Stagefright/Anxiety/Imposter Syndrome

Chris Johnston

Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    Hey guys, hope you're all well!

    I'm need of some advice and suggestions:

    So the band have our big comeback headline show this Saturday and I'm already starting to feel the nerves. I know that they're only going to get more extreme as the show gets closer too. This is something I constantly have to battle every gig and it's hell!

    A typical gig experience for me usually goes something like this:

    - Load in, terrified to speak to anyone but my bandmates - imposter syndrome sets in.

    - Soundcheck - Feeling even more tense, overanalysing my playing, feeling self conscious while other bands watch. Tripping over sentences talking to the sound guy, feeling like a nuisance to everyone.

    - Show starts - Waves of anxiety, forgetting things I've been prepping and practicing for weeks & making strange slips & mistakes in songs. My hands feel different, my Guitar looks different, my mouth dries up.

    - Show ends - People are telling me how good the set was and in my head I'm like 'You're lying to me, that was dogshit ' I immediately want to drown my sorrows at the bar out of embarrassment 😂

    I've tried so many things to curb my gig anxiety and I feel like it always gets the upper hand. I just really want our comeback show to be a carefree experience & I want to feel confident and in control of the whole night.

    Does anyone have any good tips to minimize those anxious over-analysing feelings you get before you perform?

    Any advice would help so much! 🤟
     

    A.C.

    Free Bird Player
    Legend
    May 23, 2021
    121
    1
    432
    I had a bandmate once who would worry himself into physical sickness over playing live, even had to cancel a show on the day of, after driving a few hours for it. You don’t want to be that guy for your sake or your bandmate’s sake.

    I spent some time with with a bigger post hardcore/rock band and they would do positive affirmations before they hit the stage. I think they even had some sort of sound clip with positive affirmations that they would listen to to start it off. But you basically look in a mirror and tell yourself good things and get pumped up with your bandmates till you’re feeling yourself real hard and jump around and get loose.

    I know some people that would go find some alone time before hitting the stage and meditate or just mentally prep. Personally, i liked to have someone slap me across the face before I go on. It just made my blood start moving and kicked in some adrenaline.

    I also learned to keep my soundcheck simple. Not trying to impress anyone, just playing basic things to get the sound right. Undersell yourself at soundcheck and then wow them during the show. I went to a show a few weeks ago, and the guitarist for one of the bands was soundchecking (in front of the audience, not before the show) and he was just trying to impress the crowd, and to me it came off really douchey. (local band, of course)
     
    Last edited:

    Brian Haner Sr.

    Administrator
    Staff member
    Nov 11, 2019
    705
    2
    2,859
    This is more common than you might imagine. Literally everyone I know gets nervous before a show.
    The more shows you do, the better it gets. But there are those "important" shows that you have one chance to nail. You're nervous because it maters. That's not a bad thing. You just don't want to be paralyzed by nerves. I grew to like the nervous energy I feel before shows, (and trust me - I feel plenty). I found I could use it to my advantage by channeling it into my performance. More energy, more intensity, more movement, more focus, etc.
    If I'm prepared for a show, I try and think of other things until right before I go on stage. Play a game on my phone, whatever. I warm up for 3 or 4 minutes to get my fingers loose. Maybe go over the 2 or 3 licks that are tough to nail, then just before I walk out on stage I close my eyes and take 3 deep breaths - next - AND THIS IS IMPORTANT - I take a healthy amount of ego on stage with me. I call it "bringing my fuck you". The crowd never knows if you missed a note or two, but they can smell fear. They can see it in your eyes and in your performance. You can cover a multitude of sins by acting like a rock star. It also boosts your confidence.
    To recap:
    Take a couple of deep breaths.
    Bring your fuck you.
     

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    @A.C.

    Hey man, thanks for the advice! That's crazy you had to cancel a show due to a band mate's nerves, thankfully I'm not at that level with mines.

    The thing about soundcheck makes perfect sense too, not to worry too much about it being the full package until you're on stage playing properly. I'm going to use that on saturday for sure 🤟

    Thanks man!
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Ed Seith
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    Thanks so much for the advice, @Brian Haner Sr. .

    It's comforting to know that a lot of people have those similar feelings. And the nerves in my mind are definitely just my way of wanting the show to go as perfect as it can go.

    The channeling of the nerves into energy is definitely something that I've had help me in the past, as I move a lot during a gig- so I'll be sure to keep doing that too.

    I love the idea of the deep breaths & 'bringing my fuck you' haha. I'll be sure to try and make those part of my ritual before I go on.

