Tips And Tricks On How To Behave On/Off Stage

These are some tips that I summed up over the years of live playing in different metal bands, so they may contribute to new metal/rock players while preparing for a gig.

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1. Don't Be An Idiot

There are a lot of bands, that I know, that when they made a demo or an album and started to get some positive vibes from different people (myspace, forums, comments after their live performance ect.), that they started to behave like complete f****** idiots. You should see these people before they get on stage; if there are playing in the middle of a, lets say 5 band set, they are the guys that are mostly at the back of the show, or are hanging by at the beer stand and constantly commenting on how every band sucks (the guitar player missed 15 notes, the bass player sucks, the drummer doesn't know how to play the double kick pedal ect.)... After their show they are the ones that will tell you how they could have done better if they had the right vibe, or some other excuse so they can cover up that their playing sucks and of course... they will usually give you a high 5 after you are done playing with your band and say that you kick ass, but as soon as you have walked away they will start saying s*** about you or/and your band...

Tip: Don't be one of those guys...music is about having fun, not about who has a bigger d***. You cannot buy respect, you earn it. Prior to a show, took the time to speak with other bands that are playing that night, maby you'll make some new friends, new gig contacts or just have a blast because someone has a bottle of whiskey... Be humble and salute every criticism that you will eventually get. It will be a reference point on where to go with your live playing and to work on your self and primarily on your band. Also, if someone says that you were great after a show, that doesn't mean that ESP/Pearl/Shure/Krank ect. will be knocking on your door anytime soon... be gratefull for every positive comment you get and again, soak up those comments and if they continue coming that means that you are doing something right. Mental note: DON'T CONSTANTLY TALK S*** ABOUT OTHER BANDS! You'll just get labeled as a band that talks s*** about other bands and will be on the black list of promotors, bands, venues ect.

2. Time Is Money

There were some situations when I was doing a previously noted 5 band metal night and when there are 5 bands that are eagerly itching to get on stage things start to get hectic. Every venue (yes, even smaller ones) has a schedule and no one likes bands that are we are metal gods and no one tells us when to start or stop playing... reality check; you're idiots. On numerous occasions I saw bands that were playing 15min longer that they were allowed to and let me tell you...they never played in that venue again. The thing that pisses me off is that when there is a change up between bands (let's say you're playing a 30min set and then comes the 15min interlude where you need to get you're s*** and get the f*** off stage, and in that short time the next band has to plug in, tune, arange the drums ect) that people get nervous and you hear a lot of words involving mothers, sisters, fathers and holes... Most people think that the world revolves around their band and that they deserve being in the spotlight all night... that ain't real.

Tip: You are not Metallica, you do not exceed your playing time just because you think that that's cool. Show that you're capable of playing in the desired time limit and get your stuff off the stage in the shortest time possible. Line up a couple of shows like that and you'll get a reputation of a band that's dead on with their playing time. If the crowd want's an encore you need to ask the promotor of the show if it's ok (it takes 10sec to do that via microphone and you'll see if he aproves or dissaproves). If it's ok, play one more song (no, not a 10min song) and if it isn't ok, say thanks to the crowd and get off the stage. Don't be difficult to work with and you'll be fine.

3. Live Playing Frenzy

Well let's see... playing live... now, a lot of bands think that playing live is a piece of cake. You can see bands playin live and sounding like someone is rapeing your ears. Playing live is a thing that's taken for granted by a lot of players/bands. Often you'll hear a kick ass demo only to see the band live and stood dumbfounded with a wtf? expression on your face. The problem is that some bands aren't taking rehersal serious and when the time comes to play live they often find themselfs pissed off as how their perfomance sucked and how the crowd...well, you know... Also, I really hate seeing bands that are like Dream Theatre on stage, you know, they have a 20cm radius in wich they can express themself, in short terms: THEY DON'T MOVE (yes, I like DT but hate their live performances). You know those bands that play some brutal/technical/groove ect. metal and when they play live they stand like they are frozen in time? Well, I know a couple... also, don't drink your ass off, if you heard that Slash could play while having a bottle of JD, that doesn't mean that you can. Chances are that you will throw up while playing and make an idiot out of yourself.

Tip: No one is going to eat your soul if you mess up while playing live, just loosen up. Have ONE beer before you go on and everything will bee ok, you don't become a professional over night. Also, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse... if you can play any part of your songs in 2 a.m. completely wasted, on drugs, with only one of your limbs working you'll do fine on stage. And try to move bit, bang your head, walk here and there...and remeber, it's not about you, it's about the music and the feel of playing live.

