Performance Art

Singing, playing and writing are only part of the total equation for a working musician. Performing is more important than ever as record sales are usurped by digital downloading and piracy. The old, tired rallying call, "It's all about the music, man" just isn't true. In fact, it never has been true. It's the live performance that makes stars, not records. People remember Elvis and the Beatles from their performances on the Ed Sullivan Show and one good live show can create a million more fans than radio airplay. Performances are very important.

Charisma, excitement, "larger than life" are all things that describe the performance of a star. Want a good example? Here is the L.A. band Los Lobos playing their hit from the movie La Bamba live.

Los Lobos playing live but not very lively.

Are Los Lobos too cool to show any emotion, excitement or personality on stage or are they too scared? The animatronic characters in Disneyland are more animated than these guys. How can they expect the audience to get enthused when they can't bother to wake up for the gig?

Now here is Lou Diamond Phillips singing the same song from the movie:

 Now that's entertainment!

Notice the difference? Sure the audience is being paid to leap to its feet but at least it's believable. It would look phony if the audience for Los Lobos got that excited. The funny thing is that Lou Diamond Phillips isn't actually singing at all but is lipsyncing to Los Lobos' recording. The music is exactly the same. What a difference a performance makes. Even Lou's introducing the tune as a "rattlesnake" intrigues the audience before he's played the first note, or faked the first note.

"It's NOT all about the music, man." Get over your shyness or coolness or hipness or whatever it is that makes you think dull is the new exciting and work on stage as least as hard as your audience did to get to your gig. Or else get off the stage.

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