Here’s the video transcript:
Why does an audience remember a band? Good merchandise? Great music? Cheap ticket prices? Professional sound? Just an all around good show? No. Think about the most memorable concerts you have been to. Which bands in particular stand out from among the crowd?
I remember a band that had way too much smoke in the room. The lead guitarist walked right off the end of a table he was standing on and continued to play on his back on the floor—surprising, amazing, but not very healthy—definitely not recommended—surprising and memorable but not in a way that made me anticipate the band’s next concert in my area.
Perhaps one of the most positive memories I have of a great concert was from a local band that is no longer together. They were competing at a Battle of the Bands. They knew they could not win, but wanted the experience of playing in a competition. So, they decided to have a good time with the audience. The band opened the set by throwing stickers out into the audience during the first song—it looked like an old ticker tape parade in the lights. The audience ran forward to grab the stickers—an audience on their feet at the front of the stage for an unknown band—a great way to start! Not quite half way through the set the band threw out big beach balls, which the audience played with through the next few acts. Then they randomly asked “Who’s our biggest fan?” Of course everyone screamed and they threw out one free t-shirt at a time. It was very hard work for this young band, but they kept the audience engaged during their whole set, even when they talked, because the audience was repeatedly surprised and delighted.
So, what does your band do to keep the audience engaged through your whole set? Even fans that know and love your music do not have attention spans long enough to stay engaged. Have you noticed the glazed eyed stares about half way through? If so, you need to work on doing something surprising that will grab their attention and cause them to remember your band.
Here are some ideas:
● Throw something at the audience (CAUTION: Do NOT throw CDs—people have been seriously hurt.) T-shirts, stickers, friendship bracelets—anything soft will work. Free stuff always gets people’s attention.
● Give the audience something to play with—beach balls, glow sticks, etc., be creative. The Blue Man Group has even used rolls of toilet paper passed through the audience as it gets unrolled. Again, keep safety in mind.
● Do something unexpectedly insane on stage such as diving into a pool of whipped cream (like One Bad Pig), putting on crazy hats or wigs, or trading instruments within the band members without stopping the song.
● Invite audience participation in a song—let different people from the audience sing or demonstrate the choreography that goes with the song.
● Have a short contest within your set—i.e. “The first one up here gets to wear the lead singer’s hat for the rest of the day.”
Be creative in your ideas. You will have to design something specific and special for your band. Ideally, you should have several “tricks” that surprise and delight your audience available and ready to go as needed for each gig. Eventually you will find that one works better than the others and becomes your trademark.
Remember that one of the most important aspects of being a band is never, never, never being boring. Be cheesy, be crazy, be strange, be novel—but don’t be boring. You must hold your audience’s attention if you expect them to hear your message. The most impressive presentation of the message is lost on an audience who has either left the room or mentally checked out from your band’s performance. Engage your audience through the entire set by surprising and delighting them as you present your message. Your band will be remembered and your ministry will grow!
This article is an excerpt from The Christian Band Handbook.
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