for small club bands).
The comfortable band relies on songs alone to entice the audience. The
job is making an audience member into a fan and it requires a lot of
wooing from the band. The comfortable band says “here’s our songs
performed for you on this stage using all the instruments we used to
record it. We hope you like it.” And usually we don’t like it. Usually
we think it’s ok. Not enough to woo us into being a fan.
Unless your songs are really really tremendously amazing, the audience
needs more. They want to see that your band is connected to each other,
to the music, to the songs, and always challenging the audience - always
showing the audience more of themselves, way beyond just songs.
Why are there so many comfortable bands? Fear. That’s all. It’s
terrifying for bands to take chances on stage to really show the
audience something special, beyond just songs. The moves that band
members dream about doing on the Coachella stage just before they drift
off to sleep at night seem so easy. Jump kicks and diving into the crowd
and crying during your ballad. It’s so awesome in our minds!
Dreaming requires no courage and action does. Shit. The result is the
comfortable band, too afraid to take chances beyond just playing songs
and hoping that’s enough for the audience. It’s almost never enough.
They want to see you expressing yourself fearlessly. They want that
because that’s why they came - to see someone cooler than them do
something cooler than they can do. Be that for them and you’ll win them
Bands burn out in the small club circuit for exactly this reason.
Staying comfortable and never getting the guts to take it further. Do
the move. Get the courage to challenge the audience with more of
You know absolutely that doing the move - doing the things you plan in
your mind when you’re not on the stage would pay off. You know the
audience would love them. The fear, though, is too great.
The small club stage is the true proving ground. It’s hard because it’s the test trial for bands. The audiences don’t care yet because it’s not their job to care, it’s their job to watch and judge and make a decision. They’re not your fan, yet, they’re just your audience.
Showing them who you are, beyond the songs, is how you move up. Be fearless.
Stop being comfortable and start being anxious on stage because you’re about to try something new and uncertain. Something big! Your audience will thank you.