The Inside Track: 5 Tips For Putting On A Great Live Show

Posted on March 12th, 2013 by in Advice & Tips, The Inside Track


My band, Zeitgeist Zero, started nearly ten years ago and the only tips I can give are from my own experience. In February 2003 we played our first show, in a small back room of The Primrose Pub, in our hometown of Leeds. We’ve never been the trendiest or coolest band in our scene, but somehow we have built up an international, cult following, and I’ll tell you how;

live music flickr creative commons license
Image by Dena Flows on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

1. You Do Not Play Gigs

Ever. Big full stop. You play shows. You need to think of your live performance as an event. It’s not just a showcase for your music, it is a showcase for you as a person and as a group of musicians. People don’t just go to see live music just to listen, they go to watch, they want to be entertained. If you entertain people then they will want to return, to relive that experience again. Did you ever hear anybody say, “Let’s go and see that band where everyone stares at their shoes”? Probably not. People may enjoy your music, but failing to engage your audience means they will think you’re boring live. Then if one of your gigs ever clashes with something else, you may lose your audience because your live performance failed to grab them.

2. Staging

When you put on a show, dress your stage area, have a banner or a back drop, use props. Don’t leave your rubbish on stage, nobody wants to see the Tesco carrier bag you brought your sandwiches in. We have back projection, helium filled barrage balloons, gas masks and flashing lights on our amps. We had a retro Second World War theme on our latest CD, so the stage image reflected that.

3. Dress the Part

Onto the band, don’t get on stage wearing the clothes you’ve been bumming around in all day. Fine if you play gigs, but if you play a show, definitely not. It is worth taking time to think what image you want to portray. My band went for a retro army theme for the tour. Everyone wore a similar theme of khaki and black, except the lead singer who wore a different but complimenting outfit in a different colour. We use every device under the sun to look gorgeous and use sex appeal to the max. If someone likes your band just because they fancy you, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially if they regularly come to your shows, buy your merch and rave on about you on line. So it’s worth taking the time to look good.

4. Sound

Get a good Sound Engineer. He should know your songs, so give him your set list and your music. We have lots of dynamics in our music, so on the desk the guy needs to ride the faders during certain songs to get the best results for our audience. No matter how good you are, if you sound crap a lot of people will think it’s your fault, that you just sound rubbish live.

5. Interact

Finally you are there to entertain, so get handclaps going, get people to sing along, etc. The audience wants to feel part of your show; be complimentary and make them feel special. I get them to come to the front and not hang back, it’s too easy for people to get distracted, if they hang back they can wander off. If they come close to the stage they will have a totally different experience. Remember you’re not just there to play songs, but to entertain people.

by Music Jobs member Teresa Moorhead.

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