Everything looks a little bit different from the stage. Sure, it’s still Earth, and it’s still a restaurant/bar/pub/auditorium/etcetera filled with people, but it’s a little different.
When you’re on the stage, the room has a certain… energy. It can feel “hot” or “cold,” not so much in terms of physical temperature, but in terms of how much you have to put into your performance. Excellent audiences — vibrant, enthusiastic, listeners — have the power to make a room completely “hot.” It’s easy to play for these people, because they give feedback as strongly as you perform. If you’re playing a jiving song and totally cooking at it, they’re going to give you applause, whistles, appreciative whoops, and the like. If the room is “cold,” where the audience is not really listening, not paying attention, it makes it very hard to play. You put out everything you have and get nothing back. (This is when musicianing is haaaarrrrd wooooork, and please note that by “cold,” I am in NO WAY referring to rude or belligerent crowds. That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.)
I’ve played for “hot” and “cold” rooms (it’s almost a guarantee when you sign on for this musician thing), but I’ve never had both in the same night at the same establishment…! It was a very unusual experience, and just goes to show that the tenor of a crowd can — literally! — change in an instant. It’s a very strange phenomenon to come up against; to one minute be completely cooking, then to come back from a break to feel like you’re playing in a fishtank of murky water…
This is why it’s important to keep a level head. Many musicians I’ve met over the years would throw a fit about this kind of stuff. They’d play one song and storm out of the establishment because they aren’t getting the “attention they deserve.” Maybe they’re right, but it’s still no excuse to get in a snit. IMHO, you DON’T sign on to be a musician if you don’t get any enjoyment out of playing, period. So what if you don’t have a rapt, captive audience? You still enjoy playing music, right? So play! 🙂
“At the end of the day, it’s the music that matters most.” ~Bill Ochs