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Sharing the Hate, Spreading the Pain: The Posse

by on Aug.16, 2007, under Articles, Sharing the Hate

The following passage is the last excerpt from a four piece series on Stage Presence. Sad, but like all good four piece series, they end. Fear not, for there will be prequels, sequels, and tetquels coming. What is a tetquel, you ask? I am not telling.

To sum up all the pieces in two sentences: Your audience is WATCHING you while you play, and you need to keep that in mind when practicing your set. A crowd draws a crowd.

Stage Presence:

1. Engage your audience
2. Stage Theatrics
3. Lighting and Effects
4. The Posse

The Posse:

This passage does not actually talk about your performance, but instead about your perception. Perception is as important as performance, because perception leads to recognition, and recognition leads to longevity.

The posse is broken down into three main banner banters:

1) The Hanging Banner Banter
2) The Walking Banner Banter
3) The Sticking Banner Banter

The Hanging Banner (Wall Mount or Bass Drum Head):

Scenario 1: I am running late, and I just show up to the venue. I am not sure who is on stage, and I quickly hustle my way past the doorperson in an attempt to catch part of their set. In the end of their 40-minute set, I have no idea who played. I then have to run over to the sound booth to find out, and then wonder if they have a demo.

Scenario 2: Starts like Scenario 1 until I look at the stage. I see a hanging banner or their name on the bass drum head. Immediately, I know who they are, and start to meld the writing style and imagery on the banner with their music.

This banner sets a mood for the audience, and lets the audience know that the band is serious enough to put time and money into their brand and image. I usually assume these bands have demos and just ask for one. I remember them to have a better set than the other bands that night.

At the end of the night if you asked everyone in room what they thought of the bill, they will all tell you about two bands:

First: The band that dragged them out to the show;
Second: The band with the banner.

This scenario plays out every time. People do not remember the names and sets of the other bands. They usually forget five minutes after your set if finished unless you give them a reason to remember.

The Walking Banner (Shirt):

I take a glance to the merch table and see neatly pressed and folded shirt. I take a glance around the room and I see faded and tattered versions of those shirts on about 15 to 20 people. My opinion of the band just went way up.

I do not have to ask around to see which band brought a crowd. The answer is painfully obvious. If all these people are wearing and continue to wear a band shirt, the band must be good. If all these people show up to see the band play, the band must be good as well. You will sell more shirts too, because people want to fit in and be like everyone else.

Some of these people wear these shirts out when your band is not playing. Again, these people are advertising your band for you. If you are not there, they just sent an even more powerful message out about your band and their willingness to endorse you.

Unlike Posters and Stickers, shirts are mobile, travel, and come with a built in personal sponsor. People will talk about your band if someone asks about their shirt.

The Sticking Banner (Sticker):

Your sticking banner greets me while standing at the urinal at my local dive bar. I close my eyes, and the image still flashes in front of my face, burning the logo and website into my memory. I open my eyes and then look up to the ceiling, and there it is again. How the hell did it get up there? Regardless, I have just memorized your band name and imagery.

The sticking banner is the most versatile weapon in your arsenal. It goes where you go, and it sticks to where you can reach. They are little reminders that, “I was here, and I left something in my wake.” Impress the hell out of people and place them where you should not be able to reach.

Once one band starts placing stickers on a pole, doorway, archway, fridge, street vagrant, or newspaper bin, you have tagged them. The gangs do it, and so should you. With gangs, they have to spend time and effort painting, while you just peel off the back layer and stick it. Gangs tag to mark territory, and get their name out there. You just did the same thing.

The more places you can put your sticker out in public, the more name recognition that you will have. People like name recognition, because then they can talk about your band to other people who may have heard of your name before. We call that buzz.

Once they know your name, and your logo, it is only a matter of time before they want to come see you play. When they come see you play, guess what? Give them a sticker to brand something they own, and you have just added to your posse. If they like your logo that much, give them a sticker and sell them a shirt.

The Tired Banner Banter (ZZzzzzz):

Yup, that is not an introduction to the next banner. That is just stating I am tired, and I am taking a break. Until next week…

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