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What to Do With the Rest of Me

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Cobrav, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. Cobrav


    Jul 27, 2012
    I just watched a video of my band playing recently. I have absolutely no stage presence. Obviously, I know what to do with my hands but I don't know what to do with the rest of me. My eyes were wandering all around, I kept looking up in the rafters (there was nothing in the rafters). I thought I was providing some motion on stage but all I was doing was turning my head to look at the other guys.

    So I have figured out a few things. My gaze should always be at audience level. Whether I'm looking at them or not it should look like I am. If i see someone in the audience swaying to the music I guess I should make eye contact and sway in synch with them. I would like to smile more but with my mustache, no one can tell if I'm smiling anyway. Big grins look phoney, creepy or both.

    If I want to interact with other band members, looking their way is not enough. I probably need to turn my whole body towards the drummer (for example) and maybe take a few steps in his direction and move with his beat.

    All of us in the band have things we need to work on but I'm the one who looks most like he's there serving community service.

    I've seen bands where the members jump straight up and do down to get some movement but this is a blues band so that won't work.

    I did a search on various phrases but didn't come up with many things I could use. I assume people expect to SEE and HEAR something if they're coming for live music. By definition, live performance is more than just the music. I think music without something worth seeing is called Radio.

    Does any one out their have any suggestions for being more visual on stage? Thanks for your help.
  2. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

    Apr 15, 2013
    strut around the stage LIKE YOU OWN THAT MOTHER
  3. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    A lot depends on the rest of the band. If the other guys aren't moving either, then for you to be the one guy that does move will only come off weird. If they are moving, take your cues from them - are THEY jumping around? Dancing? What?

    A lot of stage presence can be just "owning" your space. Plant your feet, dig into your bass, and drive your energy straight into the ground you're planted on. Feel the music and let your body sway and groove to the beat but you don't have to jump around necessarily. Make eye contact with the audience, or if that's too distracting look out over their heads at the back of the room, so that they think you're making eye contact with someone behind them - don't look at the rafters.

    Look up videos of your favorite bassists live and see what THEY do.
  4. chuckNC


    Aug 21, 2012
  5. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

    Apr 15, 2013
    Jake Blues did cartwheels.

    Just sayin'.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Make eye contact and occasionally look to groove with the drummer or the guitarist.
  7. TIP: Until you're more comfortable with making eye contact - wear cool looking sunglasses. As for movement - if you can't dance - learn. Watch other bass players and copy what you like.
  8. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    You could accentuate the non-movement for effect.

    Bring out a Barcalounger and play your bass sitting in it with your feet up.....wearing a bathrobe and slippers.

    IMO the jumping around on stage thing has been DONE TO DEATH.

    It looks so frigging pretentious nowadays.

    As do the bands that all have long hair and have to do the floormop hair swinging rotation thingy.

    GAAAAAHHHH....so shopworn cliché.....
  9. zakedodead


    Sep 8, 2013
    But isn't innovation done to death? People have been coming up with new ideas for thousands of years its getting so old.
  10. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007

    You dont need to jump around to have stage presence. To me is more how comfortable you are being on stage.

    I dont remember seeing Cliff Burton jumping or running around but still he projected a huge stage presence, same with Lemmy. In the othe hand you can see Stevie Harris running on stage all the time.
  11. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    Many famous musicians have very little stage presence. John Entwistle didn't move very much, neither does Eric Clapton. I have always been more focused on the music than anything else. If the music is good, people won't mind that you don't move around. I would rather see a good band that might not have much stage presence than a lousy band that jumps around all night.
  12. Sollid


    Jan 8, 2014
    But you would rather see a good band with presence than a good band without presence.
  13. Illini10


    May 15, 2012
    Elmwood, IL
    Some good tips in these vids:

  14. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Are there any blues bands that are interesting to look at? I've never found one that was especially visually compelling, so I wouldn't worry about it.
  15. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Just do your own thing, even if that is doing nothing but playing.

    I make John Entwistle look animated but if I try to do too much I run the risk of falling into the drum kit.

    You could buy another cab and shake the place to bits or just look too cool to jig around like a demented puppet.
  16. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I think all this is perfectly fine, except the part about letting your eyes wander around aimlessly and up into the rafters. The single most important element of "stage presence," IMO, is appearing to be fully engaged in the music, so the single worst thing you can do is look like you're bored or disinterested. Even staring at your fretting hand all night is better than looking at the ceiling: at least you look like you're focused on the music rather than thinking about what you're going to have for breakfast tomorrow.
  17. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Just don't start jumping around. Saw a band called M***kari where the bass player kept jumping around because he clearly wanted everyone to look at him and it was so annoying that I couldn't even pay attention to the music.

    Walk around on stage, make eye contact with the audience, rock your head to the music, whatever. Just don't take it overboard and come off as an attention whore.
  18. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada
    Yeah. This is what I did. And threw a couple of my favorite guitarists in. At this point everyone is just doing the same handful of things. I had a guitarist friend who had amazing stage presence and was also a great player. Everyone wanted him in their band, but the truth, and he would admit to it himself, is he coped most of his moves on Townsend and Angus Young and then added walking into the crowd to his gimmick (at some point you could count on him to lie down in the middle of the crowd and just play there).

    Moving on stage is not an issue for me, what is more an issue is not messing up because I move too much.... though I consider minor playing mistakes to be less important than giving a good show. Mind you I haven't played live in a few years now...

    Of course sometimes it can be an issue when the stage leaves little room. Which for small bands like most of us are in, is often the case. I've been in shows where I was basically stuck between the keyboardist and the guitar player with about a meter and a half to move on each side. That sucks if you're not of the Enstwistle school of stage presence (mind you he DID own his lack of stage movement)
  19. Sunglasses on stage?

    Uh, no.

    Learn to move to the beat. Simply swaying in time will help.
  20. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005