Going to live music events is multi-sensory experience.
I enjoy concerts where everything make sense and everything goes together. I like it when the venue and music match. I like it when lighting heighten the moods. I like it when musicians on the stage put some thoughts into their outfits and their presentation. I appreciate it when I can tell that cats on the stage know that I, we, the audience is there and we matter to them. I enjoy the way music vibrates not only my eardrums but also my entire being. I like the overall thoughtfulness.
This, unfortunately, does not happen very often in jazz. Musicians work hard on music. They practice tirelessly to perfect their crafts and spend hours putting music together painstakingly. Yet, somehow, everything else is neglected. Some argue that nothing should matter but music. I feel you but I don’t necessarily agree. I think it is important for cats to understand that how you serve up what you are cooking really matters and can make a huge difference in audience’s experience and in turn, yours. And you are artists. Why limit yourself to just music when expressing whatever it is that you want to express. Yes, your speciality is music but your creativity can take many forms.
Think about it. Why is it that restaurants care about their location, the decor, quality of service, design of furnitures, plates and utensils, lighting, ambiance, and what waiters wear? Because we are multi-sensory creatures and we enjoy experiences that stimulate our senses simultaneously. Be it a 3-star Michelin restaurant or a food truck in some parking lot. We enjoy experiences that has theme and cohesiveness. We like to be thoughtfully engaged.
There has been many discussions about what cats wear on the stage. Some people think that it’s a must that one wears suits. Some are superfly and we love looking at them. Some just don’t know what to do so they just wear black. Some try to have an unique look but not very successfully (by the way, I do appreciate the effort in this case!). Some just seem like they gave up entirely. I have been asked on occasions what my thoughts are on the matter. I would like to see cats put some thoughts into it. And I’d like the outfits to make sense with the artists and the music. I like the totality in things. So if a hoodie and a pair of torn jeans is what does it, then so be it. I want to see you, hear you, and feel you. You feel me?
I also want to feel that cats on the stage know that I, we, the audience is there. I want to know that you want to tell me things. I want to feel that it matters to you that we are there. I want to feel the energy flowing my way. You don’t necessarily have to talk to us to make us feel that we matter to you and your experience as musicians. If you want us, the audience, to show you love then you have to open yourselves to love. Or at least, look at us once in a while. Lol. And don’t make us feel stupid and isolated by having a private musical conversation on stage. You gotta let us in on it. You can make everyone in the room feel so lucky and special by including us in the experience. By your intention to communicate with us. After all, you play music because you got something to say and you want to be heard, right? If nobody heard you, then that tree hasn’t fallen.
Cats need to remember that actual audience members (not your friends who show up to “support” you but ones who pay) like to see music as well as to hear it. I think what I, we, the audience is looking for is an engagement. Human interactions in the form of musical presentation. A sharing of time and space and ideas. So next time you are on a stage, you use all the tools in the box to make sure that audience see the tree fall and hear it goes thud loud and clear.