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Cover band rant - dead air!

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by slaps76, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. slaps76


    Jul 10, 2008
    Medford, MA
    Ok, so I'm kinda/sorta in one band(more of a former band, now back as a fill-in until they replace me), and I'm also in a new cover band I helped form. Both top-40/pop/rock. The new band has nothing to do with this discussion! We're not going to be having these issues...already pre-discussed...

    So former band...get along with everyone personality wise, singer(female) has a GREAT voice, lead guitarist has chops, drummer does as well, and when we play, I like to think it's pretty tight. However, during gigs, there is so much dysfunction. Dead air in between songs is ridiculous. One guitarist is tuning and/or drinking his drink, while the other one is trying to talk to the crowd way too much. "Hey, how you doing? Huh? You like rock n' roll? Huh? This is a chick song, yea!" Wish I had a foot switch to shut his mic off, it gets annoying.

    Not to mention, many times, the rythym guitarist(who's band it really is) decides to change the song order mid set, so we're all looking at each other waiting for his song choice.

    THEN, the time in between sets...20-30 min breaks are the norm, which means we're cutting our sets really short. First set last night...9 songs.

    Anyway, this is more of a rant, not asking for ways to deal with it, since I don't care to have input with this band anymore...but for you cover band people, how is your outlook & how is your band with "dead air" in between songs? I know in the downtown area here, to play in the good bars, besides the right setlist, you have to keep the set moving, and this band isn't moving anywhere fast....however they're not willing to work on that.
  2. My cover band records every gig with a small digital recorder Tascam DR07. We burn everyone a copy after shows so every one hears their mistakes and overall performance. You also hear the crowd comments, applause and spots in the show where there is dead air. Its a nice tool to use to smooth the rough spots and also learn what songs work and don't work. We try to start some songs almost immediately after others end especially if the dance floor is packed. I would recommend keeping the dead air between songs to less than 30 seconds. If the guitars needs to tune then have the singer address the crowd with the usual stuff......"lets give a hand to the dancers"........"tip your waitresses"......."if you like what you hear please sign our e-mail sheet"...Bla Bla Bla. Keep the show moving at all times. I don't mind long breaks because give the audience time to chit chat but once on stage you got to seize the moment.
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I'd rather have a set list and follow it but that rarely happens. I hate dead air too. I hate people wandering around onstage asking what do you want to play next? Pick a frickin' song and let's play it.

    It's good to interact with the crowd between songs, especially to cover unavoidable dead air but just standing there having a discussion is lame. I could see that in the parking lot.
  4. we have a no dead air agreement in our band. we finish one song then the drummer is counting in the next. we might extend a drum or guitar intro if someone needs to tune, but basically it song finishes - 4 count - back into the next one.

    the singer will do her thing over the top of the music to introduce the band or whatever, but we keep banter to a minimum.

    works well for us so far.
  5. The subject matter of this topic, collectively, is Numero Uno on my short list. I cannot STAND dead time between songs. My funk band is kinda starting to fall into this habit, since our old drummer used to call out 3 or 4 songs and we'd play back-to-back-to-back before any dead time happens, and the new drummer isn't quite familiar with the setlist yet to do that, but we're working on it. Ugh, boo dead time, booo!!!
  6. pokengkong


    Apr 6, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Kingston Basses
    I play in a corporate cover band. We don't have dead air because as soon as one song stops, the next one is starting immediately. In some cases, songs have been medleyed or mashed together. The goal of our cover band is to keep people on the dance floor. So, stopping or breaks between songs just can't happen. In terms of tuning, there is always parts in some songs where the bass part drops. During these times, I can quickly check tuning on a tuning pedal on the pedal board. I hit the pedal and it mutes the rig. Guitarist does the same. We do 1.5 hour sets with no break.
  7. Jodaka


    Jun 28, 2001
    Riverview, FL
    wow, that sounds almost exactly like my old band. i can understand changing song placement mid-set (throwing songs that are more "danceable" when the floor is packed isn't a bad thing), but i get where you're coming from - it's very frustrating, to be sure. the good news is (at least you didn't mention it) that they don't turn that dead air into a pseudo-comedy act (which is what my old band did). sure, the jokes are somewhat funny the first time, but when you agree to sub for them a few years down the road and they're still doing them...
  8. slaps76


    Jul 10, 2008
    Medford, MA
    Yea...well they try, but nothing they say is funny. One of the guitarists will say "the more you drink the better we sound!" which is kind of funny in a self-depricating way, but not sure that kind of humor exactly looks good for the band.

    ONCE in a while, I like to do a funny toast, or announce we're now holding a "bad dance contest," or something like that, but really I'm with some of the other posters, and prefer to go song into song as quickly as possible. I think the best time for crowd interaction is during a song, getting them to sing along, ect.
  9. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    +1000! I don't have an issue with a set list or not, just call out a song! I'm having the same issue with my band. I can't stand just standing around! If 10 seconds has passed, it's too long for my taste! Our biggest issue is with the keyboardist finding his 'patch'! Ugh!
  10. By the time you start the last chorus of a song, everyone in the band should know what the next song is going to be - and be making mental preparations for it (what keyboard patch will I need, what effects and/or EQ changes do I need to make, do I need sticks or brushes .....). This is whether or not you use a set list.

    If you do use a list then everyone needs a copy and everyone needs to be paying attention (see above), but you have to be prepared to ditch it if things aren't working (see below).

    If you don't use a list then someone has to be watching the crowd and calling the tunes to fit the situation - in one band I was in the Drummer and the Keytard took turns - if you got a lead singer/front man then it could be him - but someone has to be "in the chair" and take charge. The end of a song is not the time to call a band meeting to decide the next number!!
  11. Is it ever out of tune? I find for me, it's rare.
  12. Are you playing in my band? Problem sounds that same, people came to hear tunes, not wittless banter between songs
  13. slaps76


    Jul 10, 2008
    Medford, MA
    I know. And the sad thing is, the band is tight, but they're too stubborn to listen to constructive critisicm on this & realize it's keeping them from the higher paying gigs. Have a friend who's in one of the top cover bands in boston come see us, and he even said it to one of them..."the one thing I'd suggest is cut down on the time between songs," and the guitar player just said, "well we like to banter with the crowd, it's our thing." My friend just shrugged and walked away.

    The positive thing is for me, is I just went and started a new band, where I made sure we're all on the same page with this stuff, so I don't let this one stress me out like it used to. Still get frustrated during the gigs though. Even my friends comment to me how the dead air & stupid banter is way too much.
  14. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    sounds like a fairly unprofessional, but typical, situation.

    I much prefer to play with folks who have their ducks in a row night & tight, but you take the gigs offered to you, right?
  15. slaps76


    Jul 10, 2008
    Medford, MA
    Yea, I'm playing gigs with them now until my new band gets going(first gig in less than 2 weeks), and they did ask me to rejoin the band permanently, which I turned down...I figure it's better than not playing at all.
  16. i like it much better when bands have a front that knows how to engage a crowd between songs.....and distract from the necessary prep stuff the band needs to do for the next song.....
  17. Yes, get rid of any dead time. The audience wants entertainment, not sitting there and waiting for something to happen.
  18. That's what rehearsal is for. You should be practicing whole sets, not just individual songs. But that's a rant for another thread, maybe; issues I've had with my previous cover bands. Dead Air is a huge pet peeve of mine too.
  19. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    ^^^^ (& it's not just limited to cover bands, either!)

    I don't know why that should be worth another thread. I can't imagine there being anything to dispute about it!
  20. My guess is that in 70% of the dead air cases it's just a matter of a band not having a clear leader that steers the band performance.

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