Home Psychology of Singing

First live performance. Am I being my own worst critic or was the audience being nice?

Hey I'm just looking for a little insight or similar stories. I just did my first live performance in front of an audience on Saturday night. There's a bar in my area that basically does open mic for whole bands. They have a nice house drum kit, amps, monitors, mics, etc. Just bring your instruments and you can do a 5-song set. The crowd is mostly other musicians, so they're really forgiving.

Me and the band I'm with got up and did our set, and an encore! I know I did really well with Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers) and Wild Thing (Troggs). I did okay on Crying Shame (Teskey Brothers) and Creep (Radiohead), but not as well as I normally do, and there were a couple of songs that I felt like I did really poorly on.

On Creep I was really flat on the early high note in the bridge ("She's runnin' out the door, ru-u-un"), which never gives me trouble. Then on the really high note I hit it, compressed and loud, no problem.

Work Song by Hozier is one I do really well in practice, but this time I could hear myself being really pitchy, and I had a hard time hearing myself. Maybe the sound guy turned the mic or the monitors down, I don't know. I think I was also losing support, either from nervousness or the mistake of practicing the day of.

For the encore we did Back 2 Good by Matchbox 20. This one starts out pretty low, and I find that if my voice is fatigued I can't sing the low notes as loudly. So I don't know if people could hear me, but I could hardly hear myself and I got pitchy. I also don't feel like my performance was up to par on that one.

That said, we got more applause than anybody, we had people dancing, and some drunk ladies kept catcalling me, so that's gotta be a good sign, right? haha... Also several people came up to praise my performance afterward, which they wouldn't do if I sucked.

I know I can be my own worst critic at times, and the decision to do this performance popped up during a time when I didn't practice enough for a couple of weeks, so I'm critical of myself for that reason.

I don't know. Does anyone have similar stories?


  • bentkbentk Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,650
    I can't say anything about your performance without hearing it, but it's good to be critical to a degree. It shouldn't be defeating.
    The best way for you, would to be hear it all back and analyse it.

    It seemed you had fun, and the crowd was enjoying themselves. But again, to really know for yourself, you need to hear it back.

    A general tip about listening to your recordings, is try not being judgemental. Analyse it and recognise what needs improvement.

    When i first started to do some singing with a friend, I thought I was doing pretty well. But I wasn't at all. He was honest about many things, such as pitch issues and other things. That really helped me actually. It's not nice to hear, but it was honest critique. You'll notice quick enough when someone is being mean or simply providing you with feedback (negative or positive). We'd rather not deal with certain kinds of feedback, but man can it help you improve.

    If you want 'quality' feedback (whatever that may mean) it might be a good idea to surround yourself with musicians and other singers and see what they say?

    Keep improving!
  • FretlessTheBardFretlessTheBard 2.0 PRO Posts: 92
    Thanks @bentk. Yeah we should've had someone record it. We did have fun, and we did get more applause than bands usually get at the venue. But the audience mainly consisted of other musicians and their friends, so they're extremely forgiving. Groups were up on stage discussing what they were going to play next. I even brought up lyric sheets and a music stand.

    I talked about the performance with the guys at our practice on Tuesday, and they didn't notice when I lost the lyrics or when I went flat. They also said that the audience's peak excitement was when we did Creep (one of the ones I thought I screwed up).

    I know what you mean about getting constructive criticism. It's tough because there's a stigma that if you give any negative feedback at all to a singer it will destroy their confidence and they won't perform well. I guess I need to ask for some brutal honesty on occasion, and then make sure I have some recordings to listen back to.

    It would be interesting to see some philosophical discussion on this topic.
  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 5,039
    Other musicians understand how hard playing or singing actually is, so their appreciation comes from a different place if a few small mistakes are made rather than some saying the whole thing was crap because you went off pitch for a small section.

    Trust your gut if you think there was room for improvement but don't discount the praise either. You are getting to know your voice and abilities now, recording is the best way for objective feedback, but I do karaoke with friends and they sometimes praise me for a performance I know I can do better so I know where you are coming from.

    Putting your best effort and preparation into your performance should be the goal, if perfection arises and all the stars align then it's a bonus but realise it's not going to happen everytime. Ultimately if your music made people dance and have fun, then I'd would take it as a win!
  • FretlessTheBardFretlessTheBard 2.0 PRO Posts: 92
    Nicely put, @Wigs! Thanks
  • SarahBSarahB 2.0 PRO Posts: 3
    edited December 2021
    I get praise for the songs I sing, even when I feel like I haven’t done my best. I have a hard time listening to myself because all I hear are the missed notes, missed runs, and the sometimes (not often?!) “sounds yell-y instead of sing-y.” My band hardly ever notices, and the audience seems to enjoy my singing. So I try to balance what I think (I have a lot of work still to do) and what they hear (wow!). I think the truth is in the balance. Could I be better? Always. But did they like it? Yeah. And I have to remind myself to feel good about the fact that some people enjoyed what I had to offer, learn from what I know I did wrong, and move forward, because perfectionism is the enemy of progress. I don’t know if this helps, but sometimes solidarity is comforting.
Sign In or Register to comment.