Let’s be honest; even though the Nigerian music industry has grown beyond our wildest dreams in recent times – I mean, you have the likes of J.Cole, Nas, Drake, Busta Rhymes, Beyonce, Fall Out Boy, Remy Ma, all either sampling songs from Nigerian musicians or featuring Naija artists on their tracks, – there is still one very, very serious issue with the Nigerian music industry, and that is STAGE PERFORMANCES.
After You – an artist, gives us fire singles and a crazy lit album, it’s a serious shame when the time comes for you to perform on stage and you give us the kind of performance that leaves us regretting ever thinking of buying your ticket in the first place. So, after carefully studying and attending different concerts, I believe the five tips below will help you turn your sad performances into lit/amazing ones.
This sounds off, doesn’t it? Like you are here trying to learn how to make your performances better and here I am saying you should ‘perform.’ Funny enough, I am in no way wrong. Many, many Nigerian artists do not know how to perform at concerts. Barely five lines into their first song and they are pointing the microphone at the audience for the audience to sing the very songs they paid to watch the artist sing and perform. That isn’t a performance! If your fans wanted a karaoke session, then they wouldn’t have paid to see you live, they’d have just walked into the nearest karaoke bar.
Perform your own songs. Don’t point the mic to your audience to sing your songs for you. Let them sing ‘along’ not ‘to’ your songs. Now, if the crowd is so electric that all of them are singing along, you can bask in your achievement and keep quiet for a minute while dancing as the crowd sings on. The only condition is that you must have performed quite a number of sings first. Perform your songs, don’t turn your concert into a karaoke session.
Get A Live Band
Try using a live band or orchestra if you can. One of the best concerts I’ve ever attended is Asa’s Encore Concert in Lagos. She used a live orchestra to play every single song she performed on stage. In all honesty, I was so wowed, that it moved me to tears. If you can’t use a live band, then a DJ is just as fine. The only thing you must not do is ‘lip sync’ your songs (which you obviously can’t do if you are using a live band). The DJ should play the instrumentals while you sing to it. Lip syncing your songs is probably the single greatest offence in the history of stage performances. Artists like Asa, Darey, Simi, Adekunle Gold, Humble Smith, BEZ, Femi Kuti, etc., all have the greatest performances in the country because of this single fact: they do not lip sync in their concerts.
Be Energetic or Be Cool, Just Capture Your Audiences Attention
Have you ever seen Davido perform? I wouldn’t deny if anyone says he is always ‘juiced’ because he hands-down gives the most energetic performances ever. He literally jumps around the stage for as long as his performances last and you have no choice but to be as pumped and as hyped as he is. Then there are artists like M.I, Nasty C, and Phyno, who are so cool when they perform, the crowd actually mirrors their level of cool and start following their every single move on stage. Both types of performances have the same effect; they have the attention of their audience. I have been to concerts with performances so bad, many people are either tweeting or retouching their makeup cos what is happening on stage isn’t good enough to keep them spellbound. If your audience ain’t spellbound, then, believe me, you aren’t a good stage performer.
Tell stories about your life between performances. Let your audience feel a little bit closer to you. Artists like Asa and Tuface do this so well. During Asa’s Encore concert, she was telling stories and cracking jokes, and at the end of the concert, I felt like I knew Asa a little better. It’s not everyone that will read/watch your interviews, but if you can tell at least one or two personal stories that will motivate your audience, you have literally won. All your struggle stories, stories about your childhood and challenges, etc., these are the kind of stories you can tell. Give the people who paid good money to see you an experience they will never forget.
Do Something Crazy/Fun
From your entrance, you can already win your audience’s hearts. I remember Gidifest 2015 when Burna Boy made his entrance by standing on top of a moving caterpillar (vehicle). That entrance drew a mad ovation and many “OMGs!!!” from the crowd who were no doubt already tired by 4 am. When you see artists like Iyanya and Flavour taking off their shirts to reveal their abs, or Wizkid dashing money and expensive accessories to members of the crowd, it’s not just because they have abs and money, it’s their way of doing something crazy to wow the crowd. Now you don’t have to go to such lengths if you don’t have, but you can find a way to wow the crowd all the same. Something as effortless as doing a full split, a small stunt, an unconventional entrance, a music break where you play an instrument in an epic fashion, a freestyle, etc. can go a long way.
If you can work on the things listed above and take the examples into account, I bet you would be able to turn your bland stage performances into really epic ones.