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View Full Version : What makes a live show great for you?



Tylerdurden31
02-01-2007, 10:01 PM
So all these people arguing that Rage is the best live act or The Arcade Fire or Bjork or Pip farting on a snare drum. I've just been wondering what makes a live show great for you. Not so much who you're with or what the venue is like, but what makes for a great musical experience. I've been to shows alone in a small club and they can be some of the best. So can being somewhere with 50,000 other people.

What about the performance, the band, the music, the stage makes a show great for you?

fober
02-01-2007, 10:17 PM
Energy.




And boobies.

Mr.Nipples
02-01-2007, 10:17 PM
reefer

mountmccabe
02-01-2007, 10:22 PM
Familiar music is probably most important.

Good sound is kinda key, too.

And, not contradicting the previous two, something about the music, about the actual peformance of the songs that makes it clear that I'm at a live show, that they didn't just throw a CD on.

Those are my first thoughts.

vinylmartyr
02-01-2007, 10:23 PM
I went to this Kool Keith show 10 years ago and they threw chicken wings and wetnaps to the audience.

nothingman00
02-01-2007, 10:39 PM
Familiar music is probably most important.

Good sound is kinda key, too.

And, not contradicting the previous two, something about the music, about the actual peformance of the songs that makes it clear that I'm at a live show, that they didn't just throw a CD on.

Those are my first thoughts.

Well said. I enjoy seeing a band who I'm familiar with over someone unknown. It's nice to be at, say, a Crowded House show and having the anticipation for "World Where You Live" or praying for a Splitz Enz song to close the set. Or watching Broken Social Scene and wanting to hear "It's All Gonna Break" and then having them play a 15 minute version... And yes, crowd interaction and strange tangents are a positive. As much as everyone here hates The Rolling Stones, seeing them in Pittsburgh on this last tour and watching Eddie Vedder sing "Wild Horses" with Mick. It was just fukking unreal. I know it sounds basic, but that's what makes a live show great for me: anticipation of setlist, then hearing those songs played in a live setting, and then maybe something that makes you say "I can't believe I just witnessed that".

mountmccabe
02-01-2007, 10:48 PM
Yeah, also a snack and something to wipe up with.

€uroMeinke
02-01-2007, 10:49 PM
Energy
Good Sound
Rapport with the audience
An element of surprise (unexpected cover, old song redone, floorshow, etc.)
The band actually seems to enjoy what they are doing

MsTekno
02-01-2007, 10:51 PM
For me, a great live show is when the band plays all my favorite songs and they're not so totally wasted that they can't play/sing/etc. Also, the band needs to really want to be up there playing, enjoying the show as much as the audience - not just "phoning it in". I like the show to be high energy all night, not too much slow spots. It helps to be able to see the stage, but its not a must.

Even if I'm at the show by myself, it's fun to see the people around you enjoying themselves as much as you are, and maybe make some new friends.

bmack86
02-01-2007, 11:05 PM
A good show, for me, is something that exceeds my expectations. I expect different things from different bands, and I usually expect quite a lot. I expected Arcade Fire to be intense, and they exceeded.

ADrunkPoet
02-02-2007, 01:31 AM
alcohol
drugs
cuddling

and maybe...just maybe...

a perfect alignment of the stars.

so often i wonder with bands i see live if it was necessarily them, or me.
my guess is somewhere in the middle.

R3d Snapper
02-02-2007, 01:54 AM
A bad crowd can def have an effect on the experience if they aren't into the music.

Ill_Eagle
02-02-2007, 02:04 AM
and they're not so totally wasted that they can't play/sing/etc.

I bet you're the guy that sued scott stapp (creed) for being wasted on stage huh?

seriously though, for me it comes down to this: when the audience feels like the performers are connecting with each and every one of them, you've got a great show.

R3d Snapper
02-02-2007, 02:21 AM
I bet you're the guy that sued scott stapp (creed) for being wasted on stage huh?

seriously though, for me it comes down to this: when the audience feels like the performers are connecting with each and every one of them, you've got a great show.

Scott Stapp deserved to be sued, based solely on the fact that he sucks at life.

waxybk
02-02-2007, 05:10 AM
I think it definitely helps when the crowd around you is diggin the show and having a good time. The energy of the band has got to be amazing, when you can tell they are really enjoying performing for the crowd.

I love going to hear bands that I already like, but what makes a great show for me, a lot of times, is when I go to hear a band that I have never heard before....and they totally blow my mind. I like adding new sounds to my collection.

And also beer!!

miseducation
02-02-2007, 05:41 AM
Robots and LEDs and triangles and pyramids. And an excess of serotonin.

Depends on the show - familiarity's key for a lot of bands, but look at Animal Collective, people aren't familiar with what they're playing on stage practically ever. Mostly showmanship, crowd interaction and non-boring diverse sounding music. (... screw you The Cure.)

Tylerdurden31
02-02-2007, 05:47 AM
Tyler, this is a great question, may I chime in? No? Well screw you buddy, I'm talkin anyways.

