On Saturday, my family and I went to Bumbershoot, a three-day music and arts festival that goes on in Seattle each year. We'd never been, and my kids knew more about it than I did because...well, they're cooler than I am. We bought tickets for Saturday since that was when Bob Dylan was slated to perform.
After finding seats at the main stage, my daughter and I headed off to where This Providence was playing. I went to their performance knowing and loving one of their songs, but having no idea if I'd like their other stuff. My daughter, on the other hand, already knew the songs from their first CD.
When we got to the stage where they were performing, I was planning on staying for two songs. Since my husband and son were staking out the seats we'd found in the nosebleed section of where Bob Dylan would soon be performing, I thought it would be rude to disappear for too long.
I had no idea we were about to have a super special experience. And you know what? We writers can learn a few things from This Providence.
1. Stay positive.
Something my daughter and I thought was fabulous--and shocking--was the crowd at This Providence's stage wasn't huge. This in no way reflects the band in a negative light. Bob flippin' Dylan was about to perform on the stage next door (an actual stadium). For writers, that would be like doing a reading next door to a place where J.K. Rowling was about to read from the Harry Potter series. Maybe This Providence loves smaller, more intimate crowds, but maybe they don't. I have no idea. What I do know is they put on a stadium-worthy performance, and they looked like they were having a blast.
2. Hook your audience.
Remember my two song plan? We stayed a half hour, which was when the show ended since we'd missed the beginning. Then we bought a CD and waited in line to get it autographed.
Were we hooked? Oh, yeah. It's like when you're reading a book that's grabbed you and won't let go. Just one more page...um, one more chapter...I bet I won't be that tired tomorrow if I read a tiny bit longer...
3. Don't just meet expectations, exceed them.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with This Providence, but they're great performers. They have an awesome stage presence, whether they're in the middle of a song or interacting with the audience between songs. In other words, they're totally entertaining. And their music? Wow. I often like only one or two songs by a band, at least until I become more familiar with their other material. On Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised when I liked each song they did.
We need our readers to walk away satisfied, and we have to try to make our books even better than expected. I realize this is so much easier said than done.
4. Be nice.
Before singing the last song, "Letdown" (the only one I knew going in--it was incredible performed live, bloggy friends), the lead singer invited anyone who was interested in meeting them to the f.y.e. tent after the show. A line formed and, despite telling my hubby we wouldn't be long (I love you, Jim!), we were in it. As the band members signed the cover of the CD we'd just purchased, the lead singer thanked my daughter for buying their record. So sweet, so classy, and I'm so happy to buy their next CD. And the next one.
I'm linking to a July 2009 post of Moonrat's that talks about the importance of being nice. It matters.
Oh! Bob Dylan was cool, and I love that our kids witnessed a legend performing. That said, This Providence gave my daughter and me an unexpected experience I'll treasure. Even though I have no musical talents and will never be a rock star, I hope to write like one.
Click here for This Providence's video for "Letdown," which is anything but.