To accomplish this I often try to bring a big sound system, my best microphone and keyboard and tracks that fill everything out. I get to the gig as early as possible in order to have an ideal setup and a thorough sound check. I’ve been to huge live concerts that look and sound like what I am aiming for. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for me to recreate that experience for a whole show. I don’t have the equipment that that those big crews own and I don’t have a sound engineer to ride faders and make adjustments during the show. I am my own sound engineer, so I have to get the best mix possible in the sound check, leave it and hope that it is a good enough compromise for the changing elements of the show. I don’t even have a band at the moment, so I have to rely on tracks and my own performance to create energy. I try switching between the piano, singing and playing the saxophone to add variety and interest. These changes, however, only add more opportunity for technical issues and distractions as a performer.
I was leading worship yesterday as a guest minister at my parent’s church. There was a time of prayer at the end of the service and I was at the keyboard providing background worship. I had more “ideal moments” during that simple time of worship than I’ve had at my last five gigs. There were no tracks, no subwoofers and no saxophones. It was just my voice and a keyboard. I felt so free. I wasn’t worried about the mix, my voice, my playing, the tracks and all the other moving parts. This experience reminded me that the most important element in recreating musical “moments” is my connection to moment. I was so focused on the words of the songs I felt lead to sing and the atmosphere that was created by God’s manifest presence that everything else was wiped from my mind.
Unless you are a “big time” artists with a huge record deal, you probably face many of the issues I’ve mentioned in this post. Hauling all of your gear alone, setting up alone, mixing your own sound check and providing all of the stage energy can be overwhelming. As the worries pile up, the performance suffers. Don’t be afraid to strip things down sometimes in order to free yourself from distractions and reconnect to the moment. Remember, the moment is what the performance is all about.