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Bass Player Stage Presence

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by chakah, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. chakah

    chakah Rockin' the 80's

    Feb 2, 2006
    Recently had a conversation with my guitar player about the bass player stage presence. I've seen some bass players in bands who just stand in the background and look at the fretboard or at the floor. Other bass players have been seen running around the stage trying to pump up the crowd.
    Just wondering what you guys do. :bassist:
  2. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    I try to entertain. It's everyone's job, and most people in the bar don't know the difference between a bass player and guitar player anyways. Talk to the crowd, get into your music, do whatever the rest of your band does. The excuse that the bass player stands back in the shadows is a cop-out. Put on a wireless and go out on the dance floor!
  3. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    With the rock/metal/indie type bands I've seen lately, usually it is the bass player with the least interesting stage presence. In fact, I can only think of one bassist who truly rocks out in my scene and about 5-6 who are "focused on their playing."

    As for me, it is all about interaction and being entertaining. I get into it when it is kicking, and focus on my playing too. But what I go for the most is trying to bring people in the crowd into the experience in one way or another- whether by goofing off, making eye contact, or just smiling/making expressions.

    I think part of the reason some bass players end up being a lot stiffer than guitarists is the size of the instrument- it can be a lot more unwieldy. I recently upgraded to a 35" scale bass and it isnt quite as easy to thrash around with (plus it is more on the high end side, careful with that thrashing!) as my old Ibanez SR.
    Zodion likes this.
  4. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    I tend to move around. I don't think about it...it just happens naturally. The better I know the song, the more I move. I'm not, like, all over the stage, but I'm boppin' around in my little bit of it. When I had a cordless, I used to go into the crowd on songs that were easy and where the crowd could party and get into it with me.

    But if I don't know a song very well, and/or the band doesn't have all its cues down, I tend to be more sedate, because I'm having to concentrate.

    JonathanAlvarez likes this.
  5. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    Steve Harris is my model for stage presence. I remember seeing Iron Maiden 20+ years ago and thinking "That's how to be on stage". Most of the bands that I have been in, the other players didn't much besides stand there and play, so I took it upon myself to move around. Now, most of the bands that I am involved with are looking for all of the players to be high energy and move around a lot, so I have no problems adapting.
  6. skewh


    Sep 5, 2005
    Ithaca, NY
    I usually find myself moving around during songs, mostly unintentionally. In any ripping funk tunes I get so into the grove that my face distorts and I kick the ground and close my eyes. I have an unintentionally forward stage presence, with the exception of my bass balancing act, that's just straight-up hammery.
  7. gdawg27


    Jan 12, 2006
    My stage presence depends on the size of the stage and the feel of the song. If it's a driving quarter note rhythm, I'd probably nod my head to the rhythm (well, also because my drummer sometimes needs some form of metronome to stay in tempo :) ) but if the song has a groove I usually move to the beat. However, most of my gigs are on tiny NYC village club stages and while the guitarist gets a whole side of the stage, I get to share my side with the keyboard player and the singer so I'm limited to how much I can really move around.
  8. Well, being as I play Gene in a KISS trib band... I think it's safe to say where I stand on this!

    But really it's very simple to me...

    As a patron of a club featuring live music, I want something other than what I would get if I were to say... turn on the radio.

    By that I mean, if I pay money to see people on stage... they dang well better be doing something intersting. Laying down tastey licks is interesting but by itself it is one dimensional. Give me something to look at. Look like you are having fun!

    There's nothing more irritating to me than watching a human being stand on the stage as still as a statue, staring at their fretboard with deadly intensity - afraid to move, lest the groove abandon him!

    And I used to be that guy! We all did. Just don't STAY that guy! If you are on a stage.... and there is a crowd.... you are there to entertain, not play flawlessly and never risk a note.
  9. Shearstown


    Oct 15, 2005
    I move more than anyoen else in my band. and often in a spiderman suit.
    pandakeepfit and Brother Goose like this.
  10. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I'm the only one who moves, but I look stupid because I'm just stepping back and forth to the beat (not all the time, but a lot of the time). Everyone else is just still (guitarist taps his foot). We need to improve our stage presence as a whole.
  11. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings

    Hey Cowboy....Hope your gig went well!

    You are correct sir.

