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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to get the Clap

Hi there,
'Grease' at Taronga Zoo Twilight Series 2013
I was lucky enough to do a gig recently to an audience of over a thousand enthusiastic people. It was on a huge stage with all the lighting and sound set-up you'd expect from a well-produced live music event and a great time was had by all - both sides of the stage. Throughout the entire event the crowd went wild - applause and cheering could be heard for miles.

I did another gig recently to an audience of about 50 people. There was no stage and no lighting. People had to say 'excuse me' to walk in front of us - to get to the bathrooms. Throughout the entire event the crowd went mild - you could hear tumbleweed rolling down the main street.

So what's happened to clapping peeps? The latter style of gig can be bread and butter to many professional musos and I've noticed more and more recently that clapping is a dying art at such shows. Now you may be thinking, people aren't clapping because they aren't enjoying the music. That's the first conclusion I jump to - and I can tell you it's no good for the fragile artistic ego. But then almost without fail, something strange happens after the final song. People from the audience come up to offer their compliments on the performance and press us for more! Ah, so you loved what we did but remained silent in that traditional space left between songs to show your appreciation? 

My theory is that if the venue doesn't show respect for its performers - by offering a proper performance space - then an audience responds accordingly. An audience seems to need cues to do their job properly - and those cues include lighting and a pedestal on which to view their performers. Ideally far away from the toilet door.

The more venues shove performers in the corner on a piece of carpet, the less impact their performances will have. And the more we'll hear venue managers say that live music just 'doesn't work'. And then we'll all be listening to the sound of one hand clapping. 

See you next time,


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