Stage Presence

Some bands try to use fancy gimmicks to improve their shows, such as dressing up, crazy moves, or pyrotechnics, but without stage presence, it can't get to the, I can't go to work because I rocked out too hard at the show last night level. So how can a band properly use stage presence? Here are tips to help you command the stage.

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So your walking out of the venue, your voice raspy, your neck sore, and your body covered in sweat. A smaller un-signed band had just put on one of the most amazing shows you have ever seen. They don't have vastly expensive instruments, or huge gimmicks, yet you just had an amazing night. So what's their secret? Stage presence. Some bands have it, some don't. It can be the difference between being opener's and headliners. So what is this phenomena? It's the art of commanding a show, and creating the energy of three acts put together. Some bands try to use fancy gimmicks to improve their shows, such as dressing up, crazy moves, or pyrotechnics, and as good as those things are, without stage presence, it can't get to the, I can't go to work because I rocked out too hard at the show last night level. So how can a band properly use stage presence? Here are tips to help you command the stage: 1. Synchronization Have you ever seen a band that performs like a well put together machine, like they can all read each other's minds? This is the art of synchronization. A show from a fan's eye can look like a totally random crazy display of skill, yet in reality it is a choreographed set of movements mad through vigorous practice, like a dance crew routine. To achieve this, talk to the rest of your band about some cool things to do at shows, then practice it with them. During practice move and play/sing with the energy you would at a show. Tell everyone what your going to do, and make sure you know what they are doing. Sure, random things will make the show more fun, but at least you and your members know what to do in the situation whenever you should decide to do it. It also helps to make it so you plan particular movements during a particular part of a song, such as synchronized head banging during an epic rhythm break down. 2. Movement Now I don't know about you, but to me it's a bit boring to just watch a guitarist stand there head banging with his feet together in the same exact spot. The key is to move with the music. Don't just stand in your assigned spot by your amp. Move, walk around the stage. Head bang then jump around. Don't keep your feet together, spread them apart. Play your guitar down low, then sometimes pull the guitar so the guitar neck is vertical. Stand in the back round, then during an explosive beat, go up in the front and rock it out. Just don't be a scare crow. 3. Interaction Interaction with band members on stage during a song can not only be fun for you, but it can be fun for the crowd, because they can see the relationships you have with your members unfold. Get up and play face to face with your singer, head bang next to your bassist. Singers go put your arm around to your guitarist and let him sing into the mic. Guitarists can stand back to back and push and shove against each other fighting for the spot light. Commanding the Crowd: Commanding the crowd can be one of the most difficult things in stage presence, yet is absolutely essential for the crowd to get that WOW effect. The key of this is to command the crowd, like you're the maestro in a grand choir of kids in tight pants and band t-shirts. The object is to get the crowd to move as you want them. When the band gets extreme in the music, the crowd starts to mosh, and when you slow it down, they sway. This factor all really depends on the crowd, where you are, and if they like your music. Now people can not like your music, yet totally get crazy, it all varies from person to person, but it may be difficult to get people who have never heard of you before to move around and get excited. Try to just get up to the crowd and interact, get them to clap in rhythm, get close to them. Make them feel like a part of the band. However this job may largely fall to the singer. He is (usually) the spokes-person of the band, so he needs to try to get the crowd to clap, jump and down, and mosh. Screaming Get Crazy! in a key, heated part of a song can mean all the difference in the world. Just see how the crowd responds to certain things and try to get them to follow you. Something that may help when you are at an unfamiliar venue is to bring a couple of your fans and put them in the crowd and get them to riled up, or find one of the more loose people in the crowd and get them to participate. This usually results in a domino effect, and people gradually drop their ego's and rock, and then from there it's a lot easier to get the show to a higher level. (Also bring the crowd really close to the stage, it makes things much easier!) Stage Antics: Now like I said stage antics can be very good things. They can make, or break a show. Sprinkle some synchronized head banging, some guitar swinging, some cool wardrobe maybe in with stage presence and it can be really fun. However try to have some idea about the crowd you are playing for, some may go for it, and some may think you look stupid. For instance, a local crowd of friends may love every minute of your dressing up like pirates, yet an unfamiliar cold crowd may think you're an idiot for getting on top of the speakers and doing back flips. These are just a few things to help your stage presence, and the basic premise is, to make yourselves bigger then you really are, not fake, but being able to put the presence of twenty musicians into five. And remember, all this stuff require a lot of practice and being able rock with your band like a finely tuned rock machine, which in turn takes lot's of practice.