    I also may add that is really HARD to move/entertain if you are uncomfortabe with your band...so if the bass player is not into it live, there may be a job open soon:D !!!
  12. FFK


    Mar 7, 2006
    We are entertainers!
    I myself go pretty nuts....if I was on tour and had the set down to a "T" then by the 2nd date it's all let loose!
    If I'm into it the crowd will be too...Well hopefully that is , haha.
  13. My avatar's a pretty good representation of what I do. Balls out, take no prisoners, and I let the music move me. Never planned, and depending on the groove, I can really ape it up.

    Even when I'm playing a lighter show, if the groove takes me there, I'll subdue it, but you can tell I'm ready to go just underneath the surface. When I get some bandwidth I'll post a few of our vids, the bandmates took them off our site because they didn't much care for them. Too bad though, they're quite fun(ny). :D
    Jon62602 likes this.
  14. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Ha ha, that's me. I'm not actually looking at the fretboard, but in all the pictures I have, it looks like I am. Many gigs I do not know the songs. And when I say "do not know" I mean I have never even heard the songs before. So I have to concentrate very hard to catch the chord changes and any special bridge parts.

    It is getting easier as I learn more and more songs. But I still have to pay attention because guaranteed it will not be in the key I know. And the singer will shorten or lengthen parts.
  15. You are hired/putting yourself out there as entertainers. Not surprisingly, then, you should entertain. I think you should show at least as much enthusiasm for your music as you are hoping to receive from the audience.

    It's your job to make the performance look as interesting as it sounds. No one likes watching statues on stage. Move around a bit, laugh with the audience, involve them in your show, act natural and enjoy playing.

    It is readily clear if you're nervous, or not enjoying the show, and this emotion will rub off on your audience.
  16. +1 to that. Since my main gig is an instrumental rock band, we've really got to turn it up a notch, considering there really isn't that "one focal point" of the singer to keep the audience attentive. It's tough but well worth it. :D
  17. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Definitely entertain. One thing I can't stand is a bump on a log.

    I went into a Sam Ash recently, and I overheard someone playing guitar (surprise). The guy was really good, and I heard him talking to one of the salespeople about how people shouldn't move while playing, they should concentrate more on playing. I felt like getting into a discussion with him, but I figured it wasn't worth it. Besides, I had to get back to work.

    Anyway, I do what comes natural to me. If I don't know a song all that well, I won't move as much, but you damn well be sure that I'll still be moving.
  18. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Running and jumping around like a spastic moron is not necessarily "stage presence".
  19. dharma

    dharma Srubby wubbly

    Oct 14, 2005
    Monroe, Louisiana
    Amen. Eye contact and communication, not looking down at the ground or up in the air or banging around like a bull in a china shop, it's just not interesting.

    As a member of the audience, I wanna see your hands moving, that's part of the fun. I also wanna see you IN the music, however; it's a tough balance.
  20. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    our singer is the focal point of the band and he is very mobile... we do punk & new wave stuff, and he climbs on the PA stacks, goes out into the audience, jumps around and is generally very dynamic...

    I try not to divert too much attention away from him, so I keep my bouncing around to a slightly lower level than his... although I think it's important for everyone to be moving about and generally getting into it... standing still and doing the 'bass player turkey nod' is not on the agenda!!

    running around like a spastic moron pretty much accurately describes what I do... we're there to entertain and I like seeing well executed bursts of moronic spasticity :D

    since we're so well rehearsed and the music ain't too hard, the challenge usually comes from seeing how high a Pete Townshend jump I can do and land while hitting the right note at the right time :)

    I told my girlfriend that if she ever sees me on stage with my feet less than 2 feet apart, she has to give me a hand signal in order to remind me to maintain sufficient levels of rock'n'roll-osity :hyper:

    i've found that moving left and right on the stage gives you far more value than moving from front to back (it looks like you're moving about more), although when there's a hard bit on the bass, i've got into the habit of going right to the front of the stage to show off... I find it's more exciting than hiding away at the back frowning with concentration... the only trouble is, if I stand to near the front, the singer invariably comes up and wrestles with me (though he avoids doing anything that interferes with my playing) :bassist:

    we have good gigs regardless of whether I feel like bouncing around much but I find myself on a far greater high after a gig the more i've 'got into it' and did some stupid rock'n'roll moves...

    I think there's nothing wrong with being a John Entwistle figure, provided you have a couple of others in the band who are as mobile as Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.. but how many bands can say that?? get moving!! :)

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