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Battle of the Bands Help: Covers vs Originals?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Da LadY In Red, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. Hey, my best friend (guitarist) and I (bass) are sophmores who have found a senior drummer and keyboardist to play with us as well as a junior black tenor to sing for us. We've jammed once (sans singer, who I personally know is awesome at singing), but we're determined to do the BotB and hopefully some gigs later.

    Here's our dilemma, what do we play? Our #1 competition (I'm calling it our only competition) is a 4 piece band of popular senior guys. They play originals, have played the talent show two years in a row, have a cd floating around campus, and play music similiar to the Strokes and Maroon 5. Considering that last year the band that was the most original won and the runner up played only covers (they had a ****ty singer though), I think that straight up covers might not get us the W.

    So here's our options, go covers only or do covers with one or two original songs. The set is going to be about 20 minutes. If we do covers only, we're thinking about doing Jimi Hendrix Experience tunes only. Considering that my friend and I have connections with the stoner/band geek crowd and the seniors have connections with the popular senior drinkers, I think they'll go nuts for a JHE tribute. But will that put us ahead in the mind of the judges, above the popular band who will play originals and then atleast 1 or 2 covers with a heavy makeover?

    Sorry about the long post, but what do you think would be better for BotB at a rich, white high school in middle America with tons of stoners? Some trippy originals or straight up Jimi Hendrix Experience tribute?

    P.S. with the JHE, I think we'd open with All Along the Watchtower, then go to May This Be Love, then Third Stone from the Sun, then finish with Hey Joe.
  2. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Why does it matter your singer is black?
  3. It matters that he's black because he has soulful, Usher-like voice. I thought that part was important to paint a picture of what our singer sounds like, but I guess it's just racist.
  4. That is a really good question - covers vs. originals.

    I am from the Arch city too - ever hear of Dr. Zhivegas? Believe me when I tell you this is the way to go! Especially in St. Louis!

    Play really strong covers and put on a show like no one has seen before! You stand a really good chance of connecting with the crowd if you play stuff they know. I have done the original thing and believe me, people more often then not want to hear stuff they are familiar with. So my vote is to pick the absolute most powerful, energetic, crowd pumping, booty bumpin' music you can possibly find and play it like you wrote it!

    I want you to take that stage like you were born there! - ooze attitude and confidence - have your $%|# together air-tight! Everybody in the band MOVE, smile, look at the crowd, dress the part, and play the absolute &*$^ outta the songs!

    If you are going to do Hendrix, consider 'Fire' - like the Chili Peppers did it - Check out 'Cross town Traffic' and 'Stone Free'. Those JHE songs not only have the whole 60's vibe covered, but they have a groove and are up beat! I would also like to recommend stuff that gets people dancing... Get them up! You can play Hendrix and then play 'Play that Funky Music White Boy' - 'Roller Coaster of Love' (Chili Peppers/Ohio Players) 'Higher Ground' Stevie Wonder (peppers again) - people will dig it! Don't be afraid to tap the Funk vein! You can't go wrong with funk. Jimi would do it! I am happy to offer you more suggestions, if you are interested.

    You do stuff like that and the other band will be all, "Sheeeeeet... They are laaaaammeeee... but damn, look at the crowd! Damn! Why is that crowd all into them? They're doing covers?! Damn! We shoulda done some covers..."

    Oh, did I mention that I thought doing covers was a good idea? I could rant all night about this - you have tons of time to work up an original thing. Learn early how to entertain a crowd. The easiest way is doing covers. That also helps you find the thing that you best connect with as musicians and as a band. It might be Hendrix, it might be Prince. I would recommend something that has a real beat or groove to it, not just balls and testosterone. THAT is what people want - a groove - a beat - something to move their feet. Even if a person is not a 'dancer' they still love to watch really pretty people dancing. It makes a party a party! I have seen so many people convince themselves that their 'originals' are going to make the world spin the other direction only to watch them faaaaaadddeeee into obscurity behind the bands that did the smart thing and put on a really kickin' show and made the people party! And be sure you make the people party! Dance! You want them on their feet!

    Do the covers.


    PPSS - I am not in DRZ - I do take care of their website and talk with Frankie quite a bit about stuff like this. Trust me. I would not steer you wrong.
  5. Don't go into this with a 'we want to win' attitude, because band battles invariably suck and the winner usually doesn't deserve it. Go in to have fun and play your asses off. It's going to be short sets so you can think of it as a sprint as soon as you hit the stage.

    Personally, I'd try to mix up the covers with the originals... you can capture the crowd interest with the covers, then assuming you have strong originals you can keep them on the hook and then close strong. Maybe open with All Along the Watchtower and close with Hey Joe, fill the middle with good original material.
  6. Thanks for the advice. I actually know most of those songs you suggested, so I'll give them some thought.

