How to Prepare for a Live Show

There are a few very important steps to take to prepare for a live performance. Use the following tips as a guide leading up to the show.

1. Choose the right songs.

The key to choosing which songs to play is to remember that you’re not necessarily playing for yourself, but for the people in the audience. Take into account where you’re playing (e.g. a bar, restaurant, etc.), who is attending (particularly age and taste), what the occasion is, and how well you and your band are able to pull it off live.

This video focuses on picking the right song for your vocal range, which should also be a factor in choosing songs to perform live.

2. Make a set list.

It’s a good idea to make a set list because it will help the whole show run more smoothly, and you can properly time your set as well. You and your group can follow the set list throughout the show and transition smoothly from one song to the next because the routine will already be planned.

This will also help eliminate “dead air,” every live musician’s worst nightmare. You can also revise and tweak the set list after testing out the routine during sound check.

3. Soundcheck.

This really only applies to larger gigs where you will have the opportunity to go through a soundcheck (for example, you probably won’t do this performing at a restaurant). Most bars and clubs have house sound guys who know the best volume for the room and pretty much everything in between. So, just follow all of the technicians’ instructions and stay professional.

Also, as a general tip, soundcheck usually goes in this order: drums, bass, keyboard, guitar, any other instruments, background vocals, lead vocals, full band together.

For you to get a perspective on how the sound guy runs through things, here’s how he prepares.

4. Prepare to interact with the crowd.

It would be a pretty ordinary performance if you just played all the songs on your set list and concluded the show. To make the performance more unique to you and your band, try to interact with the crowd. Say a little bit about your band before you start, and definitely throw in some casual conversation as you transition between songs. This will also help you fill in idle time and prevent “dead air.”

A great way to interact with the audience is to wish someone there a happy birthday or congratulate someone on graduating, for example. The person will really appreciate this and will probably in turn be a more active audience member, too.

5. Monitor yourself.

If you’re gearing up for a more professional gig, such as opening for a well-known band, have someone record you during rehearsal and soundcheck. Then, each member should watch the footage and monitor himself or herself. Pay attention to how you’re moving across the stage. Is it too much or too little? Are you missing any beats? Are you all interacting with each other? How does the stage look from here? Monitoring yourself will ensure that the final staging is the best it can be, and it also helps you grow as a musician.

In the following video, two YouTubers react to a FineBros segment that featured them. Although this is not exactly the same as monitoring yourself on stage, it’s quite similar. As a musician, you should watch videos of yourself and try to imagine yourself in the audience’s shoes. You’ll get a better idea of how to look and perform better.

As long as you heed the above suggestions, your show will definitely run smoothly with few issues. Pay careful attention to every detail before going live, and have confidence in your preparations.

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Angelina Hue enjoys listening to wide variety of music, from instrumental movie scores to alternative indie to Korean pop music. She also likes to make short films and write fiction.

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