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Don’t let the crowd get to you. Part 1

The power of a performer can be a deadly thing… for the performer. He or she can get carried away, and destroy the show he had spent so much time putting together.

But, before he steps on stage, a performer has to ask himself this question: what is a party? No escaping that. We need to go there first. Is the goal to get people to drink? Many bar bands have that intention . Is it to get the crowd to sing along and bob their head to the beat? That would be the agenda of a children entertainer, for example. Is it to have the audience go to another place, use the music as a mode of transportation so to speak? Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen are masters of such feat. Or should you be shooting for people to dance and scream, to “get wild”? Pop singers want nothing else. Do you want to have a riot (a punk band would do), or make a political statement (protest songs)? Do you want people to mellow (I’m thinking of the Grateful Dead) or get excited (Green Day)?

As I said: make a choice.

Which means you have to think of the identity of your band before you go on stage. Which songs will you pick? Which tempos? Which dynamic? Which banter between songs? Which interaction between the band members, and between the band and the crowd? Present something coherent.

A performance conceived by a great artist leaves very little up to chance. Quincy Jones talks about the magic Frank Sinatra was putting out at every show. Quincy describes the style, the presence, the discipline, the experience the great entertainer needed to captivate the crowd.

That is the beginning of a show. You’re going to need a direction, a theme. And then, you’re going to need an audience to follow you where you want it to go.

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