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6 Stage Hacks to Engage a Crowd

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During a live gig, the relationship between the artist and audience is beyond that of simply performer and observer. Physically and emotionally, there's little separation between both parties and a huge deal of direct interaction, both explicit and subliminal. Self-assurance is essential and, as with so much in life, confidence is the key. If a band looks like they're enjoying their music and project a sense of confidence, that will convince a crowd as much as their material will. Conversely, bands that look shy and embarrassed will make the crowd feel awkward, and that negative emotion becomes associated with their music.

How to Make the Most of a Support Slot

We Are the In Crowd making the most of a support slot with Mayday Parade. (Photo by Chloe Chaplin)

It's a truism of being in a band that opening for an established act is a sound method to promote your music and get your name out there. When you're starting out, the chance to open for your musical heroes is a reward in itself; playing on the same bill as a band whose albums you've pored over just years before can feel like a dream come true.


But along with the exhilaration that comes with getting the gig, we shouldn't forget that playing a support slot requires a different approach than headlining the back room of a pub in front of your friends. Here are six ideas about how you can make the most of that short time onstage and maximize the experience of your support slot. Who knows – with a little hard work, the headlining band might ask you to play a few more dates the next time they're on tour.

6 Dead Giveaways That You're Uncomfortable Onstage

Iggy Pop: never knowingly uncomfortable onstage. (Photo by Derzsi Elekes Andor)

Performing live music is a nerve-racking experience. No amount of singing in the mirror or head-banging in the garage can quite prepare you for the moment when the lights come up and you're there. The center of attention. The subject of scrutiny. "Here we are now, entertain us."

Your body language can convey a confidence in your music that's contagious to your audience, but can also betray self-doubt that will be perceived just as acutely. It's your goal to put a room at ease, whether that's them leaping into a mosh pit with selfless abandon or applauding politely at a seated jazz club. Here are six notorious "tells" that can subtly indicate that you’re actually feeling more of a Woody Allen than a Buddy Holly underneath those bright lights.

How to Stay Friends With Your Bandmates for Life

Photo courtesy of the author

With over a decade under my belt playing in the same band, to say that I've had some tumultuous times with the other members would be quite the understatement. Across punishing tours, disbanding members, extreme financial duress, and a lifetime's worth of minor squabbles, we've all – current and ex-members alike  managed to remain firm friends, but not without learning some hard-earned lessons.