Seeing is Believing- Why Visual Presentation Matters to Your Live Show

February 1, 2011{ 47 Comments }

iStock 000002243155Small 300x199 Seeing is Believing  Why Visual Presentation Matters to Your Live ShowUltimateGuitar.com recently posted an article by Brad Litton that mentions 5 rules for new, local bands. One of them was about crafting a VISUAL presentation for your live show.

He says:

Performing music is as much a visual experience as it is an aural one.

That’s right, people are going to pay attention to how you look while you play your music. Think about the last time you went to a concert, did you tell everybody that you were going to go LISTEN to your favorite band in concert? Or did you say you were going to go SEE your favorite band in concert? I don’t know if I’ve heard anyone say they were going to a concert just to hear the music, for that you could just turn on a record and listen to it. So when you’re preparing for shows, don’t just think about how you’re going to sound, but also think about how you’re going to look! That includes a number of things, from your clothing, to the stage layout, to the movements you make on stage. Work on those things and you’ll get yourself closer to breaking out of your local scene.

So, how are you making this happen at your performances? We’d love to hear how you think about the visual elements of a show, how do you practice and prepare to incorporate them, and if you’ve noticed how important it is to your audience.

Feel free to leave your comments in the section below.

-Chris R. at CD Baby

Sell Your Music Worldwide on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon MP3 and More!

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  • http://howtorunaband.com Chris "Seth&quo

    I've seen a ton of bands that don't do anything on stage. Part of the visuals is the "movement" from the musicians. I love seeing jumping around, or a light show, or some type of unique visual show. Peelander Z is a Japanese band that has it DOWN. (Don't miss them if they come to your town.) They have anime super hero outfits, do human bowling, and, at the end of their set, grab the drums off the stage and play them in the middle of the crowd.

    GWAR has been playing for 25 years, filling clubs. I don't think I've listened to any of their albums in the past 15. I still love their shows.

  • http://MicControl.com Jon Ostrow – MicCont

    I am a huge fan of the band Phish, and many times I get asked how I can sit there and listen through the jams that 'last way too long'… well I actually love those jams, but thats besides the point. My point is this: they have a lighting guy named Chris Karoda who actually improvises the lighting with them, as they play. This adds an incredibly unique aspect to the music… as if the music was being painted. Now… while the lighting is really the visual highlights of the show, the band, who for the most part just stand there, do from time to time break out of their shells, working in choreographed dance routines to specific sections of specific songs. It really adds a nice little touch to the performance as a whole, and helps to achieve that 'unique' feel that keeps driving people back to see them time and time again.

  • http://myspace.com/buildingcastlesmusic Orion Satori

    Dillinger Escape Plan. If you don't know who they are, you don't know stage presence. Yes, their music will often make your ears bleed, but you gotta respect them for their insane energy. I don't care how famous/good a band is. If they're not sweating or bleeding by the end of their set, they should quit what they're doing.

  • http://www.rockstarmindset.com Draven Grey

    Most local bands I've seen do nothing for their image and presence. Your fans want you to be bigger than life and branded into their head. They want someone they can think it would be cool to be like, or who inspires them. They want to escape everyday life for a few hours, and have fun doing it.

    Every band has a message in their music, the problem is that many never define the emotions they want to evoke, the actions they want to inspire, or the impression that they want to leave with people. Once you do that, then you can begin to pick apart clothing, hairstyles, colors, stage arrangement, stage decor and backdrops, how you interact with each other, the audience, and even your own personality to bring to the surface. Brand your music and image, coordinate certain parts of songs, know what to say and when to say it, plant people in the crowd, and most importantly, video the show (including the crowd) so you can pick it apart and make it an even better experience the next time.

