Most people don’t go to shows to hear music that creates a rift in the fabric of reality and opens a pathway to the subconscious of the universe. If you, as a musician, want to make weird, experimental noise that isn’t very listenable, that’s fine, but just don’t get all pissed off when people don’t flock to your shows.
I, for one, have a lot more fun playing music when people turn out for my shows, enjoy the songs, and end up having a good time. I’ve been in technical, let’s-see-how-avant-garde-we-can-be bands before, and it got real old, real fast because we always played for no one.
People go to shows to have a good time and to be entertained. It’s that simple.
Every popular band in history, from Tool to Snoop Dogg, has catchy songs and an entertaining live show. Maynard of Tool once spent an entire show in a woman’s bra and blond wig. If Tool isn’t too good for theatrics, then neither are you, so give some thought to your performance.
There’s nothing more boring than watching a band full of dudes standing motionless in jeans and t-shirts. Consider outfits, props, and especially any way you can think of to incorporate the audience into the show. One of my band’s “gimmicks” is that we’ve modified a leaf blower to blast toilet paper into the audience during our song, “Truck Stop Toilet Paper.”
My band has chosen “safety” as our theme and most of our songs are lessons in how to avoid danger – songs like, “Safe Sex,” “Watch Out For Godzilla,” and “Killer Bees.” We wear safety gear – hard hats, reflective vests, and orange jump suits. Our singer has an array of props and costumes and throws fake cash, condoms, and glow sticks into the crowd.
You don’t have to go as far as we have with toilet paper cannons and costumes, but please, do something, anything, to set yourself apart and engage the audience. Just remember that half of being a musician is being an entertainer.
Otherwise, why bother playing outside of your practice space at all?