Recently asked by Spain’s Playground Magazine to submit a list of “10 Tips for Playing Live” as part of publicity for this weekend Unsound Festival in New York, Taylor Deupree has put together these 11 tips to live by when going out to play a gig!
TEN (….ELEVEN) TIPS FOR PLAYING LIVE
BY TAYLOR DEUPREE
1. don’t (or try not to) use a laptop
not easy, and i’m still working on attaining this goal. i’m close. the laptop is an amazing tool, but everyone has one and everyone uses ableton live when they play live. so you shouldn’t. explore the world of portable hardware, it’s much more interesting for you and the audience and a lot more fun.
2. don’t use visuals as a crutch
don’t project some random visuals behind you because you’re too afraid the audience won’t just want to sit, close their eyes, and listen to your music. if you’re going to use visuals, make them really, really good and make them work seamlessly for the music. visuals thrown onto a performance for no reason only comes off looking like you’re too insecure about your sound.
3. never arrive on time for soundcheck.
i’ve never (ever) performed a concert where soundcheck happened on time. the sound guys/organizers are never ready for you. if they tell you to show up at 5, show up at 6, or 7.
4. don’t play more than 30 minutes
no matter how good your set is going, the audience has a limit. 20-30 minutes tops. leave them wanting more, not less. one hour shows are painful, even for the greatest aritsts out there. short sets can leave them breathless, long sets leave them wanting to get out of there.
5. if the promoter is a good one:
respect him or her, be kind, listen to them, don’t be a jerk.
6. if the promoter is a bad one:
get paid before you play.
7. be true to yourself
play music you love and that’s true to you. don’t be afraid to do it exactly as you want to. if one person comes out of the show loving it, then it was successful.
8. respect the other artists you play with
whether you’re headlining or opening the stage is an equal playing field. don’t look down on the little guys and don’t assume the big ones are any better than you are. share a drink backstage.
9. small audiences are often better than big ones.
i’ve played shows in front of 10 people and in front of 2000 people and some of the most memorable shows are in front of 10. the atmosphere instantly turns relaxed, like you’re playing for friends, so don’t freak out if hardly anyone shows up… use it to your advantage and have a great time.
10. don’t be afraid to make mistakes
live music should be live and that means mistakes and all. the shows will sound more human if there are some mistakes or parts that don’t go so well. if it’s perfect it sounds like you’ve hit play in iTunes. embrace the spontaneity and you’ll apprecite the show more. some will suck and some will be amazing.
11. eat a kick-ass meal afterwards
one of the best parts about playing live is going out to dinner with your friends and fellow artists afterwards. good bonding time. have good food, too. not crap.