I had an interesting if not entirely enlightening experience today while practicing my set. I have a little practice/teaching studio that is located about 10 feet away from a fellow who likes to work on his cars on the weekend, or whenever the weather is nice. And he’s got a lot of power tools! Today he was really swinging some kind of big hammer … bwaaang bwaaang bwaaang!!! … and grinding the hell out of something big and metal.
But I thought to myself hey how much different is this really than the espresso machine going off at the coffee shop while I’m playing? So I picked up my axe and headed out to do the work at hand. At first it was kind of annoying, as I was really trying to “find the space” where I felt comfortable expressing myself, but after awhile I noticed that I couldn’t really hear him, even though I could. Wha?
I realized that what was happening was at a certain level of energy output on my part I was actually saturating the room I was in with my sound, and the external sounds just couldn’t penetrate through it. I think performing must be like that in a way, you are responsible for pushing enough energy to envelope everyone in the audience, which of course will mean different things depending on the venue and respect level of the audience.
Instead of thinking of people gathering around you, think of enveloping them in a space that you created just for them, in that moment, and pull them in.
Summing up, performers do well when they wrap the audience in a big ol’ psychic bear hug 🙂