Got this question in the inbox the other day, and figured I’d share it with everyone.
Q. What are some things that a band could do to improve their live show? I know that practice and being humble are first and foremost. Just trying to figure out some things my band can do to make our live show better.
1. No noodling. What I mean, before the show starts, don’t be noodling around and playing the intro to ‘Sweet Child O Mine,’ and the drummer playing some hip hop beat, and the bass player starts launching into some reggae-funk solo while dialing in is bass tone.
Yes, hit a chord, kick drum for the sound person, but let the first real sounds from the band come from song one.
2. Be quick. Stop joking around and gabbing and just set up. Afterwards, turn off your amps and get your stuff on stage. Nothing will turn off a crowd more than waiting and waiting and waiting for you to get stuff on stage.
3. Have your bands Twitter / Facebook / website URL somewhere on stage. A sign, placed somewhere for people up front to see, like on someones amp. Make it easy for someone who REALLY likes you to @mention you (I prefer Twitter, since most music writers I know are on there).
4. Less is more. Play a shorter set and leave your fans wanting more. No encores, though, unless you’re a headliner.
5. Have a spare guitar / bass. Just in case you break a string. Never stop the whole band mid-song if someone breaks something. NEVER. Keep playing.
6. Same with drummers. Keep playing, but they probably know that, since they’re from alien planets (just kidding, I love drummers).
7. Don’t tell the sound man off like I did when I was 17.
8. People clicking follow, visiting your website, streaming someone on BandCamp… that stuff is easy. But getting people in FRONT OF YOU at a show?! That’s a MIRACLE.
They could be watching Netflix, at the movies, at another show, SO MANY THINGS. So treat these people in front you extra special. Throw out stickers, hand out a few CDs to people up front, SOMETHING that can’t be done on Twitter or Facebook.
9. Say your bands name clearly on stage after the first song and after your last song. Like, actually say it, not just “heywe’resoandsothanksforcomingout…” but in a way that people may remember it. Say it clear. Not too fast. I hear so many bands do that, “we’reblahblahblahthanksofromingout” while the drummer is still tuning his snare.
10. Thank the bands before you and after you. Drop every bit of ego. Thank the person who set up the show, buy the sound-person some food, talk to the other bands, talk to the people who came to your show. Stick around for the other bands. Remember that lots of people WISH they could be playing live shows but they gave up, hate music, etc. CHERISH every show, you never know when it might be your last.