Have Fun Up There

It’s contagious.

This weekend at Victoria’ 4th Rifflandia Festival I had the honour of playing alongside my fellow Big Reds (Gobe & Frame) at Phillips Brewery. I will be honest with you – it was a challenging set for me at first. Although I’ve had to deal with many different technical issues in the past, it can still be frustrating when things aren’t straightforward.

When I initially stepped up to the decks all I could think of was problems, but of course still went through the motions and did manage to get in my groove. Once properly set up, we started to throw down some fresh jams, hit our stride, the crowd picked up on it and the night proceeded to be a really good time.

After the performance I was met by many people that proceeded to exuberantly comment: “You guys looked like you were having a blast!” or “That was the most fun I’ve ever had at your shows!” I was amazed they didn’t notice any problems, only that we were having fun. Even after years of similar experiences I still need to keep reminding myself this.

Part of the reason I believe The Big Reds have done well is that we feed off of each other and genuinely get stoked on our music.  As Gobe put it eloquently, “Our sets are never flawless, but we always have a great time.”, and it shows from the crowd reaction.

Daniel Goleman, author of both Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence outlines that we have mirror neurons (watch this fascinating TED talk) that cause our brains to mimic the the behaviors of other people, as though the observer were itself taking action. This means that we actually feel like the people we observe. Emotions literally are infectious. Use this to your advantage, not detriment. Think of times when the crowd has been going hard and you, in turn, fed off of the crowd. This phenomenon works both ways.

At the very least, keep your game face on. Do not show that you are having technical difficulties or are nervous. Being uncomfortable makes others uncomfortable and conversely having a really good time helps others have a really good time too. Most people in the crowd will not notice any problems unless you show them you are having them. Your beatmatching might be off, your track sequencing could be short, you might be playing without pants on, but very few people will notice unless you are broadcasting these signals yourself. It may be a cliche but the practice of “fake it till you make it” actually works in developing confidence.

Prison Garde & Eames, Machinedrum and De La Soul are other examples from this weekend of performers having a really good time on stage. Why should the crowd have fun if you are not? Show your passion – get excited about your music.


  • Even if you’re nervous or are having difficulties – keep your composure no matter what.
  • If necessary, fake it till you “make it”.
  • Have fun – it’s catching.

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