Breaks between sets...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Electric_Spank, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. Electric_Spank


    Jan 20, 2009
    Well the gig was this past Saturday. Here is how it went...

    Showed up at the bar at 8:30. We all got set up and ready to go. The sound-guy was a different story. I checked the time and saw that it was 9:40. Shortly thereafter the sound-guy showed up and we started the sound check. It was at this point that I realized we wouldn't have to worry about time. We started our first set right around 10. Had 15-20 family/friends there to start plus a bunch of random patrons just drinking. About halfway through the first set a bunch more of our friends showed up so the floor was packed for that and all through the second set. It died down about halfway through our last set and we finished just before 2. Breaks ended up being ~20 minutes.
    The whole atmosphere was really relaxed as far as time. The sound guy was the only person we dealt with. I'm pretty sure this particular bar owner isn't too picky about start time or breaks as long as there is entertainment for the majority of the night. So the breaks and late start were really a non-issue.
    All things considered... the show went great! I messed up at least once on just about every song, but only a select few noticed. I got a lot of positive feedback from crowd members during breaks/after the show. Walked away with $75. It was an awesome experience. :cool:. We are playing at a rock festival deal again this Saturday. No pay but it should be a lot of fun since we just have one rockin' set this time.

    How long should they be/what is acceptable?

    Story: I am playing my first gig with a few guys I know from high school. This will be their first big show as well. We are supposed to play from 9:30 to 1:30. We have 3 sets from 10-13 songs each. We had planned to take 15 minute breaks but we thought 20 might be better just to eat a little more time. I joined this project 10 days before the actual show so it has been a ton of new material for me and we have only had 2 nights of full band practice with everyone's schedules. So if we sound unprepared just know it is not for lack of effort :).

    So back to the original question... how long should breaks be in between sets?
  2. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    If we play a really long gig (4+ hours), we usually mix a 20 minute break in somewhere. Other than that it's usually a 10 minute break.

    ..not to be a critic here, but if you can't fill the time with music - then maybe you shouldn't take the gig.
  3. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    15 to 20 sounds about right. One thing i was told and do belive is if you have a good crowd keep the breaks short. Use the can, grab a drink, go over issues, tune and get back...dont loose the crowd. I hate bands that take long breaks to talk to old friends at the bar, backstage etc.
  4. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY

  5. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Standard (around here, anyway) is 45-50 minute sets and 15-20 minute breaks. Anything over 20 minutes off the stage and the owners start getting grumpy... and I would definitely concur with others, if the crowd is diggin' you then keep your breaks on the short side so as not to lose their interest. Unless of course all band members are occupied handing out business cards and otherwise scammin' for gigs which you should be doing during the breaks anyway.

    BTW and I hate to tell you this, but you don't have enough material to cover a 4-hour show. 3 sets at 13 songs max per set puts you at 39 songs which is still about 10 songs short. Unless all your songs are 6+ minutes long and/or you plan to do a lot of talking between tunes which I don't recommend ESPECIALLY if none of you have a lot of stage experience. You will probably wind up repeating some songs late in the show to fill the time, which is kind of bush league but something almost all of us have had to do at one time or another.

    That being said, have fun with it and good luck! You only ever have one first gig, so enjoy it.
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    15 minutes breaks. That leaves 45 minutes to fill for each set except the last set which should be an hour.

    For an easy way to fill each set: extend each song to 5 minutes, that requires 9 songs per set, for 3 sets=27 songs and the last set would be 12 songs for a total of 39 songs. This also gives the people who dance some good time out on the floor. Also, you can string together 3 or 4 songs to create a medley if you have extra songs.

    Another technique is to play a couple of tunes from the 1st set in the last set. Not everyone will be there exactly on time and hear every tune from the first set.

    Don't forget there will be a bit of time between songs (which should be kept to a minimum- not longer than 30 seconds) and probably some announcements during the evening so it will be between 35 and 39 songs you'll need to play. Are any of the guys a good front man that can take up some time with some comments or jokes?

    I suggest that an announcement be made (that you'll be taking a break) before you play the song before a break. Then after the song, another announcement be made that you will be taking a 15 minute break.

    Be sure and have everyone agree on the set lists and have them printed out so everyone has a copy on stage. If the crowd is groovin', don't automatically throw in a slow tune just because it's on the set list. Who's going to be the leader on stage? Be sure and pick someone to count out and cut off the tunes.

