A few wise men who run a certain podcast have ended their shows with the tagline “Always Be Performing.” But what does that mean to those of us in the clubs and playing events every weekend?
I remember during my stint in original bands reading reviews by local music critics in the towns we played. Critics (music critics especially) have always found ways to say foolish things in the pursuit of cool. One thing that would pop up over and over is how my band played like every show was a packed house and that we were acting like arena rock legends when we played a town for the first time regardless of actual attendance. I guess when playing college towns you’re supposed to stand there and look earnest? Sorry. We played fun music and put on a good show. The people who were there were grateful and usually told their friends when we came back through…
A few years back a director at a church of all places boiled that mentality down to a sentence that I have lived by ever since.
“Be the thermostat in the room, not the thermometer.”
In context we were playing for a middle school event to a bunch of kids who may or may not have ever been to a concert or seen a live band in person. They may not know how to react or what to expect. In that instance, it was our job as the band to dictate the energy level of the room, not the audience. While I always knew that truth in my head it was groundbreaking to hear it delivered so succinctly.
So when you are playing at whatever event you are hired for, be sure that you are the thermostat for that set. If it’s a cocktail hour, keep it light and breezy. If it’s dance floor time, crank up the heat. The power is in your hands. Use it wisely and watch as your audience catches on.