Alright people, let’s face it: at some point or the other, most of us have either cringed at something a musician has said on stage or have been cringed at ourselves. One thing is certain, when all eyes in the room are on you and you have the mic, it’s always handy to have a few pointers in your head just to be sure you don’t accidentally say something that later makes you go “Ooops!”. At the end of the day, no matter how experienced you are as a musician, you’ll always have those all-too-familiar butterflies in your stomach before you go on stage and honestly, if you don’t feel nervous at all before a gig, chances are that your audience won’t really get your best show. But sometimes the butterflies get the better of us so here are a few tips on what NOT to say when it’s your turn on the mic
Whoever said “always apologise for your mistakes”, forgot to mention “except during a performance” in the Terms & Conditions section. Do NOT apologise on stage. Never. In fact, temporarily ban it from your vocabulary just to be safe.
It doesn’t matter if your pants fell off or that you started playing a whole different song in the middle of another song because your mind decided to take a sudden break. No matter what, do not say “sorry”. Why? There’s more than just one reason. It can make your audience feel sorry for you and as a performer, we don’t want that! It might seem like you’re just unprepared and making excuses and we definitely don’t want that either. It can make the crowd feel awkward and worst of all, it can bring focus onto a ‘mistake’ you made that might have otherwise gone unnoticed!
So apologizing for not having more people in the audience, or making a mistake or anything of the sort makes you undermine yourself in front of everyone and nothing kills the vibe faster. Not saying be arrogant, but there’s a difference between being humble on stage and displaying your weakness in flashing neon lights. Be strong and give the image of you believing in yourselves because if you don’t, the crowd won’t have a reason to.
You need to own the stage because you’re there for a reason. So get up there, be proud and own your set!
- “We’re Having Technical Difficulties”
Unless the drumsticks just caught fire…because then it would be pretty funny.
But in any other situation, don’t say it! Always check your equipment and if it’s just tough luck and something goes wrong, just own it as best as you can! In fact, it’s pretty handy to have a backup of ideas you could use in different scenarios to just make the most of an unfortunate situation and not dull the atmosphere!
- “Does that sound alright?”
Now if you said that, it would be…pretty rude…to the sound guy, wouldn’t it? It’s his (or her) job. It’s why he (or she) is there. It should sound good. So don’t ask the audience if the sound’s alright or you’ve definitely annoyed at least one (very important) person who might change his/her mind about helping you sound good in the first place and THAT is something we don’t want.
PS: Make sure you learn the name of the sound guy. Don’t call him “Sound Guy”.
- “I’m Drunk/We’re Drunk”
That’s something we’ve heard more than a few times. Whether or not you really are drunk, it’s best not to say it on stage and let the audience know. It gives the impression that you’re not serious about your music, the gig or about the fact that they’re there to see you. Even if they’re not there to see you in particular, you risk losing out on new fans. You also make yourself sound irresponsible and the chance of not being called to play at that venue or by that promoter/host again. Besides, as musicians, your aim should really be to give your best at each gig so wait till after your set to celebrate and get drunk!
Unless you’re at a something like house party where everyone’s your buddy, the performance doesn’t really matter much and the whole point is just to have a blast!
- “This is the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to”
Well, good for you and it’s definitely a great feeling BUT the audience doesn’t need to know that. If it’s a crowd of 10, 30, 50..200 people or even more, they never need to know that that’s the most you’ve had, no matter how good it is. We always want to create a strong impact on the crowd so don’t undermine yourself. Steer away from saying anything about the size of the crowd.
- “Let me see some lighters/phones in the air!”
Unless you’re actually playing to a massive crowd. Saying things that don’t really suit the number of people actually there in the audience often confuses the crowd about why you would want them to do such a thing when it’s not really gonna have the impact you’d expect with such an action! So be realistic. Play to the crowd you have, not to the crowd you wish you had.
- “Last night’s crowd was better”
Strict No No. Nothing pisses a crowd off more than being told they’re not good enough. Always compliment the crowd. In this situation, stick to the simple saying: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
8. “Any requests?”
Although this might seem pretty obvious to some, it’s definitely worth mentioning. Don’t make the mistake of asking the crowd for song requests because chances are that it might not really be possible to play the requested song for various reasons and then? Awkward! So stick to your set.
And last but not least, never argue with or insult or band-mates on stage. It’s unprofessional and awkward, making the crowd uncomfortable and giving a very wrong impression. No matter what the situation, wait till you’re off stage to sort it out.
Sometimes, we don’t realise how things might come across from a different perspective and it’s always useful to know what might be safer to avoid saying altogether. So next time you’re on stage, keep these in mind and have a great gig!