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Sharing the Hate, Spreading the Pain: Stage Theatrics

by on Aug.09, 2007, under Articles, Sharing the Hate

The following passage is another excerpt from a four piece series on Stage Presence.

To sum up all the pieces in two sentences: Your audience is WATCHING you while you play, and the night is called a SHOW for a reason.

Stage Presence:

• Engage your audience
• Stage Theatrics
• Lighting and Effects
• The Posse

Stage Theatrics:

Every rock band should attend more hip-hop and rap shows. If your response is along the lines of I do not like the music, then you should stop calling yourself a musician. Quit reading now, and just turn back on your WAAA.

The typical rock band stands on stage mortified by the fact that they have instruments in their hand. Their expressionless faces tell the story of four nights a week of practice in a hot and sweaty box and their ability to play these songs in their sleep. They will occasionally move around stage, but never in unison, and rarely interacting with each other. The lead singer will plead with the audience from time to time to get them ‘closer’ to the stage. My response is why should I? What is in it for me?

I am bored from the back of the room, and that boredom changes when I get closer? My show is the mixing soundboard. I typically watch the lights and levels on the soundboard to see if your band is at least good at following directions. If you want more vocals in the monitors, you probably need to turn your guitars down first. I know, brand new concept.

My favorite line in the night is this is “our” last song. That sentence cannot come soon enough. Half the time I am not even sure who is on stage, because they have not told me the entire set.

The rappers seem to know what is what when it comes to empowering a crowd and unleashing their fury from within.

The typical rap group stands on stage without instruments, and only has microphones. There is a DJ off on the side, which at some point in the night he is going to play a beat and have the group free-style. Perhaps that free-style is the secret to keeping the group fresh and their mind alert. The rapper is not a drone of the music, and is constantly creating. Do you think your band could free-style on stage for three to five minutes and create on the fly? The rap group adapts to the room they are in, and every show is a new experience. People come out, because they do not want to miss something their friends will talk about for years to come.

The typical rap group will not only ask their audience to bounce, they will bounce. The typical rap group will not only ask their audience to sing along, they will hold the microphone out to the crowd. They will give the crowd detailed instructions set to song and dance. The audience will want to play along, since the experience is fun. The group will stare into the crowd and make eye contact with the audience. When the rap group asks you to get closer to the stage, they are asking you to join the show. I still have yet to figure out why a rock band asks me to get closer to the stage.

If you are too lazy to find a hip-hop show, just compare videos on MTV4 East between the hours of three and five in the morning when they actually have music videos.

Your typical rock video is a band playing their instruments in an empty room. Sometimes the room changes colors, the stage changes colors, or the band changes colors. Every rock band video only needs two elements: An empty room, and a band. By the time you upgrade to your second video, you will probably cut and splice a love story involving a girl between segments of the empty room and the band.

The typical hip-hop and rap video is quite different. To quote Black Reign Entertainment, “It’s a party, a party outside.” The video itself might as well stand alone as a movie, and some videos do. The ones that are not fifteen-minute long movies tend to be lively roaming parties involving fast cars and faster women. With a cast of about 100+ people, the hip-hop video entices people to party, and that is what they are after. In addition, you now have 100 people telling all their friends to watch the video for the half-second clip they appear.

An example video for rock embracing this model was Monster Magnet and the song Space Lord. Here, you can see both styles to creating a video. The video starts with the empty room, black goth layout, and somber singing. Then a car is set ablaze about a minute into the video. From that point forward, you end up in a casino with all the elements of a typical hip-hop video. Why did they embrace this casino video style? Simple, when asked in interview, they wanted to have fun.

If you will excuse me, I have to go to my next rock show tonight to watch a band. The venue is a big empty room with a band on a stage. Perhaps I should film their video for them. If you want your second video right off the bat, I can splice in footage of you fighting with your girlfriend at the merch table. Then I can get even more footage of her slitting her wrists while you are on stage, because you have spent the last year of your life ignoring her.

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