Donny GoinesI recently went to the Nyourican Cafe, so I could perform at a show my boy Homeboy Sandman was hosting. It was interesting to say the least, haha. For this particular show I had to perform with a live band. The problem? I’ve never done that before, nor had I gotten a chance to rehearse with them. Needless to say it didn’t go as planned.

I’ve performed on many stages in my career thus far. I’ve rocked several major shows as well as plenty of holes in the wall spots, but they all had one element in common. Every one of them was unpredictable and different from the rest. I never know how a show will turn out until it’s finished and the truth is that mishaps occur often. Everything from sound systems to mics, show CDs to lighting, things sometimes malfunction or such and it’s usually out of my control. You can’t predict your CD skipping while you’re performing or the microphone volume not being set properly. How am I supposed to know that the soundman won’t be on point that night? I’ve realized that no amount of practice or training can prepare you for these sorts of things, but if you are a true showman than you will still entertain despite the problems you may have on stage. Here are some tips that you can use if you find yourself in trouble on stage.

Rule #1 – Never let them see you sweat. No matter WHAT happens, never show the audience your frustration or anger on stage. If something happens that makes you upset or unfocused, act as if it doesn’t because once the people see you like that, they too will become uneasy and this doesn’t make for a receptive audience. True your best to stay calm and cool.

Rule #2 – Adapt and think on your feet. The sound isn’t working, do an accapella. If the mic volume is too loud or low signal the soundman or DJ. You forget a line, freestyle it and fill in the blank. You have to be able to adjust your music and show to your surroundings no matter what and make sure that you ALWAYS go with the flow. Don’t stop or give up, just improvise and continue forward.

Rule #3 – Last but not least TALK TO THE AUDIENCE!!! Let them know that you’re having a little technical difficulty and ask that they bare with you. Explain briefly what’s going on and let them know that everything will be fine. When you are having issues that simply can’t be avoided you have to tell them so they are just not sitting there looking at you with blank stares. Don’t just stand there not saying anything (you’d be surprised how many artists do this), make sure that you engage the audience and reassure them that you’ll give them a great show.

As for my first experience working a band, I screwed up because I didn’t know how to transition from verse to hook to verse smoothly, so I couldn’t deliver my songs properly. Instead I just freestyled for most of my set and people looked like they enjoyed it. I had fun and all in all, it felt great to do something different musically. Although I was highly frustrated, I didn’t show it, adapted and spoke to my audience. At the end of my set, the people applauded and they didn’t even care about the issues because I still gave them a good show and that’s what counts.

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