I agree. Engaging the audience is a good idea. In fact, the odder the music, the more it can help to show a human face. And I know Boston can be a tough town for musicians as so many of the audience members are also musicians themselves. However, there are other ways of getting people's attention. :-)
At The Lizard Lounge last year I did a solo looping show. As usual, 75% of the audience were chatting among themselves. Why not? They could while the music was quiet enough. So after about 10 minutes, I introduced myself, made a few comments on the weather and invited people to talk as much as they could now, because pretty soon I was going to get very loud and they would not be able to. 10 minutes later, talking had essentially stopped. You see, the nice thing about being a solo looping guy is that bands after me always have their stuff on stage. I'd asked in advance if I could also use their amps in addition to mine. So, there I was. Looping some nice dark numbers so fucking loudly through about 500 watts of guitar & bass amps that talking essentially stopped.
I wish I could get Tris to use his kitchen timer when we play!