    Sorry… kind of went into rock band success coach mode for a minute there. My new band's (The Silent Still) first show is coming up this weekend. We're opening, but it's at one of the larger venues in Denver. We have:

    -a HUGE, professionally designed backdrop

    -4 cigarette girls in the audience getting email addresses and riling up the crowd

    -a multi-level back line with flameless candles scattered about

    -a well-planned stage plot

    -coordinated clothing that still leaves our individual characters intact

    -a highly critiqued and rehearsed performance (incl. where to be on stage and when, body movements, instrument movement, crowd interaction during each song, movements that enhance the music or lyrics, pauses and re-entries, and more)

    -a plan for how to engage the audience before, during, and after the performance

    -a guest appearance from one of the headliner's singers for a very popular cover song with our audience

    -a pro photographer

    -2 pro videographers

    -and future fully laid out plans for everything from merch, the merch booth, and staff, to what we put in the bathrooms to help create an overall experience.

    Hopefully we don't piss of the other bands by coming across much more professional than they do. They don't have a backdrop, and don't usually engage the audience very much. Thankfully, we're friends with the 2 headliners. Also, this show we're putting most of our focus into getting mailing list sign-ups, and we're giving everyone that signs up a free video recording of the show.

    My students have been able to move their performance from a presentation to an engaging experience as well. One of them was telling me how for one song, they passed out shakers in the crowd. Then they taught them how to use it before one of the songs, and had a special part during the song with just vocals and the crowd's shakers. Everyone loved it! And the previously critical and unexcited venue owner suddenly wanted them to play there regularly.

    When it comes down to it, it's all about engaging the audience.

  • http://www.likezebra.com likeZEBRA

    Light shows definitely help keep an audience's attention. Just be sure that it's not being relied on as a gimmick.

    I love seeing bands go crazy on stage. Orion Satori mentioned The Dillinger Escape Plan and I totally agree. They destroy stages while still playing technical stuff. It's a shame when similar bands, like Protest the Hero and Between the Buried and Me just stand still on stage. Dillinger proves that both technique and energy can be done simultaneously.

  • http://www.rockstarmindset.com Draven Grey

    Just to clarify, the band I was thinking about DOES engage the audience. I was just giving them a friendly push to step up their game even more. The band's we're playing with are all incredible bands that I want to see achieve ALL of their dreams as a band.

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  • http://dianastimmler.com Diana Stimmler

    I don't know why he said people don't go to concerts to hear the music. In classical music, you can be sure they go to hear the music.I went to see Handel's Messiah during Christmas with the Phoenix Symphony. I have 3 or 4 recordings of Messiah at home, but I still wanted to go see my favorite oratorio. The music was exquisite. There was no one running around the room with violins, no light show, no show off solos, no fancy clothes. Everyone wore a tuxedo. There was no talking or clapping in between songs. This room was packed, sold out, like it is every year. The musicians got a standing ovation when it was finished. So, I don't know what they did to connect with the audience except to perform very well. I sing classical, sacred, and Christian music. Some of the suggestions here would be inappropriate for my genre. Now, what I do to connect is tell folks about my life, stories behind the music. I have a projection screen behind me with photos of my family or nature scenes. I give stuff away, and tell a few jokes. I think taking the time to talk with people after the show makes a difference, even if you're tired. That's my two cents.

  • http://www.circelink.com Circe Link

    Seems to me, here in Los Angeles, some musicians are more invested in how good they look like than how good they sound! Wonder if Neil Young could get signed today, and would he want to?

  • http://churchwilliams.com Church

    Most people go to a show because they want to see (or hear) someone do something that they themselves can't do. The viewer wants to be mystified. The viewer wants the artist to appear almost superhuman with skill. I'm a singer/ solo artist. I perform alongside my friend and we incorporate a lot of new technologies into our performances but the MAIN thing that I do is some advanced breakdancing moves. It sounds wierd but the crowd reaction is phenomenal. My music is a type of commercial electronic pop/progressive music. I mainly just do a couple of crowd pleasing moves like the flare or windmill and it really helps set our performance apart.

    Here's a video of how I do it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfQFFCbopls

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  • http://www.chrisbauermusic.com Chris Bauer

    I'll probably show my age, but years ago when I played in a harmonica trio with my Dad and a friend of his, Dad made us practice taking bows together so after every song we would look uniform. We also made sure we wore the same attire on stage right down to the ties. It really made a difference and separates the amateurs from the pros.

