Playing your first show is exciting but it can also be a rather anxiety-ridden endeavor, mostly due to the unknown as you’re probably wondering how your audience will react and there’s no way to predict for sure what will happen.
Those nerves can stop budding performers in their tracks, but it’s important to remember that the first gig is almost always the hardest. Performance anxiety can be energizing if it’s at an optimal level, but it impairs quality when excessive. Whether you’re one of the singers for hire to perform for an intimate audience at a coffee shop or part of a band that will be up on stage in front of thousands of fans, by following these tips, you’ll be well prepared to wow your audience, and might even leave them begging for an encore.
Practice, Practice and more Practice
The only way to truly prepare is to practice in front of people, again and again, so that you can get used to having an audience. After a while, you’ll hardly notice that anyone else is in the room when you play, or you’ll get more energized, feeding off the energy of the crowd which can enhance your performance. Practicing alone is always a good idea too, but the more you’re up in front of others, the less your nerves will get in the way for that first gig. Not only will your confidence grow, but you’ll know your material inside and out.
Make Sure You Have Quality Equipment
If you’re going up on stage with an instrument, if it’s of poor or barely average quality, it’s going to bring your performance down. You need a decent guitar, piano, or whatever instrument you play if you’re going up on stage. It will not only improve your sound, but your confidence as you’ll feel more professional. Many performers have to fake it until they make it, which means the most important thing is to feel like a star even if you aren’t one yet.
Less is More
When you’re performing your first gig, stick to songs or routines you know extremely well. If you’re iffy on anything, skip it, it’s better to focus on quality rather than quantity. Even if you do five great songs, if you forget your lines, the chords or keys in the sixth, that’s what the audience is going to remember.
Between nerves, the body heat from the audience and, particularly, the stage lights, you’re going to sweat, even if you don’t have to move around much. If you’re putting on an active performance, it’s going to be excessive. Either way, be sure to bring a couple of towels so that you can wipe yourself down occasionally.
If you play guitar and your string breaks while you’re up on stage and you don’t have a spare, it can turn a minor inconvenience into a nightmare. Guitarists should bring spare strings, spare leads, picks, batteries for pedals and tuners, and even a spare instrument if you can. Whatever tools you need to play, if something can break, you’ll want a spare to avoid potential embarrassment.