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Playing well to a bad crowd Vs Playing Bad to a good crowd.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Dan, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. Dan


    Jul 26, 2004
    Newcastle, UK
    I played a gig last night where I personally dont feel We as a band played all that good, alright but not good. The crowd however where loving every minute.

    This got me thinking about gigs in general and I was wondering, Would you rather play a gig where you made a couple of errors and didnt play as well as you could but the crowd go nuts and love every bit. Or would you rather play a gig where you where note perfect for the whole set but the crowd was not that bothered about it and the reception you get isnt to hot?

    I did a quick search and couldnt find any similar threads so if there are some I apologise.
  2. I had a thread similar to this early this year.

    My band is a three piece, and I'm the most experienced - this is the first band for the other lads. When we had a disappointing crowd, our energy was low and we tended to play badly. When the crowd was good, we rocked.

    Over the last few months, we have learned as a band to play a good, solid set no matter how many punters we get. This has made the other guys feel better about themselves as musicians and also proved that we can perform well no matter what.

    I think its all about performing solidly and playing a professional show regardless of the size or demeanour of the crowd. Stick to your guns, perform the music you are being paid to play, and do it well.

    Even if you get a poorly behaved crowd, or very few people to the gig, if you play like a band that have their stuff together, you will eventually draw better crowds. Promote yourselves well, and then deliver.

  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'd rather play really well (individually and as a band) and I'd rather play to an appreciative audience - hopefully those aren't mutually exclusive!

    However, I'd certainly play to a smaller, less demonstrative audience who are listening to the music being created, rather than a drunken party who'd cheer anybody and anything that got up on stage and wouldn't recognise a mistake if it came up and punched them on the nose!

    Therefore, my present preference is for the "open mic" scene (check the 'Teeth website below for details of the one we're hosting in Mitcham, South London tomorrow evening!) rather than clubs, pubs and parties.

  4. nastyn8c


    Feb 7, 2005
    Tampa, FL
    I second what Southpaw said. Whenever we're playing in front of an energetic crowd, my band seems to all just rock out and everything comes together.
  5. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    is this a trick question?

    I'll play to people that like us - mistakes and all - as compared to playing for people that don't.

    Most people don't know the freakin' difference anyway
  6. Dan


    Jul 26, 2004
    Newcastle, UK
    no not at all, not a trick question.

    Obviously everybody would like to play well to a good crowd but i was just curious as to peoples views on playing well vs being recieved well.
  7. Bob Rogers

    Bob Rogers Left is Right

    Feb 26, 2005
    Blacksburg, Virginia
    You seem to be defining "playing well" as playing technically correct. I'd be more inclined to define it in terms of expression and emotion. The two are sometimes related, but not always. If I give an emotional performance with a great groove and the crowd loves it I don't care if I throw in a bushel of clams. If I gave a dull performance and the crowd hated it, it wouldn't make me feel better if I played all the right notes. If I gave an exciting performance and the crowd went to sleep then I guess it wasn't as exciting as I thought. Finally if I gave a dull performance and the crowd loved it then the crowd is either (a) a bunch of drunks or (b) my mom. Who cares about the drunks, but I'd rather not give a bad performance in front of mom.
  8. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    This brings up an issue that's been a point of a little tension between the members of the band I'm with.

    As with my fellow members of 'The Mole Patrol', the original post seemed to connect playing poorly with 'making mistakes'. I admit that in our band I'm the one who 'makes the most mistakes' - I'm speaking of doinking-out notes, hitting downright wrong notes, even sometimes forgetting bridge-parts for a measure-in... but still: These guys (especially the drummer) seem to judge everything off of 'not making mistakes' - I mean if we played an entire show with no arrangement or lyric or note or timing mistakes, they'd automatically declare it a "perfect show", I think! I pretty highly dissagree.

    We're a newer band - a 'classic rock power trio' I guess. We're all in our forties. We practiced and rehearsed for over a year, and have played ten-or-so shows now over the last few months. We've always gotten favorable reports from club owners and many from patrons. We're a BAR-BAND - I'm saying that because I realize that it would be different if we were a show band, or doing corporate gigs or something, OK? Also - of course I'm working on my bass playing and singing (and being frontman) and such; of course I'm consciously working toward a zero-mistake show (I think this will never happen, though).