34 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Atlantis2112
    Dream Theater usually has to stand still because of the complexity of the songs they're playing. I can't picture anyone windmilling while playing a JP solo..
    von gelb
    they are the guys that are mostly at the back of the show, or are hanging by at the beer stand
    That's us too, but we are not commenting about the other bands. We're just getting in the mood to play.
    JHC_DOH
    brighteyes577 wrote: cronux wrote: i respect DT 4 their complexity but you have bands like cannibal corpse and meshuggah that also have complex and difficult songs to perform live... did you really just compare Dream Theater to cannibal corpse..? completely different music, different kind of "complexity". Shitty metal is some of the easiest music to possibly play, and the only difficult thing about any of the solos is if they're insanely fast, in which case you are NOT going to be dancing around, at the most you could be headbanging. Really, it's not about moving around. I've seen bands play that are TERRIBLE that jumped around the stage like monkeys, it just makes you look like an idiot. Though it may not be as exciting, I'd rather see a band play well and stand still. It's about the music first, then the "show"
    When you see a band play live, and they don't move, it's a complete waste of money. Especially a metal show. They ought to call it "An evening with Dream Theatre". I mean please, even Yngwie is running around on stage. His songs are way more rediculous AND he's like 50.
    Blas3
    more vulgarity than in a whole season of south park and jerry springer... added! epic fail example of an article.
    nostr0tomas
    Oh and also yeah I totally agree with this whole article. The whole don't talk shiz thing is the truth... respect you're fellow musicians... even if you think they suck, they still got the balls to get up on that stage and do their thing!
    nostr0tomas
    Uhhh why has no one said Dime, Steve Vai, EVH? Obviously they aren't just standin there playin the hell outta their guitar!! Yeah DT is a little lacking on their stage show... but that's their thing.
    joshmckinnon
    wow, amazed no one mentioned angus young. i mean heres a guy who goes out night after night and solos while jumping off stuff and doing the duckwalk all around the stage. And he's 57! All im saying is try to encorporate some movement, walking around and headbanging. even smiling. You don't know how much effect it has on your audience if you look like you are having fun.
    SkepsisMetal
    brighteyes577 wrote: cronux wrote: i respect DT 4 their complexity but you have bands like cannibal corpse and meshuggah that also have complex and difficult songs to perform live... did you really just compare Dream Theater to cannibal corpse..? completely different music, different kind of "complexity". Shitty metal is some of the easiest music to possibly play, and the only difficult thing about any of the solos is if they're insanely fast, in which case you are NOT going to be dancing around, at the most you could be headbanging. Really, it's not about moving around. I've seen bands play that are TERRIBLE that jumped around the stage like monkeys, it just makes you look like an idiot. Though it may not be as exciting, I'd rather see a band play well and stand still. It's about the music first, then the "show"
    NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo....and NO! If its about the music...buy the goddam CD, stick it on, and close your eyes. Jesus, you dont pay good money to listen to a jacked up PA system playing studio stuff. You wanna hear some change ups, some mistakes that make the band seem more human and less like the gods people make them out to be. Watch bands like Machine Head, Lamb of God, Dragonforce (yes, i said it), Slipknot...hell, even Green Day; although i will admit they are past their prime now...far past it.... they all have great stage presence, live antics and generally put on a thoroughly entertaining show, regardless of your musical preference. And with the exception of Dragonforce, they all manage to sound awesome while acting up. Its all down to practice of performance. After all, you only record the song once....after than you may play it hundreds of times live.
    JackO'Lantern
    for those of you who play technical metal why not just have the singer throw himself about (assuming you have a singer who doesn't play an instrument) ... or the bassist (who usually plays simpler parts - not all the time obviously) i understand where a lot of you are coming from, but its just so much more exciting to watch a band that throw themselves about! thats just my opinion great article by the way!
    Lord_Vhailor
    Mike Portnoy does some crazy stuff behind his drumset. Really. Nice article, I used to be someone like that... Well, it's time to change a bit, with a new band .
    Skuzzmo
    brighteyes577 wrote: cronux wrote: i respect DT 4 their complexity but you have bands like cannibal corpse and meshuggah that also have complex and difficult songs to perform live... did you really just compare Dream Theater to cannibal corpse..? completely different music, different kind of "complexity". Shitty metal is some of the easiest music to possibly play, and the only difficult thing about any of the solos is if they're insanely fast, in which case you are NOT going to be dancing around, at the most you could be headbanging. Really, it's not about moving around. I've seen bands play that are TERRIBLE that jumped around the stage like monkeys, it just makes you look like an idiot. Though it may not be as exciting, I'd rather see a band play well and stand still. It's about the music first, then the "show"
