I've been out to see some local music this past month and wanted to make a few comments on stage presence and what to do when you're on stage. The first thing to remember is that you are the one on stage, so you provide the entertainment. All eyes in the room are on you, so be the artist and give the audience something to watch. The last show I went to see had two bands performing. The first band was impressive. The music had motion and a creative element that was engaging. The musicians were very emotional and it was obvious that they loved their music. The singer was dancing and really putting on a show. Bravo!
The second band started their set and all the musicians were standing still and starring down at their instruments. The singer started the set by saying, "This is a new song, so we may mess it up. Really hope you like it." These are horrible things to say when you're on stage in front of a crowd. It sounds like you don't rehearse and you're insecure about your own music. What do you care if anyone likes the music or not? Will you stop playing a song just because someone says they don't like the song? I certainly hope not. Everyone has a different taste in music, so some will like your tunes and some will not. That should have no relevance on how you compose and perform your music.
The attitude you have on stage transfers onto the crowd. If you're timid and nervous, the crowd will be shy about listening to you perform. When you show emotion and feel the music when you're on stage, it energizes the crowd and they open up to your music. Music is passionate by nature, so release the emotions that inspired you to compose the music and put on a good show for the audience. Please, rehearse your live performance! Don't just meet in your everyday clothes and robotically practice your songs, pretend you're on stage every now and then. Maybe set up a camera and video yourselves so you can see what you look like to the crowd. The stage performance is just as important as the music. Please, for the love of sanity, mute your amp while you tune your guitar. There is nothing that will kill a buzz faster than a lame guitarist plucking random strings to tune a guitar. You never hear a big time guitarist on stage tuning their guitar, so neither should you!
It's OK to talk to the crowd and get them amped up, but keep it short. Unless you're a natural stand up comedian, the longer you talk, the faster the crowd looses interest in your performance. Save the chit chat for after the show. If you need some guidance, just look up some videos on the web of your favorite bands performing live. Take notes on what they do well and how they keep the audience entertained and engaged in the performance. A good live show will propel your music career and news will spread of how impressive your live show can be. That's how you draw a crowd to your shows. Stop asking all your friends to come to each of your shows. You need to reach people you don't personally know.