Performing live - why?

That’s it. It’s the sense of interaction (on both sides) that makes live performances special.

Haha, we’re all entertainers, David :laughing: You have a sense of humour and are good with words.
The quality of our playing, singing +/- antics varies, which adds to the enjoyment of live performances, as we elicit different reactions.


Ah, I think this is a very subjective question.

I live in a small village and our pub runs an open mic once per month. There are a core of regulars there that are extremely accomplished musicians (I certainly don’t class myself amongst them), and playing after them can be more than a little bit nerve-wracking!

When I think I have something (that is a little unusual [1]) under my fingers, to a half-decent degree, I will go along to support the pub, I also go along as an audience member when I haven’t got anything specific to cover, and will occasionally turn out something from ‘the back catalogue’, or just sit to watch and listen, to pick up inspiration and ideas. I do this as it’s a) fun, and b) I want to support our pub, as so many villages don’t have one any more (use it or lose it).

So for me it’s about sharing things I found interesting, and finding new things to be interested in (and keeping our local pub alive).

I used to go to open mics when I lived in a nearby town, and there was a bit of that kind of feeling to those: a big pub full of people that I didn’t know, and some fairly tasty musicians busting out all kinds of tunes to what seemed like an audience of their friends. I was lucky in that I had a friend that lived nearby and also played guitar and was going along to the OM nights and fancied playing there too, so we did a few rehearsals, and went along to play a couple of times as a duet.

After that, it was much easier to do something by ourselves (and we often did a little duet as a ‘warm-up’, for us, not the audience!). Also because we’d played 2 or 3 times previously, we established some level of credibility (for want of a better word), and soon the others there started asking us to join them for a specific tune that we’d played previously and they wanted to have a go at.

[1] E.g. something not usually sung with a male voice, or simply not written for guitar (N-Trance, anyone?)


Says the guy taking point in presenting Open Mics :smiley:


Like Rogier, I’m going to respectfully offer a counter to this point.

Sure, from a pure audiophile kind of perspective, the “quality” might be lower live, but the overall music experience is completely different, and far superior in some ways. And it’s not only the tribal aspect that you mentioned (although that surely does play a part). I do go to live gigs for the music, and I would go even if there was nobody else in the audience.

Actually watching the musicians play their instruments in person gives an extra dimension to the experience that you cannot get by listening to the audio alone, nor by watching a video. You get to choose what you pay attention to. You might decide you want to just focus in on the bass player for a section and then drift over to the drummer for a minute, whereas on a music video the camera zips from one angle to another, totally out of your control. Watching exactly how the musicians go about their craft and picking up on little details of their performances greatly enhances the experience for me.

At least for rock and metal, the sound setup at gigs is often bigger and more powerful than what you’d have at home, and playing at volumes that you wouldn’t dare to use in a residential zone, unless you want a visit from the cops. :slight_smile: So you aren’t just listening to the music with your ears but you are also feeling it in your bones and your guts, sound waves literally slamming into your body with the beat.

Plus I often find that when I go to a gig to see one particular band, I end up discovering another band that I really like.


I think there are different interpretations of “quality”, I can’t read Brian’s mind but audiophile type recordings are not what I’m thinking of, particularly in the context of a discussion on why perform live. I think quality in terms of quality of the musical performance.

Going back a long time now (I also don’t like large concerts) but when I saw Tool or Joe Satriani live, the performance quality was absolutely exceptional. I imagine similar would be true for seeing John Frusciante or John Mayer live. However we are used to listening to music that has been overdubbed multiple times, even simple stuff like Green Day has 2 guitar parts recorded in a 1 guitar band.

Performances of local musicians are often not going to be at that level but they’re still very enjoyable. Just like our OMs. Like you say, watching musicians do their craft is great even if it’s not a world class performance. For me personally, I think I enjoy it more when it’s not world class because I think “I could eventually do that”. Which I don’t think when watching Satch play…

Love that too. Part of that whole fantastic experience that makes up live music :metal:

100% agree. That sense of discovery and anticipation of the unexpected definitely adds something special​:slightly_smiling_face::+1:

Wow, lot’s of great anwers! I’ll keep mine short and in bullet form though

  • (Most of the points Lieven posted above)
  • Playing with other people is just the best. Getting that musical connection, where everyone is locking into the same groove and playing off each other… adjusting in real-time to what the other persons plays… It gives a dynamic that it’s not possible to achieve when playing along to a backing track, or jamming over a recording.
  • When performing live, I’m able to turn off my analytic and self-criticizing mind - which is always active when practicing songs or technique alone and at home, focusing on becoming better at something. Instead I just let go, go with the flow and allow the music to carry me away. I find that some of my best performances comes from that (and occasionally some mistakes, but in a live setting the audience almost never notice!!)
  • Feeling the energy from the crowd, how they respond to my playing… best feeling in the world. Seeing people being happy, dancing and generally just having a good time.
  • It gives a concrete purpose to all those hours spent learning to play…

Thank you all who have shared their experiences, it has been very insightful for me to understand the reasoning why you guys are or wish to perform.

So from my end I think I would like to perform one day but I just don’t feel I am quite there yet. All answers were fantastic and thank you for your time for sharing your thoughts, just wanted to highlight few that resonated with me the most:

I agree it feels like a natural next step and I think this is the way forward for me at some point in the future. What reassures me is that if it takes long time to reach this point I wouldn’t be any different to some other performers getting into this sort of stuff :slight_smile:

That’s another bit I liked, obviously family, friends here in WWW and out there in the real world are very encouraging, but sometimes they can be overly encouraging and playing in front of complete strangers would perhaps boost my confidence levels and reassure me that I actually do not sound too bad :smiley:

I am very similar in this Kevin and my introvert side is really strong and trying to push me away from the thought of performing live :smiley: I will fight it though!

