Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stage Banter Primer

Or, How To Talk To The Audience From Someone In The Audience

Lou Reed, Caroline Says I, Rock and Roll Animal. "Shaddup." Lou said it all, really. At one point in his career, he had elevated stage banter to a fine art. He didn't need to fuck around. He didn't need to tell stories or make off-hand remarks. He knew what he needed to say and he said it. All other stage banter must be judged against this slighty slurry, snotty, one word demand. In other moments of astounding genius, Lou extended it to two words: "Fuck you." Was there anything else he needed to say? Note: This only works if you're Lou Reed.

The Heartbreakers, Chinese Rocks, Max's Kansas City. "Johnny's vacationing in Detroit these days... you can tell by how healthy he looks." Walter was throwing down the commentary, and good thing, too, because I've never seen anyone take so long to get a guitar strap on their guitar. Note: This will only work if you are in one of the most awesome bands ever, you can pull off wearing a zebra stripe jacket with a plaid shirt and a tie of some kind, your lead singer/guitarist is capable of being both wasted and better than anyone else, and you're about to play "Chinese Rocks".

The Cramps, The Way I Walk, Napa State Hospital. "And somebody told me you people are crazy... but I'm not so sure about that. You seem alright to me." Don't you love it when everything aligns, when the right thing happens at the right moment, with the right people at the right place, and the world is briefly as brilliant and wonderful as you knew it could be? As if The Cramps playing at a mental hospital wasn't perfect enough, Lux uttered what might be the best intro, hands down. Note: This will only work if you are fucking cool and weird and are playing to mental patients.

The Ramones
, I Don't Want To Go Down To The Basement. "Hey, hey, quick, let's go. Lively." And various comments as they debate which song to play. Most band conversations are excruciatingly boring; you know they are. "Yeah, so, do you think we'll have enough time to load the gear back in?" The crowd doesn't want to hear your band conversation, trust me. Unless it's a funny one. Like, the drummer wants to play one song, but the bass player really wants to play this one. Really! Note: This will only work if you all have funny New York accents and attitudes and both the songs are loud and under two minutes, just like all your other loud, under two minute songs. If your singer can do a kind of ungaingly sort of danceish thing, that doesn't hurt either.

Antony and the Johnsons
, Cripple and the Starfish, Queen Elizabeth Theatre. "I'd be like, 'Well, maybe you should hit me.' And then I was like, 'Oh, better go to college.'." I was so there! Which makes this special! Most of the modern bands I like eschew stage banter, so it was nice to actually hear from a performer. It was a good balance. He played a bunch of really depressing songs and then broke it up with a funny story about how his high school boyfriend wouldn't touch him and he felt really lost and depressed. Okay, so that isn't funny at all, but he makes it funny. and Note: If you aren't witty, have no clue how teenage girls feel, did not learn the fine art of performing from drag queens and aren't extremely talented, this won't work.


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