Home »Forum»Open mic at the Blue Iguana »Talk about stage energy

talk about stage energy

posted on #1
User Avatar
Posts: 2564
Joined: 30.12.10
I know many loopers don't play live on a regular basis - still, its fun & quite interesting to think about the "ingredients" of a successfull live performance a little.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to watch a lot of concerts from the mixers position, and have been trying to analyze why some things work and some things don't. And I am not talking about the music here, but about the way a musical performance is presented on stage.
One may say that I am focusing on the visual aspects, like it has become standard in the dreaded TV casting shows we know.
There seem however to be a few ingredients to a crowd-catching live performance that the TV coaches can't teach, and I'd like to invite you to follow along and check out some live performances I feel are worth a watch - feel free to add more good examples!

So, what I am looking for is performers who "own the stage" and "work the crowd" with maximum possible energy.
What I'd like to show is the importance of any single musician present on a stage - and how a real band can multiply the "force" of a performance if they really burn for what is happening.
I'll be focusing on big-crowd events, which have the downside that people far away from the stage will not see any details like facial expressions, so the performers ideally have to work well with cameras and make sure the show does not look static from far away.
Another aspect to look at is the way a set is opened, and how a band manages to get the crowd to scream and jump as the set moves on, ideally pushing the energy to a climax around the last third of the show.

OK, enough of talk, lets have a look at some performances,
first, let me share a really good example of how one performer can ruin a show - just have a look at the drummer in this first vid - if you watch it on youtube, you'll be amazed how many people comment on his "bored" expression. This is a great song - but the weird feeling in the band is casting a shadow on it:

My second example features Mr.LesClaypool - this is a full concert of PRIMUS at the woodstock revival festival. Even though the drummer and guitar player seem quite shy, Les has to cope with mud-throwing attacks during the show and a lot of wicked songs in odd 5/4 meters - he just owns that stage & rules the crowd in a remarkable way. These guys just leave no doubt they believe in what they do, and I couldn't think of any trio with a similar force:

third - heres one of the masters of stage energy once more: Jason Kay showing full body power - mind his first command towards the crowd reads "jump a little HIGHER", this guy is so serious, there's obviously not a millisecond of doubt people are jumping already :)
this is the last song of a phantastic set - these people have been jumping for about 1.5 hours, so the calmer parts of the song will be appreciated.
The way this band drives anyone to give the very last energy reserve is remarkable IMO:

Now, last, let me present a band which never got great fame for their studio work, but who have been delivering gigantic bursts of energy all over the globe.
The combination of almost no breaks between songs (which is somewhat similar to the old funkadelic shows), rapid tempo changes and mostly uptempo tracks may be part of the secret - but look at those 7 people on that stage!
Each one of them is giving it all up, just watch the trumpet player dance when not playing :) This Band works as one unit, and even if you feel their music really stinks, you'll have to admit they know how make a huge party. And they keep the force up for over two hours... what a workout!

Two more people just need to be mentioned here: Zac from rage against the machine is also worth a watch - that man has some frightening, agressive energy on stage like few others i came across.
Well, and one can't do an halfways decent post about stage presence without mentioning Michael Jackson, right?

Since dancing is a story to itself, and some of us are bound to hold on to something while performing, I really enjoy the non-choreographed power performance of manu chao.

Hope you enjoyed this - it shall remind us all to better burn for what we do on a stage :)

Feel free to add other examples of great performers!
posted on #2
User Avatar Member
Posts: 80
Joined: 10.09.11
Enjoyed the music, Great topic Dick, and I especially liked the YouTube comments on "why is it so hard" I needed a good laugh
Livin The Dream:D
posted on #3
User Avatar
Posts: 239
Joined: 09.05.11
Great topic!
I'd add, there are also some totally other ways to own a stage and the audience - as in some jazz performances where there is no dancing, no rhythm fire works, but INTENSITY, soulfulness in every note and mastery of the music, that can be breathtaking - with the audience in full silence listening.

As a musicien you need not dance, pose and scream (not necessarily), but show that you love your music, simply.
In my bands where I play (much much smaller audiences...) I take care that no one is looking like the drummer in Video 1 haha.
posted on #4
User Avatar Member
Posts: 990
Joined: 16.10.11
I agree with ToadCruncher and Lutz. I will add that not many people give Micheal Jackson any mentions of his talents these days, the man was and is a legend. Enjoyed the videos you posted.
posted on #5
User Avatar Member
Posts: 59
Joined: 01.10.11

watch this, if you wanna see high energy on stage....maybe with the help of Drugs ;-)
Edited by Pete-Silence on May 22 2015 04:18
keep on Jammin'
posted on #6
User Avatar Supporter
Posts: 479
Joined: 27.02.15
It's a very interesting topic for debate, Dick!

I play live a lot. Mostly in crummy pubs for pin money, but I don't care. I love it. Playing live is why I do it. Other people stick needles in their arms, I play my drums and get the same hit. I also dep for bands; one is a Blues Brothers tribute act, another is a standard function band and another is a Ska band. All fun, all different.

For me it's also about the show. It's my job to look like I'm enjoying myself. 99% of the time I am, but that 1% where I'm not happy, people have come (and sometimes paid) to see the band play so it's my job to put on a show. As a drummer, if I'm not on form, neither is the rest of the band. My energy is their energy. Might sound arrogant but it's largely true.

I struggle to understand those whose heart isn't in it. Why do it? But then I've never been a working musician so it's hard to understand the rigours and costs of what they do.

In a nutshell, it's my job to keep time but it's also my job to entertain. If I'm not 'into' it, how can you expect your audience to be? And they're paying for you to be there, so do your job. Ultimately, if you're not 'into it' then you need a new job.

Interesting you show Jamiroquai as an example. Rob Harris - their guitarist - is a [tenuous] friend of mine. He loves the work, he loves the gigs, but he's a quiet, restrained man. I attended a clinic of his recently (with Ash Soan on drums and Jamiroquai's bass player whose name I can never remember) and he, in his word, 'just plays'. Maybe that's why he enjoys it so much - he has freedom to just, literally, jam. In front of 20,000 people.
posted on #7
User Avatar Supporter
Posts: 283
Joined: 08.04.14
Yea ...jamiroquai is amazing on stage....mainly Charlie induced ...but whatever reason...he owns the stage and his energy carries the band through. You don't need to like the music or even hear it! Just watch a video with no sound on, and you'll still get the energy!
wikiloops online jamsessions are brought to you with friendly support by:
crusader10 from Belgium

"super site pour s'entraîner dans tout les genres et tout les instrument.Très bonne qualité,félicitation aux diffèrents musicos,encore BRAVO !!!!"

wikiloops uses Cookies and processes data in compliance with the GDPR,
as stated in our data privacy policy ..