AAA Tips: Hacking a Live Gig


                               @giladmillo & @wearesuperband on stage. Credit: @zollz13

I have attended a few live concerts in the past months or so. What I take away from every live gig is the constant allure to keep attending some more. Every show is unique on its own and by extension, to the performing acts. But one constant factor is the thrills of watching a song acquire a life of its own when performed live. When just played on a radio or iPod, music seems to be incubated and boxed into the tiny diaphragms of a gadget, screaming to be let loose and explore.

A lot goes into consideration when prepping for a live performance and this is what will differentiate the decibels of screams between various performing artists. This is what will lead up to either a mild, ecstatic or shunning audience. This is what will determine the after-effect; what the revelers talk about after a concert. And that is the most important factor for any performing artists, the post-event analysis. You can dictate the pre-event conversations but ONLY your performance will decide the directions taken by post-event talks. Likewise, they say you are only as good as your last performance, so yeah, there is that too.

Before you can get the audience to shout, scream, throw their panties at you, ask for a boob autograph or line up for selfies, you have to really excite them to the level of rock-star craziness. Or as my friend loves to simply put it, turn them on. So how do you ensure your fans and their better halves both stay alert and in anticipation during and after a concert?

As much as that seems exciting, especially to young artists, it takes a lot of persistence, perseverance and patience all leading up to a single P – perfection! Just like love-making, you have to be really patience with your audience; after all, it’s their undies you want on your face, right? Not really literally, but you get the gist. And like love-making, foreplay is supreme. Only in this case, it’s christened preparation.

First up on that list of dos is a rehearsal.

Most artists, especially new ones tend to ignore this right here. I don’t know how to stress the importance of a rehearsal to any performing artist really but think about going to school for 16 years minimum, learning about algebra, sedimentary rocks, bones and cartilages, only to end up using tenses solely as your source of income. Life can be one big joke. Anyway, unlike education where you might have a chance to drop your least favorite subjects, rehearsals should be a MUST for every performer expecting to put on a killer concert. If you can do it daily on the run up to the event, the better the performance will be, for you and your fans.

Still on the rehearsals.

It is very essential to ensure the band members have their recommended instruments and backlines for the concert. You don’t want a lead guitarist disinterestedly plucking the strings at an event because you didn’t get them their favorite Yamaha Guitar. I remember this one instance when a pianist was very disappointed by the choice of keyboards while the organizers maintained that that is all they could acquire. Everyone has their preferences; always try to at least adhere to that. A happy band is a lively band. Similarly, rather than stressing on the brand of liquor for the after-party, maybe you need to be more specific about the instruments provided, that is if you are not bringing your own sound setup to the show.

Time, Details and Follow Ups.

Just because you have booked a show and forwarded your rider and backline doesn’t mean everything is sorted. Different bands have different requirements and specifications. If you are the headlining act, then everything should be to your standards. Organizers are juggling so many things on the run up to a concert and may at times ‘forget’ with your instructions. A follow up is hence important. Make it a polite follow up, you don’t want to be the artist no one calls back for a subsequent show because, well, you are a dickhead. Everyone working with you is human, treat them as such. Humility goes a long way, longer than the arm of the law. Time-wise, try and be 15-30 minutes earlier for all schedules and sound check.

Talking about Sound Check.

Never ever ignore attending a sound check! As much as it might seem unimportant, you will get the rudest shock when you hit the stage and your microphone is screeching low and the sound is imbalanced. A sound check doesn’t just help you know what needs adjustment before the hour of the moment, it lets you familiarize yourself with the stage you will be gracing beforehand, and maybe even eradicate a few butterflies, calming that stage fright. Often, it’s better to have your last day rehearsals at the stage with all the instruments you will use for the performance as that allows you to correct any last minute errors involving the whole set up.

It’s all in the details, forever and always.

It’s the tiniest of details that will leave a lasting impression on your concerts. It’s how the strings and keys blend, how the kicks and snares alternate, how the BGVs accompany the lead vocals, how each band members takes alternating times to wow the crowd. That is what the audience will carry home. And ooh, the selfies too, they will carry that to their timelines. But we will discuss how to get them asking for pictures on our next post. The details maybe as simple as a band member needing to be picked up so as to arrive on time, or everyone contributing ideas to how they think the crowd can best be engaged. Just pay attention to everything and everyone. After all, it’s only a great show when everyone feels involved as opposed to simply accompanying you.

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