There is nothing that compares to the trepidation one feels just before going out on stage to preform. Yes, I call it trepidation, for the moments before actually preforming can be just that, quite fearful. This is usually mingled with a great many other emotions, however.
Most often it is coupled with the exhilaration of anticipation. Yes, that would be the most apt description, I think, half fear, half anticipation. Something about this particular ratio gives you an adrenaline rush, and before you know it, you are out there in front of that crowd again. It is like no other feeling on earth.
The fear and anticipation are gone, and now you feed off the energy of the crowd. A throbbing, pulsating wave of emotion takes you over, and you and your band mates are gone…lost in the music, just like the rest of the crowd. You are one with them now. You are a part of that mass of primal energy until the show is over.
Afterwards, there is usually also the emotional oneness you feel with your band mates. As you all go hang for a bit at whatever greasy spoon you can find open, the trepidation that began your evening is now just a distant memory. You wonder if it ever happened at all. Basking in the mutual accolades of your band mates, it’s easy to forget the moment of fear laden anticipation before you all took the stage by storm.
Then again, there are those “other nights.” The ones when the crowd wasn’t as big or as enthusiastic as you hoped. The nights when the sound equipment fails somehow, and mysteriously nothing seems quite right the entire evening from there on out. There are the nights when the band as a whole is far too ill and road weary to “click” on the most fundamental of levels.
These are the nights when we pack our gear in relative silence, unless of course there is an ego in the band who has to seek blame in someone, and animosity, which can run the gamut from quiet disgruntled grumblings to loud obnoxious conflict then ensues. Still, usually these are the nights we all part in silence, not stopping to regroup and figure out what went wrong at the usual greasy spoon as we probably should.
We all have at least a few of these nights, whether we want to admit it or not. From the smallest garage band playing at their uncle’s birthday kegger, to the biggest star in rock history…every musician since the first chords were struck, and the first song took shape knows this feeling. It is the very feeling and the very type of experience that causes the fear and panic we all get in that “moment”. The moment just before we hit the stage running, and find out exactly which kind of night it is going to be.
Source: Personal experience from over 30 years as a singer, songwriter, and musician, and inspiration from a very insightful and succinct little piece by my friend Jaid, called The Moment Before.