The first song within a festival set can define the vibe of the whole show.
No pressure though. Of course, you’re aware of this – that’s why you spend loads of time on that setlist, imagining different settings and ways to play it out.
I want to give you some other factors – besides a solid setlist – that can work as an icebreaker. Especially when playing in front of a new and partially unknown crowd, you’ll have to work your way in FAST.
So here are some things to think about:
Your initial track should clarify your overall sound.
Rushing in with a hot-headed track, and then slowing down in the course of the set can be quite unsettling for the crowd.
So – try to think of a song that really sheds some light on the core characteristic of your project, the feeling you want transmit. And go for it.
Festival crowds tend to be comprised of a disperse body of moods, tastes and attitudes.
Try to define which song could be the most accessible, and see if you might want to go with that.
Of course you can also head the other way, and start with a heavy WTF moment. Chances are high, though, of plunging into a solid set by keeping an eye on accessibility.
If your project has a certain main feature or strength, go for that in the the set opener.
This can be a musical element, or even the way you moderate between songs.
Unveiling this hook in the opening timeframe will boost your confidence and maybe even astonish the crowd.
Be aware of the occasion
You should try to think of the periphery around your festival slot.
If it’s a nighttime slow, you’ll have a very distinct setting to work in.
If its mid-day, hot and uncomfortable, you should be aware of how the audience feels.
This can help you in your communication, the way you build your set and overall narrative.
Be ready to break expectations
Most audiences are used to the big bangers in the opening minute of the set.
You can break this expectation by going for atmopshere, building to a sold drop with a nuanced start.
Think of ways to break the audience’s expectation, and you’ll be sure to raise some eyebrows in a positive sense.0 be the first one to show some appreciation for this!