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Does your band take requests?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by onlyclave, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    So I play in a classic rock cover band in the Seattle area and we work 3 out of 4 weekends a month, mostly private events and weddings and a bar gig if nothing else is going on. I'll make probably $5k with them this year. We use those bar gigs as rehearsals to try out music that has been requested by upcoming events.

    What happens is someone will give us a lead on Gigmasters, BL will contact them and they'll inevitably ask if we can play Song X or Band Y. That's currently the situation I'm taking a break from practicing now: Private party, favorite bands are Silversun Pickups (terrible band) and Smashing Pumpkins (more popular terrible band).

    So if someone asked for your bands to play a couple songs from those bands what would come to your mind? I'd think Lazy Eye and Cherub Rock, right? Easy to identify, ok to play and everyone would agree that we held up our end of the deal.

    No, I'm spending 45 minutes of my time this morning for a gig this afternoon to work out Panic Switch and 1979, so the song possibilities went from bad to really bad.

    This happens a lot where the request that could be really fun turn into complete garbage because the BL doesn't have much concept of what people's expectation are unless they give us explicit examples of songs they want, like "Party in the USA" (trash), "Firework", "I Kissed a Girl" (trash), "I Got a Feeling" (trash) and "Toto by Africa (sic)" (lame). What happens next is these songs will be added to the list of stuff we play on Gigmasters but we never want to play it again AND people keep requesting Black Eyed Peas. Kill me.

    So upcoming wedding, requests for Metallica and Rush. Best gig ever, right? I've played with the guitar player/BL for 14 years and I know he can play most of those catalogs so "Creeping Death" and "Tom Sawyer" or "Spirit of Radio" would really flip the party out. Nope, "Enter Sandman" and "Working Man" because "People know those songs". ***. I think someone requesting specifically Metallica for the wedding knows they don't want "Nothing Else Matters" because they could get a DJ for that.

    So what's your band's deal with these kind of requests?
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  2. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    The only requests of the type you speak of that we will learn is a song or songs requested for the wedding party thing.
    Mother son/ father Daughter / the couples first dance etc.
    We ask the booking party to come out and hear us and we send out our current song list. This way there are no surprises for either party.
    It can get real messy real fast otherwise.
    When they get so specific I'll tell them straight up we do not do that here is what we offer if it's not what your looking for I know several bands and DJS who would be glad to help you out.
    LowFish and Bodeanly like this.
  3. It comes with the territory when playing jazz so it isn't a problem. I've never liked doing it in rock bands much.
    Passinwind and fdeck like this.
  4. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Playing a wedding, yes.
    Playing a bar, maybe if we were gonna play it anyway or it's solid enough not to completely suck.
    seanm, garp and theduke1 like this.
  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Playing with jazz bands, sure, anything. I've had gigs that were nearly 100% requests.
  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    I forget... are they paying you to entertain them or to entertain yourself?

    I keep getting confused about that bit.
    Lesgo, Jhengsman, foudufafa and 7 others like this.
  7. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Yes we do but that doesn't mean we are going to play them.
    Bodeanly likes this.
  8. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    Depends on the request.

    If we have the charts in our OnSong, it means we've played it at some point in the past, and we will play it.

    If it's not there, we won't. Trying to learn a new song live is a recipe for disaster.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Oh, heck yeah! If you're playing upper-tier gigs, you'd better be staffed with pro musicians and able to play book on the fly.

    Somebody is gonna ask for "Autumn Leaves", trust me.

    twinjet and Bodeanly like this.
  10. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Yes...but we keep on playing regardless!


    Bodeanly and Zooberwerx like this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Dude said he works 3 out of 4 weekends and will probably only make 5K with the band all year. He ain't playing no "upper tier" gigs unless that band is ripping him off. :thumbsup:

    That's about 40 weekends. That would mean he is making about $125 per weekend average. Nothing "upper tier" about that.......unless the wedding band circuit is much different around there. An average wedding/corporate band here will bring in $5K per private party, and the better ones around $10K during the summer. And we're talking little ole' Eastern NC, not some major metro area.
    viper4000 likes this.
  12. My current band does originals and mostly obscurish, mostly reggae covers. The guitarist and I share vocal duties in my band. We are both well-versed in numerous genres of music and have a great drummer. We could play just about anything but guitarist won't. And we frequently get asked to play certain things. Stevie Ray Vaughn is a common request. Could but won't. What makes that extra strange is that at every gig at some point my guitarist says something over the mic like "let us know if there's anything you want to hear". We have never - not once- done a request.
    hrodbert696 likes this.
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Yes. And occasionally we play one.
    Bunk McNulty and punchdrunk like this.
  14. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    If you do invite requests, you better be ready to back it up and play some. In one cover band I was in, I remember the singer getting into a conversation with someone during a break, and inviting her to request anything and if we knew it, we would play it. This was a group that had not been together long and didn't have a whole lot of repertoire, and the singer proceeded to shoot down everything the woman requested. Even Mustang Sally! It wasn't on our set list, but all of us had played in other groups and I'm SURE we could have done it on the fly. No dice. The people left a song or two into the second set.