    Thanks again for the advice! 🤟
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Ed Seith

    Muz Malek

    Hot Topic Tourer
    Legend
    Nov 11, 2019
    222
    631
    26
    Singapore
    www.instagram.com
    10
    Here's my experience, if you don't mind me sharing, hopefully it helps:

    Nobody today would believe me if I said I was once a quiet, reserved, introvert. So naturally, i had stage fright.

    The day I picked up the guitar shamelessly uploaded covers and had people noticing me was the day my confidence began to boost, until eventually I was given opportunities to go on stage and perform for an actual crowd. I instantly became someone who broke out of that introverted shell for the betterment.
    I never once intended to actually show off my ability to play songs and solos too. I only wanted to share with my friends that I founded a new hobby and had a love for guitars in particular.

    Playing guitar on stage had always been the dream. The joy of being able to accomplish just getting the opportunity itself instantly changed me. Me at 10 years ago would be shocked to see me now. I still kinda have bits of stage fright residue left in me, such as being camera shy(i talk about this to queen @Alicia Willis all the time), I also do have the pre-show jitters hahaha (i try not to eat before a show), but i'm slowly getting myself used to being in front, by putting my voice out first, doing voiceovers, because I really want to be in the music scene, and in order for me to do that, I know I need to bring myself out there. No one else can do it but me. Same goes for performing on stage.

    You can have everyone encouraging you and wanting to help you, but in the end, you make the choice to break out of that shell and get going. We all have the power to do so :)

    Remind yourself of your passion and why you started ;)

    Cheers, buddy, and i wish you the best! :rock-hand: :rock-hand:
     
    Last edited:

    Radu-Cristian Perde

    Administrator
    Staff member
    Legend
  • Nov 11, 2019
    902
    1
    2,597
    Montreal
    8
    Everyone gave you so many great tips and are so well formulated so let me come here real quick and give my only absolute tip:

    Stay close to the bathroom.

    You are nervous and something will probably want to come out one way or another. So before you go on stage and amaze everyone, just take a solid shit so that when you go on stage, you won't give a shit. (Y'all can use that as an inspirational quote)

    But all said and done and all silliness aside, you've got this dude. You've come this far so we all know that you're going to go on that stage and fucking crush it. Please share with us the experience and then afterwards, give us your feeling of the show AFTER it happened! I think this could be a good exercise not only for all of us here but also for yourself to see how your thoughts have change from this post up here 👆, where it's before the show, and your next post somewhere down 👇, where it's after the show!

    You've got this.
     

    Brian Haner Sr.

    Administrator
    Staff member
    Nov 11, 2019
    705
    2
    2,859
    Everyone gave you so many great tips and are so well formulated so let me come here real quick and give my only absolute tip:

    Stay close to the bathroom.

    You are nervous and something will probably want to come out one way or another. So before you go on stage and amaze everyone, just take a solid shit so that when you go on stage, you won't give a shit. (Y'all can use that as an inspirational quote)

    But all said and done and all silliness aside, you've got this dude. You've come this far so we all know that you're going to go on that stage and fucking crush it. Please share with us the experience and then afterwards, give us your feeling of the show AFTER it happened! I think this could be a good exercise not only for all of us here but also for yourself to see how your thoughts have change from this post up here 👆, where it's before the show, and your next post somewhere down 👇, where it's after the show!

    You've got this.
    This sounds like a joke - but it's not! I can't tell you how many times (early in my career) I walked on stage only to realize I REALLY had to pee. Nerves do that to you. It's part of the "fight or flight" process. If you're doing 10 minutes, it doesn't matter. If you're doing 45 minutes - YIKES! It's almost all I can remember about my first few times on stage. Now I always make sure to go to the bathroom just before I go on stage.
    Definitely add that to your ritual. lol
     

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    Everyone gave you so many great tips and are so well formulated so let me come here real quick and give my only absolute tip:

    Stay close to the bathroom.

    You are nervous and something will probably want to come out one way or another. So before you go on stage and amaze everyone, just take a solid shit so that when you go on stage, you won't give a shit. (Y'all can use that as an inspirational quote)

    But all said and done and all silliness aside, you've got this dude. You've come this far so we all know that you're going to go on that stage and fucking crush it. Please share with us the experience and then afterwards, give us your feeling of the show AFTER it happened! I think this could be a good exercise not only for all of us here but also for yourself to see how your thoughts have change from this post up here 👆, where it's before the show, and your next post somewhere down 👇, where it's after the show!

