#1
I hope this is the right forum, it didn't seem right to post it somewhere else since it isn't specific to one instrument.

Alright, so the story is, I'm playing in a band at what you call high school in the US - it's got a different name where I live -, and I'm not really into most of the music we play. Like, at all. The rest of the band always choose pop songs that are on the radio, and I'm more into rock. Still, playing is fun, because them bandmates are nice, and so is jamming out with other musicians. And the songs are usually at least somewhat interesting to play.

The thing is, I've been told that when on stage, I look dead bored, like the gig doesn't bother me at all. Of course, that's not good, so I wondered what I could do to spice up what little stage performance is needed. Most of the time, I play the bass, so that's what this question focuses on.

The "stage" is really small, and I've got perhaps 2 by 3 metres (depth / width) to move within. This doesn't really leave much room for any performance, especially since headbanging or power stance don't really fit in with Adele or whatever stuff is on the radio right now.

So, any advice? Since a good part of the audience consists of pupils' parents, I thought about going for an old-fashioned look - bass hanging really high, perhaps nodding or swinging left and right a bit, like they did in the days of Elvis or The Beatles. Certainly fits the music better than going all rock star.

Thanks in advance for any help,

Hashtag
#2
Hi dude, for stage performance:

1. Get your eyes off the fretboard as much as you can. A good way to practice this is to play the songs infront of a mirror. This way you can see the fretboard whilst also getting used to playing with your head up. After a while try without the mirror.

2. Move around as much as you can with the music. No need to headbang if you don't feel it, just move around. If you aren't into the music, just act like you are. In some situations you can actually make yourself like it, just by pretending that you're really into it.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#3
Looking somewhere else than the fretboard isn't the problem, I can play all of our songs blind and with the bass guitar behind my head (not kidding, I just tried it). Usually, I just look past the crowd towards the wall at the far end of the room, which has led to folks feeling like I don't give a shit about the music.

Another problem is, the rest of the band doesn't really have a stage performance either - our guitarist sits on a chair in front of his tabs, and our singers and the percussionist are obviously with the mics / the drums, so I'm the only one standing, hence the only one people could expect a "performance" from.

Pretending I like the music is kinda hard, like I said, it's music I usually wouldn't even listen to if I got paid for it.
#4
Yeah my advice about pretending to get into it really is for if you want to fix your appearance.

If you would prefer to instead focus on how much you hate the songs rather than delivering an entertaining performance, not much advice I can give.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#5
You misunderstood, I'm not unwilling to try this, I just doubt I can successfully like or pretend-like the songs. I'm still going to try it.

Let me rephrase my question then: what do I do for medium-tempo songs that don't have a "groove" like fast rock music has, and that mostly require me to only play two root notes per bar plus the occasional transition? Examples would be Leona Lewis' "My Hands" or John Legend's "All of Me".
#6
Get a comic book for your music stand and trade with your bandmates between songs. That might make the audience laugh. Other than that, smile, wave, point at your friend in the aidience while smiling and waving. Do your power stance. Dump a bucket of water on your head then one on the front row.
#7
Why not just sit down? I mean, if that's what the rest of the band is doing, maybe you would look more unified as a band. I think it would also look silly if you were the only one that appeared to be really into the music.

For the songs you mentioned, I think maybe sitting down would actually be the best idea.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#8
That's actually something I hadn't thought of before, for whatever reason. I don't know from the top of my head whether the bass amp is big enough to sit on, that'd look nicer than a chair. Makes sense, though, since our percussionist sits on his cajon too. Thanks for the tip, I'll see how that works out during the next band practice.
#9
If you are going to perform live music for an audience, learn to get into the music, any music, or get off the stage. You are screwing up the show. That is just what pro musicians do whether playing pop, rock, country, metal, show tunes, punk, Mozart, Stravinsky, Be Bop or whatever.

It's all about the music and connecting with your listening audience. It's not about you. Standing there looking bored because the band isn't playing your favorite tunes just screams: " I am a rank amateur man-child who doesn't understand live performance."
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Mar 4, 2017,
#10
Okay. So first off, I tried sitting on the amp while playing. It certainly fits the music more than standing like a wannabe-rockstar, and funny enough, it also makes it a little bit easier to feel like that's the music that should be played. I'll try to keep in mind what you said about caring for the music / getting into it.

