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nervous before a show?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jimmy ray, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. we just got offered our first gig for the end of may, and from playing before ( in high school stuff like talent shows, i know me and the other guys get pretty nervous) what do you guys to do stay calm before a show and not get to nervous or worked up over the stage fright?
  2. Drink a 40 oz. j/k! What helped my band and I to get over our nerves on our first show was that we used to invite a lot of people over to our practice and that really ended up helping a lot because by the time we had to play our first show we were pretty much used to having people in front of us and having to perform for them. Just try not to think of it and look at it as being practice but give it your best performance ever. I guess many people have at least a bit of nerves because you usually have different people in attendance in every show and don't know what the crowd response will be like but just try not to think much of it and see it as a band practice. Usually by the second song the nerves are pretty much gone and you'll be doing great. :D
  3. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I dunno, I never get nervous for stuff like this. Public speaking, speeches, presentations, gigs, whatever.....never a problem. I believe this confidence goes a long way to making a good gig a better one. The crowd can tell when you are nervous, and lacking confidence.

    I guess I'm like Fonzie.....a little Fonzie.....what's Fonzie like? He's cool.

    Yeah, I just got done watching Pulp Fiction....thanks Jules. :D

  4. I recently played in a cello recital. I was almost paralyzed with nerves a week before the performance. I knew I wouldn't have my piece completely mastered by the time of the performance. I realized that my nerves were coming from a vague notion that I could only consider my performance a success if I played flawlessly. If that was going to be my plan, then I better have a plan B. I determined to a) make as much progress on the piece as possible in the time left and b) focus on the musicality of my playing and c) have a good time and enjoy playing.

    I played the piece OK at the recital, but not as well as I had in more ideal practice situations. But I did manage to have a good time, and afterward all the other students remarked that it looked like I was really having fun and wanted to know my secret. Two weeks later my teacher told me she's still getting comments from her other students about how well I played. Well, I didn't really play THAT well - what I think is happening is they remember enjoying my playing because I gave them permission to relax by my attitude on stage, and as time passes that's becoming a memory of me playing well. At least that's my theory - I'm not inside their heads.

    My point is, make your goal to have fun and enjoy playing. This will encompass your other goals (e.g. you'll have more fun and enjoy playing more if you're solid on your material, don't tense up, listen to your bandmates, etc. etc. etc.) and free you from having to think of 800 things all at once.

    Most importantly, if you look tense the audience will be tense - they'll think you think you're going to screw up, so they'll believe you and expect you to screw up. Even if you play perfectly, they'll have been tense the entire time. If you look like you're doing something you love to do, they'll be able to relax and enjoy your performance, and then if you do make a mistake, they'll probably not notice anyway, and if they do it won't count much against the enjoyment you've given them.

    Messing up in performance is like farting. Just pretend it didn't happen. It may very well be that few people, if any, will even notice, and if they do they won't know who did it unless you look guilty or announce "My bad! Sorry!" And some strange folks might even like the smell, you never know.

    If your nerves prevent you from actually adopting this mindset, then just pretend you're really having a good time up there. Before long you'll fool even yourself. Or, try putting your focus on helping your bandmates have a good time and perform well. This will pay huge dividends. People love chemistry on stage, and that can only be expressed through the interactions of the people in the band, both in obvious musical ways and in subtle body-language ways. It'll take your brain's excess critical functions off of yourself and give them something productive to work on.

    As for that just plain nervous feeling that you get in your torso, when you feel it, take a moment to observe what it feels like. Let yourself really feel the feeling so you are familiar with it. This will take away some of its power. Then, notice that a lot of the problem with it is the tension that the body applies to try to contain it. It's a clenching feeling in the torso. It's not the nerves, it's the reaction against them, fear of that feeling taking over completely. The secret is that if you release that clenching, the nervous feeling won't magnify and take over - it will dissipate. Observe which muscles are holding that tension, then breathe and relax them. The pure nervy tingle won't go away completely, but it will vaporize, flow down your arms and out of your body through your fingers and mostly just go away. It will be much milder and manageable. I discovered this by accident a couple of years ago, and it works for me every time I feel nervous. And I feel nervous less and less.

