Ben’s Hot Takes: Stage Presence
While the concept of music is purely an audio presentation, a multimedia presentation of music helps add to the charm and ongoing myth of what an artist wants the audience to think of their music. To get a full picture of what the music should mean, or what the artist wants it to mean, their live show is a way of reaching out to the most loyal of fans. I think that to get a true picture of a band you have to see them live, but I think that the live shows should be categorized into a couple different categories: A supplement, a juxtaposition, and a myth.
A stage show as a supplement is the most common, it’s an average stage show. A supplemental stage show, if done well, helps add energy to the crowd. I think that the best supplemental stage show that I have seen in my musical listening experience is Flying Lotus. The light show of that concert helps pump up the crowd while accompanying the music.
As a juxtaposition: this one seems like it’s the least common, but it is the most interesting of the three. This includes bands like Har Mar Superstar or King Khan & BBQ Show. When listening to a band like Har Mar Superstar, you may think that the band is just a crooner who sings some R&B. If you look closer at the stage show, it is the exact opposite of, and I cannot describe it… but a video would be better. This change from sound to stage is something that you couldn’t surmise from the music alone. The stage show in this regard changes what you may have previously thought of the band while also giving an extra layer of what these people are and what they want to produce.
The most complicated, most interesting category of a stage show is the myth that the stage show creates. This category is in a lot of different genres, and it can be created through many different costumes, or a creative light show that adds some mystery to the show and music themselves. This can be seen in bands like the Gorillaz, David Bowie, Lou Reed, many EDM artists (Like Deadmau5 or Marshmallow), STRFKR, Sia, and many many more. When you go to a Gorillaz concert, what do you expect? Do you expect a couple of guys to come out on stage and play Gorillaz songs? No, you expect the Gorillaz to be projected on the screen. I expect that to the extent that I don’t know what Damon Albarn looks like off-hand, but I do know what the Gorillaz look like. I think stage shows like this help cause bands to live for longer in the mind of the listener. If you look at the Ziggy Stardust image of David Bowie, he became that character and that iconic image still lives in the minds of the people who loved his music. If I were to recommend a movie to watch that has a great take on this exact topic, I would recommend the movie “Frank” with Domhnall Gleeson. I think that music is great, but I think that a live show creative or not is necessary for artists to be able to express the full meaning behind their music.