Also, it looks kind of hilarious and kind of funny to actually hop up and down during the chorus of one of those songs. I'm still undecided whether to try this or not, since it's mostly funny and not actually fitting.
#11
When the music lacks physical energy (not necessarily emotional energy), you don't want to be looking like a jack@ss jumping around like Flea or putting on your best Angus impression.  You're right... it would be ridiculous.  

Consider this.  Who are you performing for?  If you are staring at the back wall, it suggests that you are performing for the back wall.  I bet the back wall really digs that, but the back wall will not ask anyone to book you again.  So.... perform for the audience.  Make eye contact with people in the audience.  Smile at them.  Not cheezy-like, but as if you really are glad they came to see YOU play.  Engage the people.  Clap when appropriate.  Sing along when appropriate.  Pick different audience members, which will require you to face different directions, move to different parts of the stage, etc.   If you're effective (as in, if you've gotten them to "buy in"), then they'll follow your lead.  

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#13
Quote by HashtagMC
Looking somewhere else than the fretboard isn't the problem, I can play all of our songs blind and with the bass guitar behind my head (not kidding, I just tried it). Usually, I just look past the crowd towards the wall at the far end of the room, which has led to folks feeling like I don't give a shit about the music.

Another problem is, the rest of the band doesn't really have a stage performance either - our guitarist sits on a chair in front of his tabs, and our singers and the percussionist are obviously with the mics / the drums, so I'm the only one standing, hence the only one people could expect a "performance" from.

Pretending I like the music is kinda hard, like I said, it's music I usually wouldn't even listen to if I got paid for it.


Why are you in this band? You sound like you hate every second of it. 

Tell the guitarist to stand up. And the singer can obviously take the microphone in his hand and walk around. Seriously, you seem like the least boring member of this group, at least you stand up.

You say that songs can be fun to play? Are you then not enyoing yourself? If you are not, there really isnt a point of being in this band, unless you get paid a decent amount. If you are in fact enyoing yourself, show it. Move to the grove, smile, sing, nod your head... Dont pull some weird metal headbanging and power stances and whatever, just be relaxed and have fun. But if you hate every moment of it, then it probably wont work. 

But seriously, tell the guitarist to stand up. Sitting to read the tabs, what kind of bullshit is that? He should know the material by heart. Ive never even seen anyone read TABS druring a performance. Sheet music yes, but tabs... Come on. And tell the singer to move around. Unless he lost both his arms and cant carry a microphone around, he has no excuse to just stand there. Or does he read lyrics as well?
Joža je kul. On ma sirove z dodatki pa hambije.
#14
^^^ Guitarists that read tab on stage do so because they don't know how to play the song.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#15
Quote by gorkyporky
Why are you in this band? You sound like you hate every second of it. 

Tell the guitarist to stand up. And the singer can obviously take the microphone in his hand and walk around. Seriously, you seem like the least boring member of this group, at least you stand up.

You say that songs can be fun to play? Are you then not enyoing yourself? If you are not, there really isnt a point of being in this band, unless you get paid a decent amount. If you are in fact enyoing yourself, show it. Move to the grove, smile, sing, nod your head... Dont pull some weird metal headbanging and power stances and whatever, just be relaxed and have fun. But if you hate every moment of it, then it probably wont work. 

But seriously, tell the guitarist to stand up. Sitting to read the tabs, what kind of bullshit is that? He should know the material by heart. Ive never even seen anyone read TABS druring a performance. Sheet music yes, but tabs... Come on. And tell the singer to move around. Unless he lost both his arms and cant carry a microphone around, he has no excuse to just stand there. Or does he read lyrics as well?


I don't hate playing in this group, the guys and gals are all very fun, and rehearsals (well, more like band practice) are always nice. So, usually, I am somewhat enjoying myself as part of the band. It's just the songs that aren't exactly my kinda music. And I'm playing in because it's playing the bass onstage and getting both "a foot in the door" and experience in playing live.

