For many musicians, live performances are an art form that must be developed and nurtured to advance their careers. A musician can genuinely share their work with others through performing. Many performers devote years to perfecting their stage persona, and we can look to a variety of artists for examples of powerful performances. In this instance, we don’t have to look very far – just to the basement of a congenial house.
Earth on Fire, a prolific Math Rock band at Rowan University, exhibited their excellent stage presence at their most recent show on Sept. 17.
For perspective, the group has performed live quite a bit in the past, including their winning performance at Rowan’s Battle of the Bands competition in March 2022. With their triumph, they were guaranteed a second live performance at Rowan during Hollybash 2022.
The fresh launch of AudioSpace, the band’s music venue situated in Glassboro, made this recent performance different from past ones. Members of Earth on Fire are using AudioSpace to showcase bands in or near Glassboro through concerts. Vocalist and guitarist Eddie Masterson and bassist Bryce Mirabella founded this venue, and now drummer Ryan DeCesare has joined the team.
Vocalist and guitarist, Eddie Masterson & drummer, Ryan DeCesare, break-in the band’s new venue, AudioSpace, during Sept. 17 concert. / Photo via Dayna Stauts
“We are playing this first show because we wanted the debut of this venue to coincide with the re-debut of our band,” Masterson said. “For the most part, Earth on Fire will not be playing close to every show. We were given such a good opportunity with other people’s venues that we wanted to provide a [similar] platform for other people… It’s just fun.”
Stage presentations are no simple undertaking. Earth on Fire discovered that their consistency with live performance is what helped them master it.
“The more we played, the more comfortable we have gotten with stage presence. I think it just comes with confidence,” Masterson said.
“There’s definitely always nerves for pretty [much] all them, [our performances]. We kind of got to the point that we are just okay with it,” DeCesare added.
“[The nervousness] turns more into excitement the closer we get to the performance,” Mirabella added. “Today is definitely a little different because we are also hosting the show, and it’s our first time… so there is a bunch of added anxiety, but so far it’s okay.”
Earth on Fire has found that interactions with each other on stage are an essential component of a successful live show.
“One thing that we definitely practiced a bit is visual cues. A lot of our songs have complex changes or huge tempo drops in speed or time signature changes,” Mirabella said. “We would kind of just look at each other and be like ‘here it comes’ and we would know what’s coming up.”
Beyond the technical interactions the band members share, they emphasize that their enjoyment of performing also shows in how much they move on stage.
“My philosophy for live performing is to just move. People aren’t watching you [to] hear your music played perfectly.” Masterson added. “I said this [in] interviews before: you can sacrifice like ten percent or a little more of being spot on if it means bringing energy and people getting wrapped in live music… To me, [that] is what live music is all about.”
Earth on Fire has made a reputation for themselves through their behavior and emotion on stage. Those who have seen the band in action describe them as “erratic” and “full of energy.” Their emotion on stage is what makes their audience so entertained.
“I feel like a lot of the energy comes with the type of music that we write,” DeCesare said.
When playing live, each member has a distinct personality and function. Masterson uses his longer guitar cable to enable him to step out into the audience and engage with the people more.
The trio’s more stoic and composed member, Mirabella, is more of the contrary. He doesn’t move around a lot and claims to take his performance “very seriously.”
“I don’t wanna mess up too bad because when the bass drops out that’s something everyone notices. I can play a wrong note, no one will notice, but if I drop out for a second that’s it,” Mirabella said. “I try to keep myself aware, especially switching to a new instrument… I wanna be on top of it.”
Even the most acclaimed and seasoned performers encounter difficulties and errors while performing live. This is particularly true for younger performers. Earth on Fire is not unfamiliar with making little errors on stage. Their advice for dealing with them is to embrace the fact that there isn’t really anything you can do and continue giving the best performance you can. Most of the time, the audience is so preoccupied with enjoying the entire performance that they don’t even notice the minor errors.
“For me specifically on drums, I can almost guarantee you there has not been a single time that I have played the exact same beat for two of those songs,” DeCesare said.
Masterson explained that it is all a learning process for him both as a producer and a writer. When they first published their EP, Masterson described himself as a beginner, but he learned a few things for their LP.
“Our next project is going to be even better… and we have had the luxury of pretty [much] doing everything in our house with just the three of us,” Masterson said.
He also stated that they have upcoming shows scheduled for Earth on Fire and AudioSpace for at least the next two months. The band is a work of live craftsmanship that can only be fully appreciated when seen in person due to their lyrical ability and captivating stage presence.
All streaming platforms offer “Rotten Soil,” the latest album by Earth on Fire, as well as the rest of their discography. To keep up with the band’s performances and events from AudioSpace, you can follow @earthonfire.nj and @audiospace.nj on Instagram.
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