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Common Mistakes Bands Make and How to Solve Them...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Blackbird, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    The "rehearsal rules" thread got me thinking: most of the things that go wrong musically on gigs usually can be traced back to rehearsal. Which are the usual problems and how can they be solved?

    I can think of two: Song sounds like crap because it's either too high or too low for the singer: - Solution: Learn to transpose! It's pretty elementary, but some folks think a song's key center is set in stone!

    The other one is: everyone's deaf at the end of the rehearsal/gig: I think really good bands have a sense of awareness about their volume and can keep it consistent from venue to venue. Rocking out is fine, but if there are more people outside than inside at your gig, it might be because people don't want their ears to bleed!

    Any other suggestions?
  2. Koushaku

    Koushaku The artist never sleeps, only dreams

    Mar 10, 2005
    Albany, NY
    Mistake: Assuming your large assortment of cables, pedals, and instruments...which have always worked fine at practice...will work just as diligently at the show.
  3. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    Too many bands have no structure to their rehearsals and not alot gets done because of it. I am a big proponent of giving every band member a compilation CD with all material to be learned on it. There is also a schedule of rehearsals with a projected songlist to be learned for each. Most of the time we come into rehearsal play through the songs a couple of times, do a couple of vocal run throughs to iron out harmonies and thats it.
    I hate when a band is on stage at a gig discussing the songlist, totally unprofessional.
    Arguing on stage is something else I've seen that looks stupid.
  4. +10,000 to all of the above, not to mention being on time and sober and in a good mood. :D :D
  5. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    If your on a bill featuring three or more bands partially set the drums up off to the side of the stage so your drummer doesn't take twenty minutes putting together his kit. It really isn't very interesting to watch. And maybe help the band before you move their gear.

    When you are done with your set get your gear off the stage promptly so the other band can get going on their set up. Help your drummer get his kit off in large pieces and he can fully take 'em fully apart offstage. Don't mill around onstage or sit on the lip talking to your buds. And maybe help the next band get their stuff onstage.

    I don't know if you need to practice this at rehearsal though!
  6. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Although most bands rehearse songs, the best bands are also skilled at managing the expectations of venue management and the audience, and communicating with each other during rehearsals and gigs. In addition to what others have said, I'll offer the following:

    * Selection of the first and last song of each set; paying attention to feedback from the audience during the performance.

    * Set lists, song intros, endings, and segues.

    * Sound check.

    * Tuning

    * On-stage signals (shorthand methods band members use communicate with each other, the sound tech, lighting, etc.).

    * Plan B: having plans to deal with broken strings, etc.

    * Quick and graceful transitions from song to song (minimizing wasted time, accommodating instrument, PA, and lighting changes, etc.).

    * Physical placement of musicians, both on stage and during rehearsals.

    * Balancing energy and dynamics, both on stage and for the audience.

    * Introducing guest musicians and getting them off stage quickly and gracefully.

    * Pacing the audience (A good balance between songs to dance to, songs to listen to, songs to relax to).

    * Sharing time among vocalists ansd instrumentlists.

    * Paying attention to the stamina of the rhythm section (a mix of songs that allow the musicians to pace themselves).

    * Making conscious choices about what is said to the audience (handling announcements professionally and keeping pointless chatter to a minimum while maintaining a fun atmosphere).

    * Introductions of band members and the leader.

    * Reviewing and critiquing tapes of past performances.

    * Actively soliciting feedback from each other, venue management, bartenders, audience members, and taking to steps to act on what you've learned.

    What strategies do you use to master these skills?
  7. MistaMarko


    Feb 3, 2006
    One thing that sometimes annoys me is when a few people in the band compile a setlist and the one person who doesn't want to help make it sits back and bashes all the songs. Really annoying.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The thing that I noticed in a "big"-ish band, was making sure you can go from one number to the next fairly quickly - we found there was nothing worse for an audience and more likely to put them off, than long gaps between songs/tunes - where somebody was changing instruments or parts of them, fiddling with finding music and generally saying "I'm not ready"...:meh:

    So - you would get everybody dancing up on the floor, excited and going with the momentum of the gig - then the tune stops and there is a lot of "fiddling" from the band - people drift away, get "deflated", atmosphere goes completely!! Nobody gets back up to dance or move about! :meh:

    So - we found that practicing "transitions" between songs was a really good idea!
  9. Huge mistake- partying hard beforehand and either messing up bigtime (alchohol), thinking everything sounds great (ganja), or playing everything at double-time(speed).
  10. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    1. I would add that if you are playing and people are dancing, don't stick a setlist if it risks having them sit down. If they're up dancing, keep them there.

