I was doing an interview for a magazine earlier this week and one of the questions said something like, “How do you balance being an emotional musician and being a dynamic performer?” I was a little taken back, cause I had never really thought of it. I guess I just naturally had a process for getting on stage and playing when I was having a rough day. It was almost like I just blocked the entire day out for the half hour to an hour that I was on stage, became a new person, played the gig, and went back to my bad day. Maybe my process won’t work for everybody, but maybe somebody wants to know. 😛
The first thing I do is try to remember what I did during the day. Maybe I woke up, opened up the drier, saw that my work shirt had been ruined, and had to go to a show in a nicer garb, then got stuck cleaning the drains and ruined my nice shirt… (LIKE YESTERDAY…. sigh…) I try to look at it from a positive aspect… “At least I can afford a shirt… at least I have a job…” But that normally doesn’t work. So I start to think about how great the show is going to be. I literally will psych myself out by saying stuff like, “THIS IS MY BIG CHANCE TO MAKE IT…” (Even if i’m playing at a small coffee shop in the middle of nowhere…)
What that thought does, is start a process in my brain of believing that even though the whole day is blown to bits, I’m gonna get to play my songs… and maybe meet some new contacts, hot chicks, fellow musicians, celebrities, and rich people who want to buy me stuff. It may not happen, and it may not even be a “good” show… but the ability to just “LET GO” of the day and it’s events is huge as a musician.
Another trick I use is to lock myself away for about a half hour. Meditate. Just breathe. I’ll listen to good music, or just go over the concert in my head. By giving myself a little time to just let go, I can ensure that the “Josh Damigo” who takes the stage is not going to be the pissy, whiny “Josh Damigo” who has decided to piss off all of his friends, and almost kill someone from driving and texting, then feeling guilty…
Lastly, there are some shows, where I don’t have time to release or can’t let go of my bad day. That is when I literally accept the bad day, walk on stage and take no prisoners. I’ll beat the crud out of my guitar on a song like, “She’s So Bad For Me” and make everybody go… “Dude… what’s this guy’s deal…” And then cruise on auto-pilot for the rest of the show.
In the end, you simply have to MAKE the show be good. If you’re sucking it up 3 songs into the set, close your eyes, refocus, and KILL, KILL, KILL!!! No excuses, and no one gets out of the club alive. 😛
(Also… listening to a little bit of Justin Timberlake before a show does WONDERS for me… just a little “JUSTIFIED” and boom… I’m dancing…)