    We're doing this to have fun... we just want to win too :D. I mean, anything we can do to help our chances, we might as well do it, right?

    Once again, thanks for the advice.
  7. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002

    What he said
  8. britrit


    Jan 22, 2006
    Another Chilis suggestion - Organic Anti-Beat Box Band. It's bound to get people moving.
  9. I don't think you can go wrong with the RHCP's! Especially if you dip back in time to Uplift Mofo Part Play and choose any one of these:
    1. "Fight Like a Brave"
    2. "Funky Crime"
    3. "Me & My Friends"
    4. "Backwoods"
    5. "Skinny Sweaty Man"
    6. "Behind the Sun"
    7. "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
    8. "Party On Your Pussy"
    9. "No Chump Love Sucker"
    10. "Walkin' on Down the Road"
    11. "Love Trilogy"
    12. "Organic Anti-Beat Box Band"
    13. "Behind the Sun"

    Be warned... bands and audiences alike have been known to burst into flame when these songs have been performed properly in the past... Wear your asbestos undies - and nothing else!
  10. Just don't set yourself up for disapointment... music is very subjective and the best band doesn't usually win. I've played in several battles with a 'have fun' attitude only to watch my guitarists walk out in shame and disgust when the winners were announced.
  11. I agree with not hanging your post-show attitude on the outcome. However, I would also say that if you can successfully have a great time on stage and that great time is infectious enough to get the crowd all lit up you stand a good chance of having a great time AND winning the thing. Think about it... IF you can get the crowd going and it is clear that they loved your show AND you were the band the did that better then the other bands...
  12. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    If you really want to win the BotB, then you need to be popular.

    Do you think you can date the head cheerleader, or get a spot on the football team? Do you have alot of money and drug connections to buy some "influence"? Do you have a cool house with a pool to party at? Or maybe a lot of people like you anyway? If so, don't sweat it.

    As Nicoli said, these things from High School on to the local clubs are not about talent. It's about popularity. If you want to be the "best band" then practice and play your a$$ off. If you want to win the "Battle of the Bands" then put on your best a$$-kissin lipstick and cool image and get to work.
  13. Why do the two concepts have to be mutually exclusive? Is it not possible to put on an a$$ shakin', lipstick lickin' show that is built on top of top notch musicianship? I don't mean to sound like I am saying that talent and skill are not required - What I am saying is don't act like this is an 'un-knowable' situation. People, especially high school kids, want to have a great time! Give them a great time that also happens to be a well executed musical performance, and Bob's yer uncle!

    And there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to win the BotB - otherwise, why enter? To not win? One of the first things you are taught when you play on your first little league baseball team is go out there, play your best game, do you best and try hard to win and have fun while you do it. If you don't win, be a good sport, congratulate the team that did win, and practice hard for the next game in hopes that you will win that one.
  14. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    True you can do that, and it is certainly possible.

    I guess what I was trying to say is that image and popularity drive these things more than musical taste and talent.

    Tzer is right. If you're gonna play, play to win.
  15. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp

    The key is to sing for the ladies.
  16. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    I'm sure he *is* actually singing, but in that pic, it looks like he's picking something out of his teeth with one hand, and doing I-don't-know-what with the other.....

  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Oh, don't start. I'm thinking about advertising for a black female singer because we want more soul.
  18. First off, it should be fun to play the battle of the bands. I remember back in High School my band was a original/cover (YES/Rush/Dream Theater type) band. We all had a progressive rock background. I wasnt playing Bass at that time. I played the drums (my first instrument). We knew the competition was going to play Ramones, The Police, Zeppelin covers. We opted to start with one of our covers, Then YYZ (RuSH),and end with Crazy Train (I did a small drum solo during this tune) (Ozzy). We were then asked to play an encore. We played another original then ended the encore with La Villa Stangiato (RUSH). We blew everyone away.
    My suggestion is to have 2 set lists. feel the audience out and give them what they want. We lost the Battle that night, but gained respect and popularity in School.

    Good Luck
  19. It ain't so much as whether you should do originals or covers, but what do you play best? Play your best tunes, have a big time and don't even worry about winning the competion. A good show is your best chance to win and the best way to do a good show is to forget about winning (kind of an Eastern philosophy - to win the competition, the competion must not exist... how deep).
  20. joninjapan


    Aug 13, 2003
    Tokyo, Japan
    Know your enemy!:ninja:

    What do you know about the judges, how will the contest be judged? By popular "scream"? clapping? point system? are the judges fellow students, parents, area bigwigs??

    Really it comes down to pleasing the audience, and playing the absolute best you can, and letting them know you are having a great time.

    If they want "Hendrix go for it", if they want ABBA, get some more vocals... or so the idea goes.

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