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Live performance & stage presence

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by basshusain, Nov 25, 2017.

  1. basshusain


    Sep 1, 2017
    Hey all,

    Looking for some ideas improving my "performance" playing live. I kill it at rehearsal but am super cautious on stage to the point of being inert. :laugh:

    I can play the tunes in my sleep but find it hard to really rock out or look like I'm having a good time. The singer and rhythm guitarist are charismatic performers but I often find myself staring at my hands like a dummy. How do I loosen up and rock out??? Alcohol doesn't help.

    Any tips, vids pointers on stage moves etc much appreciated.
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It's always good to look like you are engaging the audience, even if you aren't. Pick a spot over their heads and look at that, so it looks like you are making eye contact. Walk over to a bandmate and watch them. Get your eyes off your instrument. Stay off the alcohol while you are playing
  3. davegt666


    Jun 30, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    This is what I do for myself. Granted, I go for a more exaggerated stage presence. Think like 80s over the top pointing and holding instruments up in the air kind of thing.

    1. Get a wireless. It was more of a mental thing for me, but getting rid of the cable relieved me of having to worry about "stepping on my cable, getting tangled up, tripping, etc."
    2. Plan out what you're going to do for a given part of a song. You don't have to choreograph anything crazy. It could be just as simple as I'm going to put my hand up in the air for this particular whole note. Make it part of your "routune" I guess, so that you can ALSO do that naturally in your sleep.
    3. Just simply move around. Headbang, walk over to your guitarist or drummer, dance in place to a groove, jump in place for certain spots, etc. Find things you can do that add movement.
    4. Have a stance. Have a general thing you can always come back to. A simple rockstar leg on the monitor or legs spread wide works well for this. That way when you're not moving you at least look cool not doing anything.
    5. Watch some of your favorite bass players and see how they move. Since what I'm going for is over the top I watch a lot of Rudy Sarzo and Juan Croucier. Sometimes even John Taylor because he's is an influence in terms of at least style and technique. If the bass players you look up to don't inspire you, look at guitar players.

    A lot of it has to do with getting rid of that "oh I'm going to look stupid doing this" mentality. The truth is you are, no matter what you do. So just get up there on stage and not give a damn.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I haven't looked at my fretboard in twenty years. :laugh:

    Seriously though. You're still scared of messing up. So here's what you do. About halfway through the first song just nail a note one half step off. If you're in A just hammer an Ab. I mean hit it like you're mad at the note. Once you do that, you'll realize that ten seconds later nobody cares. Then you can stop walking the tightrope.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
    petrus61, Helix, mikewalker and 10 others like this.
  5. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Here are 2 classic bassists with very different stage presences:

    Although Entwistle "Just stood there" he had a certain power with it.

    Chris Squire once said that he used to go to Who shows to listen to Entwistle and watch Townsend.

    Rev J
  6. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    You don't have to jump around to look like you're enjoying yourself, but its harder to convey if you're not at least grooving or head bobbing occasionally and smiling a bit. Tho some people have resting b1tch face, & nothing should look forced. If none of that sounds for you then just plant yourself, own the spot, and say with your eyeballs to the people watching from the back row 'you should get closer and get more of this' as long as the others are engaging the front :bassist:
  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    +1 to @catcauphonic 's post. David Byrne used to emphasize that music is very physical - it's making air move, for goodness' sake, in patterns that start in your body. Embrace that physicality, don't bottle it all up in your head. That doesn't have to mean splashy antics, especially not if you have a front person doing that. But plant your feet, own your space, feel the groove in your chest and in your pelvis, bob your head to the beat, whatever.

    I remember one gig very early in my playing history. The BL had screwed up communication badly owing to his alcohol problem and I wound up rushing in at the last minute and mad as hell at him. Played accordingly. Afterwards everyone was saying, "Wow, that was awesome, you were really rocking out!"
  8. Do some Public Speaking.... much harder than music IMO. It'll make bass seem simple.
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Watch videos of John Entwistle and relax.

    Either you feel like jumping around or you don't.
    basshusain and LowActionHero like this.
  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It's not a matter of "jumping about". Keep your eyes off your instrument and find a way to engage the audience. Not every band has Daltrey, Moon, and Townshend.

    Just like playing with a drummer is more fun than playing alone, same for an audience.
    basshusain likes this.
  11. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Let’s say, you are playing Live and there’s only one person in the audience.
    Can you still “kill” it?
    What if there are ten people in the audience - can you still “kill” it?
    “Stage fear” is a very normal thing for many musicians (depending on a player’s psychological profile.)
    The most appropriate/ the easiest answer - Time will heal it.
    hrodbert696, jfh2112 and basshusain like this.
  12. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    if you keep repeating (desensitization) the circumstances over which you would like mastery! good luck! :thumbsup:
    basshusain likes this.
  13. bassstrangler


    Mar 2, 2015
    This is good advice.

    But, if I followed it I would look stupid.

    I'd recommend just not worrying about, do what comes naturally.
    basshusain likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    interact with the audience and your bandmates. sing the tunes even if you don't have a mic or don't know the lyrics.
    jfh2112 and basshusain like this.
  15. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    In over 50 years I've never once thought about my movement on stage. It's always been enough to just play and sing my parts, and do what comes naturally. Let the singer and/or lead guitarist have the limelight. I just do my job and keep the train on the tracks.
    5StringPocket, basshusain and interp like this.
  16. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Start by keeping your head up as much as possible. If you have to, practice in the dark to get used to not looking at your fretboard. If you keep your head up, you at least allow the possibility of interacting with the rest of the band; once you can interact with the band, you can start thinking about interacting with the audience. One step at a time.
    StayLow and basshusain like this.
  17. punchdrunk

    punchdrunk Supporting Member

    Jun 22, 2013
    Jacksonville, Fl
    Just slay the groove and let the other guys do the kidstuff (wriggling around like they gotta pee and whatnot) The only other thing I'd suggest is that you don't stare at your hands. Not looking at your bass while playing projects more of a sense of control/authority to your presence to those at the show, and will up your perceived badassery quotient. Also, as the comment above mine suggest, interact via eye contact with your mates on stage.
    jfh2112 and basshusain like this.
  18. Agreed. It’s what John Frusciante or Flea would say. If you feel it in one night than let go of how it should look and just do what feels naturally. And if you have an off day than just let that be. Anything that becomes a “thing” is never good.
    basshusain likes this.
  19. HauntedDave


    Mar 7, 2016
    Houston, TX
    With all due respect, do you enjoy the songs or style music you're playing? Some music will drain my batteries, while other styles will cause an unconscious movement in me.
    basshusain likes this.
  20. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity

    Apr 11, 2014
    Stillwater, New Jersey
    Wear sunglasses... :cool:

    I swear it helps. I wore sunglasses for our Halloween gig along with a crazy mullet wig. It allowed me to escape myself and almost hide behind the costume. I was more engaged with the audience than ever.
    hrodbert696 and basshusain like this.

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