Stage Presence: Your definition

I toss this term around at times if the artist/music/venue/audience is a bit off, they are still there: no stopping and occasionally rescue what was seemingly a pathetic and anemic performance. I am no a performer, although I must admit I do fairly well with most Cream/Blind Faith tunes: but that just reveals my old age.

Is it just being comfortable on-stage while a whirl wind flows around it? Which I can imagine happening in any large venue with set production values.

I would love to hear your thoughts - first person, second-hand, let me hear it. The music business and performing in front of strangers is as daunting as it was 35 years ago. Except you guys and gals have more cool toys to play with. :).

Moving around a lot. Making physical body motions and facial expressions that connect with the music. Having a distinctive appearance.

I think that’s pretty much all it boils down to.

Jaco Pastorius had amazing stage presence.

This would seem to credit The Swedish Chef with pretty much the greatest stage presence in history. :smiley:

Jaco was actually 1/4 Swedish, 1/4 Finnish, 1/4 German and 1/4 Irish.

^ my parents were actually at one of the performances of that concert tour, though unfortunately not the one immortalized in the video.

It’s a matter of doing things to keep people watching. It doesn’t even have to be moving around.

I saw the J. Geils Band years ago. Peter Wolf had a presence by his constant patter and by the way he used the mic. Magic Dick would move on stage when he was doing a solo.

J. Geils just stepped forward and played his guitar. It was riveting. There was something about his concentration that kept you watching.

“What exactly was the something” is the question of the OP, as far as I can tell.

Stage Presence for me is how good a person acts or represents himself/herself towards an audience.

Yet Roy Orbison managed to command the stage while standing like a statue.

I don’t know if my joking reference to The Swedish Chef was offensive or not funny or not recognized, but I meant that your description of stage presence seemed to describe the Muppet character, not that Jaco was a chef from Sweden. :slight_smile:

No, I knew what you meant, it was just that your comment coincided amusingly with his actual background, which I found…amusing.


And there are people who, no matter how little they move or how much, never seem to command the stage. (Most of them aren’t famous. Because they don’t command the stage.)

Ah :slight_smile:

He was certainly the chef du bass playing. :slight_smile:

I always thought Stage Presence was a theatrical term for charisma. But you’re all using it in reference to concerts, so I dunno.

I think all of us have seen performers who move a lot but in a non-stage-presence way. They just don’t seem right.

And performers who are very still but they somehow “do it wrong” so it has no presence, no real impact.

Then there are the ones who seemingly take negative non-presence-type behaviour and make it work for them, like the comedian Steven Wright who just stood there like an idiot but had a very strong presence anyway.

And of course the obvious active ones, with classic “putting it all out there” stage presence, such as Freddie Mercury.

Is it the good ones who all have something in common? Or the bad ones? Both maybe?

Thank you for your insights. I am not sure if I expressed it correctly.

I meant taking command of a situation on stage, whether the bass player is full of shit, the drummer can’t keep a beat, the backup vocals sound like the Flintstones kids, the sound guy decides his LSD is a bit too strong tonight. And you are standing there going “WTF”? Sure, you come on to applause, then things go to s****.

Anybody been there? Most pro’s don’t let this happen I realize. But still - it was just an idle thought about how things could go way wrong despite repeated rehearsals. (As I said, I am not a performer. Just curious).

Yeah, it doesn’t require music or a raised platform. It’s the ability to draw attention to yourself and keep it there; what in actors is referred to as “stealing the scene”. One of the first things it involves is the self-assurance of knowing that you are deserving of attention; you may or may not be the most interesting person in the room, but what you are doing or saying definitely is. The main thing, IMO.

I’d call that professionalism, not stage presence. The dudes are displaying a stunning lack of professionalism, and the person saying “ok, stop this” is being professional and reminding the rest that they fucking should.


I’d call that professionalism, not stage presence. The dudes are displaying a stunning lack of professionalism, and the person saying “ok, stop this” is being professional and reminding the rest that they fucking should.

And when it happens in an emergency, it’s called “being the person who takes charge”. When you’ve got an emergency, several people starting to go into headless chicken mode, and several others who know what to do, the first one in this second group to step up is The Person In Charge.

So maybe the whole thing, when done in any kind of situation, is just Stepping Up.

If you can actually explain what charisma is, I expect you’ll explain stage presence too.

Stage presence is often thought to require a literal stage, hence all the concerts. :slight_smile:

That’s important, but it’s not what people mean when they say stage presence.

You’re talking about presence of mind, composure, and the ability to absorb shocks and continue.

Stage presence is, as GuanoLad pointed out, either charisma or something very strongly related to charisma.

I think Andy Kaufman and Steven Wright both knew how to fake being the guy with no stage presence, while actually having a ton of it.