In the interest of spurring some discussion on this board, I'd like to bring up the topic of gear vs. audience. I find that I have to work really hard to avoid focusing on my gear while performing. I've noticed other musicians struggle with this as well. So, the topic of discussion for today is:
How does a looping musician stay connected with the audience?
1)If you're a "sit down" looper, work out a way you can stand up some of the time. 2)set up so that you are facing the audience 3)Be aware that canned loops and drum machines can be perceived as "not live music" 4)Posture, ...the typical "hunched over the guitar" pose not only gives you a back problem, and makes it harder to play guitar, but also it won't always appeal to every audience. 5)Don't listen to me, i get it all wrong anyway
6. Meaningless banter between songs isn't actually meaningless. Keeping your audience engaged between songs is important. 7. Watch out for the 30 minute long compositions. Yes, it is easy to do when you get looping to be so involved with it that the piece runs long, but remember that your audience may be over stimulated if you go 30 minutes without a break.
I will also reiterate what Andy said about canned loops. I once saw a performer that spent their entire time fiddling with prerecorded loops on the computer. My friends that I went to the show with said that they felt like it wasn't a live performance.
I still get audiences asking me how much is pre-recorded, even after I've introduced it as live
I don't think loopers will ever escape that. If you see one musician, but hear an entire soundscape, you figure that some of it must be prerecorded. Of course, we know that isn't true, but the lay person might not.
Actually, the problem isn't to engage the audience, the problem is to find the audience.
Amen to that! I played in Sheffield Cathedral once - about 30 or so people wandered in for the weekly recital to see what was on offer (string quartet etc). They watched as I set my rig up, then as the *electric* guitar was unveiled 3 or 4 promptly left! The rest actually enjoyed it and I sold a record 8 CDs.
I find the best way to keep an audience engaged is to lock 'em in the venue.
my sets don't follow many of the suggestions above as 1. I don't really do any talking before or after my set, I guess I'm just too shy 2. I play one continuous set, which evolves gradually, but doesn't have any gaps, mainly because I don't do short pieces and don't like starting and stopping, I much prefer ebb and flow 3. I try to face the audience, but don't really look at them much as I have to concentrate on what I'm doing, but I do try to compensate by providing some appropriate visuals for anyone who needs something to look at. For ambient stuff I tend to sit down, but I do stand up for more rhythmic stuff
Playing good music effortlessly, excited attitude and being gracious.
I have thought looping performance might have some parallels with ELP or hypnosis which is largely based on story telling using nested stories which are told to 80%~ of completeness then interrupted with a hard or soft transition by another story. At the close the stories are closed one by one. Leaving the embedded references to make a person feel good. Then again, I could be wrong.
You guys are probably going to think this is lame and circuslike, but I like to get my audience involved in the percussion and sometimes even the loops themselves. I often pick someone from a table and bring them up and while they are answering one of my questions I'll loop them. They have to speak into a mic after all. When people are done laughing, I just use the sample to create a beat. Chop slice and dice all you want, you still have an audience that is now personally invested in whatever it is you are doing. Another thing that works is to see if there is any type of musician in the crowd. There are almost always one or two and if you coax them into playing you a short riff, a chord , a two bar beat or whatever, the audience seems to really like it. Wireless guitar setups are SUPER handy for involving the audience too. There comes a moment, at least in my songs, when I help myself to a solo. I figure why the hell not? I work hard to create a texture and I may as well enjoy it. This is when I usually walk into the audience. My gigs are pretty small though so I'm not sure this would work for everyone. Hope this wasn't too much or too corny.