    To this day, now that I work solo, no matter what the venue is, I make sure I'm wearing gig attire–not day to day clothing. It makes a difference.

  • http://www.chuckbrodsky.com Chuck Brodsky

    I go to concerts to hear masterful musicianship, masterful singing, masterful song-writing, or masterful storytelling. I couldn't care less what anybody might be wearing. I care about how well they play their instrument, or now beautifully they sing, the way they express themselves, or how interesting and thought-provoking their songs are. Any dance steps they might do would only cheapen the performance and would rob it of dignity. Any other phony atmosphere, tricks, smoke and mirrors, whatever, are so often just cover up for not having a whole lot to say and not much talent for saying it. I crave something real. Not a perfectly scripted, technologically enhanced artifical image, but something real. Sadly, options are limited.

  • http://none Sten the Man Hedges

    I think it totally depends on the music you're playing. I play Blues; and my hero's have all been Blues Players. BB King for instance even in his hey-day, basically just stood there and played; his show was in his facial contortions LOL!, the same with Albert King, Muddy Waters, but you get a guy like Howlin Wolf, he climbed the drapes on the side of the stage at 60 years old, and prowled the stage like a feral beast, but his music demanded that. Most of the guys I go see now, just play, there's no show, and I'm ok with that. However if you're a Heavy Metal Band, Punk Band, R&B, the show needs to match the intensity of the music. So I think it depends on the music, the age of your crowd, and the intensity of your music. I wouldn't expect Yo yo Ma to play the Cello behind his back, or pick with his teeth, but maybe a guitar slinger like Stevie Ray Vaughn yeah. I don't think a Mariachi band in a restaraunt should go stage diving, they would lose their job man. Also certain kinds of music are all about the music, and stage antics would be frowned upon. I think as long as it looks like you're into your music you'll be allright, but the guys that stare at their axes all night and never smile or acknowledge the audience, shame on you, that's not cool!

  • http://www.kellysrockandroll.com Kelly

    How should a bar band dress?

    When the band's on break and a total stranger enters the bar, he should be able to look around and pick out the band members.

  • http://www.henryinvisible.com Henry Roland

    Well, as a onemanphunkband (Henry + the Invisibles) I feel it necessary to incorporate a fabulously entertaining stage show! Don't get me wrong… the music is the most important element in the equation. Without substance, you can have snakes, explosives, jugglers and acrobats and it's not going to hit the heart and soul of the listening audience… though you may have quite a following of young people ages 4-6yrs.

    That said, at my live shows I like to incorporate a fire-hooping troop at some of my larger events and I always sport some radical stage outfits including sequins, an amazing light show and a puppet named 'STROBE'. Rule is: the props have to accompany the music! My style of music is PHUNKNSOUL music so the props/stage antics go-along with the vibe of funky show.

    The truth is… it's important for me to put on a show that folks go home talking about… go home and text/post about.

    There is simply no better way than to simply entertain! The one man show is a spectacle in itself, the live show just takes it over the top!

    Brining' the show back into the Biz! Henry + the Invisibles is a live performance YOU don't want to miss.

    Check out some live vid @
    http://www.youtube.com/henryinvisible

    If you like what you hear, I have a free download on my facebook page @
    http://www.facebook.com/henryinvisible

    The Free Download is called 'Soul Shaker' and it features Barry 'Frosty' Smith on the drums

    drummed with Sly & the Family Stone as well as Parliament Funkadelic!

    Enjoy!

  • DW

    Personally I don't like to see bands jumping all over the stage for no reason,breaking instruments, and doing lots of pre-planned movements and stuff on stage. I do like to see the musicians having a great time playing with each other and making some great music. Make up and pyrotechnics might work for some bands, dancing might work for some, blue jeans and sitting on chairs works for others. So if you want to wear makeup like Kiss or Tokyo Hotel, do it. If you want to dance like Beyonce or the jackson 5, do it. If you want to wear blue jeans and t-shirts like the Grateful Dead or Nirvana, do it. But do what you want to do and have fun doing it.

