I recently was comped a couple of tickets to a concert by a drummer friend of mine. Obviously, for the last year and a half I haven't played much much, but I also haven't seen any either! The headliner was a well known Canadian singer/songwriter with an excellent band, and the opening act was a country singer playing duo, and that was outstanding as well. The concert was well paced, both artists communicated with the audience well, and you could really feel the gratitude the artists felt for this chance to perform for an appreciative audience.
There was one member of the headliner's band, and I won't mention their name, I'll just say their instrument rhymes with case! This individual didn't move to the music, acknowledge the rest of the band or audience in any way, or give off anything but a really negative, standoffish vibe. This person certainly played their instrument well, but they didn't really even dress the part of the gig, and a t-shirt and jeans would have fit the bill for that nicely! You couldn't even see their face because they had a big floppy hat on and looked at their shoes the whole time, AND THEY WEREN'T EVEN INTERESTING LOOKING SHOES!!! :)
This weirded out a musician friend that came to see the show with me, but even more so both of our wives, who had less professional bias clouding what they saw. This person was giving the impression that they were doing a favour playing for us! This is doubly galling considering, even though we were comped, the tickets weren't cheap, people have been starved for live music lately, and it was a vocal, appreciative audience!
I don't want to give anyone the impression that it wasn't a great night of music and the band (especially my drummer friend) didn't play wonderfully. But the energy you send out to the audience means a lot! I can think off the top of my head at least a dozen musicians on the same instrument that would sound just as good, be VERY happy to be there, and match the energy of the rest of the group, which was positive and exciting!
I think sometimes musicians lose sight of the fact that people come to see us as well as listen to us, and it's our privilege that they do so.
Really, there's only one way to play, and that's with everything we have! :)
And speaking of which, here's Billy Joel and his band circa 1997, this could easily have been included on my songwriting post from last week, but I held it back because I wanted to use drummer Liberty Devitto as an example of someone who sounds (and looks) like someone who's whole existence is channeled into every note he plays! Talk about commitment!