10.14.2014

It's Not Enough to Just Play Music Anymore

If you want to be a successful, popular (those things are probably synonomous here...) live local rocknroll band, it is not enough to just play good music.

You have to entertain.

Anyone can play good music. I can listen to good music on my stereo. There are a million bands who play good music, but only a subset who truly entertain.

On any given weekend, if I want to hear good live music, there is no shortage in Madison WI. But if I want to be entertained...I usually stay home because there are almost none who truly entertain. SUNSPOT is an exception, and I go to see them whenever I can.

But generally speaking, if I go out and there is a band playing, it is usually relegated to the status of background music unless the band entertains compellingly, no matter how good the music.

Most venues in Madison have adapted to this reality and hire bands to be background music. That is why there is a glut of cover bands and almost no one dances at shows anymore. It's just blah. Not bad...just not entertaining as compared with talking to your friends or drinking a beer.

I want all my bands to be compellingly entertaining. Most fall in the category of background music right now, albeit excellent quality. I think GUPPY EFFECT is moving in the right direction on entertaining, even if I am the only one in the band willing to wear headgear and perform stage antics and try novel things. I have adapted to the reality. The choices are to be a generic cover band or an entertaining band that plays what it wants. Because if you are entertaining enough, that trumps quality of the music.

HIATVS is a good example. This band wasn't musically awesome. Just pretty good. But man we entertained like nobody's business, on stage and off. Some of it has to do with musician chemistry which HIATVS had a lot of. In GUPPY EFFECT, I feel like my personality doesn't fit well with the other dudes. They are great dudes and awesome musicians. We just have different views on live music and our respective approaches to it.

Anyway, the point is a good live band can't just be musically good. They have to do something entertaining to rise above the massive glut of good bands out there. Some bands go with costumery. I like to dress up and wear headgear when I play with GUPPY EFFECT.

Some bands unleash insane fury. Others are charismatic. These things attract an audience more than just good music.

Clever things work too like rearranging the musicians on stage, maybe having the drummer in front or off to one side. I like to go wireless on bass so I can go out into the audience and bust insane bass solos in peoples' faces. That scares some people, but it entertains a lot of other people.

Your thoughts?

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