  • http://www.novazanz.com Pete

    If you're a kid who is used to seeing everything on video, maybe dancing and moving and lots of stagey stuff is appropriate. But I like and sing/play jazz. It's all about the song. If you present it well, people listen. Honestly, I'm put off by goofy stage moves. But I'm old. Kids today…

  • http://www.celticharpmusic.com Anne Roos

    Studies show that the human sense of sight trumps the sense of hearing every time. So if we look great, even if we have an off night on stage, we can still come out smelling like roses. If we don't look that great, then we have to win the audience over with our performance. It can be an uphill battle.

    Case in point: Susan Boyle. She came on stage in the British version of America's got talent, and people bood her before she opened her mouth. Then, when she sang, she won them over. But think how much easier it would have been if she looked like she was ready to perform in the first place….

    Cheers,

    Anne Roos


    http://www.celticharpmusic.com
    Author of "The Musician's Guide to Brides: How to Make Money Playing Weddings" published by Hal Leonard Books

  • http://www.thechriskingmaneuver.com Chris

    I'm always shocked at how many bands have nothing on stage with their name on it. Saying your name once or twice in between songs is not enough. Most people in the audience aren't paying attention, and unless the sound is great and the bar is quiet, they won't make it out anyway. Every band should have a banner or kick drum sticker or something. I made a banner stand out of a mic stand because I was sick of having our banner fall down or having nowhere to hang it. Now the banner and the stand are as important as any other piece of gear.

  • Rick

    Well, I take issue with the going to a concert to see the band. I go to hear the music. And no, you can't just stay home and play a record and get the same experience. Records are snapshots. Live performance is video, to extend the analogy. I don't necessarily want to hear a band play exactly what's on the CD, but want to hear what they can really do live.

    Certainly stage presence is important, and I'm not saying it isn't. But I've gone to concerts where I've been impressed by the musicians' music without the flashy movement. That's probably because I am also a musician.

    I thin the general public goes for both, maybe. But I'm not a band, and I am a folk musician. I play a genre of music that traditionally wasn't concerned with stage presence, and many performers still aren't.

    I do think there is an appropriate amount of movement, etc. for performers based on their genre, and that's what I'm trying to work out for myself at this point in time.

  • http://www.phoenixrisingband.org Kathy Boyd

    We practice in stage configuration so we don't even have to think about how anyone else is moving when we're in concert. We have a dress code that both takes the guess work out of what to wear and also allows everyone their individual freedom to dress to their taste and body shape (or gender). I do try to let the guys know what I'll be wearing at least the morning of the show so we don't end up with me in bright pink and them in screaming red.

    I think it makes it easier if you think of yourself as an entertainer and not a musician. Just changing that one word will move presentation way up to the top of the list!

  • http://www.soulsanctuarymusic.com luke

    I nag my band about this all the time!

  • http://www.larajai.com Lara Jai

    As a HARPIST/singer performing original Celtic/mystical style work, this has been a challenge. Smoke and lights convey the mysterious/old feel, but I am pretty limited in how much I move. The intensity of some songs is enough to draw attention- but this article- and the varied replies- got me thinking about some others and what I can do….off to experiment!

  • damar

    Style over substance… do you mean like KISS? Isn't that just to hide the fact that you're musically inept or don't really have anything meaningful to say? Most bands would be giving the listener more if they worked on their songs/performances rather than their image.

  • http://www.thememories.org Lou Martin

    It IS about the music after all! Having said that, if you can put something extra into the performance, you should go for it. People do come to SEE your group/band and also to listen. Most people want the performers to be able to do things that they cannot do themselves. They want to be entertained visually, and have their ears stroked too. That's why they pay their money to attend your gig. If groups think that just standing there and performing is all that the public wants, then those groups are missing the point. It's about entertaining the people. You should give them your best music as well as something to see. By saying "something to see," I did not mean wearing the clothes you wore to the gig that day onstage. The people paid their money and most all of them want you to succeed, so, all you have to do is entertain them!!

