Have you ever been on a gig and found your energy levels dropping mid-set? – Asks Me’sha Bryan.
If so, I have a few useful tips that will have you bopping away until load out. I hope you find them helpful and happy singing!
1. Get enough rest
As we all know, sleep is very important. If you’re tired, your voice is tired and your brain won’t be as sharp which makes you more likely to make mistakes. These factors directly affect your vocal delivery and physicality on stage.
Remember, people have paid to see you perform. They don’t want to come out and see a zombie on the mic in front of them! Sometimes, you have to sacrifice the rock and roll lifestyle for a cup of tea, a steam and early bedtime.
I was once flying back from New York and had to sing with my function band, The Soul Coalition, at a London venue that same night. I had to learn the songs on the plane as the MD, Alan Mian, loves to keep me on my toes and introduced new tunes to the set.
I didn’t go to bed when I got in, so by the time the gig came around I was so tired that I was making up words and had introduced “spunstindoodie” to the Oxford English Dictionary. We all had a good laugh about it but I now make sure to get always enough sleep before performances.
2. Be prepared
Prepare as much as you can for upcoming performances. If you’ve been sent the tunes, commit them to memory as soon as possible then you can focus on the performance itself without having your face buried in sheets of paper or an iPad.
It’s stressful and draining when you don’t really know what’s coming next. You can’t give the show your all under that kind of pressure so don’t do it to yourself!
I’ve been on gigs where people are sat cramming the set in their hotel room half an hour before we’re due to go on in front of a festival crowd. Not so good.
I was once playing “Deloris” in Sister Act, and the lady who was playing “Mother Superior”, Danna Davis, was absolutely fantastic – she’d come to rehearsals fully prepared: all of her lines and songs were learnt off by heart and we were really able to get into character and explore the scenes which helped carry the story of the show.
Get your lyrics, melody, form etc internalized and you can really start emoting and connecting with what you’re singing.
3. Fuel up on food
Getting ready for gigs can be so time-consuming: Have I got my in-ears? Where am I going? How long will it take to get there? What time’s sound check? Have I packed everything I need?…
We have so much to do, eating often gets bumped down the priority list. Don’t allow this. You need the energy from what you’ve consumed to keep you going throughout the day.
Don’t eat rubbish either. Balance your meals, get some vegetables in there and stay hydrated. We all know the benefits of sipping water before we sing and try not to eat too heavy before showtime as your body will find it more difficult to digest and you’ll get the post-dinner lolls.
You’ll also run the risk of whatever you’ve eaten repeating on you on stage and nobody wants that…
A friend of mine fell into the not eating before a gig trap, and right before we were due to step on stage, her stomach was rumbling so loudly that I thought it would be picked up by the microphone!
By the time the first set had finished, she had a headache from lack of food and midway through the second set, she was squinting as the stage lights became unbearable. It must’ve been a horrible experience for her and, to the best of my knowledge, she’s never let that happen again.
4. Take time out
Don’t be afraid to spend time on your own. I’m sure you love all your band mates but a bit of time away can really help to clear your mind, slow things down a little and allow you to return to the fold refreshed.
You’re allowed to be alone and do your own thing so go meditate, sit quietly for a while and save your voice, walk on the beach, watch a film in your underwear, order room service… and when you’re ready, be sociable and ready to rock and roll.
You have to have a lot of energy to work in the entertainment industry: parties, pre/post-gig meetings, interviews, writing, travelling, promo, photo shoots, TV appearances, radio slots, shows abroad…. It can be pretty hectic so I spend time alone whenever the need arises and it’s really beneficial.
I usually call my Mom first to let her know I’m still alive and then I practice Alexander Technique, take a walk or just sit quietly. Doing things at your own pace will help clear and focus your mind so that you’re ready to return to work and be at your best.