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On-stage help needed

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by TexasGopher, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. TexasGopher


    Jul 25, 2012
    First off, just a late 50's guy in two bands who needs to keep his day job to support his bass passion. I think I do a good job holding down the musical part but my live performance body language stinks---I have very little. I am having fun and into it, but I cannot convey that to the audience. The old expression is a Zebra cannot change his stripes---is it possible?? I don't like to drink until we are almost done/over. Any advice or thoughts out there??
  2. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    I have never drank in my life and it did not bother me. When I first asked myself the similar question as your, I stood before a mirror with my bass and basically playing along with some songs I like. It helped me see what kind of moves looks funny and what looks natural - then, you try minimize the former and amplify the latter. It should be a good start :)
  3. TexasGopher


    Jul 25, 2012
    you know that is a good idea about the mirror. I just realized outside of a small bathroom one, I don't have one. I have only seen myself on video and I look too stiff. Unfortunately I cannot play like John Entwistle and get away with it, so I want to add some movement (NOT talking Flea stuff). I find that easier said than done. thanks for the feedback.
  4. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    I would have to say that relying on mind / mood altering substances to improve your performance is a slippery slope.

    If you are shy, that will eventually diminish with experience. Otherwise just go watch some old Zep or Who videos. Nuff said.
  5. spz8


    Jan 19, 2009
    Glen Cove, NY
    Just rock a little from left foot to right foot, with a slight twist in the waist to the song's beat - headstock should gently swing back and forth. You don't need much movement to show you're having a good time and into the groove. :bassist:
  6. Smile. It's huge. If you're having fun, just smile out there.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Playing into a mirror is great but be sure to look yourself in the face when doing it. Eye contact, and not fret watching, helps immensely and it is something many players struggle with.

    Dancing helps, just move to the beat. You can always try to choreograph stuff with the other players in your band. It sounds cheesy but it adds to the show.

    Smile is another great piece of advice, keep your acting face on and pretend you're having fun, even when you aren't.
  8. oysteivi

    oysteivi Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2013
    Trondheim, Norway
    I'm also fairly new to performing live music on stage, but this is what I think I've learnt so far:

    Everything you already know about presentation technique also goes when performing music on stage. Radiate confidence, passion, and enjoyment by smiling and meeting the eyes of the audience -- that sort of stuff. If you can also move to the beat, or at least tap your foot, you're already pretty awesome.

    What doesn't come naturally, you can still do by conscious effort, and by approaching it a bit like a theatre performance. It also helps to have your bass parts down well enough that you can play through your inevitable mistakes with a straight face, and have concentration left over for the "show" part of the show.
  9. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    If you're not dancing, likely no one else will either. Even a slight sway and head nod, as mentioned above, will do.

    Unless you're John Entwhistle.
  10. Wear tighter pants.

    Take a wide-legged stance.

    Bob your head.

    Wear a hat that covers your eyes and keep a serious look on your face. It will heighten the mystique.
  11. Drink a pot of coffee right before you go stage, you'll have to piss so bad you'll be dancing :hyper:. The audience will think you're getting into the music ;)

  12. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    A big ditto on that. Even if you can't jump around like Flea, at least let the audience know you're having fun.
  13. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Telling someone how to have stage presence is like trying to teach someone how to be a better lover. You've either got it or you don't.
  14. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Never saw The Graduate did you?
    bolophonic likes this.
  15. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    I have flat feet, knees that face inwards, and scoliosis. I look ridiculous trying to stand up straight, let alone trying to look cool on stage.

    But that hasn't stopped me trying, or my band putting on a good show ;)

    My best advice is that it all starts with your attitude; enjoy the music you're playing much as you would if you were an audience member. As far as movement goes, start by tapping your foot and/or bobbing your head in time. That's where it all starts. Everything else flows from those little movements.
  16. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    OP said he's in his late-50s. Hardly a recent university graduate.

    If you starting following advice like "First, tap your foot. Then, nod your head while slightly twisting your waist. And don't forget to smile the whole time", you are going to look ridiculous and possibly psychotic. Actually, that might be OP's ticket. The psychotic bass player.

    I would just relax and play. If you look stiff, so be it. That's your natural vibe. Many times the harder people try to act and look cool when playing, it has the opposite effect.
  17. That's the spirit.

    There's no right or wrong except to remember this: You're an entertainer. So entertain.

  18. TexasGopher


    Jul 25, 2012
    I appreciate the feedback folks. My biggest takeaways so far have been to smile and make eye contact. I know I am guilty of watching my frets too much. I think that is mainly a lack of confidence thing. So with that, I am going to really work on moving my eyes around. thanks
  19. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Listen to this guy.

    hrodbert696 likes this.
  20. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Ok, so you never saw it.

    The Graduate is about Dustin Hoffman learning to become a lover, you said you cannot make a person a better lover. You most definitely can; just as you can learn to have a better stage presence.