At some point as a music lover or a musician, you’re inevitably going to be part of some shows with sparse crowds, especially when bands start getting further away from their home town. We’ve all done it at one point or another, and chances are, we’ll all do it again at some point. We recently drove 175 miles for a mid-week show with another touring band, only to find out that the two local bands who were going to headline had both dropped out at the last minute. The show ended up on the small side, yet somehow, it was one of the most fun gigs we’ve played this year.
The reason the energy level of the show was so high was that every member of the other bands and their touring crew were right up at the front of the stage, having just as good of a time as us. Next thing you know, everybody in the club was pushed up in front of the stage, even the staff.
It doesn’t matter if there are 15 or 150 people in the room, you should take the opportunity to be the spark that gets the crowd excited. Let’s face it, nobody wants to stand there with their arms folded up against the wall if other people are digging the music and having a great time. Plus, there is a little bit of secret self-interest for you musicians as well—you don’t want people to be bored with other bands that you’re playing with, you want every band to play to an excited crowd. When the crowd goes home at the end of the night, you want them to say, “That was a great show” instead of “yeah, that one band was really solid.”
Musicians all have pre-show rituals, stretching, getting beers, tuning guitars, and some others that we won’t talk about among polite company. Don’t let that be an excuse for not getting out there and enjoying the bands you’re playing with. Instead, figure out a way to work watching the other bands who play before or after you into that ritual. I know in Hello Monster, we always keep in mind that in addition to the occasional free drink, every time we play out, we also get to see a free show, and we’re not about to miss it by being anti-social or talking to each other the whole time; we can do that in the van.
One last closing thought: whenever possible, especially with bands that you really liked, don’t leave empty handed. Buy some of their merch. Get a sticker or a button. Sign up for their mailing list. If you’re in a band, swap CDs and just support each other. You allow bands to keep making music, and you end up with a great story about whatever shenanigans you got into at the show.
You can buy concert tickets or purchase a CD of Hello Monster’s new album, ‘P.S. I’m Home’ here.
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