    Are you providing the P.A.? A good sound check/sound man is crucial to have a successful show.

    Here are some links you may want to check out (more links in my sig. below -Pt.2):
    1 Moving equipment
    Coiling cables

    What's in your gig bag?
    In-ear monitors
    Going wireless

    Music stands on stage?
    Designing/Managing your sets
    Managing sound on stage
    Directing the band on stage
    1 On-stage Banter
    Being asked to turn down the VOLUME
    To noodle/not to noodle?

    Overcoming gig anxiety
    1 First gig
    What to do when you don't know a song or forget your part
  7. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Better to start a bit later (10:00) than to take long breaksÂ…

    Maybe play music between sets.
  8. Electric_Spank


    Jan 20, 2009
    A couple things we have considered are just a long jam at some point and dare I say.... a guitar riff medley. :bag:
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Oh by the way, I know we're contracted for a 9:30 downbeat, but we're going to start at 10..."
    NOT happening.
    You may not have enough material, but set length and break length is kind of determined by the locale and venue. Up here for jazz gigs, sets are generally an hour to and hour and 10 minutes and breaks are 30 minutes.
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Agree 100%. Very bad idea to go on 1/2 hour after the contracted time. Especially if this is your first gig ever in the market. You are essentially robbing the client by doing that ... and it's a good way not to get asked back even if you do a great show. And if word gets around you'll have a hard time getting gigs anywhere else either.

    Much preferable to repeat some early songs late in the show rather than either starting late OR taking longer than usual breaks. The club is paying you to be on stage for a certain amount of time... give them what they paid for.
  11. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Yeah - don't short change the bar by a 1/2 hour to cover time. Either repeat stuff late, or don't take a gig you can't cover for.
  12. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    Repeating the first few songs at the end of the night is usually no biggie, since A) the crowd has probably mostly turned over B) alcohol has clouded their memories. JUST DON"T TELL THEM you are repeating a song. Tell them its "by request". And its easier to make your first set the long one, since you have more energy- 60 minutes, followed by 3 45 minute sets, 15 minute breaks max.
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    That's how we roll. IME you have to work a lot harder earlier in the night to get the crowd into it (before they've been drinking a lot), and that longer 1st set helps you pump up the energy in the room. OTOH by 4th set whatever of the crowd is left doesn't really care (and frankly sometimes neither do we), so a 45-minute closing set is plenty long. That's the set we usually reserve for the songs we don't like playing as much and/or don't play as well.
  14. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Our contract states "3 hours (180 minutes) of music in a 4-hour (240 minute) period". That usually means three 60-minute sets with two 30-minute breaks. However, we typically run 5 to 10 minutes long on the sets, so the breaks end up being more like 20 minutes. Sometimes the owner/manager prefers four 45-minute sets with three 20-minute breaks. Again, running long, that usually means the breaks are about 15 minutes.
  15. If you are playing a bar gig, it means that you are there to sell beer. This means, get people in the venue, give them a chance to drink, get them to dance themselves thirsty, give them a chance to get a drink, repeat. As long as lots of people are drinking, the barkeep will be happy. For your gig, he needs to be kept happy from 9:30-1:30. Everything else is in to facilitate his happiness (if you want to play there again and make money).
  16. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Shuddap Marko...

  17. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    My experiences have been the same as scottbass. We play each set about an hour (or more). Then, 30 minute breaks.
  18. ForSix


    Jul 22, 2008
    You might not have the material to do this, but for a three hour gig we play two one hour sets, one half hour set and two 15 minute breaks.

    The crowds love it.

    For a three hour gig, it's not good to let your break extend past 15 minutes.
  19. That's how we work it too.
  20. Electric_Spank


    Jan 20, 2009
    Thanks for all the responses everyone. As it stands, we've got 35 songs ready to go. 1st and 2nd sets are the longest. 3rd is good but shorter. It kinda sucks that we will end up being a little unprepared, but like I said I basically just joined up with these guys. I will chalk the rest up to them never having filled a 4 hour time slot before. I am going to try and get together with our guitarist and work on more material. Maybe some instrumentals even... anything to keep the music playing. Last resort... I am going to get a funky groove going and hope that everything works out :p.