The “This Drummer’s At The Wrong Gig Video” on YouTube went viral this last year. Why was this video so notable? First of all the mad drummer’s moves were very signature and unique. Secondly I believe it was because the drummer was breaking unwritten social rules that bands have, and it was funny to watch because of it.
Usually in bands there is a hierarchy as far as where the audiences attention should be focused on. When the singer is singing which is probably the majority of the song, the focus should be directed on the singer. When the singer stops and the lead guitarist has a solo or notable riff the audiences attention should switch off of the singer and onto the lead guitarist. Classically the drummer and bass player have less parts in comparison to the lead singer and lead guitarist, which the majority of the audiences attention is focused on. The “This Drummer Is At The Wrong Gig” video is funny because the drummer is hogging all the attention almost the entire song. It doesn’t matter if the singer is singing or the guitarist is riffing the attention is on the drummer. Since you want to know what move he’s going to do next the rest of the band became a subtext to the performance. In the case of this viral video the drummer’s stage presence made a cheesy cover song that everyone knows into a classic performance that will go down in history. My point is that since it was a fun and cheesy cover song it helped the situation that the drummer was doing all kinds of crazy moves.
How do I know when to stand out with stage presence with my band?
In general you want to play with energy and enthusiasm at all times. Moving to the music with your body and even headbanging should support the music from the entire band as a whole. It should bring the level of energy up with the band and with the audience, but at the same time not take all the attention away from the other musicians. There are appropriate times when you can do stick tricks and be more animated on the drum kit during a performance. If you have a drum solo in the set that’s your time to shine and do whatever you want to show off your talent. People will respect your skills even more if you don’t show off until it’s your turn to do it. You can also go off for signature fills that are meant to show off the drums. This is when the other instruments are minimal or even stop to allow the drummer to pop into the space and show off. A good example of this is the Foo Fighters song “Rope” where Taylor Hawkins is busting out into the space. It’s almost like they are giving him short drum solos.
Ways to work on your stage presence.
Study the way your favorite drummers move and rock during their solos and more importantly when they are just playing steady grooves. Notice how they support the music with energy when it’s the singer or lead player’s time to shine and how they really go crazy when It’s their time to solo. Study a bunch of different drummer’s styles and try to work to develop your own unique style from watching your favorites. Try out different characters when you’re performing. There’s a technique in theater where you study the way a reptile or animal moves and try to incorperate those movements into your acting. You can try this out for drumming too. Steve Moore from the viral video kind of reminds me of a rabid King Kong destroying entire cities with his drum sticks. He’s very primal. This technique may not be for everybody but you should try it out if you feel like your playing is stiff.