  • http://N.SB/NEWSENSATIONBAHAMAS Derrick Knowles

    I believe that most persons are captivated by looks rather than sound.Even most relationships started by love at first sight.Any good band could play a few cover song,however only a few have what it takes to capture the audience attention.

  • http://www.midwayfair.org Jon Patton

    I started thinking about this very topic recently. My band (Midway Fair) had a slightly carnival themed thing going on just with a couple stories I told on stage and for a couple songs. But we're a folk/indie rock band, and visual stimulation isn't really what people think of for this type of music. I realized this was a huge mistake. We were wasting a golden opportunity to could have a lot more fun (and we enjoy being silly) while giving people some more things to remember about seeing us play.

    A really good gypsy jazz band from New York, Carivan of Thieves, are the ones who really made me realize how important stage antics are even when it's a small show.

    So we're looking into some costuming, studying folks like Tom Waits (an outstanding visual presenter in concert), and talking with our friends in the theater community in Baltimore. Hope to have it really pay off around summer time when we start booking full-length shows again. (I also learned fairly late on in our band's life that our drummer not only CAN juggle, but is in fact very good at it.)

  • http://www.rhuddlekids.com Rick

    i think it's more about stage presence and giving to the audience than necessarily having a "look"- it's about being authentic. If you're really singing your songs, with your heart & soul- THAT'S what people "see". Jason Webley is a solo performer- he just brings a guitar and accordian on stage with him and i've seen him bolt out enough energy to get 500 people screaming and dancing along with him. He ALSO has a few tricks- gets the crowd to sway along with a russian drinking song and hands out water bottle shakers- but it's his energy and passion that keeps people coming back so he has a strong following.

  • http://www.Lthrboots.com Lthrboots

    I have seen so many "bands" who look like they just threw on an old pair of jeans and hit the stage. These bands are ones I never go back to see. As you mentioned, if there is no visual appeal to the live show, then I can just pop in their CD at home.

    Visuals are everything for hooking your fans into becoming fanatics about your shows and music. Where would Lady Gaga be without visuals? Pink Floyd thrived on visuals and look where it got them. People still to this day comment on how amazing their shows were.

    Part of it is also your performance on stage. Some people simply grab the mic and stand there. YAWN….time to go get a beer on that one….make the fans push towards the stage to see you…not push away from the stage.

    Visuals are 50% of the hook for artists. Without them, you will easily fade away into oblivion.

    On stage, I use lights, fog, neon, wild outfits, makeup and more. I have opened for other bands in the past, and the crowd still comments to me about how much better my show was than the headliners.

    Visuals DO matter. Don't take it for granted.

  • http://www.Lthrboots.com Lthrboots

    As Sten said, it does depend on your kind of music….but even the most calm music deserves some sort of visual appeal. Staring at a person playing the piano will only hold your attention for a few minutes.

    Most musician shops have rentals for projectors at an affordable rate. Who do you want to be?…..the artist taking up space on the stage…or the artist commanding the space on stage?

  • http://www.davesantiago.com dave santiago

    Hi Agree with everyones comments, some genres are just listening genres, but my genre is Latin music, and ive found that fans like to be engaged, during the performance, it makes them part of the show, they feel included, im a firm believer in uniforms, it does separate the pros from rest, i have a ton of competitors, and they are all great bands, but there has to be a way of distinquishing yourself from the pack, when people come to see us they go home feeling that they were part of the show, energy does transfer to the audience, they expect you to look and act the part, especially when they have a ton of choices,

  • http://www.theblackwoodband.com Ed Perkins

    absolutely nothing worse than watching the ill-timed punkrock jump or the band that looks great but all you hear is a great wall of noise. On the other hand, I had no problem at all watching two pudgy guys with acoustic guitars try to sound like a metal band and bring the house down in the process (Tenacious D).

  • http://myspace.com/claysummersmusic ClaySummersMusic

    Definitely agree with Sten's remarks! The visual performance and style of connecting with the audience needs to coincide with the genre of music you're playing, yet still retain your individuality. I perform solo, acoustic based music using live looping technology, and several instruments. I don't jump around, head bang or pull any big stage moves. I connect with the audience by telling the story behind the songs, having them join in and sing during different songs, and keep it interesting by swithing instruments throughout the set. I try to help them tune into the emotion behind the songs.