Again ditto here :wink:

Yes this is part I would like to experience as well, I think it would feel good assuming audience is forgiving and understanding and I would like to have this experience in my bag of memories and perhaps change this experience from a one off to something more regular, who knows.

Just for those interested as a follow up I attended an audition early August as a vocalist, as band was local to me and their musical taste wasn't that far off from mine and I also wanted to give it a go and to make sure I am not going to regret it over the years for not trying. I only got feedback today as they had some called off auditions and waited for all to show up before making a call.

I felt really great performing even in front of only like 4 people there. I think overall I did a half decent job, some nervous voice crack downs but I never did anything like this and never dreamt of doing. I performed 3 songs and was asked if I want to give it a go with another one before going off so clearly wasn’t too bad if they asked! I did Seven nation army without any prep and it was a disaster but it was fun.

Today I have been told I didn’t get in and pure decision was made due to lack of stage experience and that it was clearly seen I am missing that. I asked for some additional feedback and I took it to heart, what I feel I got out of it is that I enjoyed performing with other people and I would like to do that. Jumping into a rock band straight away would be great but felt a bit rushed in all honesty, but I am glad I did it. On the other hand though it would be better to perform with others, as not 100% of attention is to you and essentially if you play with people you know and like it can get a lot easier, from a mental health point of view.

On a separate note I would like to say thanks publicly to Maggie aka @batwoman for supporting me all the way throughout the audition and prep process, for giving me some fantastic tips and training exercises that definitely helped and improved how I did in the audition room! She does deserve all the praise she can get peeps!


Too bad you didn’t make it.
I think you are ready to step in a rock band and it doesn’t seem like a huge step to me.
Find other bands, begin something yourself, … You are band material if you ask me
IF of course, you enjoy it :smiley:

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Well done Adrian. You should be really proud of yourself. Things happen for a reason…that band was probably not the right one for you… there is probably a better option waiting for you down the road and the opportunity will present itself when the time is right. In the meantime you know what to do mate… start building some stage experience through open mics which may lead to some jamming sessions and you may meet some like mended people along the way and end up forming a band yourself.

Well done Maggie, you’re one of the best. It just goes to show how much this community supports one another and one that I am glad to have found.

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Glad to hear it was helpful.

I guess that depends on where ‘there’ is … the Albert Hall or O2 Arena probably not, local Open Mic when your self belief and confidence catches up with your ability to play and sing you’ll kill a local Open Mic.

After all Adrian, let’s be completely realistic, your ability to play and sing is well ahead of mine. So if I can survive a live OM then so can you. Maybe just don’t pick those super complicated finger-picked tunes for your debut.

Bravo, Adrian. Sorry to hear you weren’t offered the gig. Depending on the band, then I suppose how one performs is as important as how one sings.

Maybe easier to be a guitarist in band as a first step. Then the spotlight probably reduced since folk may watch the vocalist more. Other than of course folk like us who dream of guitar playing who study guitarists at every opportunity.

And once you show up with that green beast, you’ll be halfway there :grin:

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Thanks Lieven, I think I need to first figure out if I enjoy doing it in front of the live audience, and then take it from there. Baby steps for me, hate being thrown at the deep water straight away! :smiley: although a cold shower is what we need sometimes to wake up!

Thanks David, I think this is key really. Whenever I find the courage it will definitely be playing something simple first, perhaps I will have one more complicated tune in my back up list in case I get more relaxed, definitely first song will have to be one I am feeling really comfortable with and so far there have been plenty of those simple strumming songs I can pick from and that I know. :slight_smile:

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@adi_mrok it was my very great pleasure to offer you some help Adrian. You’re a willing learner with a talent I’ve enjoyed encouraging. The right band will be there for you, keep learning, keep playing.

Yeah James, and you’re a valued and cared for member of this fine collective.


Adrian, this sounds like imposter syndrome to me. You might not have the confidence to feel you’re there, but I’ve seen your playing - you are more than good enough.

If it’s the confidence thing, I get that. That’s more a matter of convincing your own brain than working on skills though, you could play for 10 years and be Mike McCready level good but still not have confidence.


Hi there,

My thought for doing an open mic would be to build confidence and get exposure. Also to get feedback, hopefully not jeers from the crowd based on my singing. I really don’t fear rejection, because if you don’t put yourself out there you will never experience playing live. My goal is to eventually perform a small gig in public. I already play in public, but nothing organized on stage yet. I am not opposed to it though. Might I suggest a “bridge program” of doing a karaoke night at a local pub just for fun or laughs. Years ago I did this with a group of friends who all competed against one another and we took ourselves way too serious to be honest. I did sing on stage then with plenty of crowd responses, but not quite the same as playing guitar and singing a song from memory. It was all in fun though and gave us something to look forward to once a week. How I miss those days! Best of luck


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Yes what I meant is I am not ready in my head space, psychologically ti clarify as you are not the only one here who questioned that :grinning: I think I will give it a go in some time, I am due to go on leave very soon and after that I will hopefully start prepping a short set of easy songs for me to play just in case I get jitters and I mess up, with simple songs it easier to find your way back :grinning: thanks again for encouragement, I really do appreciate it!


Mike who … a quick google later … I should have known :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

That said, Adrian, did you not nail More Than Words which would be Nuno Bettencourt level…


I figured Adrian would know :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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You assumed correctly, even saw him live once playing behind his head solo during Why Go :grinning: still have some recording from 12 years ago on my drive!