Really Know The Songs You Perform Live
I think it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that you should know the chords and lyrics of any song you perform for an audience. But you should also be aware of what the song is really about so that you can be mentally prepared to perform it in a way that tells the story.
This way you are also in the right frame of mind to play solos and fills that are appropriate to the song. These, along with your vocal, should enhance the right mood and help to get the audience into that mood as well.
Within your bag of tricks you should already have effects and techniques that you can use to create and enhance the mood. These can also be used to make each song unique. This is important so that each song is capable of standing on its own.
While you should strive for a distinctive and identifiable sound for your band, you should also try to impart a certain unique twist to each song. Otherwise, you may find yourself lumped with other bands where “all their songs sound the same.”
You have likely heard bands with this problem. They may even sound like the lyrics and melodys are interchangable for the majority of their songs. This is particularly a problem in bands where all, or the majority, of the songs are written by the same person.
Then you not only have the similarity within the writing, but also in the band’s arrangements. By being aware of this from the time you start rehearsing new material, you can look for ways that make each song unique and memorable.
Vary the instrument effects (such as echo repeats, distortion, and wah pedals) so that they fit the song being played. These can all be effective if used at the appropriate times. They can also be distracting and tiring to listen to if used continuously. Most of the time, subtle use of effects is best.
In the same way, you can vary the content of your solos. If all of your material contains solos composed of blistering fluries of notes without a pause, you will become too predictable and boring.
Even the vocals can be enhanced by letting the dynamics of the song vary from verse to verse, or from verse to chorus. If the melody itself is repetitious, try modulating the key occasionally.
By knowing your songs thoroughly and working to make each one interesting, you’ll keep the interest of your audience longer. If you continue to do that, you’ll continue to grow your fan base as well.