How To Be An Opening Band
In anticipation of Biffy Clyro's opening for Muse tonight, I took a look at the setlist and noted, 5 songs off their January 9 release, 4 songs off the album prior. Nothing any earlier. Biffy Clyro are a Scottish rock and roll band and very UK centric, the sort of band who only occasionally breaks through in the UK. Melodic, a little bombastic, and occasional they'll add bagpipes to the proceedings.
In 2007 they had a # 2 album in the UK and have been constantly in the charts ever since. The current Opposites went to # 1. But they haven't happened in the States yet. So faced with Madison Square Garden and a huge audience, what should Biffy Clyro did? With nine songs to represent themselves, do they pull out their greatest hits or push the product hard?
The band made the right decision. If you have are an opening band with one hit you must play the one hit. If you have three hits, play all three. People don't really know who you are, it is up to you to sell the product and hard. If the audience recognizes a song, so much the better. But in the case of Biffy Clyro, there are no hits. So what's the point on selling something that didn't sell before. Push the new album, you have no choice.
Being an opening band can do you a great deal of good if you're lucky, Ellie Gouldlng did herself nothing but favors opening for Katy Perry.
The rules are pretty simple.
1. Be good but don't upstage the headliner.
2. Thank the headline (I saw Ryan Adams call out the headliner, John Fogerty, on stage at Radio City Music Hall)
3. Don't sweat your mix board being lower than the headliner.
4. Don't sweat it if the headliner refuses to speak to you (Dylan will invite you for one short pow wow if you are opening for him, you may wish he hadn't)
5. You take the subway to the Arena, they take a private jet? Such is life.
6. Be humble.
7. It's your job to get the audiences attention, good luck with that.
8. And always, remember it is somebody elses deal: don't steal their booze, girlfriend or fans … too blatantly.
9. Don't be drunk, hungover or in any way fucked up even if the headliner is Axl Rose.
Finally, I'll be on the audience and I will be grading, so give it everything you've got