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Theatrical Live Shows: What are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by posijon, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. posijon


    May 21, 2011
    Chattanooga, TN
    I'm working on putting together a side project with some people in my area. We are going to be playing doom metal with a little bit of black metal influence but mostly in the vein of bands like Warning, Candlemass, Pentagram, etc. The thing that has come up is the live show, which we are wanting to make a bit theatrical a la Ghost, but not as crazy. We have already decided that we will be wearing all black with clerical collars (I apologize if the imagery offends you, but it's a part of the show). What are your thoughts on theatrical live shows with costumes, props, fog, etc. and should the live shows always be theatrical, no matter the venue?

    Also, because the project is unnamed, name suggestions would be rad.
  2. G3Mitch


    Feb 8, 2011
    New Zealand
    i'm all for theatrical elements to any show. fog/lights for sure! costumes/uniform's not so much - but to each their own!

    I only have one rule - no shorts.
  3. Theatrical elements are great as long as they are sincere and with positive humor. Otherwise it ends up looking pretentious in a bad way.
  4. I'm a firm believer in that you stop being just a musician and take on the added role as an entertainer as soon as there is a crowd. That said, when you introduce 'theater' to the extent you're attempting...are you looking at the shock factor or are you looking to tell a story regardless of how shocking it is?

    Speaking only for myself : Shock horror for the sake of the random shock always comes across forced to me, but if there is a horrific story physically played out and set to the music...I get it, it's a package event.

    P.S. I'm just assuming the "Shock/Horror" gig due to the imagery you presented. I hope my thoughts on the subject come across, even if I'm off on the details.
  5. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I really can't comment.

    I don't know what black metal or doom metal is and I have never heard of Candle Stick or Pentagon.

  6. Corbeau


    Dec 14, 2011
    I think adding a theatrical element is great! It makes the show a lot more entertaining and you get to engage with the audience more. I find watching bands that dress like they just stepped off the street pretty boring. You're playing for an audience, make it fun!
  7. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Me, I love and I'm proud of the fact that I'm a musician and an entertainer. However I am still working hard on being a better entertainer.

    Not sure how you stop being a musician when you add the role of being an entertainer. I'm not even clear on the notion that it's something you add. The 2 go hand in hand.

    Are you only a true musician if your standing on stage with a stone face, not moving and ignoring the crowd? I think I'm missing something with your belief.

    Aren't all succesful rock musicians entertainers as well as musicians?

  8. He said "stop being *just* a musician". I'm sure he's implying your not just writing or recording or rehearsing. Your actually in the process of entertaining people with your music. Not many people sit around and watch you record an album. They do like seeing you on stage though.
  9. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Well, the word "just" is kind of hidden in that setence.

    However, I'll concede this one. I get it.

  10. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Given you posted this here I assume you've already got bass duties covered, but I'm just putting out there that if you're in the SF bay area I would KILL OR DIE to be a part of such an endeavour.

  11. Ghost are one of my favourite bands at the moment. The theatrics and costumes are cheesy as sin but it just works so well for them considering their musical and lyrical themes. Personally, I'm not one to do it myself but I can appreciate it as a spectator. Makes the show much more of an experience than just seeing a band perform. Go for it, OP.
  12. posijon


    May 21, 2011
    Chattanooga, TN
    I'm not talking GWAR levels of theatre here. A brief primer on Ghost (my main influence as far as the show goes): they are a Swedish doom band that is made up of Papa Emeritus I and 4 nameless ghouls. Papa Emeritus I dresses like a sort of satanic cardinal and the ghouls dress in monks robes. All faces are hidden. They use a lot of fog.
    Their image, a well as the image we're going for, is a relation to the dark content of the lyrics, but it also changes the dynamic between the band and the crowd. Instead of the crowd thinking, "Oh, there's Jon's new band, they're doom metal," you have the crowd actually paying attention to the music and the band as a whole because we're almost playing characters onstage. I've considered some sort o face covering, but I can't think of anything that would fit the image. Corpse paint is way played out.
  13. Dude, I was just going to say ghost.

    Just so people know what the OP is talking about: http://vimeo.com/26917588

    We got a little Doom thread going in the bassists section. However, no one is doing a show currently. But I think it's funny that that band has left me wanting to do the same thing.

    First off, make sure the venues are cool with blood, extra lighting, fog, (basically your own effects).

    Next, check other succesful bands' stage performances. Not just Gwar and Ghost and black metal bands, but other bands. Melvins do a great stage show without the theatrics.
    This performance highlights crowd engagement too. Of course, it helps being a legend already. Just got to find the things that make you unique...
  14. bassfran

    bassfran Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    As long as the music's solidly in place 1st and foremost I say go for it and have some fun.

    Simple lighting and fog can be real effective in a dark room.

    IME though, wearing masks can be a PITA because they usually obscure your vision. That's why a lot of bands wear the makeup.

    I would video at least one dress rehearsal to see what works and what doesn't from the audience's perspective beforehand.
  15. and experience is better than just a show. go for it. should set you apart and be awesome.
  16. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    The thing with theatrics is that you are walking the fine line between cheesy and awesome. Do it well, and own it and it's awesome. Half-@$$ it and be sheepish about it, you'll be lame. King Diamond could be pretty cheesy, but because he OWNS what he does, his fans love him. If he didn't own it, it would look foolish.

    It's always fun to think of the theatrics, but you need some planning and practice to pull it off. Having good finances certainly help as well. The cool lights tend not to be cheap. If you're not used to playing in outfits or using props, it's a good idea to try it out first.
  17. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    Ghost is awesome. I saw them opening for Mastodon and Opeth a few months ago (first time I'd heard them).

    I think definitely the music has to come first. Without great songs, no amount of eyeliner or strobe lights can make your band enjoyable.

    But whatever theatrics you employ, it has to organically mesh with the music as if the 2 sides were conceived in the same breath. If you can't do that, it would probably be better to just focus on the songs and wear jeans and t-shirts (or whatever).

    The thing about a band like Ghost is that everything is integrated really well. The visuals make sense with the music, and are well done. And on top of that, they are a f-ing TIGHT live band. Almost too tight, honestly.

    I will say, the whole religious thing is way overdone. Instead of the whole "evil priest" route that has been done a zillion times, maybe find another schtick that fits with your music/lyrics.

    Early Genesis is another great example of well done theatrics/stage set. Check out the cover of Genesis Live for an idea of what their shows were like back then. They were more of a quirky, whimsical, British prog thing, because that's the scene they came from (because they created it, basically).

    Hendrix, Bowie, ELP, etc... are other good examples of pioneers of more "visual" stage shows. The key is figuring out what will work with your band's music and work for the audience to create an entire experience.
  18. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    It really depends on the total show. If the musicianship is good and the theatrics make sense it should work. Your audience will obviously let you know one way or the other. The only reason I would be against is what can you do that hasn't been done before without offending people? The Tubes pushed the limits in their live shows and had a lot of success. But they also had some great songs to go along with the theatrics. Give it a shot. Its nice to see that someone is willing to take a chance and do something different.
  19. Mtnman


    Jun 5, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    When have you ever heard someone say "I'm gonna go hear a band?" Almost never... People go out to see a band perform and to be entertained. I think you have a good idea here if the music fits the scene you're trying to create. I say go for it!!!
  20. Hooray for theatricality, when you can mix it into performance.

    As for a name, try "Phantoms of___________" (a local area or landmark, or even a cool-sounding fictive name that you can agree upon).