What Gets My Attention When I See A New Band Live (or: “If You Care, Let’s Get Engaged”)

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: Sex Bomb Om

Practice is important.

(This is part of an ongoing series I’m writing and cross posting from Aux & Whisky Rocks. Click that link to enter your band for a chance to open for the Trews!)

We’ve all been there – you get to a show early, one where you came to see the main act – and you end up watching some opening band you’ve never heard of. And sometimes, when you’re lucky, that band ends up being incredible.  You end up buying the shirt, or the CD(?) or the vinyl, and you get home and look them up and learn about them and listen to everything you can get your hands on. It’s more exciting than when you hear about a band from word-of-mouth, it’s the thrill of finding it for yourself, in real life, like an archeologist discovering a new dinosaur or an astronomer spotting a new comet in the sky. You’re seeing and hearing it with your own seeing-and-hearing holes! It’s actually happening, and you’re there, at the beginning, experiencing it!

(Fun side note: This happened to an ex-boyfriend of mine in a pretty big way: many, many years ago he saw the Arcade Fire open for the Constantines. Boom. I have forever regretted missing that show.)

In my last post, I said that I generally find new music online – but I fall in love with new music when I see it live. Why? What makes a new band grab our attention from the stage? If you go to a lot of shows, you know that for every great new band you find at a live show, you’re going to hear a hundred that do nothing for you.

When I see a new band live, of course, the quality of their musicianship is important. Although I support very new musicians and understand that you eventually have to get out of your parents’ garage and play a live show for the first time, I probably won’t become a fan from your live show if you can’t keep it together. If the band is tight, talented and well-practised, I’ll be a lot more receptive to what you’re doing up there.

Bigger than skill, though, is ENGAGEMENT. You need to engage me. Get me to pay attention. Don’t just look at each other and mumble, don’t stand halfway back on the stage, don’t turn your back to me to play to your bandmates – BE PRESENT, and BE THERE. We paid to see YOU! You have a few minutes to win us over, so let us know you want to. You can get away with mistakes and the audience will forgive you, if you can perform with confidence and stage presence. Play to your audience. Be yourself. Talk to us. Have FUN. Show us your FEELINGS and show us that you care about being there. That’s why you are there, right?

Bottom line: if you expect to make me care, you need to feel it first. If you don’t feel passionate about it, why should I?

To enter the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, upload your original music demo to
the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition at WhiskyRocks.com between September
17 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 9 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The LCBO will review
each entry and if it meets all guidelines and requirements, the song will be posted
on WhiskyRocks.com where friends, family, and the general public can vote between
October 12 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 25 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The top 3 finalists
with the most votes will win a slot to open for The Trews on November 8th in Barrie, ON,
where a panel of judges and the Trews will then select one winner. The winners will be
announced at whiskyrocks.com on November 9th.

Tickets to the Trews show and Whisky tasting cost $25 and are available online
at ticketbreak.com, by phone at 1-866-943-8849, at impactlive.ca ticket outlets, or at the
door. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Dixon Hall, a United Way member
agency and its Music School program, which provides youth with music instruction and
opportunities to attend music camps across Ontario.

Concertgoers must be 19 years of age or older and valid ID is required.

For full rules and regulations for the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, visit


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