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How to keep cool in front of 8000 people ?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by makkE, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. makkE


    Jan 19, 2010
    Normandie, France
    In about a week, I will play at a gig with 8000 expected viewers.

    I`m subbing for the band, been practicing and learning their material since 3 weeks, and I am only starting to feel confident in the practice room by now.
    My plan is to play the songs 3-4 times a day for my remaining time to get them etched in as deeply as possible.

    I have never performed in front of that many people. I fear I might be extra nervous.

    Any tips how to deal with big crowds?
  2. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    Just look out at the crowd and imagine you are naked... no, wait, that's not right... :)
  3. HeadyVan Halen

    HeadyVan Halen

    Jun 11, 2010
    Nah, you got it backwards buddy.
    When you look out and there's 8 people and 3 of them you brought, now, that's when you get nervous...cause you'll have to look for another venue

    Have Fun
  4. bobbybass85


    Dec 19, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Here's my tips. Now my biggest is only 4,000-5,000ish (big church).

    1. Get really comfortable with the music. If all else fails, this is what you want to fall back on.

    2. Get as comfortable as you can with you band members. Learn their nuances and quirks and use them to relax yourself when you get nervous. Everybody hits bad notes, and most people have a tell when they do, even if it's little. If you can catch those it makes you feel more relaxed and human.

    3. Get to the gig as early as possible. This is definitely a YMMV suggestion, but for me it works. Getting there early allows me get setup, plugged in and have everything set and ready. Then I've got time to play through some stuff, either amp on or unplugged. This is a good time to get a warm up in too.

    4. Eat and hydrate smart! I stay away from booze in events that are nerve racking because coming down off the buzz mid show can really screw me up. I also avoid Redbull/Coffee etc. Gives me the shakes. Eat something that you like, but isn't turning you into a walking Chernobyl. This leads to....

    5. Relieve yourself before you stack up to hit the stage, nothing worse than being on-deck for an entire show.

    6. Showtime! I make eye contact with the band-mates and usually don't address the audience until I'm playing. Stay focused on getting the 1st tune rolling, then perform. May not be the best showmanship technique, but it's better than hitting the first note a 1/2 off.

    7. Now live in the moment and enjoy!!

    hope it helps
  5. Aaron_D


    May 9, 2010
    Tallahassee, FL
    Usually venues that big have crazy lights that severely limit your view of the crowd. Unless it's an outdoor daytime gig...
  6. lpcarter

    lpcarter Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2012
    Minneapolis, MN
    You MUST be comfortable with your instrument. If you're comfortable with it, you'll know how to move with it. If you know how to move with it, you'll be able to perform with it.

    The other thing to keep in mind...is although it totally matters what other people think (I guess...), it just as equally doesn't matter at all. You act like a goofball around your friends, and they still think you're awesome. You play bass in front of 8,000 people...and they too will think you're awesome. So cool it, it's no big deal :)
  7. FenderBassist


    Oct 28, 2005
    Agree. On large stages, you'll have either lighting that makes it hard to see the audience, or a distance from them that should make you feel comfortable.

    The sound *should* be good too (no slap back or other problems, hopefully).

    Just focus on the music. If you're totally into the songs you play when you play, you'll do fine.

    99.8% of the people there won't even notice you, they'll be totally focused on the front person.

    I'll never forget playing a demo to a non musician friend...his response was, "cool...um, which one is the bass?"
  8. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    ALL of what the above.

    remind yourself how long you've been playing bass and how many times you've done the songs.
  9. VisualShock


    Feb 19, 2008
    North Wales
    Read into the music. I subbed for a band, doing a 30 minute set with a week's notice. I basically hammered the music until I could play it note perfect at the drop of a hat, but it wasn't really sticking in my head until I really looked into the music. I read it top to bottom, head to toe until I could tell you in my sleep what order the sections happened, what cues went where, who cues were coming from.

    In terms of the sheer size of the audience, don't worry about it! If one guy comes up to you at the end and says you sucked you can assume the other 7,999 people that didn't thought you were fantastic!
  10. I'd love to have your problem! I'm lucky to play in front of 200 people, most of whom are drunk off their a$$es anyway. I'm sure you'll do well. Enjoy the great experience!
  11. Floridabwoy

    Floridabwoy Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2008
    Jacksonville, Fl
  12. Bardley


    Nov 16, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    I find it easier to play in from of really large crowds because there is a kind of "disconnect" with that many people. I have played a few events where there was close to 20k people and you really couldn't focus on them. You don't see it as thousands of people, just a a crowd. I get more nervous playing in front of a small crowd.
  13. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    This. A big crowd is an abstraction. (Or can be made into an abstraction) A hundred people are 100 individuals. That's more scarey!
  14. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008

    I can take any large sized crowd easily. It's small crowds of only 5 or 6 people that really bother me.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I was in a band years ago that got mad at me if I smiled ... needless to say I quit that band.
  16. williamk


    Apr 2, 2008
    nobody in the crowd knows a thing about music. Smile!
  17. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I agree. Also, keep in mind that the bass sound in front will probably be awful and no one will be able to discern what you're doing anyway! And yeah, a smile let's everyone know you're feeling good and confident. :)
  18. evenintheshower

    evenintheshower Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Like others have said above, I get MUCH more nervous when playing in front of a small group. Also, any time my parents (even though I'm a grown man) go to see me play (big show or small show), I get nervous as hell. Otherwise, big shows are a breeze.

    To deal with the nervousness I feel in front of a small group or my parents I do these things:

    Focus on bandmates instead of the crowd. You need to know what they're doing and feel how the music is flowing.

    As mentioned before, get to the venue early and get settled in. Make sure to warm up, too.

    I don't know what the gig is exactly, but wear clothing that you like and feels comfortable.

    As a sub, you are doing the right thing by continuing to go over the music. Really make it yours!

    Be yourself and have fun (and smile!). Remember: being a musician is much better than working in a coal mine!
  19. Remember that you are doing something very few of them are capable of, let alone ever get the chance to do. Also the *picture them in their underwear* thing, unless they're mostly dudes or old. :)
  20. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    And don't be seduced by the large stage that may be available at a large gig. It's OK to have some room, but make sure to stay tight enough to stay together as a band. Being 50 feet away from the drummer or frontman is too isolating. YMMV.

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