What Do You Think Makes Up Good Stage Presence?


It’s something that’s fairly hard to describe - you just know it when you see it. I think charisma and stage presence are related but not identical. As far as I know there is no way to practice stage presence other than to get onstage and do it! There may be one or two specific things you could practice at home, such as if you want to play guitar behind your back, but that’s more of a stunt than stage presence per se.

Personality and attitude are a couple things that contribute to stage presence. Good looks help, but aren’t necessary. The guys in KISS knew that and they painted their faces. They knew early on that what was important was to look like stars. They didn’t want to look like someone who just belonged in the audience. KISS definitely did not want to look ordinary. They realized people paid money to come see and hear something special and they were going to get one hell of a show when they came to see KISS!

Gene Simmons remarked that something strange happened once they first put their makeup on. Their mannerisms actually changed. They became more animated. They felt less inhibited than they used to feel. They seemed to have a very intuitive knowledge of stage presence and how to put on a great show as well as just playing good songs.

What do you think makes up what we call great “stage presence”? Who do you think are some bands that had great stage presence?


Acting, essentially. I’ve read that quite a few people, as actors or musicians are quite shy in everyday life. They act when on stage.






I think that choreographers, wardrobe designers, and other domain experts create the ultimate in stage presence.

For example, I’m still waiting for somebody that can dance like this guy (watch the feet) while playing guitar, that would be AWESOME.


Everything that David Lee Roth is - flambouyant, active, looks like he’s having fun and enjoying himself and has a touch of camp value.




He’s a great example. Eddie had the virtuosity and David Lee Roth had the flamboyant personality. They complemented each other perfectly.


DLR Is the ultimate frontman IMO.


He’s certainly right up there at the top with maybe just a few others. Axl Rose in is prime was excellent. Robert Plant was excellent. Phil Anselmo had so much energy, attitude and personality. The audience was in the palm of his hand. It was almost scary how much control Anselmo had over the Pantera audiences. He could have yelled “Kill him” pointing to a security guard or whoever and they probably would have!

Phil has taken some flack recently from the “virtue signalers” because he isn’t politically correct… Well, Pantera was never about being trendy and PC and following the crowd. They were at the top of the hard rock/heavy metal world during the grunge fad and they were as different from grunge as could be.

I saw them on their “Great Southern Trendkill” tour. Dime was playing his Dean guitar with the Confederate flag. If they had been trendy, or politically correct, it would have killed their careers. Their fans loved them for being the way they wanted to be and not giving a damn that their style of music wasn’t “trendy” in the mid 90s because of the grunge fad in which you weren’t supposed to play guitar solos because they were too “self-indulgent.”


Eh, that’s a watered down way of saying he gave a Nazi salute and yelled out a couple white supremacist slogans at a show a couple years back. That’s not a matter of being “politically correct,” that’s unabashed racism. Having a problem with that isn’t “virtue signaling,” it’s common human decency.

As far as stage shows… I don’t think you have to be totally over the top to put on a good show. I remember clearly the first time I saw video footage of Nirvana, of Kurt Cobain just standing in front of a massive wall of speakers, and screaming his ass off. And, the intensity of it just floored me, it was one of the most impactful things I’d ever seen, somehow, and I can’t even begin to tell you why that is. Similarly, the first time I saw Porcupine Tree live, it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen - it wasn’t like the guys were jumping around or headbanging like crazy or wearing masks or anything, they were clearly 100% focused on nailing the best performance they possibly could… But also just very clearly were having a blast doing it. It was their “Deadwing” tour, at the Berklee auditorium here in Boston, and as the last notes of “Arriving Somewhere (but not here)” - the 12 minute progressive centerpiece of that album - were fading out, halfway through their set, they got what turned out to be an unplanned 2-3 minute standing ovation from the crowd. It was intense.

I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff on the other side of the coin - I wasn’t there, but Nevermore’s show at the Palladium in Worcester where Warrell Dane started pulling fans up on stage to stagedive during their cover of “The Sound of Silence” and next thing you know there were like 30 dudes on stage headbanging with the band before diving off was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen video footage of. Then again, to pull this full circle, that wasn’t long before Dime got shot to death on stage, so I think those days are probably behind us…