Never show it when you make a mistake on stage.
I don’t particularly care for Gene Simmons. I think KISS, as a band, are really not that good at making music. That being said, you gotta hand it to The Demon: the man knows how to market himself and he knows a thing or two about stage presentation.
Simmons had a reality show on A&E that ran from 2006-2012 called Gene Simmons Family Jewels. For whatever reason, I watched some early episodes of this show. In one of them, there was a short scene that always stuck with me. Gene is giving advice to his son’s band, who are about to play their first gig.
Skip to the 23:45 mark of this video to see it.
He tells the fledgling group to give it their all. But he also says “Even if you make mistakes…BAH! Wrong chord! Go yeah, that’s a cool mistake!”
Stage presence is about shaping perceptions.
I know Simmons didn’t invent this concept — of confidently blazing through mistakes or mishaps as if they never happened — but it still strikes me as great advice, particularly for musicians who are just starting out. It’s the beginning of considering the audience’s perspective and understanding that even the littlest onstage actions can cause a room full of people to shift their perception of you and your music.
Don’t make your audience feel awkward FOR you.
Whenever I see an artist make a mistake on stage and shake their head, roll their eyes, look at their bandmates uncomfortably, or literally say “WHOOPS,” I think of this advice from Gene Simmons. Whenever I see an artist make a mistake and gracefully move on without the least bit of acknowledgement, I also think of this advice from Gene Simmons. Plus, it makes me think I may’ve witnessed countless mistakes at gigs over the years that I didn’t even know were flubs because nobody on the stage wasted a second worrying about it.
How many mistakes did KISS make on stage? I’m sure there were thousands. And I bet Gene and the gang never batted a make-up-slathered eye.
I wouldn’t normally endorse life advice from Gene Simmons, but I think in this case, he’s worth listening to.
What are your thoughts on flubbing and recovery when playing in front of a crowd?
Any good stories or additional advice? Let us know in the comments!