    You've got this.
    Haha I love this! But it's valid for sure. I will be sure to include this in my pe gig routine 😂

    I will 100% make time to come on here and give my thoughts after the show! But thanks so much for your advice & encouragement man! I'm feeling more confident than I originally was 🤟
     
    • Love
    Reactions: Radu-Cristian Perde

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    This sounds like a joke - but it's not! I can't tell you how many times (early in my career) I walked on stage only to realize I REALLY had to pee. Nerves do that to you. It's part of the "fight or flight" process. If you're doing 10 minutes, it doesn't matter. If you're doing 45 minutes - YIKES! It's almost all I can remember about my first few times on stage. Now I always make sure to go to the bathroom just before I go on stage.
    Definitely add that to your ritual. lol
    We're headlining so got a great big 1 hour set to do! So I'll be sure to take this advice for sure 😂
     
    • Love
    Reactions: Ed Seith
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Ed Seith

    Supreme Galactic Overlord
    Staff member
    Legend
  • Nov 11, 2019
    2,875
    2
    4,407
    51
    Marana, AZ USA
    soundcloud.com
    35
    Once you're on stage, the only thing you have control over is you, so that's all you should be thinking about. You and the FUCK YOU you brought with you. It goes by a lotta names, but #WhatPGSaid is it - it REQUIRES a healthy bit of ego to be onstage successfully. That stage fright is part of you wondering if your ego is going to show up once the lights go down, because pre-show, your ego is off taking that shit somewhere and you fear it won't come back in time.

    It will.

    It always does. Trust yourself. Sometimes it ain't until halfway through the first song, and that's why you don't open with your hardest song.
     

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    Here's my experience, if you don't mind me sharing, hopefully it helps:

    Nobody today would believe me if I said I was once a quiet, reserved, introvert. So naturally, i had stage fright.

    The day I picked up the guitar shamelessly uploaded covers and had people noticing me was the day my confidence began to boost, until eventually I was given opportunities to go on stage and perform for an actual crowd. I instantly became someone who broke out of that introverted shell for the betterment.
    I never once intended to actually show off my ability to play songs and solos too. I only wanted to share with my friends that I founded a new hobby and had a love for guitars in particular.

    Playing guitar on stage had always been the dream. The joy of being able to accomplish just getting the opportunity itself instantly changed me. Me at 10 years ago would be shocked to see me now. I still kinda have bits of stage fright residue left in me, such as being camera shy(i talk about this to queen @Alicia Willis all the time), I also do have the pre-show jitters hahaha (i try not to eat before a show), but i'm slowly getting myself used to being in front, by putting my voice out first, doing voiceovers, because I really want to be in the music scene, and in order for me to do that, I know I need to bring myself out there. No one else can do it but me. Same goes for performing on stage.

    You can have everyone encouraging you and wanting to help you, but in the end, you make the choice to break out of that shell and get going. We all have the power to do so :)

    Remind yourself of your passion and why you started ;)

    Cheers, buddy, and i wish you the best! :rock-hand: :rock-hand:
    Thanks so much @Muz Malek for the insight and wise words! I totally feel you with the camera shy thing, cameras send me into an internal panic 😂

    You're totally right with the whole idea of it being a personal choice to get over these feelings and have that true confidence in yourself 😊

    Remembering why I'm doing this is going to be the thing that takes me through on Saturday, so that's amazing advice. I think I need to view it that the show is happening for me, not to me. You've pretty much just gave me that brainwave!

    Thanks again! 🤟
     

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    Once you're on stage, the only thing you have control over is you, so that's all you should be thinking about. You and the FUCK YOU you brought with you. It goes by a lotta names, but #WhatPGSaid is it - it REQUIRES a healthy bit of ego to be onstage successfully. That stage fright is part of you wondering if your ego is going to show up once the lights go down, because pre-show, your ego is off taking that shit somewhere and you fear it won't come back in time.

    It will.

    It always does. Trust yourself. Sometimes it ain't until halfway through the first song, and that's why you don't open with your hardest song.
    Thanks for the advice @Ed Seith ! I really need to remember the healthy dose of ego thing for sure 🤟 Its getting in that headspace that must be the trick, but with work I'll get there. I'm genuinely going to be reading these before I go on cause they seriously help 👌

    Thanks again man!
     