    2. Face the audience, not each other.
  11. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Tempo - it seems very easy to rehearse a tune at a given tempo, and then play it out much faster.

    One band I worked with decided upon a bpm standard tempo for each tune and wrote it next to the song name on the setlist. The drummer had one of those little metronomes with a flashing light and a mute button. He could establish the tempo per the clicker using only a couple seconds between songs at the shows.
  12. Spoiled Grape

    Spoiled Grape I <3 Darkstar

    May 29, 2003
    Riverside, CA
    Transition between songs.

    Bruce hit the nail on it's head in this regard. The silence between songs, no matter WHAT the genre, is just boring. It's the little things that really show the difference between a veteran band and a band in it's first few shows. You have to have a strong front man who knows how to carry the show, without music behind him. Is he engaging the audience? Even if he's just introducing the band/members, it's very important to have a good stage presense when music is not being played.

    Everyone is going to remember your music, but people will also remember what happened between songs.

    "Oh, their songs were good, but they were kind of boring live." or
    "They were good, but their singer wasn't funny and was really nervous."

    It won't kill your band, but it will stick in your audience's head.
  13. mistake: louder=better

    As obvious as this may seem, I have seen some bands with trouble grasping the concept
  14. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    Great points below which I would like to elaborate on;

    The problem is what if your use all your dancabele songs, then what ?

    My sollution is you have your set #1 planned for 40 minutes, say 10 songs with a few dance tunes sprinkled in. Say song #3, #6, and #9. Plan on having two additional dance songs "on reserve". If a 'significant number' of people start dancing, you go play the reserve and your set ends up at 50 minutes...about the longest I like to play for before a break.

    If you don't use the "dance reserve", it gets carried forward to set #2, and then to set #3.

    It's good to have dance songs that can be shortned/extended on the fly. For example, I play in a classic rock band and 'Tush' by ZZ Top is great for this. It's easy to go into: the guitar player plays the opening riff and everyone follows. If people stop dancing , it's under 3 minutes, so it's over quick. If people keep dancing, you can extend the solos.

    If your playing in bars, your job is not to keep people dancing it's to facilitate the sale of drinks. After 3 or 4 dance songs, a non-dancable one typically sends people to the bar or to a waitress.

    One person has to "call the shots" in terms of "set list deviations" live. Thus must be determined in advance.

    If you reherse facing each other, what happens when you perform ? The best way to set up for rehersal is liek you are going to perform. Pretend to be looking out into the audience.

    I use to be in the Toastmaster's public speaking club where I learned to look at somoen in teh audeince for about 5 seconds, then look at someone else for 5 seconds, ect....

    This will give you and your band a 'presence' with the audience.
  15. A huge mistake that I learned the hard way (but the stubborn bandmate would not) is calling an audible to some song that is not on the set list, and that you may not have even practiced lately, after you just played a great finishing song.

    You've just finished up a good one, it's time to leave, but he wants to "blow them away" with "just one more." BIG mistake every time.

    Leave them wanting more is my motto and I'm sticking with it. Pulling a rusty old one out of the bag ends up being a real deflating experience, and then the last thing the crowd remembers is how that last song sucked.

    Don't do it!! Even if you've still got a few minutes!
  16. billjr


    Jul 25, 2006
    Darlington, SC
    Something that irritates me as an audience member is for a band to announce how great their song is. I've heard several beach bands around SC announce there next song as "... and this next song won song of the year at last years awards show...", or announcing it was a big hit for them. Hey, if it was a big hit, then people will know it, that's why it was a hit. The people who care about the beach music awards will know what the song won and everyone else could care less. I say let the music speak for itself. Telling the audience how good your song is makes the band sound desperate.

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