....and the elephants are kindly but they're dumb (At the Zoo, Paul Simon).
I was at the zoo yesterday. We had a great day out. The animals didn’t care about their audience – they went about their daily business as they would any day and we were happy to watch them do that.
It reminded me of a gig I played a few years ago. It was an instrumental jazz gig in a pub on a busy Friday night. It was clear from the word go that our audience weren’t going to pay us much attention - so we decided early on to forget about our audience, and to add a bit of fun, said we’d see if we could go the whole gig without getting a clap. We nearly succeeded. As a result of that decision however, our playing freed up, and we enjoyed ourselves and played better music.
That strategy worked for us that night. However I’m not sure if it worked for the pub owner, and certainly in the long term I’m not sure how smart a strategy it is for a musician.
It is important to figure out what your relationship with your audience is going to be however. Do you take requests, do you tell jokes, do you make an effort with them at all? Every musician makes different decisions in this regard – it’s up to you to figure out what is best for your gig, for your song, for your audience.