I played a Seniors Residence last night and discovered there are alot of these kinds of gigs. ( If you're a younger musician, read on because this about improving live performance regardless of your style of music 8-).
Now, for sure this not like playing bars, cafes or concerts.
So what follows is really about doing a postmortem after a gig.
The purpose is to:
- Improve your set list
- Improve interaction with the audience
- Get more gigs...
- plus hopefully a salary increase.
The Audience and What they like / want
This particular crowd (70 ) wanted songs that:
- Bring back fond memoriest
- To move and groove (yes Dance)
- Sing along
- Socialize in a party like atmosphere.
So first I needed to do some math. If the average age is 82 than these fine folks would have been 32 in 1966, 22 in '56 and 12 in '46. They would of heard the hits of mid 40's to mid 60's.
I did notice that the more popular tunes that worked best were Sinatra, Platters, Elvis, Beatles, Folk sing along (Pete Seager, Peter, Paul, Mary... hootenanny tunes).
I did get requests for "Mack the Knife", "Cliffs of Dover", "Rock around the Clock" and during my sound check a lady called out "Play some blues!". (I did "Stormy Monday" including 2 verses of sweet soloing... it was a hit during my sound check)
Info retained: this is a varied crowd so add the afore mentioned tunes to the repertoire.
Now because I am a singing Chapman Stick Player the instrument draws a lot of curious looks and questions. I find it easier to explain after doing a song. That way they have at least heard the instrument before explanation.
Hand Outs and Merch
I bring post cards that I had printed through vistaprint. However, next time I think I will print a 1 or 2 sentence description of the Stick on the back. (leaving some space for a friendly note.)
Put a video camera on a tripod and just let it run. I saw a few pics and a short video someone shot on their phone. The lesson learned is don't rely on others who are not photographers to take pics/video.
Put the vocal amp on a stand or elevated. Or get a monitor to hear myself. It was hard to hear the articulation of my Stick and vocal.
Bring a stool. A chair is not as practical for playing the stick when you don't want to stand. If you play guitar maybe a chair is OK.
Know where to unload / load your equipment before you get there. This worked out ok in this case but it could have been confusing if the person in charge of the event had not been there when we got there.
The point being doing a gig is not just show up.
It's a 3 part process (3 P's):
2) Perform (have fun, observe and be free to respond / adjust)
3) Postmortem ( review all aspects of the gig from arriving to leaving and everything in between ).
No performance is perfect, but that's OK because for your audience it's about the experience.