It was very nice and at the same time a bit strange. I mean almost all my gigs are pretty much background music and I play the majority of the time to little or no response at all. I hardly ever perform in anything like a concert setting. It's a world I'm not familiar with anymore. If it ever comes to pass that I actually get to play these type of things more often then once or twice a year, I might actually get better at it, or at least more comfortable.
I guess the main thing for me is just to do my best with each venue that comes my way and learn what turns out to be useful. Honestly, having a bunch of concert-giving skills is not that useful to me right now, given what I mostly do. It's much more important to be able to play for three hours to very little response, deliver my sound and feeling, and not be discouraged, just to take what comes and continue.
In the past, I did not have this skill. If no one was listening, it was almost unbearable. I would stop if I could but often I couldn't, so I'd just detach myself from the feeling in the songs and just sort of drag myself through a set, pouting to punish them for not listening.
Now, sure, I feel better when people are listening. I get and give more energy when they do. But when they don't, it's no big deal. As long as I can hear myself, all is good. I'm practicing, keeping my balance between often competing energies to produce the sound and meaning that I like to produce. If people like it enough to tip me, I really appreciate it. If they like it enough to smile or clap or show me that they like what I'm doing, so much the better. If they come up and buy 5 CD's, that's awesome and makes my week. But if they just sit there inert with no expression of interest in my music whatsoever, don't even glance at me or my tip jar, if they just sit there passively absorbing the sounds I make like wind moving through a bush, it's still OK with me.
As long as I can hear myself. If it's too noisy for that, even I lose interest in playing. That's where I stop enjoying what I'm doing. I do need an audience of at least one. Even if it's just me.