Hey, how are you? So, you’re gonna be performing live for the first time and you’re nervous as hell? That’s okay!! It happens. I remember when I was in the similar situation, I was like… I wish someone who had first-hand experience in this could give me some advice and tell me what I should expect. Unfortunately I didn’t have anyone at that time and thus my first Performance was full of glitches.
But hey!! You don’t have to go through that. I am going to share with you some insider’s things which only a performer knows best. However some points to be mentioned will be a bit harsh because after all “truth is bitter”. But don’t stop reading when you feel that way because after that you’ll get some good tips to follow.
This articles is divided into 2 parts; first one is about the hurdles & glitches you’ll face and what you may expect. Second one is about how and what to do to make your first ever performance shine.
Are you ready? Let’s get into this.
First Section: What to expect when you perform
You’ll be nervous
Oh you will be nervous no matter what. You can manipulate yourself as much as you want but still when you’ll be on your stage and about to strike your first chord or open your mouth to sing, your heart will be pounding so hard that you’ll feel like you’re about to have a heart attack.
People are not always so supportive
People might not catch you when you jump on them from your stage. Unless you’re ultimately famous, which you’re not, people won’t care about you. Not even a bit. They are there just to enjoy and if you don’t give them a good time, they won’t feel shy insulting you and making you feel pity on yourself.
Fault with instruments and equipment
You might think what faults could happen with instruments and sound outputs as it barely happens while jamming. Well let me tell you it does happen at times. And if your show is not well organized, it WILL happen for sure. Strings break, drum sticks break, Guitar goes off tune, cables get loose, at times people even mess up with sound settings and what not.
Vocalists know this better. Come onnnn… Admit it!! We do forget words. Even big singer like Rihanna and Adele have done this a lot of times. After all we’re human, we can make mistakes right? LOL!! But honestly it’s not an embarrassing one, instead it’s a funny one and it can easily be dodged. So don’t worry about this one.
Incoordination among members
Now this is the most embarrassing one of all the mistakes musicians make live. Less practice, negligence among members and mistrust are the reasons behind this. If your performance is not well organized and PLANNED, you’re gonna make this mistake for sure. People don’t want you to stop and talk in between your performance. Even if you do this, do it in eyes. Incoordination can even get things thrown on you.
I know my words were harsh and my way of telling you all this was rude but it was done in that way just to prepare you for the worst because when you’re prepared for the worst, you can hope for the best.
Second Section: First hand tips to end your show successfully
Clear your mind and try to enjoy
Don’t go in just thinking of performing well or getting through the gig. Once onstage, forget about all that (you can, because you practiced until you got it on autopilot, remember?) and just close your eyes, feel the music, and enjoy the experience. Your mind is inevitably going to try to focus on the performance itself, on chords and notes, or on not being nervous, or other insecure thoughts. Shut it up. Remind yourself constantly during the performance to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Feel the music, flow with it, get lost in it.
If you mess up just go with it. No matter how bad it was just pretend like that’s what was supposed to happen. More likely than not, the audience won’t notice or will just forget that something sounded a bit off.
Playing live is freakin’ awesome. Remind yourself that you love Playing music and you’re only gonna get to perform live so many times in your life; you gotta enjoy each one to the max. Live in the moment.
Practice, but not all night
Make sure you’re rehearsed. Know your songs back to front, and make sure you and your band have decided on your set (plus a few extra songs if encores are likely, or if you happen to have some spare time left). You’ll be even more nervous if you’re not quite confident in what you need to play. Is there a tricky guitar solo or lick that you haven’t quite nailed? There’s no shame in simplifying it for the gig. If you only get it right 50% of the time then it’s not worth risking it for the gig. A few duff notes are an element of a live performance for most of us – it happens – but you can reduce the likelihood of playing within your means. It’s great to push yourself, but gigs are not the place to do that.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stay up all night practicing. Believe me on this one too. You’ll just fall apart. Well rested, a good meal, mostly or completely sober, is the best way to perform. Tired, drunk and hungry is no way to perform son. Nothing is worse than being dizzy on stage from lack of food and exhaustion (done it all, though).
Arrive early and do sound check
Arrive early, for your soundcheck and the gig, around an hour ago or 2. Make sure each instrument and vocals get a soundcheck and that you are happy with the mix.
Each member should be responsible for their own instrument during the sound check process. For example, guitarists should make sure their guitars are tuned accordingly, and any accessories such effects pedals are connected to their amps and ready to go. Singers should check the microphone sounds ok, and that there are no issues with the mic cable or microphone levels on the PA. The drummer should of course set up his kit accordingly, and again check to make sure the sound is fine.
Don’t drink before performance
If your performance is in a bar or club and you’re all set to go, you may think of grabbing a drink as this will help with your nerves, but often it can do more harm than good. Drunk performers very rarely sounds as good as when they are sober, which is why I’d recommend staying clear or drink before the gig. It really doesn’t take a lot of alcohol to begin losing coordination. You may feel just fine after one or two, but the effects will be noticed in your playing.
Be ready with backup equipment
If you play an instrument, it is very important that you bring spares to a gig. Guitar players should pack a few spare sets of guitar strings, as you never know when one might break. You should also bring plenty of extra guitar picks, as they can easily be dropped whilst playing. The last thing you want is to be hunting around on the floor looking for your only plectrum in the middle of a live show.
If you are a guitar player that provides backing vocals, than it would be a good idea to buy a microphone stand with a pick holder included. This will make the plectrums easily accessible. Drummers should bring some spare drumsticks, in case of a snap or loss during a gig.
Have a set list and lyrics written
Even if you do plan and prepare everything, it is very easy to get stage fright and completely forget the order of what to play. This can particularly be a problem when it’s your first gig and things are still quite new to you. So to be on the safe side, it’s advisable you bring along plenty of spare copies of your set list.
And if you’re a singer, you should also have the lyrics written or printed with you of each and every song because it’s very easy to forget lyrics. Just don’t read and sing all the time. It’s your show not a karaoke. Use it in extreme situations.
Engage with audience
Between songs, take the time to tell them something funny related to your music scene or say something about the place where you’re playing. If you’re a native, play up your love and loyalty. If it’s your first time there, talk about something awesome you learned about it. Perhaps most importantly, give your audience the opportunity to respond to you. It can be something as obvious as asking how everyone’s doing, or something as mundane as asking where to get the best regional food in that native city. If someone in the crowd is going particularly crazy, single them out and make their night while simultaneously giving everyone else a good laugh.
This will be slightly genre-dependent, yet in the event that your band is starting to pull in a fan base, it will turn out to be progressively critical to permit some space for act of spontaneity and experimentation inside your set.
Audience won’t have any desire to see a similar show again and again. Have some alterable set records, and take into consideration additional room in melodies to stick and keep things crisp for both you and your audience. This could be done by adding in new songs, changing a solo or even changing the arrangements songs. For example playing an acoustic version, or even fundamentally changing the groove of a tune can really help to change things up.
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