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Can a Tribute Band succeed without the costumes?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mrpackerguy, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    I've seen a few, shall we say, "community performing art center" level tribute performances...Beatles, Hank Williams, Queen.

    In all instances, the band not only did a good job sounding like the band or artist, but they sort of played the part with mannerisms and costuming.

    My question is whether a tribute band could be successful covering the music as convincingly as possible, without the band dressing up, acting like, and having instruments similar to, the original artist? I think a band like a Steely Dan Tribute band could get away with this more easily than a Kiss Tribute band, for example.

    I've been wondering about something like "An Evening of the Music of Elvis" where perhaps the music is played faithfully as possible, the singer imitates Elvis exceptionally well, but without the jumpsuits, etc. The band could dress say, in jeans and rolled up white t-shirts and wayfarer sunglasses, and maybe in bell bottoms or something 70s looking for a 2nd set. And maybe there'd be sort of stage-set type items like a jukebox or something corny. Maybe even use those 50's looking stage microphones. Is the Elvis costuming so extremely vital to the tribute aspect for the lead singer, that it couldn't really be done any other way?
  2. I doubt these guys worry about dressing up

  3. Matthew_84


    Nov 7, 2010
    I'd say for your Elvis thing you'd be okay. The guy would need to get his moves down and sound like him, but as for the costumes there's already too many Elvis impersonators as it is. I think it would go over really well.

    And you're right, it depends on the band. A Kiss one without costumes or pyro probably wouldn't go too well.
  4. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Beatles -no KISS-no The Police-yes Cream-yes
  5. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    Only one I'd have to disagree with is The Beatles. We've taken the Fab Faux's approach & carved out a pretty nice niche for ourselves.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I love it you're right I love the music I don't care how it's performed I will take back the Beatles sir.
  7. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I think it depends how authentic you want to be.

    Me? I'm all for playing the music and dressing however I want.
  8. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Depends on the band. If the band is defined by a look I think you have to invest in that part of the production.

  9. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
  10. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    I think I'm hearing it could be done. I'm thinking there would have to be some sort of show element to it, if the band is not going to go all out authentic costume-wise. But some sort of historical retrospective, or one of the guys being sort of the Emcee. Like a decade by decade sort of thing.
  11. I'm in the process of putting together a Motley Crue tribute band ( yeah, I know :) ) and to me the costumes/stage image is pretty important.
  12. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    in my opinion the costumes are the single biggest "fail" element of the tribute equation.
  13. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    This is all so subjective. Anything that even has a whiff of Las Vegas about it turns me off, but they get what, about a cajillion visitors a year? They must be doing something right...
  14. ajpaul59


    Apr 22, 2011
    South Jersey
    We don't do the costume thing but have had pretty good success in the Philly, South Jersey area.

    Attached Files:

  15. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    A few months ago, I saw a Van Halen tribute band. Except for the bassist, all members wore outfits similar to what you might have seen VH wearing. I found him distracting. I think at the very least, all members of a tribute band should agree on the costume issue.
  16. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    You got the instruments though!
  17. ajpaul59


    Apr 22, 2011
    South Jersey
    Yes, and we try to play and sing the music note for note. We switch vocal parts dependant on which voice can carry the song best (often switch parts mid song) to get as close as possible. As has been discussed in other threads, we have no John, Paul, George, or Ringo and we're not what would be called a "wig" or lookalike band but we get as much work as we want and always play to a full house locally.
  18. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Is it more of a show type atmosphere, or are you playing clubs, and how many sets do you do/total hours?
  19. If you are a cover band, no costumes needed. If you are a tribute band, at least wear era appropriate clothing.

    Would a KISS trib go on looking like dudes off the street, or looking like KISS?
  20. I don't think the costumes are a 'must', but I do think they add to the overall show if they're done well. I think it also depends on what type of venues you're looking to play. If you're just playing the local pub or something then nailing the music is likely all you need to do. If you're trying to play large clubs or theatres, I'd expect costumes and stage sets.

    For that Elvis example, maybe you don't nail the look perfectly but at least you have a cohesive image on stage. That's important no matter what the band is.