Engage Your Audience – Charlie King

In this special Thanksgiving episode, I talk with my son, Charlie, on audience engagement and finding inspiration from live music performances. Charlie reviews some of the performances he has attended and ranks them on audience engagement.

Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots has a very interactive with the crowd called the “Clique.” The band invests a lot of money in the show. During the Blurryface tour everyone wore red. During the recent, Bandito tour the audience wears yellow. This audience is the most engaged.


Ghost previously won a grammy in 2016 for best metal performance. They definitely are excellent performers. You should wow your audiences like Ghost.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden has been engaging audiences for over 40 years. Their mascot, Eddie, evolves every year and entertains concert goers. The audience dresses as Eddie and purchase merchandise in his likeness.


Metallica has the largest show containing lots of very hot fire and pyrotechnics. This show had the tightest set list. The show is very well produced, refined and rehearsed.


Gorillaz builds superfans. The audience engages with the characters and sings along with the music. I often heard from people that have never seen them is whether or not there are cartoons playing or if there are actual people there. There are indeed a lot of band members and back up singers.

The Toadies

Charlie got to meet the band before the show with our friend Matt Hillyer. The only impression from back stage was there were video games and they acted like a bunch of dads.

The engagement at this show was very different from other shows. The audience is older and more subdued than that of other performances. The older crowd sang all of the songs from their college days. There were very few kids at this all-ages show.

Jack White

The number one thing here is engagement. Jack prohibits smartphones at his concerts. I thought it was so people did not block the views of others behind but it is really for engagement purposes. Jack doesn’t use a set list and feeds off the audience to find the next beat and song like DJs do. The end result is a quality product. I showed a picture of a jack white concert in a meeting of 50 people and had them guess when the picture was taken. All of the guesses were wrong. Many of the guesses were of dates prior to the iPhone launch. They were surprised to find out the picture was from the prior weekend.


Spoon has great songs and have been around a long time. There definitely is a grunge and alternative feel to the show. The set was pretty tight even though this was a smaller outdoor show. Being on the front row is always helpful.

Pixies and Weezer

This show felt like the Toadies show. The crowd was similar in age since it is the same genre and time period. I liked this show more than Charlie until Weezer came on. These guys have spanned multi-generational audiences especially now that they rerecorded Toto’s Africa.

Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins played for 3:05. It was definitely the longest set I have ever experienced.

Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie

The people watching here was great. So many people in costumes and full make up.

Marilyn Manson didn’t perform at his best. It was really hot outside and he looked ill. A few days later he canceled a show since he felt so bad.

Rob Zombie was great. He had lots of lights an videos. The crowd was really into it. He played all of the big hits.

Robert Plant

We had to see this legend. Led Zeppelin is my all time favorite. Charlie and I definitely lowered the average age at this show.  He played songs from every era so it was great.

Inspiration and Engagement

As marketing evolves and engaging audiences becomes increasingly difficult, marketers should find inspiration from artists and performers outside of their primary circles.

Rock on!

Photo courtesy of Scott Spychalski