Phony, pasted on smiles don't make it. But remember we are PLAYing music, and PLAY is the key word. If we are PLAYing we should be having a good time, and if we're having a good time, it should show with a happy face. There will be a few in the audience who come to actually listen intently to the music, so it's best that you play well too. It's a package deal.
Yeah, absolutely - any joy has to be genuine! I'm not into "guitar face." If you're having a good time, you're going to look happy.
Of course, addressing the larger subject of stage presence in general, it doesn't have to be all smiley. When I saw the rebooted Little River Band, they had a dual guitar approach that was really good for "musician's ears." But although they didn't do the guitar face thing, their stage presence was exemplary because of the way they worked together. They were intent, in some ways serious, but you could almost see the lines of communication going back and forth between them. Playing off each other was its own kind of stage presence, and the (non-musician) audience knew it was something cool.
Or take Nine Inch Nails. I wouldn't say they look happy onstage, but they pour their hearts into their playing...which resonates with people.
Ultimately, I think the main thing audiences DON'T want is to see a musician who's just phoning in a part!
Frankie Moreno is playing Nashville on December 28...I hardly ever buy concert tickets, and I'm not a fan of Vegas acts, but I'm making an exception for him. He's a consummate entertainer...I'm up for going to a concert for the sole purpose of feeling good, watching people who absolutely love what they do, and smiling a lot