    • Love
    • Like
    Reactions: Shade and Ed Seith

    Willard D. Veator

    Hot Topic Tourer
    Legend
  • Nov 11, 2019
    1,067
    1,875
    Outland
    16
    Hey maybe if you hadn't tried it before go busk your music in town or a nearby one. I tried busking before, at first it's really nerve racking but after a few tries and getting into my zone after some minutes and getting comfortable (not thinking about the scene I'm causing). I'd have to repeat the initial process again cause after a few weeks of doing it I got into some trouble and hadn't done it since. It was a cool learning experience for me overall. I've never done a show but I've tried to play with some people jamming before, got nervous each time. Maybe if you got a mirror, you can practice your stances and stuff in advance so you got 1 less thing to think about during your show. Also maybe you can try some locker room hype stuff before going on stage, a cold shower or some music that hypes you up.
    If you get the sarcastic paranoia when people say "Great going!" say "Thanks! Next one'll be better! Like just take it for what it is and don't put yourself down, even it feels forced. I think constantly putting out the positive note will eventually make it ring. Was thinking about the lyrics " I am my own worst enemy "
    Good luck at your show and I almost forgot, 1 hour is a really long time to be playing :explode-skull: it's a lot of stamina. I'm getting nervous imagining if I were to do that. o_O
     

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    Hey maybe if you hadn't tried it before go busk your music in town or a nearby one. I tried busking before, at first it's really nerve racking but after a few tries and getting into my zone after some minutes and getting comfortable (not thinking about the scene I'm causing). I'd have to repeat the initial process again cause after a few weeks of doing it I got into some trouble and hadn't done it since. It was a cool learning experience for me overall. I've never done a show but I've tried to play with some people jamming before, got nervous each time. Maybe if you got a mirror, you can practice your stances and stuff in advance so you got 1 less thing to think about during your show. Also maybe you can try some locker room hype stuff before going on stage, a cold shower or some music that hypes you up.
    If you get the sarcastic paranoia when people say "Great going!" say "Thanks! Next one'll be better! Like just take it for what it is and don't put yourself down, even it feels forced. I think constantly putting out the positive note will eventually make it ring. Was thinking about the lyrics " I am my own worst enemy "
    Good luck at your show and I almost forgot, 1 hour is a really long time to be playing :explode-skull: it's a lot of stamina. I'm getting nervous imagining if I were to do that. o_O
    Thanks for the advice @Willard D. Veator 🤟 I've not been busking in so long! But that'a an exercise I didnt even think of and it's such a good idea! Mind you I'd probably try it when the Scottish weather is a bit kinder 😂 I've actually been rehearsing in front of a mirror and you're right, it does help plan everything I'm doing 'stage moves' wise. Weirdly enough the set length doesn't bother be too much as I've done longer sets in the past, it's more of the initial experience/thought of doing the set that can freak me out 😂 I'm hoping if I get into a good flow where I'm not really worrying I'll be okay tonight 😊

    Thabks again man!
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Willard D. Veator

    Chris Johnston

    Music Theory Bragger
  • Nov 11, 2019
    512
    1
    1,225
    26
    North Ayrshire, Scotland
    14
    So today's the day guys, and thanks to all your advice I'm feeling a bit more empowered than I usually do 😊 I can feel the anticipation in my stomach like normal on a gig day, but I feel more focused than worried. Here's hoping it lasts! In 12 hours I'll be half way through the set and remembering all the amazing advice you poured out. Thanks for being such a amazing support network ❤ Hope everyone has an amazing Saturday! 🤟
     
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Willard D. Veator

    Hot Topic Tourer
    Legend
  • Nov 11, 2019
    1,067
    1,875
    Outland
    16
    In 12 hours
    Maybe nap beforehand seems like a long time to be in anticipation
    Shadows eats like 3 hours before going on, heard something like that on a video shared here
    Probably drink some water and don't tire your fingers too
    I was practicing really hard the other day and had no strength the next
    Oh I saw a training video that said before your done showering put it full cold and for many reasons it's a good idea
     

    Radu-Cristian Perde

    Administrator
    Staff member
    Legend
  • Nov 11, 2019
    902
    1
    2,597
    Montreal
    8
    So today's the day guys, and thanks to all your advice I'm feeling a bit more empowered than I usually do 😊 I can feel the anticipation in my stomach like normal on a gig day, but I feel more focused than worried. Here's hoping it lasts! In 12 hours I'll be half way through the set and remembering all the amazing advice you poured out. Thanks for being such a amazing support network ❤ Hope everyone has an amazing Saturday! 🤟
    Fuck yeah dude! We are with you in spirit! You've got this!