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Stage presence ?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by DAVEYC, Feb 21, 2020.



    Jun 30, 2019
    East Sussex
    Put simply, how much do you perform, move about , entertain while playing ?
    Our band , Me , drummer, guitarist and singer often attend local open jam nights at a really good spot in town.
    It usually rammed full and the host makes sure everyone gets time on stage.
    There's this one other band that go up and the bass player is the singer / frontman, he's got some real stage presence, very confident and great to watch, he looks you right in the eye, almost staring you down, points the headstock at the crowd like a weapon and is very animated in his movements.
    Then there is us, I think from the crowds perspective in comparison we must look like statues, apart from some foot tapping and maybe a bit of head nodding there is not much going on.
    Personally I'm not confident enough to have a 'showman persona' on stage and then be normal off stage.
    How about you ?
  2. Parzival

    Parzival Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2013
    I jump around a lot and have fun. My singer moves around and works the crowd. Our guitar players are statues.
    Beej, Dognorab, John_Nicholas and 8 others like this.
  3. JeroB666


    Dec 22, 2012
    I always make an effort to appear as energetic as possible on stage if the song calls for it. I move around, sometimes even jump on the ends and engage with the other members.

    You can tell the audience has more fun when you are feeding them the energy, as opposed to being statues as mentioned above.

    Finally, we do have some songs where we engage the audience (clapping or have them sing along) which are fantastic for bringing up the mood.
  4. makaspar

    makaspar Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Austin, TX
    We’re very animated on stage. We feel like it’s a two part performance - audio and visual. Energy is a give and take thing between us and the audience - we just have to be the initiators.
  5. 4 Strings Good

    4 Strings Good

    Mar 6, 2014
    I don't associate stage presence with jumping around. Rather, it's about letting the crowd know you're happy to be there. If the musicians aren't enjoying themselves on stage there's no reason the audience should off of it.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  6. In my experience from jam sessions, the amount of "stage precense" is very often inversely proportional to the skills of the musicians.
    DSkellington, Cheez, Old man and 16 others like this.
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i used to move some when i played rock/pop (show band stuff/venues), but i was younger then. these days i play jazz and there's really no requirement to have that 'look' --- and i play with somewhat younger cats who do a little bit of the 'groove-move' sometimes, for fun. so i just hang in the background and look serious...or threatening....or seriously threatening... :D
    JPDsma, barrenelly, Beej and 12 others like this.
  8. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Oh! I thought you meant stage "presents"! Somebody last night was buying the band rounds of tequila shots. Those are my kind of stage "presents". ;) Of course, after a couple of those our stage "presence" got a lot more fun!

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    DSkellington, JRA, SaltLamp and 47 others like this.
  9. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Well, jam sessions aren't meant to be performance...

    Real presence comes from competence and attitude. If you play/sing well, love the music that you're playing, and like playing for people (AKA relating to your audience), you will have good stage presence. Yes, there are things you can do to fake it ... some people will be fooled.
    JPDsma, Evil Funk, GregC and 7 others like this.
  10. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I move a little but not a lot. I'm very uncomfortable jumping around and trying to play. I think you should just do whatever feels natural for you and not try to force it. I saw a major artist open for KISS a few years ago. The lead singer ran out on stage, crouched down, stretched his arm out in front of himself and pointed his finger at the audience. It looked so forced and fake that I felt embarrassed for him.

    I think stage presence is overrated. Some of the best players of all time didn't move very much. John Entwistle and Eric Clapton for example. I would rather see a great band that doesn't move around very much than a terrible band that jumps around all night.
  11. Bunk McNulty

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

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I have all kinds of Pretend Rockstar moves. I will still jump off a drum riser, as long as the riser is not higher than 24". I mean, you have to make some concessions to age.:D
    Beej, ChrisWright, Bassdirty and 12 others like this.
  12. I move as much as is comfortable for me at this stage in my life, which is a lot less than I used to move, but a lot more than a lot of people. Stage presence isn't just movement, though. It's smiling, it's confidence, it's engaging with people through eye contact and it's having fun with what you're doing to a degree that's contagious for the audience. I'm not great at all of those things, but I try.

    I've seen major acts who were strutting and smiling across the stage but you could tell that it was all just the way they'd done it a million times before on a million stages prior, and they could just as well be phoning it all in for all they really cared. I get it; it's hard to do the same thing night after night and keep up the enthusiasm, and everyone has a show where they just don't feel into it now and then, but I hope that I never stop enjoying the music that I play.
  13. Yep. If it's forced, it shows.
  14. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, chaat enthusiast Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    That's my kind of stage presents!

    Yeah, this 100%. You gotta have your parts down cold so you don't have to think about playing at all. Stage presence flows out of that confidence. I would disagree slightly and say as a pro, it doesn't matter if you love the music you're playing, you just have to act like you love it, from learning the parts and rehearsal right through the performance.

    For pop/rock it's more important to have some kind of flash and sizzle in the stage move department, at least from the front person. There's no shame in having some of that stuff planned out (don't think for a minute the big boys don't rehearse their stage moves).

    I'm happy to be playing jazz, where I can do the stage moves with my face. I learned a long time ago to just plaster a smile on as the default, and take it from there however the music moves me, always coming back to the smile as a default. IMO looking like you're having fun is as important as sounding good. It's contagious. (A lot of jazz guys would disagree with the smile as the default, and they can pull off the serious face all night. I'm not that good or self-indulgent.:smug:)
  15. jdh3000


    May 16, 2016
    I tend to keep my energy level on equal with other band members. If I'm in a band with jumpers and hoppers I try to be more active, but like now my band mates are pretty stationary, which suits me more with each passing year.
  16. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Proper Jazz stage presence is "This gig is way below my artistic dignity, but I'm doing you ordinary people a favor by playing for you." :cool:
    barrenelly, Evil Funk, KB and 13 others like this.
  17. Just take off your pants. You might get kicked out, but at least you'll get noticed.
  18. LouBass

    LouBass Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Ann Arbor Michigan
    I've been known to get a keyboardist off their stool and bouncing...

    And ya, I know I'm a big ol' goof.
  19. db59

    db59 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2015
    A tad less than this giphy (14).gif
  20. jdh3000


    May 16, 2016
    A couple of bands ago I was admonished for not being animated enough after the one member who was excessively active left. The new member who took his place looked like a cardboard cutout, so the BL who didn't move much himself thought it was my job to pick up the energy slack.
    The music was fairly bland and the guy that left was always jumping around and head banging like we were playing metal.... It didn't really fit with the music, but hey, if he wanted to do it fine... but I wasn't going to do anything like that which would've come off as fake anyway.
    Evil Funk and Garret Graves like this.

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