Take the Compliment

manners.jpgLet’s say you’re at a dinner party, and you enjoyed every bit of the meal, from the salad all the way through the after-dinner brandy. In a gesture of respect and simple good manners, you compliment the host: “That was a great dinner.” The host replies: “No, it wasn’t. It sucked. I overdid the chicken and the vegetables were soggy.”
Slowly, you begin to think, “Wow, maybe that chicken *was* a little overdone, and maybe those vegetables *were* soggy. And maybe I won’t come here for dinner again.” Follow us to the jump and we will explain how this applies to you!

Of course, this would never happen. Anybody classy enough to throw
a dinner party has the common sense to accept a compliment graciously,
regardless of whether they think they’ve earned it. The same cannot be
said for musicians, because I can’t even count the number of times I
told somebody in a band I enjoyed their set, only to have them start
arguing that I shouldn’t have. “Nice set,” I’ll say, and I say this
only when I mean it. Their response? “Oh, my god. I sucked. I was all
over the place and couldn’t hear myself on stage, and I was so out of
tune, and I couldn’t keep up with the drummer….”
… at which
point I’m mentally miles away. If I tell you I enjoyed your set, here
is the only response I want: “Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
doesn’t matter what you think of your performance. Though it’s nice to
feel as though you’ve performed well, what really matters is whether
you sold it to the audience. Some nights you’ll think you’ve played
brilliantly, and no one will seem impressed. And some nights you’ll
feel as if you’re playing with boxing gloves on and weights tied to
your feet, and the crowd will think you’re the second coming of the
Stones. Again, remember: If they said they liked your set, say “thank
you.” The time for complaining about the monitor mix or the fact that
you ate too much right before the set is after the show, once everyone
else has gone home.
So, let’s review with a simple one-question quiz.
1) Someone in the audience compliments you on your band’s performance. You reply by saying:
a) “Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
b) “I sucked.”
c) “Really? I couldn’t hear anything, the stage was too small and I was really uncomfortable up there.”
d) “What, are you kidding? I was out of tune the whole time, and I’m pretty sure my amp caught fire for a second.”
The answer is a). No matter what happens, no matter how absolutely awful you are, the answer is always, always, always a).
Zaremba is the guitar player, tour manager and booking agent for Say
, a rock band from Boston that has been touring the country
independently for two years. He can be reached here.

  • Rachel

    i’m glad somebody finally put this out there!! hahaha