IMO...If you're thinking about your outfit, you're over thinking it LOL... Just play!
IMO...If you're thinking about your outfit, you're over thinking it LOL... Just play!
Some artists see music as more than simply an aural medium and thinking about the way you present your music can make the difference between you being just "another band" or "That band that put on a really great show."
In theory, there is nothing stopping a band who puts no thought into their stage clothes what so ever putting on a really great show, but in the overcrowded world of music, sometimes a little niche to set you apart from the million other bands trying to do the same thing as you, is all you need to set yourself apart and that little niche could easily be the image you present on stage.
Back in my college days, I was guitarist in an Electronic band one semester, doing Daft Punk and The Prodigy tracks and the like. For our final graded performance, we dressed up like mad scientists with Lab Coats and gas masks and stuff. The band was super tight, we were well rehearsed, but then so was every band on the bill.......yet which band got the rave reviews and commendations? Yep, because we went that little bit further in terms of presentation we were the band that stood out that night.
Heck, even The Beatles put a bit of thought into their stage costumes..........though they were really high most of the time.......
Laugh, Love, Live, Learn - Devin Townsend
I am of the opinion that when you step on stage in front of an audience you cease to be just a musician, you become an entertainer. As an entertainer you have but one job, and that is to entertain your audience's senses. When you leave the comforts of your home to see a band/artist, you are seeking an experience that you cannot get by just listening to them alone at home on some headphones.
The excitement of a shared event with other people, the taste of a few overpriced beverages, the smell of somebody smoking a spliff, and yes, the visual aspect of seeing a band/artist are all a big part of the reason you got off your butt and spent some money on a product you most likely already own. If the visual aspect of music were not important enough to enough people, then the Pink Floyd Laser Show would not be able to be on tour alone!
I'm not saying everybody should wear a wedding dress or some kneepads, keep it genre specific: Are you in a country band? Don't be that guy that wears a cowboy hat with sneakers! Are you an indie rocker? Get your female keyboard player a haircut with crooked bangs! At least try to project some sort of image for your product. If I happen across some band playing covers in a suburban bar wearing Ed Hardy T-shirts and cargo shorts, I kinda know what they will be playing that night without hearing the first song, and as shallow as it sounds, I'm not going to stick around on the off chance they might surprise me.... but if I see some dudes in loincloths I might think they are a Man-o-war tribute and pony up seven bucks for the experience. Bands that have no stage presence and stand like statues on stage and dress like chumps show me that they don't care, and if you don't care enough about your band, or like your music enough to dance around, why should anybody else?
Sk8boarder look. (and yes Wedge that is an original Bones Brigade patch on the vest, I wish I had a pic of the back with the huge "ripper" patch)
This is a picture of a picture hanging at my fathers home (note the glare from the window with blinds)
Ridiculous Hip-hop look. (hopefully PG-13 enough.) These are older, if you notice the "Bling" on my chains. (at one time keyless remote entry, PDA's, and white Arnet snowboard goggles were very exclusive! just ask Lauryn Hill)
Who knows marketing and image is of paramount importance more than the biggest ad agency in the world Weiden + Kennedy? Here is their chosen look for me in a project they involved me in. ( I will wear just about anything, but you gotta pay me to wear spandex.)
Kind of hard to see but, from the drummer to the left (myself on keys) half the band has a unified "together" look, not overly dressy but not T-shirts. While the singer (who was wearing a white jacket as part of the "big reveal" stripping down is always good for the audience) and bassist now look disjointed in an overall "grown up" band appearance. Big sold-out crowd, and a missed photo-op because somebody was lazy before they left the house.
I believe that when approaching your wardrobe before a show you should think of my golden rule: "Class, Flash, or A*s" , and for God's sake, Put some frikkin shoes on!
Not sure I'm able to share any "pro stage style design" given that it would require me to be a "pro" and have "style", but it's an interesting question. Personally, I've noticed a few things in the road-house / bar types of gigs that we do. First, I think that it helps if you think in terms of "doing a show" rather than "playing music". As such, I think that looks do seem to matter in terms of getting gigs, at least for geasers (mid to uppper 40s) like us. I don't think it's concious either on the part of the bars, or patrons, but looking like you just stepped out of the food line at the Old Country Buffet with your shorts and birkenstocks makes for less of a show. That means that you're more in the category of background music, and the audience is less likely to engage, which means that they are less likely to want to make a point to come back and see you or follow you to the next club.
For us, it's nothing fancy. Jeans and either a T-shirt or cool-ish buttondown. I usually just opt for a black T-shirt since it requires little thought... but for me and the other front guy, we make a point to seem at least a little hip.
Second thing is the actual "stage". Lots of bars that are around here have you shoved in a corner some place where they moved tables around just to fit you in. Even in these environments, I think that it's imnportant to establish a sense of "stage". We often bring a tiny riser for the drums, and make sure to establish a perimeter that we own. We bring our own lights (nothing fancy, and there are lots of cheap options out there) and make sure that house lights are turned off, unscrewed, whatever, near the stage so that the lighting contributes to the overall effect.
Last thing is movement on-stage. I think that it's important that the audience see that you're having fun while performing. We don't do Motown choreographed moves or anything, but I think that it really helps if you move on stage. You'd be shocked (at least I am) at the the difference in how the crowd responds during a dance tune when we're doing significant movement versus just more or less standing there. Music is the same, band is the same, and the crowd is the same, but in one case there are a a couple or two dancing, and in the other, we can coax the entire house on the floor.
