The first time I ever played live was really exciting for me. It was in a 50 person side room of a bar/club in my hometown. I remember how I felt before, how I prepared, and some of the misconceptions I had. I wanted to address and discuss some of these so they aren’t stumbling blocks for you in your first live set. So here are some of the mistakes I made:
I Played for Myself
This is a big one that takes some learning to get over. I had my whole set planned out complete with cool transitions and some clever wordplay but it wasn’t what the room was looking for at all. I played some tracks that got people grooving but not for very long and I wasn’t paying attention to the room; I was only paying attention to what I wanted to play.
Don’t make the same mistake. Watch the crowd – look for what they start moving and grooving to and let that inform what you play rather than being stuck to your playlist.
I Played a Complicated Set
As I mentioned, the set I put together was complicated and intricate. I had practiced it in my bedroom time and time again.
When I got to the gig I was plagued with technical problems – my Serato failed and when I did get going I was too nervous to do a good job of pulling off some of the things I had planned.
Instead of doing what I did, take it easy. Relax, watch the room, keep it smooth and keep the track selection good as opposed to blowing through a bunch of tracks or trying to do something more complicated than what you’re comfortable with.
I Expected the Room to Be Packed
For my first gig I expected that the room would be busy and I would just walk in and light it up. Your first gig should be slow; this gives you time to read a smaller room and get a smaller group of people dancing, which is an important skill. It’s not easy to go into a big room and get really good reactions, which is why it’s important to learn from the ground up with smaller crowds.
I Played a High Energy Set
For my first gig I played some pretty high energy stuff that would’ve done well at primetime in a busy room, but not early in a small one. Just like song selection, the energy of your set should be gauged based on the room you’re playing. It doesn’t hurt to prepare, but don’t get together a set of bangers for your 10 to 11 o’clock opening set.
Hopefully having an idea of some of the things to look out for will help you be better prepared for your first gig.