Whether it’s your first gig or you’ve performed live dozens of times, certain basics remain the same. Here’s a checklist of the key things to remember.
1.Practice makes perfect.
Rehearse with your band and make sure you all know the songs you’re going to perform. Decide which songs work best in which order and construct a set-list that flows. Try videoing your rehearsals and make yourself watch the recordings – it’s a good way to review what works and what needs working on. And get feedback after your performances from people who can provide constructive criticism.
2.Planning and preparation will help calm your nerves.
Decide in advance what you’re going to wear and how you want to look. Plan your opening lines, think of some dialogue for linking songs, and decide when you’re going to introduce the band to the audience. You don’t have to stick to your ‘script’ doggedly, and by all means improvise (and you may have to if there are any temporary hitches), but it’s one less thing to worry about.
Check your equipment thoroughly in advance and tune your instruments beforehand to minimise time spent fiddling around on stage. If you don’t know the venue and there’s time, take a look around or spend an evening there. Otherwise you can usually get a feel for a place between the sound check and performance.
3.Pay attention to timekeeping.
Make sure you’re punctual and don’t keep people waiting around. You’ll know how long you have to perform so make sure your set-list is timed accordingly.
4.Know your audience.
Literally know at least some of them by promoting your show beforehand and rustling up as many of your existing fans as possible. Your fans will thank you for letting them know and you’ll get a huge boost from people clearly enjoying themselves right in front of the stage.
Then also have some understanding for who’s likely to be in the audience for the headline, assuming you’re the support band. Aim to be that surprise (in a good way!) support act that earns you some new fans – and let them know who you are with name-checks at the beginning and end of your set.
And while you’re remembering all of the above, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Nerves aren’t necessarily a bad thing, they make you prepare and can raise your game as long as you learn to control them. But if performing live just isn’t for you then find another route to get your music heard.
In summary: Plan and prepare. Be professional (polite and punctual). Promote your show. Have a blast!