Performer’s anxiety is the fear an artist feels when showing off their work.
Performer anxiety is the fear of talking to that artist after their show.
These fears all come together in a perfect storm of awkward social interaction immediately following a band’s set.
I always dread joining the queue of fans hovering at the stage, leaving me to mentally calculate where to place myself in the performer’s friendship hierarchy:
Well, I’m not going to congratulate him before his girlfriend does, but I’m sure I can get in there somewhere between his roommate and cousin’s work friend.
Sometimes it’s perfect – The performer and audience member thank each other for their complementary roles in the evening’s event and both leave feeling enriched by the interaction.
Sometimes it’s a disaster – I have vivid memories of a band laughing in my face like lunatics when I tried to talk to them after the show. I found out later they were all on mushrooms, but for some reason that information couldn’t wash out the memory.
If you’re an artist, know the performance doesn’t end after the last song. You should be present and engaging for at least the first 20 minutes after your set. In fact, that time is part of the performance and it’s one of life’s great opportunities to be charismatic!
It doesn’t matter if you thought you played like garbage – save those thoughts for later that night when you’re alone. There’s no sense in dwelling on the details of your show in a social scenario.
Self reflection requires isolation. You can’t reach any constructive resolutions when you’re surrounded by distractions, so every moment you spend replaying the errors of your show is a moment wasted. After the show is the time to present your best self and make people happy they came to see you.
If you’re unhappy, just pretend, (it’s pretty much the same thing anyway).
The modern lyrical landscape of North America is full of free verse poems about social anxiety. Thankfully, every once and a while, one of them is exceptional. Above is The Eels “Things The Grandchildren Should Know,” unpretentious and accessible.