A show for me can be great for different reasons.
#1 for me is probably when you can tell that the band is enjoying themselves. Anyone who stands still on a stage should be drug out and shot. Broken Social Scene...almost 20 people on stage...every single one of them moving around, kicking legs, jumping. That's awesome.

#2 Crowd interaction...Daft Punk did it without speaking a word. They somehow managed to feed off the excitement the crowd had and build us up more and more as the night went on. Perfection.

#3 It may sound cheesy, but the stage setup can have a big effect on a show for me. Mogwai at webster hall last year was one of the best shows I saw. The lighting was perfect with the music. I'm talking PERFECT. It was almost surreal at times.

#4 If a band plays exactly how they recorded...it pisses me off. I have a few friends that have said "Oh man, 'so and so' was awesome, they sounded just like the CD." If a band live sounds like they do in the studio...I'd rather stay home (unless they can pull off those first 3). I'd rather a band fuck up than have them be perfect if they do that.

#5 If the crowd's awesome...the show becomes awesome. New Pornographers @ lollapalooza, EVERYONE was enjoying themselves. There was a conga line going through the crowd...it was great.

Alchemy
02-02-2007, 06:50 AM
What makes a live show great for me?

I'd have to say Massive Attack. Though that does not apply to all bands, does it?

bartelby
02-02-2007, 07:02 AM
The crowd has a lot do to with it but I think the theme of a band needing to sound different from their CDs is the key for me.

Every amazing performance I've seen (Radiohead, Arcade Fire, MMJ, even Daft) had the artist doing their songs + a little bit more. Didn't matter if it was a longer jam, louder beats, or different instrumental emphasis - it just meant that you were hearing something a bit different (and usually better) than what you heard on the CD.

Some bands I've seen live that I'd never heard of before have blown my mind too though. At Coachella I saw !!! and BrokenSocialScene for the first times and came away amazed. I'd say the crowd had a lot to do with those shows (in addition to great music)...

kreutz2112
02-02-2007, 07:11 AM
Well said. I enjoy seeing a band who I'm familiar with over someone unknown. It's nice to be at, say, a Crowded House show and having the anticipation for "World Where You Live" or praying for a Splitz Enz song to close the set. Or watching Broken Social Scene and wanting to hear "It's All Gonna Break" and then having them play a 15 minute version... And yes, crowd interaction and strange tangents are a positive. As much as everyone here hates The Rolling Stones, seeing them in Pittsburgh on this last tour and watching Eddie Vedder sing "Wild Horses" with Mick. It was just fukking unreal. I know it sounds basic, but that's what makes a live show great for me: anticipation of setlist, then hearing those songs played in a live setting, and then maybe something that makes you say "I can't believe I just witnessed that".

YEAH!!!!.....Sorry, I just get excited antime anyone mentions Pearl Jam in any way.
I would say what makes a live show good for me is energy from the band and from the crowd. I especially like it when EVERYONE is dancing and the bands feeds off the energy from the crowd and visa versa.

TomAz
02-02-2007, 07:13 AM
energy. explosiveness even better. playing like they mean it.

also, it helps if the band doesn't suck to begin with.

yeah that's it. a band that doesn't suck that's into what they're doing right then and there. seems simple, but it's rarer than you might think.

waxybk
02-02-2007, 07:29 AM
energy. explosiveness even better. playing like they mean it.

also, it helps if the band doesn't suck to begin with.

yeah that's it. a band that doesn't suck that's into what they're doing right then and there. seems simple, but it's rarer than you might think.

It's sad how rare that actually is.

gaypalmsprings
02-02-2007, 07:30 AM
I love it when the fake song skips & the performer's words don't match their lip movements.

Free admission is great too.

PsyGuyRy
02-02-2007, 07:41 AM
The crowd is a huge part of the show for me, and the way that the band interacts with the crowd. I love a little banter with the audience, or some audience participation. That's why Interpol are "good" but not "great." The times I've seen them, they've sounded excellent, but they're boring live. All they do is play their music well, nothing more, nothing less. Personally, I need to feel a connection with the act, even if its just by feeling their energy, in order to make a great live show.

I never in my wildest dreams thought that an electronic act could be in my top performances ever, just because of the sterility... (I'm a reformed raver...) But DAFT PUNK blew my mind, and I think it was a combination of the music, the light show / performance / energy, and the crowd. It was the perfect storm.

Also, TV on the Radio and Massive Attack at the Hollywood Bowl was simply amazing. The crowd was a bit lacking in enthusiasm (which was unfortunate) but I was up-front so I didn't care...

J~$$$
02-02-2007, 07:48 AM
When you can see that they donkey really wants to be there, and the twinkle in the ladies eye, because she doing this for more than monetary reasons.

