It happens… Those nights when the audience just isn’t that into you. Maybe you were booked in the wrong venue for your genre. Maybe you’re having a really off night. Who knows. But what do you do when it happens?
Change It Up
First, why isn’t paying attention? Are you being boring? You may be loud, but if you’re always loud, that’s boring. You may be playing powerful heartfelt ballads, but if that’s all you’re playing, that’s boring too. Here are some ideas for changing up your show to create more interest:
- You know how when someone’s talking to you and they suddenly start speaking really quietly, you start paying more attention? You can do this in your show. Experiment with dynamics, both within a single song and from song to song. Rock that chorus harder than usual, but then bring the verse down lower than you normally do.
- Create more visual interest for your audience by moving around on stage (with purpose), and by singing to different areas of the audience – even if they’re not watching.
- Do you always play an instrument? Sing a song without your instrument. Do you never play an instrument? Learn one song on keys or guitar.
- Do you always sing lead and your bandmates sing backup? Let someone else lead for a song.
Try Something New or Scary
If people aren’t paying any attention, you have a great opportunity to try some new things that might be too risky or scary during regular gigs. This is essentially a live rehearsal – a valuable experience!
- If your weakness is stage banter and storytelling between songs, try talking more than usual – even if only one or two people are listening.
- If you tend to stay in one place on stage, now’s a great time to get used to moving around. Don’t wander, though – move with purpose.
- If you aren’t very comfortable soloing, this is the perfect time to solo on stage with no pressure!
Just Dealing with It
No, it isn’t fun. Yes, you do need to change your show to create more interest. But when you just need to get through the night, here are some tips:
- If you do have one or two people paying attention, don’t overwhelm them with connection. You still need to direct your attention to other areas of the room. If they look like they are enjoying a connection with you, recognize it with your face or a small gesture; if they look like they get nervous, try looking just to the side of them, rather than directly into their eyes.
- Continue looking at various areas of the audience – near/far, right/center/left – even if they are not paying attention to you at the moment. Don’t keep your eyes floating over people’s heads because then if someone does want to connect with you, they can
- Have fun with your bandmates. Find a connection on stage if you can’t find it in the audience.
- Wait until the next day to critique your performance. While performing, you need to believe in yourself. Bring out the judge tomorrow. There will be plenty of time for review and improvement.
(c) 2009 Adrienne Osborn