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    crystaldragon75
    I agree completely. I've seen too many local and even big name bands roll through town that had soild music, but their presence was almost non existent. Bands need to loosen up more. They are there to perform and entertain, not to practice.
    Toker420
    I think the trick is to get into the music. If youre not into your own thing then how can the crowd be?
    justinb904
    Icarus Lives wrote: I'm a keyboard player. It restricts my movement having to stand behind the keyboards but I always stamp my foot, nod/headbang and I even use my shoulders to some effect. It catches people attention when I swing my arm before hitting a huge chord or something. My singer moves around aswell but we can't get our bassist and guitarist to move. And 2 is not enough, if even one person in the band is a zombie it detracts from everything!
    keyboard players are usually the guys who have the craziest stage presence
    Pepefloydean
    This is true for the vast majority of musical styles, but in reggae or jazz the stage performance is much more different. For example in a Reggae concert musicians need to flow with the music and be part of the crowd, make the crowd feel the message. In jazz the stage performance is much more serious so it is rare to see a jazz guitarist running arround.
    SwampAshSpecial
    I loved the article, but I'd lie to see some info for guitarists who also sing. I can't hold a mic so I can't walk/run around while playing. I need some good solos so I can run around
    StraitsSantana
    Matt-92 wrote: The Who. watch them and learn. Pefect mix of aggression, musicianship and humour (banter with the crowd and other band members is crucial)
    This^
    johnff
    John Entwhistle from the WHO stood "LIKE A SCARECROW" yet the WHO were one of the most visual bands around. I believe you should just act naturally on stage..if the music moves you, then move. Nothing more ridiculous than watching a band "try" to look cool by forcing stage precense.
    apak
    Dream Theater needs to read this XD. But it's cool because they're gods at their perspective instruments.
    Matt-92
    The Who. watch them and learn. Pefect mix of aggression, musicianship and humour (banter with the crowd and other band members is crucial)
    sw1ss023
    Icarus Lives wrote: I'm a keyboard player. It restricts my movement having to stand behind the keyboards but I always stamp my foot, nod/headbang and I even use my shoulders to some effect. It catches people attention when I swing my arm before hitting a huge chord or something. My singer moves around aswell but we can't get our bassist and guitarist to move. And 2 is not enough, if even one person in the band is a zombie it detracts from everything!
    Get a key-tar, lol. Good article
    CG138
    Pepefloydean wrote: This is true for the vast majority of musical styles, but in reggae or jazz the stage performance is much more different. For example in a Reggae concert musicians need to flow with the music and be part of the crowd, make the crowd feel the message. In jazz the stage performance is much more serious so it is rare to see a jazz guitarist running arround.
    This is quite true. The only disclaimer for this article should be that this is for bands who are trying to generate that kind of manic energy. Some bands are meant to be quite laid back and some music is obviously not meant to mosh to. Also, if you're playing something and you can't move or look up from your guitar, then you're simply stretching yourself too thin. You can't expect anyone to be energetic about mannequin's doing sweep arpeggios and snarling, you just look like an a**hole.
    demitriv
    But tehn again some guys it might be a guitarists personality to stand still and look cool, i.e. the guy from the Killers.
    Icarus Lives
    I'm a keyboard player. It restricts my movement having to stand behind the keyboards but I always stamp my foot, nod/headbang and I even use my shoulders to some effect. It catches people attention when I swing my arm before hitting a huge chord or something. My singer moves around aswell but we can't get our bassist and guitarist to move. And 2 is not enough, if even one person in the band is a zombie it detracts from everything!
    LostInBuckland
    Seriously nice work putting out these tips, thanks man! Little question from me: Think I can rock out a high school show, I mean, everyone is sitting, no room to get on your feets. Think we can still rock their ass out and make them go over school rules to rock with us? Thanks!
    irishOB
    I would like to this list Intros and Segues between songs. Remember to keep the set moving along. This does not mean rushing through the set, this is actually the opposite. I think (although this depends on the type of music) that a good set depends on a good atmosphere that the band is in charge of creating. Open the set with a little planned intro that relates to the first song of the set, perhaps in the same key as the first song or features an "alternate" version of a riff that people may recognize in the song to come. It makes the entire set and an item, rather than a group of several unrelated items (songs). This doesn't have to be long, but really helps introduce people to the unique genre of music that your band is going to be playing and what to expect. It's kind of like your set's thesis statement (nerdy I know), it helps make the set flow together and really shows your band's command of the songs. It shows you really "own" your music. In between songs encourage the drummer to start up a beat to fill the empty space. During this time, you can do a bunch of stuff (TUNE UP!, talk to the crowd, thank the venue and booking.) I think it ends up making a really full experience for listeners. That's my two cents but it may not be for everyone, LATER!
