The Definitive Guide to Stage Presence

Drawn by quest for fire,

They searched all through the land,

Drawn by quest for fire

Discovery of man…

AlphaDark is 1 year old.

Drawn by a quest for fire, I continue on.

Putting thoughts into words has been an enjoyable experience and I encourage everyone to do it.

Have your own voice.

Joke around.

Get serious.

Build something.

It takes a long commitment to excellence to get where you need to be.

All I ever wanted to do was play guitar in a band, even if I wasn’t that good.

I just had to make it happen.

We should all aspire to do something that might take years to achieve.

Start your Odyssey and see what happens.

Performing is one thing – longevity, that’s another.

This very night, I will be on stage. How else would I celebrate one year here?

One of few ways I feel truly alive.

I have been thinking a lot this week about stage presence, because it is the one intangible that simply cannot be taught.

You know it when you see it.

On this day, as I celebrate one year of reflection on greatness and villainy, I submit

The Definitive Guide

50 Gut Feelings on STAGE PRESENCE

guide to stage presence

1) You’ll never have it, at first.

2) The nerves, the fear. Standard for the showman, the workhorse.

3) Play well, above all. Dress like a clown later.

4) The band – chemistry beats raw talent.

5) Practice. The master of everything.

6) Experience breeds confidence.

7) Steal an idea from someone great.

8) Never force it.

9) Don’t get drunk – afterparty, dude.

10) When others quit, move on. Don’t stop.

11) It’s your job to excite the crowd, not the other way around.

12) Give out free t-shirts. It can’t be about money all the time.

13) Stage presence occurs offstage, too…

14) If anyone ever challenges you, let the show do the talking.

15) Make eye contact with all band members.

16) If you have nothing to say, you don’t need a mic.

17) Tune your damn instrument.

18) Ego is a Ferrari – you’ll crash & burn if you don’t lay off the gas.

19) Shit happens. Share gear to help others.

20) Remember the promoter’s name.

21) Squeeze in a band practice on gig day.

22) Warm-up 20 minutes before show time.

23) Be ready for fan requests. If you rehearsed it, you should do it.

24) Promote the other bands during your set.

25) Avoid rants or diatribes unless you know the audience.

26) Throw in a cover song from another genre, in your style.

27) If you’re not funny, don’t try to be.

28) Band names can make a difference early, but reputation is long-term.

29) Seasonal songs or set themes work wonders. The little things matter.

30) Early is on time.

31) Two words. Backup guitar.

32) Setlists should be in view of all band members.

33) Invite a photographer to takes pictures, then give him credit.

34) Make eye contact with the crowd.

35) Celebrate someone’s birthday unannounced.

36) Emergency songs or “doodles” reek of professionalism. Someone’s gear went down? Please, you have at least 30 seconds of bullshit ready.

37) Laugh and smile.

38) Never display anger unless it’s the raw emotion of a song.

39) Your singer is the X factor.

40) You better be good if you are improv jamming.

41) Mistakes are natural, but lack of practice will show.

42) When practicing alone, ramp up the pace. Drummers wacked on adrenaline will keep you honest.

43) If someone isn’t carrying their weight, let ’em know every day until it’s fixed.

44) Cut people who suck without mercy. It’s a business decision.

45) Some drugs are worth a try. Even one revelation is worth it 100x over.

46) You truly hear it when you’re stoned.

47) Music is a feel. You’ll be forgotten if you don’t get this.

48) Perfectionism has it’s place. But so does progress.

49) Polish your guitar.

50) Never give up.

The professional musician and entertainer will take this list to the streets.

Strive for greatness, get help along the way.

*12/31/14 edit – I wanted to come back and share examples of #13 & 19 from the last 2 weeks.

Our bass player broke his bass 15 minutes before show time, a huge loss. We felt shitty and stressed. We look everywhere for help. This legend of a musician walks in and hears our plea, takes the bass off his fucking back, and gives it to us.

We didn’t have a backup, and were saved by off-stage presence.

My buddy and I went to see a friend open for Steel Panther. Like a bunch of fools, we failed to get tickets before it sold out. 15 minutes before his set starts, our friend finds the time to get to the ticket booth, get one name on a list, leave the venue, go to the bar where we were, and hand us his musician’s pass.  All so we can get in the damn door.

Off. Stage. Presence.

These acts immediately raise the charisma of two men, boosting their on-stage presence.

Moving on…

Don’t do this…

Definitely do this…

I’d like to give a shout out to some people that have inspired me during my first year here:

Sebastian at Dude got ripped on pancakes.

Paul Rubino, A fellow musician and Maiden lover.

Jon Brooks, Some seriously thought provoking stuff on DaVinci and other greats.

Check out some pics from tonight’s gig, thanks to Justin Gallagher Photography:

riz guitar

riz show stealer

makhaira crowd

philadelphia heavy metal

alphadark stage presence

riz heavy metal

To another year…


  1. Thanks for the shout out. Yeah, one thing we work on is if someone messes up, another person does something to draw attention to themselves to give the person who messed up a few seconds to recover. A band is a team.

    All 50 of these are really good advise.


  2. Wow Riz great post. It’s really amazing how many of these things apply to business and life in general.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *