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The 7 Attributes of Great Performances
The 7 Attributes of Great Performances
Adam C. Libman
It might be a woman, a sunset, a painting, a car, or maybe just some old jeans.
It makes You stop.
It makes You pause.
In a whisper you say, "That is beautiful".
Completely different things all provoking one emotion, one thought: Beauty
Just as beauty is a quality that transcends thingness, a great concert performance transcends genre, time, and culture. In fact, there are certain attributes that all great performances share. These reoccurring attributes becomes the very definitive of what makes a great concert performance GREAT.
Before describing the different attributes that comprise a great performance, it may be helpful to know what the end result feels like. I know you've felt it before, but I want the feeling fresh in your tummy.
Have you ever felt like a complete individual, and at the same time feeling no sense of self? To be so into the moment that nothing else exists. To be in an environment that is so loud and energetic you can't hear your friends yelling; yet, inward you can hear all your own thoughts and are at total inward peace. To be filled with joy and sadness simultaneously. That my friend is The Concert Experience. This is the Peak Experience that creates a non-time, non-space experience that is eternal. This is why we go to Concerts.
Having been to hundreds of concerts, and being privileged to have the Concert Experience many times, I've identified common attributes in all the shows that when mixed properly create The Concert Experience.
Band/Concert Goer Relationship
The primary component of The Concert Experience is the relationship the Band has with the Concert Goer, and the Concert Goer with the Band. The band must engage the Concert Goer. In other words, the Band must reach out to the Concert Goer in a meaningful way to the Concert Goer. For example, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters will read signs of the Fans during a show. He once asked everybody to sing Happy Birthday to one person. Sometimes Dave will run into the audience, and play a song on the mixing board. Billy Joe of Green Day gets audience members to jam with him on stage. Bono of U2 will bring a person on stage, and personally sign to that person. In that moment, it is as though Bono is singing to each person because every person in attendance is imaging that experience of Bono personally singing to them. Each example shows how the band reaches out. The Concert Goer in turn reaches back through applause. This special relationship creates attachment, which is the fundamental key for a The Concert Experience. This mutual relationship of attachment is strengthened and solidified by the message the band is voicing.
The songs of a Band become the carrier for the thoughts, emotions, and ideas of the Band to the Concert Goer. When the Concert Goer has similar thoughts, emotions, ideas, and/ or experiences to the song, it strengths the attachment to the band from the Concert Goer. More importantly, the Concert Goer now identifies elements of himself with the Band. As the Band reaches out, that attachment gets personalized to the band member himself. When you identify with a band, and a band member in particular, going to concert become a very personal event. The more intimate the thoughts, ideas, and emotions the band shares is directly proportional to the attachment and identification with a band. Nirvana is great example. So many in the 90's felt the loneliness, isolation, and hurt of Curt Cobain. When he committed suicide it was a personal loss for every fan. I still to this very day remember when I first heard. It was as if a part of you was killed that day. Curt Cobain was able to share his feeling and thoughts that won him fans for life; for our life. Every decade has a band that defines the time. Whether it's the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, Green Day, they all penetrate our hearts and minds to fill the emptiness in ourselves. More importantly, the Great Artist fill us with hope, optimism, purpose, and love.
Complete Expression of Self
To sing as a carrier of thought, idea, and emotion, one must sing with complete expression of self. You know what I mean. When you see a performer singing with their entire being, that is complete expression of Self. You can tell when they are giving everything they got. Just like when your boyfriend/girlfriend says, "I love you", you can tell when they mean it, and the extend to which they feel. In other words, is the singer being honesty, and what is the depth to their feelings. Bono from U2 comes to mind. When he sings "In the Name", you can feel him, feel his depth of emotion. Equally important is the range of emotions a performer can access. There are plenty of bands that can be identified with as anger, or love-sick, or happy. The special performances have a full spectrum of emotions they feel and can express to the Concert Goer. In other words, a great singer processes honesty, depth, and range in the thoughts, ideas, and emotions he projects. Those attributes when combined result in a performance that shows complete expression of Self. Taylor Hicks of American Idol comes to mind of performance with a complete expression of self. He didn't win because of his voice, nor his looks, but because each performance was completely filled with Taylor Hicks. Taylor Hicks being Taylor Hicks enduring himself to the American public. That honesty with the audience will take a performer far, maybe even to become an American Idol.
Have you ever felt after a concert you can still feel the presence of a member of the band? Or perhaps you've noticed that your thought process is different after the show. If you have, then you've consciously experienced the expanded consciousness of the Band or Band Member. Perhaps this may help: Have you ever watched a guy come on stage, and the guy owns it. Whether it's at a concert, or a party, there is always somebody who fills the room by just them being there. That my friend is expanded consciousness. Each person has a consciousness that is projected and shared with those around them. For some, their consciousness is expanded to point that it can fill an entire stadium. To be a great performer, you need to fill the space with your consciousness. While the band has the stage, they also have the entire space of the venue. A great performer must fill the area with himself. This is not ego, this is beingness. In that moment of being bathed by the presence of greatness, the artist creates a sense of Nowness, or being in the present. For example, have you ever been on a date when all you are thinking about is the day that just past, or some other stupid problem that your brain is mulling. In that moment, you are not present for the date. And trust me, the other person knows you aren't there for them. In contrast, have you been on that date where nothing else matters at that moment. Nothing! You don't see other people. You don't hear other people. All that matters is that other person. In that moment, you are completed enwrapped by the moment. Time/Space lose meaning. In the expansion of consciousness of a great performer, the artist creates a total sense of Presentness. The Concert becomes an Event.
To have a great performance the band must be in group cohesion. You can feel it. When the band is working together, in joy and happiness, they feed off of each other. That synergy produces moments of magic. Conversely, if the band is fighting with each other, you can just feel it, and it sucks.
Just as the Band is responsible for reaching out and playing with complete expression of Self, the crowd needs to bring their enthusiasm, energy, and attention. I've been to several concerts where the band is awesome, but the guy next to me is passed out. Worse, I was at a concert were the guy overdosed on coke and had to have the paramedics carry him out. It sucks. That is an extreme example, but the point is that to have a great concert experience, you need to be surrounded by people who are rocking out. Rocking out in turn feeds the band. Their exists a mutual and reciprocal relationship with the band. The more you rock out, the better the band can rock out, and vise versa.
When the above attributes are achieved, it creates a concert community unique to that specific concert. Community is so important. At the end of the date, when you look around and see lighters and cell phones surrounding you, it creates this sense that we are wrapped in love. I've seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers play at the Forum twice, and each time I'm blown away when they play Under the Bridge, and everybody has their lighters and cell phones out. Writing this gives me a lover's sigh.
Now that I'm done with this Article, I can't wait for my next Concert Experience. Do You have a Concert Experience that you what to share. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Head Concert Goer