    Attitude is really everything, and it helps to practice it just like you practice your bass playing.
  5. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    There really isn't much you can do about nerves, but as SMASH said, BE PREPARED!!! Mastering the songs, lyrics, changes, stops, starts, etc. is the best thing you can do to reduce any nervousness you might have. ALSO, pack up the day before, show up early, double-check everything, and try to think of things that might go wrong or that you might forget in advance. Being perpared in this way will make the evening of the performance much more enjoyable should something happen to pop up that was unexpected. Otherwise, the only way that you can overcome this problem in the long run is through experience...so when this gig is done, book another one and another one and another one. ;)
  6. thanks for the tips guys, now that we're starting to get to work on getting ready for this show we're all getting pretty excited. aside from the practicing, i need to rent an amp, i'll be the only bass player there(the band we're opening for has a DB going though the DI's) and my 2 amps are too small, or too big. any suggestions for like a 100w combo that would go well with an acoustic guitar and some bongos?
  7. Lay off the alcohol and don't eat before the gig - I've always found that a slight hunger gives me an edge and makes me more aware of what is going on. A large meal, especially with alcohol, tends to be soporific - and that might be what you want to have happen to the audience, but not to the band.

    Good luck with your gig - be as well rehearsed as you can, and you'll have a blast! (It will take you about a week or so to come down from the highÂ… ;) )

    - Wil
  8. I thought I was the only narcoleptic that does that.

    Seriously, I usually try to go out and sneak a nap in after loading in. I'm old.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Watch the last row of your audience and fix your eyes just over their heads.

    You'll look like you're making eye contact with the audience even though you're looking at the wall just above the heads of the last row.

    It's an old public speaker's trick that works. Eventually, you should get enough confidence to look head-on at your front rows.
  10. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    I always get nervous before the show, and I pace and stuff like that. It usually goes away after the first song, unless one of the following songs has a bass solo. I have a gig two weeks from now, and I'm already nervous... I'm doing a huge solo (Portrait of Tracy, if I can get it right), and then in three of my songs there are solos. It's a battle of the bands. I hope I win, wish me luck! :)

  11. Funny thing is, that I'veplayed lots of shows and I still make 'oopsie' faces. It part of the show for me. Some people get a kick out of it. Hell, last time I saw the Flecktones, I noticed Wooten miss a few notes, and it was pretty obvious that he noticed, too. Oopsie. Oh. And if a mistake sounded good, do it again.
  12. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Northumberland, UK
    I eat well and just try to look like im enjoying myself. We do a lot of 80s metal and some more punk stuff, so I jump, run etc. Sure, that might not be appropriate for you, but if you look like youre into the music and enjoying it, then the audience dont see you as nervous.

  13. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
  14. I guess we all handle this in different ways. I kind of go into this meditative zone right before a show. The band doesnt bother me unless its urgent, at this point Ive already surveyed the room and know what kind of crowd it's going to be. I keep mentally reminding myself that there are four of us in this band, Im not the front man, therefore most of the rooms eyes will be on my guitarist/vocalist...plus my drummer is female, so alot of people are transfixed by her. I like to keep a little edge on though...then when its time for me to solo I can explode with energy and I end up stretching my limits into things I didnt know I could even do sometimes. And then there's those times where as the crowd warms up to us, Ill jump right off the stage and be in everybody's face and not even care. (Later in the show of course.) We make our first two songs of the set the ones we can play blindfolded, drunk, sleeping too...that way we arent stressing over parts coming up and mistakes and all that. We play original material though too, and when it's yours you can mess it up if you want to and no one cares...hahaha!
  15. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I sometimes get so nervous before shows. especially solo shows or double bass classical stuff that my dr. prescribes xanax for it.
  16. i dont really get nervous but i cant sleep the day before a gig becasue of excitement
  17. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I use to get scared, but I don't anymore. I think it's because I know the material pretty well now. I'd imagine if I joined a new band, and had to start all over again with new people, I'd be nervous. But I think Jack Black offered the best advice on stage fright, I'm paraphrasing but, "Everyone gets stage fright, I still get stage fright, how do I deal with it? I face it... like a warrior."

    I just love how everything is so epic with Jack Black. :D
  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Smash said it best, be prepared. The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will usually get.

    Practice until you know the parts very very well.

    Warm up adequately. Don't drink.

    Be. Prepared.
  19. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Everybody's got great advice. I too get anxious before performances, always have. I try to do all the above, and I also try to pay attention to the other instruments and get outside of my head. The minute I think about what I'm playing, I screw up.

    Also lately, I've been trying to picture John Petrucci in my head when I play, as I saw him recently at a Dream Theater concert. Alot of rock bassists can jump around and look cool and have fun, but when you see a technical player like Petrucci on stage with a camera showing his every finger movement on a large screen behind him and you can see how cool and confident he is in front of a massive audience and how he is so precise! Quite a role model for this type of problem. I just kind of tell myself I want to be like John.
  20. steviecsg


    Aug 16, 2002
    generally, i believe that the more gigs under your belt, the less likely it is that you would succumb to stage fright.

    also it helps to know your material inside out rather than just winging it off a fake book

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