A debatable topic amongst musicians is whether or not what they wear onstage matters. Don’t we all go to live shows purely to listen to the music? Whether or not we get up there in banana leaves or leather shouldn’t matter in the slightest, right? But the question is…does what we wear onstage influence the way people perceive our music?
Although we do believe that our outfits should ideally have no bearing on our music, there’s definitely an impression made by your choice of clothing. This can be in your favour or to your detriment and it’s up to you to ensure that you stay on the right side of the scale. Looking at trends in the past and present scenario, there’s a reason why depending on the type of music being played, we have phases of leather and spandex, bling bling and jeans and flannel to name a few. Outfits usually match the genre of music.
One thing to remember is that when you’re on stage, all eyes (and ears) are on you and although many musicians tend to want to break away from the ‘rule’, your outfits are a part of your identity as a musician and first impressions are hard to change. Outfits rarely make or break musicians but they do tug a little on their success and more on their image. There are many different routes you could take while setting your own personal style. Here are a few things you might want to consider before picking what to wear to your next show:
You might want to stick with the style that goes with your music. For example, you might
decide to go with the baggy clothes and jewellery if you’re a rapper or go all-black, leather and bullet belts if you’re into heavy metal. Sticking to the style has its advantages since one look at you is enough to tell the audience what style of music to expect and keeps you in line with the image of the genre.
Trend-setting is a great option for musicians to really set them apart and have their own unique twist. Taking the example of the unmistakable Kanye West sunglasses, it gives your audience a way to identify with you, sets a trend, it’s solely ‘your’ thing, fun and not to mention great marketing!
- “I’m too cool for outfits”…”Let’s go casual”
That’s a tricky, but popular, route to take. We’ve noticed many musicians show up in unmatched, uncoordinated outfits either out of ignorance or to try and show an image that’s ‘casual’. But let’s put it this way, if you feel like you don’t really want to show much difference between what you wear onstage and offstage, there’s absolutely no problem in keeping it casual, as long as it’s along the lines of well-dressed. Showing up in ill-fitted, ‘tasteless’ outfits instantly diminishes the tone of your performance and whether it’s admitted or not, it does bias the opinion of the audience towards your music. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re in a band, and everyone in the band wants to go casual, set a baseline for the same. ‘Casual’ might mean different things to each of you and you want to have commonalities on stage. For example, instead of having the drummer in a t-shirt, the vocalist in a singlet and the guitarist in flannel, it’s better to have everyone in t-shirts (if they’re all similar in colour/style, even better!)
- Shock the crowd
This one’s interesting. Sometimes musicians choose to go completely opposite with their style statement. Ever seen someone dressed like Marilyn Manson belt out the most beautiful opera? Yup, you won’t forget that for a long long time. Take Andrew De Leon for instance. Dressing in a way that gives the audience completely unexpected music does leave quite the impression.
- Go Extreme
Musicians always have the option of going with an exaggerated costume such as painted faces, crazy-hair-dos, shocking colours, etc. Such outfits are unmistakable when done right and definitely leave a lasting impression. Take Kiss for example.
- Acessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize!
Whichever path you take, don’t forget to accessorize. Bandanas, hats, sunglasses, wristbands, necklaces…there’s no dearth of different ways that you could jazz up your clothes. And when kept simple, it’s classy, cheap and looks great!
Always remember, your personality on stage comes across in ways beyond just your music. Not bothering about outfits risks having no personality on stage or even just being ignored or easily forgotten, unless your music goes miles beyond in brilliance than everyone else. It’s in the nature of human beings: we gravitate towards visually-pleasing images, or in other words, we like good-looking things and more often than not, it creates a bias in our minds before we even have a chance to listen to the music.
So! Whatever you decide on for your future gigs, there’s one thing you can be sure of: your audience will always appreciate the effort put in by you for your performance and stage presence. Now get picking!