Having said that, there are bands around here who are just so good, that they can look however they want, just stand there while playing, and overall have what I'd characterize as a crappy stage presence...but they're so good that it doesn't matter. In the end, fantastic musicianship trumps all. For the rest of us though, who are rather tight together, have decent vocals, but are just hobbyist musicians, stage presence and showmanship go a long way.
A few pics below....eveything from tiny clubs to decent sized bars to a wharehouse.
It's a great topic, and I'd be interested in how others approach this.
Black Tee shirt and jeans - aka the uniform of Rock and Roll...
( for Bar Gigs )
....just depends on the Gig. I want the customer to be happy and will adjust to what I think will make the happy.
So to answer your question regarding clothing, each member has their own individual color. Typically, we wear black slacks, button shirt w/ collar (in our individual color) and a black vest and tie (sometimes no ties). Many times we start the night with a black jacket too. No funky ass hats or other wacky stuff. It is a clean professional look and one that we think displays a professional image.
Regarding music...we do everything from hip-hop to Motown, to funk, to rock from all decades to country, to pop and a fairly large catalog of standard (Sinatra, Martin, Etc) We also will hire a female vocalist to work with us when needed.
I find that many bands we run into are very opinionated and stubborn when it comes to song list and appearance/image. If you want to work the higher paying gigs, you must understand it is all about pleasing the customer and not you. We follow essentially the material being spun by DJs this ensures success when it comes to keeping people dancing. If you do only what you like and show up looking like you just came from cutting the grass you will only capture certain gigs. Of course, if you are doing an original thing...then it might not matter.
You guys have no class ... This was about a year and a half before The Beatles played on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Last edited by wilerty; 12-10-2012 at 10:55 PM.
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No, not natural.............FBJ
I agree with Sergio and DRM for the most part. You have to understand that in a world of DJ oriented venues and highly choreographed main stream acts, you need to be able to stand out.
You need to understand people are there for the experience. Why else would you go to a bar or club? Unless you are into incredibly complex mixed drinks, you can just stay at home, right? You want the atmosphere, the interaction with people, you want to have a good time. A great sounding band with great stage presence gives you that experience. It used to be enough with standing on a stage, but lots of small venues don't even bother creating those spaces anymore. You have to create that distance. Some bartenders tend to wear whatever they want. Even then, they have their bar counters separating them from the crowd. Every other venue employee is wearing a uniform. You should, too. After all, you are there working! Want to treated like a professional? Act like one!
I live and work in Los Angeles. The crowd here is very eccentric so, it is already difficult to stand out. And lots of bands are aware of that. In a perfect world, people will remember you for your music (and when that happens, that is so cool), but chances are you need to make the audience remember you. The genre you play will dictate your choices. It can be as easy as a leather jacket and some designer jeans, which is what I do. This town is freaking hot so I always lose the jacket by the 2nd/3rd song. And even that action of losing the jacket does not go unnoticed. It's silly, but it happens. It's a nice ice breaker. We establish we are getting even more comfortable with the venue and the audience. And we have noticed people respond to it.
Having said all that, nothing turns me off more than some poser band wearing the entire rockstar attire (featuring full light show, dry ice, the whole nine yards) and finding out -quite early in their set- that they suck ass. In Los Angeles, that happens a lot, unfortunately.
So, I guess my response is: Work on your showmanship, but never in detriment of your musicianship.
Personally, I wear the jacket until the heat gets too intense. Even then, no matter how trendy/cool the outfit might be, if it's uncomfortable -stops me from performing at my best- I will not wear it. I have done it before and been miserable the entire time. I wear shoes with a flat enough sole that will allow me to stomp on my pedals freely (I also learned this the hard way many years ago).
For other types of gigs (solo guitar/corporate, jazzy stuff) I definitely dress the part and suck it up. It's part of the game.
Thank you all (especially Sergio) for taking the time and sharing the insight.
I agree with the thought that gig should be an extraordinary experience and that you should support it any way possible. Pretty much like a book with illustrations.
Right now I'm cooking some stuff, which I find special (but maybe I'm wrong and it will be a disaster) and I would love to have my stage decorated, band members dressed up accordingly, and even have some video projection running. It's an awful lot of mind work, even more real work and a bit of logistics management ("how the hell do we get all the junk in the car?"). And money.
I'm a little old fashioned and love Steampunk horror (Verne meets Lovecraft) for it's visual style... also it reflects the dichotomy of playing a romantic piano tunes at one moment, followed by some brutal metal attacks.
So wish me luck, I have to do this the cheapest way possible
Love for all human beings is like listening to any kind of music. You just don't care.
The 3-Mike-7 devotee.
I think one of the other things that should be noted about stage clothes, is that it's actually quite a lot of fun to dress up for performances!
Laugh, Love, Live, Learn - Devin Townsend
The other happening place seems to be Darwin's Burgers and Blues on Thursday nights. I haven't been out there myself because it's out in Marietta and I'm in Decatur, but I hear it's good.
The band hasn't been very active since spring due to the exit of our drummer and trouble getting decent bookings. We do have a gig coming up January 2nd at the Five Spot, though. I play with singer/songwriter Nanyana Summer (http://www.nanyana.com) and she does a good bit of solo acoustic gigs in the 'burbs.
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