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Anyone play in a "support" band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Silaxian, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. Silaxian


    Dec 16, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    This might be a little long winded because of the unusual circumstances of this gig, which requires a bit of explanation before I get to the point.

    I play in a trio that supports a comedy troupe. We open the show, play in-between the sketches, and also close the show with a "finale" number. Our job is to keep the audience "up" between skits.

    This show has been running off and on for about twelve years. I got involved about four years ago. Recently there has been a move to take this show to a regional level, and perhaps even a national level (think Saturday Night Live). Recently, the show director has expressed his belief in the need to change the format so that our trio opens and closes the show, but does not play in between sketches. We would have a kind of "half time" show at the mid-point (show runs for an hour, so this would be 30 minutes into it). Apparently the director has been advised by some people "in the business" that the show will never advance beyond it's current stature unless this change is made.

    We tried this new format this past Friday and it was decidedly inferior to the way we've been doing it for years. There was a noticeable lag time between the sketches and the overall effect was to put a "drag" on the show. The assistant director (AD) was in charge, since the primary director was out of town on business. The AD then instructed us that for the Saturday night show we'd return to our usual format and things went well, as usual.

    Now to my question. Has anyone had any experience with this kind of show? I would like to do some research on how things are done with shows like SNL, Letterman, etc ... but I really have no idea where to start. I thought about emailing someone like Will Lee, who has played in support bands like ours for years. I really would appreciate some input from anyone who has it to offer. It seems obvious to me that we should stick with what works, but I need some kind of credible case to present to our director to convince him of it.

  2. Traver


    Sep 25, 2007
    I haven't played in a band like that, but I can tell you that most television shows I've seen here in Denmark that employ some kind of live band to add music generally plays very short segments between "transitions" or whatever you'd call it. Like if it's some sort of game show, where they move from one challenge to the next, the band will play a short (perhaps only 5 seconds) jingle-thing, just to spice things up.
    A few of the shows I've seen have also had a segment half-way through the show where the band will play a full song (of course, full song in this case means a full, fairly short song).
    Other than that, the bands generally play some kind of intro and outro song.

    No idea if that was helpful.
  3. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    I couldn't see you guys playing full songs, just a little diddy in between skits, like recognizable riffs (like that black dude from Letterman played Back in Black last time I saw)

    I think the guy wants to stream line the show.

    Have you tried talking to the producer?:eyebrow:
  4. Silaxian


    Dec 16, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    Yes, what you have described above is the way we've done it for many years. I appreciate your comment.

    Mange tak! :)
  5. Silaxian


    Dec 16, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    Our "songs" are instrumental pieces without any vocals. The only time we play full songs, they are covers of popular songs redone with parody lyrics. This is an integral part of every show.

    Our producer is also the director, and he has been told by other people who are in show business that in order for our show to expand beyond the local market niche it currently occupies that we must change the format. Yes, it is an attempt to streamline the show, but after our first experience with the new format we feel quite strongly that it's a mistake.
  6. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Why is it a problem for you to play between the sketches? Im not a producer but it sounds like the guy telling your producer that you shouldnt be playing between sketches just thinks he knows what he's doing. Tell him to go watch SNL, in between sketches, when the show is going to commercial, the band ALWAYS starts to play, it doesnt get seen live on TV, because it's not for the home viewers, its to keep the live audience entertained. If this "showbiz" guy doesnt understand that then he doesnt know whats he's doing. All the late night talk shows go about it in this same way, I went to a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live, same deal. In between segments, while the show was on commercial, the band plays, thats just how it goes. It seems like the showbiz guy was treating you more as a musical guest than as the shows support band, he needs to get a clue.
  7. Silaxian


    Dec 16, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks. It seems that playing in-between sketches is the way nearly everyone does it and that the people who've been advising our director to the contrary are simply full of crap.
  8. I've never done support for TV but I have for events like Golden Gloves and Firefighters vs. Police Boxing and college Basketball Games. We'd open the evening with a few charts or pop tunes - the event would get underway and we'd fill the spaces in between with short pieces - to a half-time show and finish the night filling in the spaces.

    With the basketball games, if our team won, we'd go ahead and play a triumphant victory tune - "Kiss him goodbye", that thing by the Timelords... you know the stuff...

    With the boxing matches, we'd even have the fighters come to us and request specific songs for then to walk down to after they were introduced. We'd also play stuff as the ring girls strutted around with the round numbers.

    The crowd, the players, everyone involved really enjoyed the interstitial music as much as the main event. They'd get up and dance, clap along, basically stay charged up. I can see the energy dropping significantly if there was nothing but crowd murmur between events. It sounds to me like the "new format" is not taking into consideration the very real down time between performances. Sounds like a bad move.
  9. Silaxian


    Dec 16, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    Yep. I think so too. Thanks for your input and also for the word "interstitial". I have put together a letter for our director, and the responses I have received here will be a part of it.
  10. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    I've played several variety type shows in the past, and we always played short, musical interludes between acts. The music kept things moving and provided continuity throughout the show. Without it, there'd be dead space and definitely a lull in the shows momentum.
  11. Silaxian


    Dec 16, 2002
    Charlotte, NC
    I think that dead space/lull you mentioned is very real. Actually, I saw it happen when we tried the new format Friday night. Thanks for your input.

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