    dakotakoerner
    nick_b : BSM123456789 wrote: Josh Geohagan wrote: I am far too focused on what I'm playing to do anything more than headbanging. My band and I don't play 3 chord rock, so it's a little difficult to jump around and make a scene. what would you guys suggest to do if you are playing something like necrophagist? slaughter a goat onstage, and then when you're doing fermented offal discharge, point out the organs individually, before vomiting into the ribcage as a finale
    WIN lol
    ben94
    Matt-92 wrote: The Who. watch them and learn. Pefect mix of aggression, musicianship and humour (banter with the crowd and other band members is crucial)
    the who when they started had no sync as they were three guys who all wanted to stand out the most
    Guitarhead06
    Agreed %110. I hate going to show where the band members are just standing there. Thats why when my band practices we always say practice like your at a live show. Its like half and half. 50 per cent is skill and how good your music is and the other 50 is entertaining the crowd and getting them in to it
    MelodicSlap
    planned stuff is stupid as well as forcing yourself to do stuff is fake and annoying
    jake_b92
    You just gotta get into the music that you're playing and be loose, not stiff or stood in the same place for too long... interaction with the crowd is also a winner
    Morbius77
    I see all these band names referencing stage presence, but I see a few missing names. Pearl Jam: Check out some of their stuff from the 92-93 tours... BIG presence. Meat Loaf: Nothing BUT stage presence Kiss: Gimmicky as all get out but the COMMAND the Audience, hands down. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Yup They STILL got it. It is about feeling what you play, and if you don't neither will your audience. One thing that should be added here is that you should ALWAYS greet your audience! "Sometimes do it AFTER the first couple of songs of the set, or right up front. Get them pumped without them knowing why, and then SHOW THEM WHY!
    Aethen
    nick_b wrote: BSM123456789 wrote: Josh Geohagan wrote: I am far too focused on what I'm playing to do anything more than headbanging. My band and I don't play 3 chord rock, so it's a little difficult to jump around and make a scene. what would you guys suggest to do if you are playing something like necrophagist? slaughter a goat onstage, and then when you're doing fermented offal discharge, point out the organs individually, before vomiting into the ribcage as a finale
    I think ALL bands should do that ahahahah
    Aethen
    wtfmates342 wrote: I don't think a band should rehearse choreographed movements, then you might end up looking like a bunch of wannabe Michael Jacksons (too soon?). I think the band should feel the music and interact with the other members judging on their body language and things of that nature. That's always worked good for me.
    That's always worked well for me
    sewoo55
    "Wear your guitar low"
    how the hell does that improve stage presence? besides making myself look like that cu-nt Slash, my playability worsens
    racman92
    sewoo55 wrote: "Wear your guitar low" how the hell does that improve stage presence? besides making myself look like that cu-nt Slash, my playability worsens
    I think what he meant was let it hang at the natural hanging position of your strap, rather than with the guitar neck vertical. Where it hangs naturally should all depend on your arm length. And stfu about slash.
    ben94
    Matt-92 wrote: The Who. watch them and learn. Pefect mix of aggression, musicianship and humour (banter with the crowd and other band members is crucial)
    the who when they started had no sync as they were four guys who all wanted to stand out the most
    woodenbandman
    Good article. Good stage presence makes a good band an excellent band. I was excited about Exmortus when I heard their recording, and when I saw them live, I was shaking with excitement about how good they were. Their stage presence turned that tiny room upside down.
    rhcp01
    i gotta say my favorite stage presences are: the red hot chili pepperss, ac/dc, jimi hendrix, rage against the machine, and bruce springsteen
    05McDonaldT
    Icarus Lives wrote: I'm a keyboard player. It restricts my movement having to stand behind the keyboards but I always stamp my foot, nod/headbang and I even use my shoulders to some effect. It catches people attention when I swing my arm before hitting a huge chord or something. My singer moves around aswell but we can't get our bassist and guitarist to move. And 2 is not enough, if even one person in the band is a zombie it detracts from everything!
    Vadim, the keyboard player from Dragonforce has a keyboard on a strap that he carries with him so he can move about on stage
    JesusCrisp
    Great article, there are two many bands standing and only tipping with their feet a bit, though their music has potential. Anyways most of the bands I like to watch live like AC/DC, Metallica, RATM, etc. have that kind of stage presence. Crab walking, duck walking, spasms, jumping around and all that make a band much more fun to watch than two talentless guitarists standing around headbanging while doing some senseless shred. I think new bands feel a bit ashamed about stuff like jumping around like crazy, so they just keep standing in one place.
