I’m a serial concertgoer. I work full time in the music industry and part of this involves going to three to five shows in a week. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that I’ve seen over five hundred bands in the last calendar year – and yeah, I love it, but certain bits make me too grumpy and I think this list might be able to help out a lot of local bands just starting up and trying not to piss off their potential fans.
5. Talking too Much Between Songs
Now this is one that I could rail on forever. I have no issue with bands giving small political talks between songs, Napalm Death are a great example of this. If you’re helping to share your bands message then cool – that’s a part of your art and I get it. I used to play in an anarchist grindcore band – I totally understand where you’re coming from.
That being said – unless you’re extremely funny and are very self aware it’s almost impossible to not fuck up when simply addressing the audience. Anything beyond a “Thank you for coming out” is too much. And by god – if your frontman for a non political band ever says “This song is about…” then it might just be time to get off the stage.
4. A Sense Of Self Importance
This ties into the previous point and gets at the sense of humility that I’ve come to realize a lot of local bands need to have. When a band starts yelling at people to mosh for the fifth or sixth time in their set whilst receiving no reaction from the crowd… well I hate to sound like a dick but maybe y’all should back off.
The point being – in all honesty if you’re the opening act on a bill – it is more than likely that no one in the audience cares about your band beyond your friends in the crowd. The best attitude to have – as in all things – is gratitude. If you show that you’re happy to play in front of even five o six people then the promoter will respect you and maybe put you on a better spot in the bill.
3. Not getting on and off in a timely fashion
This is another one of those things that can make or break your chances of getting back on a bill and also can easily piss off the crowd. Nobody wants to go to a show that ends in two in the morning because one of the openers took half an hour to set up and then another twenty five minutes to get their gear off the stage.
Furthermore – not being able to get on and off efficiently is almost certainly going to frustrate a lot of promoters and make it harder for you to make solid connections at shows. If you’re “That band” who make everyone late no one will like you. However if you can set up and be ready to go within five minutes the audience will have to respect your professionalism and ability to help make a show run smoothly.
2. Not respecting the other bands
One thing that really gets my goat at local shows is when the members of an opening band don’t bother to watch the bands. See – touring bands I can give a pass to – those dudes have barely slept for two weeks and this might be their only quiet time all day. I also am understanding of people who don’t watch the band who play immediately after them because they’re loading out and cooling down. But ultimately – people who are classless enough that they play a set and then leave to go home and sleep drive me crazy – it shows that you have no respect for your scene that birthed you and makes me wonder if you honestly want to be here in the first place.
After all – at a lot of these shows where there are only ten or twenty attendees ever person makes a difference and your self centeredness to go home and hang out with your girlfriend hurts the entire scene – from the young band just starting out who think that now they don’t need to watch the other bands, to the guys who have given their lives to this thing and are trying their best to make sure that everyone has a good time.
1. Taking Yourself Too Seriously
This is another one of those cardinal sins that it’s easy to fall in too. Remember that, after all – we’re playing music. It’s fun and great but also kind of silly and you have to be ready to accept that. A band like Liturgy who wrote treatises about why they are true black metal drive me crazy because seriously… where do you get off? Are we here to have a good time or are we here to learn about what some precious ickle singer thinks is the true heart of metal?
Beyond that – while I understand pouring yourself into your art – hell I do – there is also a way to do it tastefully. Talking about your suffering on stage (Outside of a song) is probably being pretentious. Knowing how to balance a serious representation of your art without being a prick is something that professional bands need to master. It can be a hard balance to strike but it is also a very valuable one because it gives you a way to drive your art forward without annoying your audience, two notions that should be key to the development of any band.