Ron the Drummer had this bit of advice for me at our last rehearsal.
"I see you making eye contact with the audience and smiling," he said, "and that's great. But you don't have to do that all the time. You can close your eyes, or whatever you feel like when you're into the music."
The advice seemed a little strange. Yes, I do try to look people in the eye when we perform, largely to make up for all the times I'm so immersed in what we're playing that I almost forget they're there. The smiling is spontaneous, though. Why would that be a problem?
After a moment or two of thought, however, I realized what Ron was picking up on.
Sometimes I smile during performances because I'm happy to be there and happy to be doing what I'm doing. Unfortunately, sometimes that happens during the dark, depressing songs. I noticed it at our last gig during a particularly gloomy tune. Here I am, singing about how everything is falling apart because I'm a loser, and I'm grinning like an idiot because I'm having such a great time.
It doesn't really sell the song.
Our next gig is Sunday afternoon. I have until then to perfect the appropriate emotional displays. I'll just stand myself in front of a mirror and practice.