    RrTtGg
    Awesome article man. Josh Geohagan, I feel bad for yu man because of everyone treating yu like crap, but I would have to say that I agree with most of them. If yur in a band that plays some hard technical music, practice like crazy so yu wont have to look at yur hands.
    Ruenis
    i still remember my first gig, my band was like WTF! when they saw me jumping aroud the snake like i was possesed or something... they kinda never got used to it =P
    ihavenoname93
    chainsawguitar wrote: |Matt| wrote: Awesome guide, completely agree. My band is working on synchronising our headbanging, teabagging and other stuff to a tee. Synchronised teabagging with the whole band looks insane, as does all 3 guitarists windmilling through tremolo/fast sections. Rated: 10. Synchronised teabagging?! Wtf dude?! ...I'm going to guess that means something different to you than it does to me...
    maybe he means the whole crabcore thing
    skybucket
    our band practice room makes it extremely hard to interact. We each have our own little 2 foot space because our drummers house is a wreck. It's annoying and ridiculous...
    VeilOfMaya
    chainsawguitar wrote: |Matt| wrote: Awesome guide, completely agree. My band is working on synchronising our headbanging, teabagging and other stuff to a tee. Synchronised teabagging with the whole band looks insane, as does all 3 guitarists windmilling through tremolo/fast sections. Rated: 10. Synchronised teabagging?! Wtf dude?! ...I'm going to guess that means something different to you than it does to me...
    Maybe he means crabcoreing...
    chainsawguitar
    |Matt| wrote: Awesome guide, completely agree. My band is working on synchronising our headbanging, teabagging and other stuff to a tee. Synchronised teabagging with the whole band looks insane, as does all 3 guitarists windmilling through tremolo/fast sections. Rated: 10.
    Synchronised teabagging?! Wtf dude?! ...I'm going to guess that means something different to you than it does to me...
    loveaddict205
    ihavenoname93 wrote: chainsawguitar wrote: |Matt| wrote: Awesome guide, completely agree. My band is working on synchronising our headbanging, teabagging and other stuff to a tee. Synchronised teabagging with the whole band looks insane, as does all 3 guitarists windmilling through tremolo/fast sections. Rated: 10. Synchronised teabagging?! Wtf dude?! ...I'm going to guess that means something different to you than it does to me... maybe he means the whole crabcore thing
    syncronized headbanging is perfectly displayed by Family Force 5 in "Love Addict"'s music video, check it out and you'll see. awesome article
    atcair
    I hate to tell you guys that think synchronized movements are gay, almost all of the professional bands do it and practice it. Why? If you know where you are supposed to be during a song you won't run into each other or stand over a pyrotechnics pot as it goes off. I'm so sick of the elitist musicians who think their playing is so superior they don't need to move or put on a show. Your job is to entertain the crowd and unless the crowd is made up of professional musicians who will drool over your once in a thousand years technical proficiency you are not doing your job. People go to see bands to be entertained and bands who make it put on a whole show including tight music, great sound, awesome lights and a great visual performance. Having the lead guitar player step to front center stage for a solo while the rest of the band drops back looks awesome and if it isn't practiced there a good chance the singer won't know what you're doing and eventually you'll end up looking like a tool when you trip over his mic cable or get smacked in the mouth by his twirling mic stand because he didn't know you were coming to the front for your solo. God, the I'm to cool to worry about moving around on stage is sold. Get over yourselves. You think it's lame to practice some moves while the big guys think its lame that you don't care enough about your art to put on a fully rounded professional show
    James-p
    watch matt bellamy from muse in 2000-2002 amazing to watch, nowadays there is little or no stage presence compared
    BlisteringDDj
    Josh Geohagan wrote: I am far too focused on what I'm playing to do anything more than headbanging. My band and I don't play 3 chord rock, so it's a little difficult to jump around and make a scene.
    Good stage presence MORE THAN MAKE UP FOR MISTAKES.
    Reesy666
    Good article dude. Iron Maiden are the masters of presence and showmanship, and Motley Crue put on crazy but amazing shows
    pinktuxdude
    thank you for the positive feed back (as well as negative) I want all to know that I dpn't play in a metal band. I play in an alternitave band like the style of anberlin. Also I think I might write an article about cold crowds since someone suggested it.