2 Things That Can Ruin Your Concert

I went to a free outdoor concert in Austin recently. We saw a band I’d never heard of who made music I don’t normally listen to.

But I had a great experience, all because of two main things the band did (or didn’t do).

Two things that all of us can learn from.

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Why You Need Band Members Who Are Also Your Friends

In 2017, my wife and I adopted a baby boy. But adoption involves a lot of fees and such, so we went to our community to ask for help.

So I played a bunch of fundraising shows, and I normally don’t love playing concerts.

You see, I’m not a huge fan of performing. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m an introvert, so having eyes on me induces fear.

But one thing helped make each concert super fun and extremely successful: my friends who played in my band.

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How I Messed Up During Rehearsal For My Concert

I have a 1962 Harmony Stratotone electric guitar. And I found out — at the worst possible time — that it sounds terrible.

Harmony Stratotone 1962

This is a guitar that my dad found in the trash — it was in a foreclosed house his realty company had just bought. When I plugged it into my amp, I was shocked that it actually worked.

I use the term “worked” lightly.

Last year, some friends and I played a bunch of shows to raise money for my wife’s and my adoption fund (we’ve since adopted!).

But during one of those shows, I play this electric guitar, plugged into a Fender amp.

We started playing my song “Lunch Money,” but after a few bars, it was obvious something was way out of tune.

Something was terribly off.

That’s when, in the middle of the chorus, I realized the problem was my trash-to-treasure guitar. Apparently, it was still trash.

I stopped the song, quickly switched to my acoustic guitar, and started the song over. If I couldn’t bear to listen to it, neither could the audience.

(Fortunately, it was in a bar where not many people were paying much attention).

But my mistake started much earlier than this concert. It started during rehearsal.

You see, if I had practiced the right way, I would’ve realized, “Oh, crap, this guitar’s intonation is awful and I should borrow someone else’s.”

I learned that I should practice exactly the way I plan to play the concert. This means I should use the exact instruments, the same stage setup, and a similar amount of energy that I will during the show.

(I’ve read how many artists even plan out what they’ll say in between songs — the friendly banter they’ll have with the crowd or what they’ll say about their merch table).

So this is the lesson to take from this story: always practice exactly how you will play the concert.

Or else.

Play Each Concert For The 1%

I once played a gig with an attendance of about 100 people. Doesn’t sound bad, but 99% of the people seemed like they didn’t care.

Live music
Sometimes concert attendance will feel like this

You see, me and my band were the musical entertainment before a non-music event. So the people weren’t there to see us.

It felt like the seats were empty because, after each song, nobody clapped. It was so weird and awkward.

Just silence.

Actually, I shouldn’t say nobody clapped — the soundman did.

He was the 1% that actually mattered.

And that 1% is what I should’ve been concerned about the whole time. Every concert I play should be for the 1%.

Let me explain: the 1% are the people that actually care. The people that honestly enjoy your music.

Even if it’s just one person out of a hundred, the concert will have been worth entertaining that individual.

I’ll perform through awkward silences if it means only one person enjoyed it. It’s all about connecting with one person at a time.

And it turned out that this soundman wanted me to play for some festivals that he runs. So the event ended on a high note.

You never know who’s listening, so play each show for the 1% — for that one person who cares.