    The BL of the classic rock trio I used to be in would do the same thing. Any requests? -if we know it we'll play it. Then no, no, no, no, and no. OK, we'll just play what we were going to play anyway... Puts a lot of dead air into the show and doesn't create any goodwill.

    In any case, if you're minded to dismiss all the songs your customers want to hear as "lame" and "trash" you're in the wrong business.
    Jhengsman likes this.
  15. Lazylion

    Lazylion Goin ahead on wit my bad self!

    Jan 25, 2006
    Frederick MD USA
    We played a private party Saturday night. Had a good looking blonde gal come up and request all this modern dance stuff. We are an alt-country band. I'd never even heard of most of her requests. Finally she settled on Brown Eyed Girl. Heard of that one! But this band has never played it. We gave it a shot, kinda sloppy & none of us knew the words real well. Our soundman looked them up on his phone and held it up so the BL could finish the song, LOL! But she loved it & was very enthused. Anything to keep you dancing, honey! Thankfully she didn't ask for Mustang Sally.
  16. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    Play the songs the audience wants. That's what you get paid for. it's that simple.
    blixild, hrodbert696 and 40Hz like this.
  17. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Pretty much. Goes with the turf if you're billing yourselves as a cover group.

    i was never that gung-ho on taking requests. But to someone's earlier point - if you solicit them, be prepared to play at least some of them.

    When it comes to weddings however, the rules are different. Be willing to at least give the bride (and her parents since they're usually writing the checks) whatever they request. Or don't do weddings.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  18. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Yes, but we usually keep on playing anyways. ;-)

    Edit: dang, elgecko beat me to it!
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
    elgecko likes this.
  19. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    In the early 70s we were playing the enlisted club at Norfolk Naval station. At the time The James Gang was very popular. We always did requests if we knew the song. In this case, nobody came up and asked for a specific song. The audience just kept chanting James Gang over and over between songs. On break I came up with an idea the rest of the band was good with. At the beginning of the next set, I told the audience we had a pre-release copy of their newest album that would be release soon and because everyone wants James Gang, we are going to start with an instrumental off the new album.
    We did about 10 minutes of a 12 bar jam in A and tried to make it sound like something Joe Walsh would do. They loved it.
  20. Panic switch isn't that complicated...it's pretty much the same riff over and over again I thought?

    But overall, we do them. If you're not playing what people want to hear, then you're out of a job. Unfortunately, that's how it goes in the entertainment industry. Gotta keep the client happy.

    Now, if you have the opportunity to steer the request to something that you already know or are happier playing then go for it. For example, my BL tends to ask the crowd if there's a specific artist they would like to hear and we get to pick which song. Or if someone requests Party In The USA we say "oh yea we love Miley, how about 'Wrecking Ball'?" (just as an example, not that we play wrecking ball haha). Or simply let the crowd request a specific genre "wanna hear some rock or folk?" and then we'd launch into Shook Me All Night Long or Family Tradition...

    If it's a private party or a wedding, I would be happy to learn enough of a few songs to hack through them to make the guy dishing out money at the end of the night feel like he got what he asked for.
  21. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen! Staff Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    Interesting responses.

    I've played in the same cover band for 12 years now - We've never played a request (unless it was already on the set list) at any bar or casino show. We've only played one wedding (second one in about a month) and didn't take any requests. We just write a set list that steadily ramps up over the course of the evening and stick with it. No Mustang Sally, Brown Eyed Girl or Freebird either!
    Sartori likes this.
  22. Rhino Rob

    Rhino Rob

    Apr 20, 2008
    Mid West
    Bar gigs: If anyone asks we give them the list of all the songs we play and allow them to choose one from the list. (They almost always pick an AC/DC song)

    Private parties: The person who hired us is allowed 2 requests per hour of music. The requests had to be submitted to the band at least 3 months before the gig.

    Weddings: Do not play them.
    Sartori likes this.
  23. GK Growl

    GK Growl Inactive

    Dec 31, 2011
    Amen. But.....If the request is something that at best could be a possible train wreck, my band probably would not do it. That said, the closer to last call, the better the possibility we might just play anything. Also, money in the tip jar can help give us the courage to try something that could train wreck.
    electracoyote likes this.
  24. I've asked the singer/guitarist of our trio to give me a list of all the songs he already knows from memory. I'd be happy to learn them & keep in my back pocket for requests - I've got a good ear and a good memory.
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