I don't know if I mentioned it (I think I did?), like I said, high school. Our guitarist is one of our teachers, so he's a) kinda old, and b) got a full-time job, so he can't really practise as much as a teenager with too much free time can do. He did, however, suggest he stand up so it looks less boring (I did mention it's an acoustic guitar?). Our singer also has a job aside from homework and being at school (and yeah, she sometimes needs lyrics onstage, but, especially when your bandmates think you take everything too serious, you tell a girl to get her sh*t together and practise without getting bitched at. Am I glad I play for the other team).

The most fun guy is our percussionist, he's really having a hell of a time enjoying himself while he drums. So, it's more of a hobby for everybody except me, because I plan on finding folks to start a "real" band with when I graduate this year. Then, I'll probably still have a bit of this problem, because I'm not really good at facial expressions, I always look dead bored even when I'm in a fairly good mood (you go through depression, you'll know what I'm talking about).


All that aside, our singer is actually not that bad with something like stage presence, definitely better than our last, who was glued to the mic stand. Drummer should also show the audience he likes playing it, so I still feel like I'm the weak part in the group. But sitting down too for some of the slower songs is definitely what I'll do, alongside with having our guitarist stand up for the more fast-paced ones.

P.S: It looks kind of funny to play the bass like an upright during "All About That Bass", and also gets me grinning, think that'd be something?

P.P.S: Oh, and having the bass hanging "right", like, with the body shape cutaway over my right thigh, and than somewhat "grooving" with the music has looked okay I've been told. Still the issue with the bored face, but less unenergetic stance.
Last edited by HashtagMC at Mar 10, 2017,
#16
^^^ Not exactly sure what you want from here dude. You say you want to be professional, but refuse to look like you're enjoying yourself because you don't enjoy the music.

It's simply up to you now whether you act like the professional you profess to be.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#17
I think you guys may be misunderstanding what TS is saying. To me it sounds like TS just doesn't know what to do on stage, especially during slower songs. He isn't actually bored, other people just think he looks bored.

I think there is a difference between moving around stage/dancing and not looking bored. You don't have to move around the stage or dance or anything like that to not look bored. Dancing or moving around doesn't even fit some songs and may just look stupid (especially if you are the only one in your band doing it).

Maybe watch some live videos of bands playing slower tunes and see what they are doing. I think it would also help if you talked about stage performance with your bandmates. If you are worried about how you look on stage, it makes sense to make sure all of you have a similar vision. You want to look like a band and not like four musicians all doing their own thing. So why not talk about stage performance with your bandmates?
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#18
TS you have a great attitude. Playing stuff you are not  keen on just to gain experience and have fun making music is what is going to make you a better musician. Going the extra mile and trying to entertain makes you a performer too.

You like the people you play with, just interacting with them is probably all you need. Smile at them whilst you are play, swap a joke between songs and make eye contact with the audience and it'll all look livelier and more fun.
#19
Alright, so we did the gig tonight, and it was really great. I was really fucking nervous, had a strap, a replacement strap, a replacement strap for that, and two backup cables packed, as well as a capo for our guitarist should he forget his, and picks, should anyone need them, and I was really close to going insane out of nervousness.

Turned out, I needn't, because everything went fantastic. I found there wasn't really any space to do much of a stage performance, because we played in the corner of the pub, each one of us having, like, one square foot, so I just went with grooving a bit along with the rhythm and looking over the audience, trying to smile. Been told it looked good, and I really enjoyed being there and playing for all these people, so I didn't really have a problem with my attitude towards the music, the joy pretty much tuned out any problems I might've had with our songs. I got congratulations from people who listened and said it was really good, so I guess I did well enough. I guess the tip with being into it or pretending to be (I didn't have to pretend) really did it for me.

Thanks everyone who replied!
#20
Congratulations. For me playing in front of an audience is everything. I have been at this regularly for 40 years and a night with a good receptive audience is like a great drug (and I have done most of the other ones). For me, playing to an audience that appreciates what I am playing is the ultimate payoff for all those thousands of hours of bedroom practice. Also, get use to not having any room to move or being stuck in a corner, it's a normal occurrence. We all dream of being on a stage with lots of room where we can use any size amp or allow a drummer with double kicks to spread out his kit but the reality for most working musicians is you are set up in a corner where the club has graciously moved two tables near kitchen so you can cram your four to five piece band in an area that could barely hold a two piece.  
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Mar 23, 2017,