In an attempt to get better with live gigs and playing in front of a real audience I did some open-mics at GNUF and Austrian Ukulele Festival. I thought it might be a good topic for an own blog entry, so here it is.
To play at Mim’s open-mic stage at GNUF you had to apply beforehand. Luckily I set myself a reminder on my phone to when the application went online because all the slots were gone within less than half an hour. Anyway, I did get a slot, so Mim informed me that I would be able to play two songs and that everyone was supposed to tell a joke between the songs. This kinda caught me off guard. I was already freaking out to play my two songs but telling a joke is totally out of my league.
Since I was already preparing for my gig in Oslo, I thought it would be a good idea to play the first two songs of my setlist to kinda try the songs out and see how they go. I did however not get in as much practice as I wanted to. Then at the opening night of GNUF on Thursday I saw so many amazing artists hit the open stage and it totally freaked me out. How could I ever live up to those standards? And even though I know that I should not compare me and my art to anyone else, somehow that feeling of not being good enough keeps creeping up on me. So two nights before my scheduled open-mic the fraud police paid me a visit. Just what I needed…. Not.
The next day I attended a workshop with Mim on how to map your personal musical journey, from seat to stage (I still owe you lovelies a blog about that). This workshop was so great, because Mim has this fantastic ability to plant confidence into people and to make you feel positive about yourself and your abilities. So after the workshop I felt a lot better about my upcoming perfomance.
Mim’s stage was supposed to be outside in the courtyard of Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. However, it was raining so they moved the stage inside in the bar area. It was still nice and a lot of people were watching, but still not the same feeling as being outside on an actual stage. I’d been extremely nervous all morning. But it was time to hit the stage. The first song I played was „When I first met you“ and it actually went quite smoothly.
Then it was time to tell a joke. I actually planned to tell this one „Why did Darth Vader know what Luke Skywalker got him for Christmas? Because he could feel the presents“. But the day before I thought it was too weird and out of place. So instead I told everyone that they just heard the love story of my husband and I and that yesterday was our 6th wedding anniversary (which was true). And well, I was here in Huddersfield and he was back home in Vienna, so I guess you could say our marriage is going really well. I was so happy that I actually got some laughs for that one. And it felt a lot more natural than telling an actual joke.
The second song I played was „What measure of truth“ and this one made me even more nervous than the first one. First verse and chorus went very well, but then I knew that the short solo was coming up and my fingers were shaking so bad that it was almost impossible to play it. So of course, I totally messed it up. Rest of the song went great again – I even finished strong. So, yeah, that was the open-mic at GNUF. I was really sad that I couldn’t play on the stage in the courtyard and the post gig blues hit me a little afterwards, but all in all I think it was quite alright.
Then two weeks later at Austrian Ukulele Festival I wanted to play open-mic again. They didn’t have any pre-booked slots. So I signed up about half an hour before the open-mic. Lots of people wanted to play, so it was one song per act only. That’s why I decided spontaneously that I was gonna do „Monkey Monkey Elephant“. I really wanted to try out how people would perceive the song and if it was possible to get some to sing or clap along. There were not a lot of people there because workshops were still going, but it was still a nice crowd. While I was super nervous at GNUF, this time I was thrilled to get on stage and not nervous at all. There were some familiar faces in the crowd who I knew wanted to see me succeed. So I played my song and actually enjoyed myself a lot on stage. I noticed that one woman was trying to sing along at the chorus (yay) and some of my friends were clapping along. It felt so good to be on stage and I would’ve loved to play more than just that one song.
I think it was good to catch those two opportunities before Oslo to actually be on stage and see how being nervous would affect me. I also realized that I actually like being on stage and telling people stories through songs. I want my songs to be heard and I need to get out there to make it happen.
2 thoughts on “Open Stage Fright”
Love your blog and journey. I’ve been playing for almost a year now and love your advice and how you share experiences. Thanks & enjoy!
Thanks Chris. I try to give you all an honest account of how I feel and progress. I feel like that’s helping me and everyone else the most. I’m glad you enjoy reading it 😊