    However when I was playing guitar for my old pop/punk/alternative band, you can bet that I did my fair share of jumping around and rocking out! The performance has to match the the music! Otherwise, the performer will just come off as a poser. :)

    While I'm on here…I may as well advertise for my music! Check me out on Facebook or MySpace!
    http://www.facebook.com/claysummersmusic http://www.myspace.com/claysummersmusic

  • KENT CRAIG

    There is no set formula for a live performance! the trick is to acknowledge why your audience is there; givem that, plus alil' mo'!

  • http://roytalley.com Roy Talley

    This is very interesting ! Thursday 17 Feb 2011

    Looking good, and feeling good, comes thru, even to a blind-person.

    I believe that, getting a break, and to perform as a professional, are necessary. The looking your best, and flooring the audiance with hits,

    is what is needed to beat out the major players. Money and fans will follow.

    If your honest, and share these songs, with friends, and the world. All Dogs

    go to Heaven. But, looking like a star, is always great. In real life,

    like Jesus said: " They are either for you, or against you !" You owe it too

    the World to look your Best. Respectfully, Roy Talley

  • Daniel Mitchem

    I have always tried to make our stage show as incredible as possible. It's really easy to do if you just watch what bigger groups in your style are doing. We decided our live performance just wasn't the same without the following things:

    - LIGHT SHOW

    This is not something overly elaborate. It's controlled on stage and adds ambience in some parts and total chaos in others. This includes light boxes up front facing the band, lights on the amps facing the crowd, a light in the drum that shines through the clear logo, and lights on the backdrop just to illuminate that.

    - LARGE BACKDROP (

    Just large enough to go from one side of our drum risers to the other (about 8 feet).

    - MONOCHROME WARDROBE

    This is just to keep a uniform look, this way we can dress how we want but still look like one unit. The "uniform" is usually all black but we're thinking about trying something different like all white (trying not to look like painters) or white and red.

    - MATCHING INSTRUMENTS

    Our drums are all white and guitars don't match perfectly (yet) but are close enough to make an impact on stage.

    - CHOREOGRAPHY

    Ok, so it's not like a boy band but we do try to make sure we are front stage during choruses (singing along) and we make sure we do guitar spins, spin kicks, head bangs, and other rock-your-face-off stuff together!

    Of all the things we do to achieve a great live show, the CHOREOGRAPHY has the most impact for sure BUT is the hardest to pull off. Banners and clothing don't do anything while on stage but pulling off a double guitar spin with 3 people is hard!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sinemsaniye Sinem

    Visuals are everything for the live show, and even more for after. You WILL be photographed. A live show last maybe 1 hour. Photographs last forever! I learned the hard way when I showed up to a radio interview once, and practically showed up in pjs (ok, jus comfy clothes) and no makeup, and a TV crew ended up coming because they'd heard about me and really liked the music and wanted to feature for a TV segment. It was total impromptu! Then was aired nationwide in a country in Europe. I learned the hard way! Thus, visuals are important. Not just for live show, but for ALWAYS. Perfect executor of this: Lady Gaga. :)

  • http://www.jameswday.com james day

    Always go in like you came to preach or play, don't dress like the crowd.

    You are an entertainer. No sandles, shorts or jeans unless you're a cowboy, jimmy buffet or a hippie.

    -Your Full Service Bluesman

  • Stan DeMand

    It is my band's goal to walk off of stage leaving our fans wondering "What in the fuck just happened?" We re-arrange our shows so that you will see a different show if you come out 5 nights a week. Any band that just stands there and plays is a boring show no matter what the music sounds like. You don't have to be a dance crew with full choreography but keep the crowd on it's feet. You've gotta tease to please.lol

  • Hellzapoppin'

    Y'know, it's a funny thing about all these people praising bands who jump around during a show. Once upon a time, musicians didn't jump around during a show because music wasn't dumbed down to the point where anyone playing didn't have to even look at what they were doing.

