January 13, 2011

Week 17: Be A Gracious Host

Be A Gracious Host

You ever wonder why there are some DJs that are in much more demand than others? To clarify, I’m not talking about the amazing DJs you see at a club. I consider them musicians. I’m talking about the wedding DJ, the DJ at a dance, the one at the carnival or public gathering.

I mean, all they do is play previously recorded music, so one is as good as another, right? Wrong. The good ones know that their role is to keep the party moving, keep the people who are there entertained and happy. Sometimes they have to provide the background music to a dinner, and other times they need to get the bodies moving on the dance floor. A good DJ knows that he is in charge of the mood of the room.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, your band is the same as the DJ. When you are on stage, you are in charge of the experience of everyone in the room. It is your job to make sure that each and every person enjoys their time and leaves the bar/club/concert wanting more and wanting to come back.

Don’t ever forget that. You write music because you have to, it’s part of your inner core. You record albums to share the music and hope others get an inkling of the feeling you were expressing when you wrote it. But, you play the music to share your gift for the enjoyment of others.

If you keep that in mind, you can’t go wrong. You will be much happier on stage, the audience will have a better time, and the bar will love you for it (a happy crowd is a thirsty crowd).

So when you’re on stage, you are hosting a 45-minute party and you are in control of the mood in the room. If you play your cards right, the audience will be right up next to the stage, pumping their fists, shaking their money maker, or hanging on every word. I’ve seen bands who’ve had such a command on the crowd that is they asked them to lay down on the ground and cluck like a chicken at least 10 people in the crowd would do so.

If you don’t have this control yet, work on it. Go to shows where the band has it and learn.

Here’s a couple of examples from show’s I’ve been to.

I went to the U2 Pop Mart tour in San Antonio, and it was probably the best large-scale show I’ve ever been to. They somehow made me feel like they were interested in my experience. There were thousands of people in the room yet I swear Bono made eye contact with me. It was amazing. Let me go a step further and say that I was dragged to the show kicking and screaming. Didn’t want to be there… but thank God I went. 

I also got that feeling when I was taking photos at a KISS show and I got the classic tongue-out shot of Gene Simmons. When I looked at my camera and saw I got the shot, I must have had a goofy grin on my face because Gene looked at me and said “You liked that…huh?”

But it’s not only at stadium tours where you can learn. Here are a couple local, Austin, examples.

At just about every One-Eyed Doll show, Kimberley Freeman bears her soul and somehow makes it about you. She has a legion of ultra committed fans and she’s earned every one of those through her ability to turn the stage around on you and put you in the show. 

On about the opposite end of the scale, but equally impressive, you’ve got Matt The Electrician. He captures your attention with his amazing gift of wrapping conversations into songs and songs into lives. When you’re in the audience of one of his shows, you can’t help but to nod along and feel a kinship with every one in the room.


That’s what I’m talking about. You need to be a gracious host. Make sure that everyone in the audience is tuned into what you’re doing. Well, perhaps not everyone.. but if you’re not connecting with a few people in the audience (other than your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/mom) you need to go back to the drawing board and work on your stage presence.

And, no, you can’t use the excuse that the only people who were in the audience were there for the next band. They are your responsibility for the time you’re on stage. If you put it out there... the crowd will respond.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - http://www.tinyurl.com/Claes52DIY. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/.

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