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some advice for a nosediving covers performer please
Old 30th May 2006
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🎧 15 years
Any advice for a nosediving covers performer?

Hi

I make a living as a one-man band, and have recently lost a few gigs. I can still get by, but things are getting tight.

I desperately need some advice about my act.

I perform as a character called Gilbert (he's a geek). I use an obviously fake guitar as a prop, and ham it up big time. It's cheesey, it's high energy, and it's worked really well for me for about five years.

People generally have a great time at the shows. There are some people that don't like it, but I can hold 95% of whoever is there in the room for 3-4 fours, and almost always get great comments at the end of the night. Some comments are about my voice (which isn't particularly a great voice at all), but most comments are about the entertainment and energy, and I have been told often by people that I am the best entertainer they have seen live (not meant to sound bigheaded - I'm just trying to paint a picture here for the next part of the story).

Two problems:

a) I have always struggled to draw a crowd. Holding people is no prob, but getting them there seems to evade me. I need to rectify this.

b) My gigs are decreasing from what used to be four a week to one a week. I need to pick this up.

Another club rang up today to cancel my bookings for the rest of the year. I asked if it was all entertainment getting the axe, and the guy rattled off a handful of bands that are staying. So I explained that I want to fix the problem, and could he please be honest with me and tell me why they were staying, and what feedback he had been getting from the punters about my act.

He said the big problem was variety. Because I am a novelty act, it's a case of people enjoying it the first few times, but then the act becomes predictable. I asked him what the one man bands that are staying were doing to add variety to their show, and he said it's different because they play a live instrument.

Hey - I am happy to give credit where credit is due. I have seen some great covers acts in my time. I have also seen a lot of the local acts getting heaps of work, and most of them do actually play a live instrument (I think there is a big difference between watching a fantastic guitarist and watching someone strum basic chords along to a backing track.) Vocally, most of them are no better or worse than me. But most of them are as boring as bat-**** to watch, with zero personality, and zip energy on stage!!!

I don't understand what it is that makes a lot of these other acts have more variety. They play the same old songs each week, they don't communicate with the crowd, they perform with low energy. I am doing nothing different to them each week, except that I am adding comedy, crazy high-energy dancing, spontaneous crowd interaction (that is different each night as people are always communicating with you differently at each gig), and learn new songs weekly - yet somehow my act is deemed to have less variety. I don't work to a setlist - I choose my songs on the fly depending on the crowd, and have over 200 songs in my current repertoire.

So I would be better off playing a real guitar, but with no communication, dancing, energy or comedy.

I don't get it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can someone please shed some light. I have been in different covers bands for 10 years almost, and feel like I'm performing better than I ever have been. The people at my gigs seems to be having a really great time - anyone that doesn't get up and dance seems to stay and watch the show the whole night - I have people telling me that they came for one drink, but stayed the whole night because of me.

I am easy going and polite to deal with for staff, don't drink alcohol at gigs, don't do drugs or any **** like that.

I can understand regular locals getting sick of the same bands all the time, but how come other bands are keeping the work, even though they aren't doing anything exciting or different?

And why is it that some venues are excited to book the show when others aren't, even though the show has about the same affect on crowds wherever the gig is?

Any help here would be great - I'm starting to get down on myself about this

THANKS!

Shaun
www.gilbert.net.au

ps I'm didn't mean to sound bigheaded or to blow my own trumpet. Off stage I am a quiet shy person, with little ego. The stage is the one place I have become confident due to the feedback I have received over the years, and I am just confused and worried as to why the positive crowd reactions aren't translating into more bookings. Cheers
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