    Imagine requiring a jazz band, or classical ensemble, for example, to jump around.

    But then, jazz and classical is about the music and the song.

    The dumbed-down, "I have a loud guitar and our lead singer is hawt!" approach to music is one reason why bands have to jump around. If they didn't, you might notice they kinda suck.

    Even Slayer doesn't move a muscle except for head nods.

    The more a band needs to move, or needs explosions, the less likely they are to be playing something worth listening to.

    • someone

      you’re full of crap. I listen to jazz and classical, quite possibly a lot more than you do considering that you say jazz and classical is about the music and the ‘song’. semantics yes, but very few classical and jazz works would you refer to as a song.

      there are musicians in these genres who do move a lot. it’s getting more common now. in the past it was far less common, and this is just a result of the culture surrounding the music – not because it’s too technical. but listen to something like Meshuggah and tell me it’s dumbed down. their rhythms are far more complex than most i encounter in jazz or classical music.

      jazz and classical typically draw in less crowds too. ive been a part of that crowd and do wonder if its because of the snobbish elitist attitude. if performers were a bit more lively it might see a resurgence.

  • http://cdbaby/cd/sumeriasky sumeria sky

    I love everyone's different comments & opinions about stage appearance. They were all great! We are a very visual race of people & for the most part love to see beautiful things. When I think of visual & music put together, I think of Hawaiian music & Hula dancing which gives us a feeling of paradise. The beauty & grace of the dancers make the music & leaves an impression. Music can give us goosebumps, make us cry, laugh, dance, etc. & mixed with visual stimulation, leaves a picture perfect memory of the experience. So that being said, I think visual is as important as the music whether it be simple, fancy or freaky!

  • Clark Colborn

    I want to work with whoever got you that gig. When we open we get 15 minutes to get our gear on stage & dialed in, and then we play. No time to go backstage, no time to change into different clothing, barely time to toss set lists on the floor, tune up, and start counting off the first tune. And quite often the headliners will not permit us to sell merch or work the room for email sign-ups. But we own the stage while we are on it. We engage the audience, we mention the website, we play with a ferocity that is undeniable. and when we are done the gear gets moved as quickly as possible so we can go out & meet the audience. We shake hands, hug people, kiss the ladies, gather emails when we're allowed, hand out business cards when we're not.

    No matter how much the headliners limit us with light restrictions, time restrictions, etc, we have every eye in the room on us while we perform due to our energy, conscious positioning during each part of each song, and by sweating blood for our audience. When we are given more to work with we see it as gravy. We never set out to make a headliner look bad – in fact we make a point of giving them props during our set – but it happens all the time. And it's because we are prepared, visually and sonically. And when we get to headline, well, that's when the full light show, the AV stuff, the whole enchilada comes out, and our audiences leave with rug-burn on their chins because they had no idea how far we could take it. Be ready to grab your audiences attention visually no matter what you have to work with, and you'll be on your way.

    Seriously, I want to work with your promoter or booking agent. I'm tired of 15 minute set-ups. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/musicbizcoach14 Mark Ericson

    I can't tell you how many debates I've had with bands about this topic. Often it starts with the guitarist and then collectively the stance is all about the quality of musicianship. I concede that yes, musicianship is important but not as important as vocals and showmanship for live performances. I try to get the purist musicians to relate the similarities between musical dynamics and visual dynamics. That often gets the point across. Thanks for the post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.l.tolley Gary Lee Tolley

    Every venue has different requirements. You may not have the time or space to set up a dazzling show, but you can always do SOMETHING. What do you have control of: Sound, a few Stage props, lights, the Bands Look, and the songs. Control everything you can and don't let things just happen. Remember murphys law and thats doubled on stage. Steal the show every chance you get, be creative. I use remote control lights on stage so I can turn them on and off with my foot. I use a smoke machine I control with my foot. I carry my own backdrop and lights for it. I build novelty shapes to put old christmas lights on to put some glimmer on the show for cheap.
    Be creative and be youself.