    The thing is - and this is what's so on-topic here - is that wouldn't a 'perfect show' for a bar band be one where no one leaves early, even shy folks dance, the insecure guy talks with a girl, the patrons feel like they were invited to an exclusive private party, and the club owner feels like he's a social hub of the town - things like that? Shouldn't the audience and the band groove together - like where everyone feels connected somehow?

    I mean maybe it's because being a performer is still a little new or fresh to me, but I really feel serious responsibility up there on the stage - and "not making mistakes" is NOT really a major priority in this. Rehearsal-time is for 'thinking about not making mistakes'; performance-time is for making all the patrons glad they chose to spend their night-out at that particular club!

    It still just amazes me to see the people in front of the stage (I mean besides the dancers). I travelled for years as an audio tech - hundreds and hundreds of shows - but I never saw it from the eyes of the performer. I see them watching; they look truly facsinated; they're moving a little to the music, and it seems that their faces respond every time the musician that they're watching even glances at them. I don't think it's a delusion-of-grandeur; they really do like and admire us.

    I'm so earnest when I thank the crowd (big or small) for being there, and when I thank the club owner for having live music. I sometimes get choked-up a little.

    I'm serious.

  9. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    The most important thing is are you connecting with the crowd through your music?

    That, in and of itself, is what playing music is all about. We're not discussing recording here...just playing music for yourself and other people. The intent is to bring your music to an audience so that all can partake of this musical event. It's not about passing a musical test.

    What does music have to do with perfection anyway? Doesn't music exist to move people? Isn't it's purpose to make people feel something?

    No matter how perfectly one plays the notes, if your music isn't moving the crowd to feel something, you've failed.
  10. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

  11. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    Again, brilliance from sundogue
  12. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat

    Not only am I in a similar position, I agree with him completely.
    My guitar player is more on the finesse side of things(perfection, etc), but I know deep down he realizes this also.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again!
    Perception IS reality.

    If the crowd thinks you rock the bar, then you ARE rockin' the bar.

    'Nuff said!
  13. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

  14. I'll third that.

    Someone, I want to say the Duke, said something like, "If it sounds good, it is good." I say, "If the crowd thinks it's good, it is good!"
  15. vegaas


    Nov 6, 2001
    Easy question to answer for me. I will take the appreciative crowd over a perfect performance any day, any time.
  16. Dan


    Jul 26, 2004
    Newcastle, UK
    I play to have fun. I play in a band that very rarely gets paid and it is by no means an extra income for me. I play purely for the joy of playing in a band. Personally I dont care how many mistakes I make or anything like that as long as I enjoy my self and the people there to see us have a good time.

    After all, thats what music is to me...a way to enjoy myself.
  17. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    That is the human nature of gigging. Even if you were not having a great night, you sold the crowd on what you had to offer. The difference is that instead of getting caught up in the accolades, you are aware of things that need improving.

    Funny thing.... the musician vs the audience member/listener perspective is such a varied thing. Pat Metheny mentioned talking to both Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams about the 1964 Miles Davis Carnegie Hall Concert recording. Both Herbie and Tony commented that they had originally thought it was an awful gig... funny that it went down as one of the greatest recorded concerts of the 20th century.

    You can't beat yourself over last night's gig. You can only try to be aware of what needs to be worked on and take it from there.... cause that was last night's gig.... not tomorrow's.
  18. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA

    As long as the kids are running around, I'm happy. Maybe that's the beauty of having a 14-21 year old fan base. For the most part the listen to you. I say "come up to the stage" and they do it. Then I say "run around like your pants are on fire" and guess what they do?

    All in all, if you put energy into it, the crowd will get it. So long as you don't sound really bad they'll be into it. When I first started playing with my current band, I'd forget parts. I have completely forgotten parts of our songs before and just played muted low notes to keep something thumping. It didn't even matter. Stage presence means most for the younger crowds. You get into more musically knowlegable crowds and then you wanna focus a bit more on playing well.

    We have had those perfect shows though. Where the crowd was into it AND we played really well. With our sort of fast music, it's really easy to know when it's clicking and being played right.

    Be into your music and the crowd will. Play it as best you can. Jump around.


    Illustrated as best I can :p
  19. rfalter


    Jul 20, 2004
    Pasadena, MD
    I always expected that I would agree with this, but after last Saturday night I can now speak from experience. The gig we played had a DJ spinning dance music during the breaks. These kids packed the dance floor for the booty call for the entire break. When we came back on, they all went back to hanging at the bar and shooting pool. It is hard to worked up to an empty dance floor. We still had a great time and played one of our best gigs (musically) yet.