Posted Jul 17, 2009 11:32 AM
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:
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.
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.
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!)
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.