The Day of Your Show

{mad performer}

by @themadamez

Ah yes. Here we are, at last.
It’s the day of your show. You have to magically turn from a disgruntled caterpillar morning blob into a social butterfly with the voice of an angel in a matter of hours. What will you do?

First off, De-Stress Your Mess.

You got this. Yes, today is a big day, perhaps a frighteningly big day, but remember; it’s your big day. Make it count. Honor yourself! Give yourself some special treatment. Do whatever you can to let go and release stress. The more of a calm and collected nature you maintain today, the better off you’ll be when you hit show-time. 

Don’t worry, the stress is coming! You will have plenty of opportunities to stress out backstage.

Sit in your garden, or simply on your floor. Do some meditation. Do some deep breathing. Listen to your favorite album. Do some yoga, deep stretches, slow and easy. Listen to an audiobook and zone out. Lay on your back and put your feet up in the air! Do as much nothing as possible today, you’ll need your energy later. But not now. Right now… you have permission to simply be.


Water. Holy water. Take a bath, hydrate your skin. Drink a full 16 ounces of water before breakfast. By drinking water first thing, you rehydrate your body after 6-8 hours of being asleep (aka existing without water), and kickstart your mental function. Your brain needs oxygen! It gets it two ways: breathing air and drinking water. Do not underestimate the power of H20, it is a magical power: stronger than coffee, stronger than booze, some would say even stronger than love. Water is the source of life — live a little!

Caffeine. And Timing.

Caffeine is a go-to for most musicians and performers. However, it can give you a huge drop in energy during your show if it’s not timed well. I recommend skipping that morning cup of coffee, having some green or white tea with breakfast to hold you over, and saving your coffee rush for the actual show. Not too late though, or you’ll never sleep and rejuvenate your adrenaline-ridden body afterwards. I usually drink water and herbal tea in the morning and wait for caffeine until three or four hours before my show. That brings me to a state of usefulness around soundcheck, and then lets me down easy around one to two hours after show is over; enough time to pack up, get home, and shower off the stardom before bed so I can wake up a normal person again. My caffeine of choice: I will occasionally do a latte, but usually I’m a chai girl. Chai keeps me awake and with-it but doesn’t give me jitters like coffee. I can tell you that on-stage is a bad time to get the jitters, it’s quite awkward and very noticeable. Makes it seem like you are perhaps more nervous than you actually are.

Example: If I'm sound-checking at 6pm for a headliner set at 9pm, I'll have my main caffeine source around 2pm.


I’m hearing Gillian Welch’s voice in my head singing “Go to sleep ye little baaaaaby” right now in my head. She’s on to something.

Go to bed! Just give in. You haven’t had coffee all morning, you’re saving it for the show, there’s no reason for you to be awake right now. Allow the worries about the band drama and the paranoia over the set-list song order bugging the audience to float away on a dream… Your band loves you, your fans love you, that’s why they’re all going to be there in the first place, remember? Give yourself the gift of not-thinking, of not-doing, and do the ultimate not-do: take a nap.

Don’t Practice.

By this I simply mean don’t run through the songs you’re about to perform a million times hoping that one you keep fucking up will magically get better in a matter of hours. The time to practice was yesterday. Or last week for that matter. That boat has sailed. Your brain only forms concrete synapse connections while you’re sleeping, so any practicing you do will merely tire you out. However, and this is a big however — “don’t practice” doesn’t mean “don’t warm up”. Absolutely warm up. Sing those scales, hum those high notes, do those breathing exercises, shed those scales on your guitar, flutter your trumpet lips. Do whatever you would do before a rehearsal and do it 5 times more. The more warmed up you are, the more “one with the instrument” you are, the better your performance will be.

Last Minute Practice Hack:

If you really feel like you need to practice, because you were working all week and didn’t have time to, or you were too smashed at your last band rehearsal, here is something you can try. It’s not ideal, but it will put you in slightly better standing. Wake up, hydrate, drink zero caffeine, warmup, practice your whole set one time through without stopping, practice it a second time, then take a big fat nap from now until you need to leave for your performance. You need at least 90 minutes of solid sleep for those synapses to start forming and creating memories, thus burning your practice session into your brain and making it count. Once you wake up from that brain-burning cat nap, that’s the time to have some coffee or black tea. Make sure you eat first so the caffeine gets slowed down by food and doesn’t hit your bloodstream all at once. Now you’re ready for your show. Congratulations, you’re a last-minute rockstar and you totally pulled it off ;)

Madame Z


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