Saturday, October 03, 2009

Stage Fright

Got into a discussion about stage fright -- mostly secondary to public speaking -- recently. Giving a speech in public is, for some people, scarier and more nerve-wracking than getting a root canal.

Performance anxiety can be treated, of course, and there are some well-known actors and singers and speakers who suffer from it. Training helps, there are drugs, notably beta-blockers, and even the folks most comfortable getting up in front of an audience still get butterflies. That edginess can help, if it's not overwhelming.

But big performances make for bigger butterflies ...

I came across this video a year or so back, and wondered how I'd feel in his guy's shoes.

The set up is, there's a busker -- street musician -- in Copenhagen, who was doing some Bruce Springsteen songs, and, all of a moment look who arrives:

Bruce Fucking Springsteen.

Imagine it: You're strumming away doing a Springsteen cover and the Boss Himself steps up.

Heart-attack time. Holy shit!

But, it gets better. Springsteen borrows a guitar and goes into "The River", and there you are, totally unexpected, playing live with Bruce Fucking Springsteen ...

If your head didn't explode from pure joy -- or terror, it would be a memory you'd likely carry with you to your grave.

The notion that I might be playing a song by somebody I love hearing and he or she was in the audience? Playing "Blackbird," and you look down to see Paul McCarthy sitting in the front row, all attentive?

No pressure there ...


Dan Moran said...

Wow. I always got stage fright before going onstage, George Carlin wasn't sitting in the audience .... or worse yet, getting on stage with me to do a little improv.

Thanks for the video.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Now that is how you treat your fans!

Especially the ones who love your songs enough to want to play them to more people.

That busker will be getting drinks with that story and smiling to himself for years. And he is more of a fan than ever before.

And the fans in the audience will never forget it. And at least some of the non-fans in the audience are fans now.

Well done Bruce. In more ways than one. Wish the RIAA or the record companies would learn this lesson.

Justin said...

Stage fright is one of those instances where your pulse raises and you feel so alive. I personally have always loved it. It's like that moment before you jump out of a perfectly good airplane -- knowing parts of you are telling you to reconsider but telling them to shove it.

I rarely performed for crowds more than a few hundred people, but that butterfly feeling was something I always held onto as long as I could, to energize my performance. The fact that I was going to be a bad guy in a leotard kicking people in the face may give you a little perspective on my psyche.

Nowadays, it's more for karaoke clubs or giving press interviews on the video game I write/design. Much less butterflies, much less thrills.