Tylerdurden31
02-02-2007, 07:49 AM
Also, TV on the Radio and Massive Attack at the Hollywood Bowl was simply amazing. The crowd was a bit lacking in enthusiasm (which was unfortunate) but I was up-front so I didn't care...

in the words of the Dismemberment Plan

"Everybody's doin the standing still"

Disco!
02-02-2007, 08:03 AM
Energy for me is the only thing that matters, both the crowds and the band. 2 Examples:

1.Oasis, 2002 - My first time seeing them, and the first time I had heard songs from their new album(Heathen Chemistry). You know what to expect from Liam and Noel, the occasional arguement, and maybe Liam flipping off a fan.
What made it great? The crowd. SEN-SATIONAL. The entire crowd(40k) was bouncing in unison, and 5 years later I still get goosebumps remembering it.

2.Scissor Sisters, 2004 - Again my first time seeing them, this time in a 750 man capacity hall. I ended up going alone after a friend told me 6 hours earlier he couldn't afford it. Looking around I realised I was the only straight guy there. The support act comes out, and 20 minutes in everyone realises it's a drag queen. Funny as fuck. The band come out, and what made it great was the interaction with the crowd. They had a decent reputation in the UK at the time, and they related stories to us of how they got started, and just made sure that everyone enjoyed themselves. Ended up playing so long I missed my bus back to the train station, pleaded with the manager to let me sleep on the station floor. Good times.

TomAz
02-02-2007, 08:07 AM
http://www.radrowdies.com/vt/asp/Affil-0/itemcat-boys/BO_ID-533/Desc_ID-1/tv/gfx/prints/large/DiscoSucks.jpg

Yablonowitz
02-02-2007, 08:12 AM
1. Biting off the head of a bat onstage.
2. Defecating onstage.

If one or both is not done, the show is sub-par.

lindseyb
02-02-2007, 08:17 AM
vantage point is very important to me. if i can't see over people, i get really frustrated. once i'm frustrated, i'm distracted from the band and i'm not having fun.

mob roulette
02-02-2007, 08:25 AM
an artist either at the top of their game live or else one that is about to break big and deserves it and both the audience and the artist themselves know it. some of the best shows i've seen fall into this category...arcade fire anywhere in 05, spoon on the gimme fiction tour, nirvana right before nevermind hit big, jane's addiction in 89 in small clubs and theatres, five dollar fugazi shows, etc. but you get the idea.

SFChrissy
02-02-2007, 08:30 AM
Good Sound
Good vibe/Energy
Great Smoke
Great Musician/Showmanship

There's nothing worse than when someone at the show is heckling the performer...that's a total buzz killer!!!

PsyGuyRy
02-02-2007, 08:32 AM
When you can see that they donkey really wants to be there, and the twinkle in the ladies eye, because she doing this for more than monetary reasons.

Hilarious. Much like that chick from Giant Drag last year, and the whole "tragic felching accident" thing. Funny stuff.

keriann
02-02-2007, 09:24 AM
My very favorite thing is to see a band just completely win over and own a crowd. It's so fun to be a part of that. It's an element of a live show that can make seeing a show at the Troubadour or in the Sahara tent equally as fun. There's something to be said for sharing that experience with a small collection of people, but then there's also something to be said for sharing that experience with a huge crowd.

As far as my own personal enjoyment goes, it's important to me that it sounds good. I agree that perfect lighting and a great atmosphere can really add to the experience. I like unexpected surprises, like random covers that somehow work, or when a band plays a song that they very rarely play live. The first time I saw Mason Jennings, the crowd was going nuts at the end of the show, so he came back for a third encore and did Bulls On Parade. I'm sure that sounds blasphemous to many of you but it was so unexpected and ridiculously cool.

Disco!
02-02-2007, 09:48 AM
http://www.radrowdies.com/vt/asp/Affil-0/itemcat-boys/BO_ID-533/Desc_ID-1/tv/gfx/prints/large/DiscoSucks.jpg

Is this on a t-shirt? Please please please tell me it is.

delibot3029
02-04-2007, 01:07 PM
The threat of being seriously injured by wasted half-naked Norwegian men with sledgehammers, like when I saw Hurra Torpedo.

But twenty plus people doing non-classical music on a stage doing whatever is pretty rad, too.

And reunions that don't suck.

Other things are amongst the qualifiers, and I may highlight those at another period of time.

Dode BCK
02-04-2007, 02:56 PM
A great live show is a tough one.
Sometimes you go to a gig,not having heard a lot of the bands/artists stuff,then leave the gig thinking it was f*ckin amazing
( The Black Crowes 1990,The Capitol-Aberdeen,by f*ck they rocked!)
Other times,you go being a massive fan of the band,then leave a wee bit disappointed at the shortness of the gig,and lack of effort from the band
(Oasis 1997,AECC-Aberdeen,still love there music tho.)
For me,my best live show has to be Radiohead 1997,AECC-Aberdeen
Teenage Fanclub on 1st,got the crowd nicely warmed up.
DJ Shadow next,with a lighting rig that looked like some alien mothership or something,and some kick-ass tunes.
Then Radiohead,just having released OK Computer,played the whole album,along with the whole of The Bends,and half of Pablo Honey,played for nearly 3 hours,WOW!