Do you really want the main stage?

Here’s a fabulous story from Moby’s new autobiography Porcelain, talking about playing Lalapalooza in 1995.

Lalapalooza in those days ran two stages, with the primary and bigger acts on Stage One and a handful of relative unknowns on Stage Two.

Moby was booked for the second stage, which “had made me feel like a techno stepchild — the legitimate musicians were on the main stage, while I was playing in the second stage ghetto.” (p. 272)

A young Beck was also there, but he was playing the main stage. However, Beck’s set was earlier in the afternoon, well ahead of the more well known featured musicians.

Moby wrote: “He was obviously suffering, playing for a thousand people scattered throughout an amphitheater with a capacity of nearly twenty thousand.”

The second stage, where Moby was playing, was at the same moment packed. Jam packed, but with no more people in the audience than the main stage. The energy was palpable. Kids dancing and tumbling all over each other. Everybody sweating and moving, energy in the room, the kind of moment a musician lives for and can really make or break a show.

Big audiences are not always better. Far better to seek out energy rather than size. 

Keep this in mind the next time you wish you were playing on a bigger stage. It’s the audience that really matters.

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