    From my experience, when you're plodding around on the bar and club circuit people want to be entertained not bored... and I'm sorry if this offends anyone but being technically amazing and not moving is considered boring by anyone who isn't a muso or into the song you're doing... and it's unfortunate that a large percentage of the people in a bar/pub/club/ whatever aren't musos. And that is why in my area the biggest local bands who regularly play to 200 - 300 people a show are the ones who don't really play anything that challenging but do get up and properly twat around on stage.... So, the majority of people seem to prefer entertainment 1st, booze 2nd etc ....and somewhere down the list is the actual music.
    cronux
    first off thanks everyone 4 commenting... this shows me what i should look out in the future as for DT, it seems that I shouldn't have mention them in this article but still...i stand by my opinion. the thing that I wanted to point out is that when you play live, you should show the crowd that you are having fun while playing. you're not a robot that only has the ability to playing and not doing anything else...This doesn't mean you should sacrifice your playability 4 on stage movement/performance. Try to implement one into the other and blend them together...
    gratefulduck
    plbrynt wrote: Dont forget the; set your sh" up and get out of the way no one wants to hear random guitar noodling and contrary to popular belief a drum kit will continue to function correctly after being set up and does not need to be constantly hit. After soundchecking the next thing you play should be the first note of the first song in your set, anything else is just noise.
    i thought the drum thing was for sound check/tuning..
    Zombie V.
    I actually get very irritated when bands are jumping around like idiots. Play your ****ing instrument.
    And try to move bit, bang your head, walk here and there...and remeber, it's not about you, it's about the music and the feel of playing live.
    Then why would you "bang your head" to draw attention to yourself?
    thenation1121
    A lot of common sense here, but its surprising how many ppl these days lack common sense. I agree on the whole booze thing even though myself, well i can drink a bottle of jack without puking any day =)
    bassthunder
    Atlantis2112 wrote: Dream Theater usually has to stand still because of the complexity of the songs they're playing. I can't picture anyone windmilling while playing a JP solo..
    They used to move around in their early days, but it seems they had problems falling over (JP stepping off the stage, Labrie tripping on cords, Labrie getting tackled by Myung...)
    plbrynt
    Dont forget the; set your sh" up and get out of the way no one wants to hear random guitar noodling and contrary to popular belief a drum kit will continue to function correctly after being set up and does not need to be constantly hit. After soundchecking the next thing you play should be the first note of the first song in your set, anything else is just noise.
    dmiwshicldply
    plbrynt wrote: Dont forget the; set your sh" up and get out of the way no one wants to hear random guitar noodling and contrary to popular belief a drum kit will continue to function correctly after being set up and does not need to be constantly hit. After soundchecking the next thing you play should be the first note of the first song in your set, anything else is just noise.
    i dont know i think a little random noise right before the show could build a little excitement, or help tense the room up a little before exploding into the first song. now noodling in between songs that really pisses me off
    cronux
    now noodling in between songs that really pisses me off
    i agree...one time i was watchin a show and the lead guitarist started to "solo away" after a song...it was cool for 10sec... after that a bottle hit him...
    Dream Floyd
    Atlantis2112 wrote: Dream Theater usually has to stand still because of the complexity of the songs they're playing. I can't picture anyone windmilling while playing a JP solo..
    This
    cronux
    Dream Floyd wrote: Atlantis2112 wrote: Dream Theater usually has to stand still because of the complexity of the songs they're playing. I can't picture anyone windmilling while playing a JP solo.. This
    i respect DT 4 their complexity but you have bands like cannibal corpse and meshuggah that also have complex and difficult songs to perform live...
    brighteyes577
    cronux wrote: i respect DT 4 their complexity but you have bands like cannibal corpse and meshuggah that also have complex and difficult songs to perform live...
    did you really just compare Dream Theater to cannibal corpse..? completely different music, different kind of "complexity". Shitty metal is some of the easiest music to possibly play, and the only difficult thing about any of the solos is if they're insanely fast, in which case you are NOT going to be dancing around, at the most you could be headbanging. Really, it's not about moving around. I've seen bands play that are TERRIBLE that jumped around the stage like monkeys, it just makes you look like an idiot. Though it may not be as exciting, I'd rather see a band play well and stand still. It's about the music first, then the "show"
    alexmasucci55
    True article, other than the bit about Dream Theater not moving around in my opinion. From any of their live DVDs, it's obvious they have crazy fun playing live and they often involve the crowd. It's not uncommon for Jordan Rudess to pick up a keytar and move out to jam with JP and JM. Not to mention on their recent tour, during a bit in Solitary Shell Mike would walk around his set while drumming
    theogonia777
    brighteyes577 wrote: cronux wrote: i respect DT 4 their complexity but you have bands like cannibal corpse and meshuggah that also have complex and difficult songs to perform live... did you really just compare Dream Theater to cannibal corpse..? completely different music, different kind of "complexity". Shitty metal is some of the easiest music to possibly play, and the only difficult thing about any of the solos is if they're insanely fast, in which case you are NOT going to be dancing around, at the most you could be headbanging. Really, it's not about moving around. I've seen bands play that are TERRIBLE that jumped around the stage like monkeys, it just makes you look like an idiot. Though it may not be as exciting, I'd rather see a band play well and stand still. It's about the music first, then the "show"
    this as a shredder myself, it kind of bothers me that everyone expects you to play extremely advanced metal (thecnical death, progressive, neoclassical, etc.) and still jump around and headbang. it's the type of stuff where if you really have to focus on your instrument and the music that you and your band is playing. everyone seems to care if you put on a good show more then the music itself. you simply can't jump around while playing stuff like that. other than that though, this is a good article, with some very good points. number one in particular reminds me of an ex drummer who did several of those things, which didn't end well for anyone.
    Andy2k64
    Nice article....its amazing how many bands and people could benefit from this!!!
    Aethen
    theogonia777 wrote: brighteyes577 wrote: cronux wrote: i respect DT 4 their complexity but you have bands like cannibal corpse and meshuggah that also have complex and difficult songs to perform live... did you really just compare Dream Theater to cannibal corpse..? completely different music, different kind of "complexity". Shitty metal is some of the easiest music to possibly play, and the only difficult thing about any of the solos is if they're insanely fast, in which case you are NOT going to be dancing around, at the most you could be headbanging. Really, it's not about moving around. I've seen bands play that are TERRIBLE that jumped around the stage like monkeys, it just makes you look like an idiot. Though it may not be as exciting, I'd rather see a band play well and stand still. It's about the music first, then the "show" this as a shredder myself, it kind of bothers me that everyone expects you to play extremely advanced metal (thecnical death, progressive, neoclassical, etc.) and still jump around and headbang. it's the type of stuff where if you really have to focus on your instrument and the music that you and your band is playing. everyone seems to care if you put on a good show more then the music itself. you simply can't jump around while playing stuff like that. other than that though, this is a good article, with some very good points. number one in particular reminds me of an ex drummer who did several of those things, which didn't end well for anyone.
    I completely disagree. So much so that it's a bit absurd. When I go to a concert I want to have fun. Leave the morbid, boring, distasteful immovable passiveness for the studio. When you're at a venue, involve the crowd, make it fun. If I wanted to hear them only play, I would listen to my Zune
    loaded_
    i just think that keeping to the schedule is a little overrated in this article; most places i played the owners kinda expected to be off schedule by the end of the evening
    Beast-Wyvern
    I completely disagree. So much so that it's a bit absurd. When I go to a concert I want to have fun. Leave the morbid, boring, distasteful immovable passiveness for the studio. When you're at a venue, involve the crowd, make it fun. If I wanted to hear them only play, I would listen to my Zune
    This is true. If the band is just going to stand still theres no point in seeing them live. Of course, they should still play well but every song has some moments where you can afford to move around a bit. Even Dream theater songs.
    joeabstract
    i just like the blaring noise of a concert and the atmosphere of a concert. of course i like the band im going to see but i could really care less if they wanna jump around and what not. although i cant stand when they are completely motionless. wtf right? at least some headbanging. but if your gonna compromise that for quality of playing just stand still.lmao.
    DeadxEndxEmpty
    Clearly nobody talking about the live performances, standing still or not, has never seen Unearth live. I saw one of their guitarists playing ON THE BAR a the House of Blues, got back on stage with an apple in his mouth, and barely missed a note. Not to mention all the jumping they do, with how technical their music is.