Watch any band for a short period of time and you’ll quickly be able to judge their level of experience. The music aside, pros have a look, feel, and way of doing things that sets them apart from inexperienced acts.
This is due to the fact that they’ve already made their mistakes and learned from them.
If you’re looking to improve your music, here are some common gigging mistakes that you should steer clear of.
Just like playing in smaller venues, playing shorter sets is a good thing. It piques people’s interest in your music and leaves them wanting more. Playing a lengthy set does the exact opposite.
It doesn’t matter if you took an extra ten minutes to set up, or if your friends came out to see you. When you’re playing on a bill with other bands, don’t bog down the whole night by squeezing a few more songs into your set. Show respect for the other musicians, as well as the promoter(s) and play for the length of time you were allotted.
Listening to a band play every song they’ve ever rehearsed together becomes tedious for the audience and it’s an easy way to assure you will never be invited back to play.
Time your songs at practice so you know exactly how long your set can be when playing live.
The Loudness Wars
If there’s one thing that all inexperienced bands have in common, it’s their desire to play loud. Really loud.
They pay zero attention to the size of the room, turn the amps up to 10, and worst of all, drown each other out. It’s a common mistake to have the instruments overpowering the vocals at this kind of show.
Take an extra minute to perfect your sound and volume level. You should be able to hear what every other musician on stage is playing. This is why showing up early for soundcheck is crucial. It’s helps you focus on how your instrument blends in with the others on stage.
Simply put, learn how to listen.
Professionals are always be mindful of their space. No matter the size of the stage, a veteran band avoids unanticipated collisions and the bad notes they cause.
The next time you attend a high energy punk show, take a look at how the musicians careen around the stage without crashing into each other. Each musician is always aware of the space around him.
By that same token, professionals also maximize and fully inhabit their space. Keeping your eyes glued to your feet isn’t very interesting for the audience. To combat this, try picking a spot in the venue to stare at, just above the heads of the crowd. It gives the audience a better feel for your body language, as well as the impression that you’re more into the music.
Film your live shows and critique your stage presence. This is a great method to discover areas for improvement.
Playing Too Often
There is nothing a promoter hates more than booking a band, then finding out the same act is already playing at the venue down the street one week earlier. Behavior like this will quickly earn you a bad reputation among promoters. It will also wear out your fan-base.
Even if it’s your home town, it’s best to play gigs in the same city a few months apart in order to ensure proper promotion of each gig.
Try to get a tour circuit started where you play in a nearby city every few weeks until you arrive back at your starting point.
If you can be sure to avoid these common mistakes, you are already on your way to gigging like a pro.
What mistakes do you often see other musicians making at live shows?