There is always a great deal of discussion as to what musicians prefer when it comes to playing outdoors or indoors, and there are really so many variables to consider. I can recall one very funny moment when I had just been to the Woodstock Festival, and while going to summer school session in Philadelphia, I ran into Garth Hudson and Rick Danko of The Band in a restaurant. It cracked me up that at my mention of the Woodstock Festival, all Rick could really focus on was how they (The Band) didn’t really like outdoor concerts!
What was so funny about this was the fact that here we have one of the most monumental musical and cultural events in the history of mankind, and it basically boiled down to a discussion of outdoor vs. indoor shows! What this pointed out to me was also what perfectionists the Band truly were, and it was certainly reflected in their music. This is music that is extremely pointed, and which speaks very personally to you, and I can imagine that it also kind of got “lost in the sauce” with such a huge outdoor event. But certain groups that really had shows that were “larger than life” such as Ten Years After (with Alvin Lee), Santana and Sly and the Family Stone certainly stole the event!
What I have found is that when I was doing a lot of large outdoor events, it was always a challenge for the show to remain focused, and at the same time for the audience to also remain as focused as possible. With the outdoor gig vibe there no doubt comes a certain “distraction” factor for the crowd, and there’s no question that a nighttime outdoor show helps folks focus much more on the acts than a daytime concert. The lights, and the lack of distraction really helps everyone focus, and there are times when doing shows like this where I felt like the simple wave of my hand would shift everything, and it was true!
I can recall with Simon and Garfunkel how we did these back-up accapella “doo-wop moves while singing “One Summer Night” and because we were also on that giant screen, everyone in the crowd had an immediate reaction to whatever it was we did! What a feeling…sure also makes you more conscious of what you might do that would be private to you, but greatly magnified by the focusing of everyone on that giant screen! There will be more on this subject in future installments of my Blogs, but until them, I hope you enjoy all your gigs, whether outdoor or indoor!