It’s interesting to see the role of expectation and the breach expectation in the experience of music. There is this way in which an audience will expect a degree of musicianship or style or outcome from a musician and a way in which the musician can play to this or subvert and play against it. 

A performer may for example assume quiet and unassuming only to begin singing with a voice completely different than advertised. Or a musician may release an album that is completely different to one they have ever done, representing a new direction and a break from the past, nothing divides fans quite like this.

I think for the most part we want our artists to be as advertised, we are fans of them and their work for this reason, so it’s disappointing when an artist does not meet the hype. Or doesn’t perform a particular classic song, or talk in a way that is how we imagine them to be. 

On the flipside there are exceptional moments in music where expectations are exceeded and the audience is given a moment of unexpected numinous and power. These are the moments we will never forget and the moments that immortalise artists in folklore and canon.

Artists don’t love expectation, it doesn’t fit the creative mind that seeks to jump over any barrier put around it. Expectation like fan service and contractual obligations and set lists are a fence. A powerful artist can play with these though, find ways to make the fence work for them and give the unexpected.

Phil Stormer blog - Music and Image