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Hey Cover Band Players - Crazy Bands & Stage Antics?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by ChrisB2, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Please, let's keep the responses on topic, no "covers suck" posts are necessary nor desired. Thanks.

    So. Lots of bands in my area dress up in crazy costumes, clown suits or drag, jump around and do other goofy antics, play flutes, keytars, kazoos, etc., and generally take any and all measures to stand out and be different.

    I'm interested in any cover musicians' experiences and general opinions of these efforts, whether mild or extreme. This thread is not about what the general public or anyone else thinks, just those who "have played" or "currently play" in cover bands.

    My band is wanting to buff up our show, although nothing extreme, more like better dress, more movement, and better setlist flow. The craziest we get is throwing out beach balls during outdoor festival shows. Woo hoo! :eyebrow:

    I would love to hear what other guys like me think about the matter...

    Do you play or have you played in one of these bands?
    If so, how did/does the experience compare to more traditional bands in your experience?
    Did you see a difference in income +/- ?
    How crazy did/do you get? Please describe your band.
    Mild or extreme, can you see a relationship between level of craziness and audience response/following/booking/income?
    Whether you played in such a band or not, what is your opinion of this approach? (Cover band players)
    How do such bands fare in your area/opinion?
    Please add any comments.

    Tanks! clown.
  2. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    We regularly do bunny ears in one band. I don't always wear a shirt but when I do it's so loud I don't need an amp. Have also done medieval gigs in costume, and one themed party gig painted green to look like Shrek. Sometimes I won't shave my head for like two weeks before a gig just so I can have a small mohawk on gig day. I've got Louis Vuitton and Burberry basses.

    I think that stuff helps but to be honest I just do it because it's fun and I love attention. It's not really a calculated way to get more popularity or get paid better. So, don't go that far unless you're the kind of person who just happens to be like that. But I think the milder levels of antics really do make a big difference. Move around, dress well, match your clothes to your bass or vice versa.

    One singer I worked with quite a bit in the past decided she liked how she looked in a particular live photo, and decided she'd always wear red tights for gigs and make that a trademark look. For the band that uses bunny ears I also try to find shirts with pictures of rabbits or hares on them. That kind of subtler thing is a very good idea.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I tend to bop around stage with my eyes closed and my tongue hanging out of my mouth. I occasionally drool on my bass, but that's the price of admission.....
  4. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Short of a Halloween or costume party type of gig I'm not a fan of it. Most bands around here don't do it either, we just play well.
  5. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    I don't do any of the antics you mentioned so I can't speak to that.

    And my band is a hobby band and not a full time business, so there's that.

    With that said, we do very well for what we are, and I will say the two biggest contributing factors to my cover band's ability to make good money and have more gig offers than we can play are the following:

    1. We play good, we enjoy playing, and although we are a "Blues band" we have A LOT of songs outside our genre (mainly speaking of songs that folks can dance to, but we span MANY genres across many decades).

    2. We can play at low volumes. We use electric drums, and that has opened MANY good paying gigs at locations that otherwise wouldn't even consider a live electric blues/rock band.

    Just something to consider.
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings

    I think it looks ridiculous, I hate it, won't go see bands that do it and I won't do it either. If the musicianship is good enough you don't need gimmicks.
  7. Just my take on it. Here's the thing, it isn't for everyone. You can't take yourself too seriously if you do what we do. And you have to have it in your personality to essentially whore yourself out, to a point. So it's just not the right gig for everyone. I've seen so many fantastic musicians who could not, or would not, do what we do. For example, saw this band comprised mostly of music school grads that we were being showcased with. Amazing musicianship. Totally blew us away on every level music-wise. No personality, no crowd interaction, and they had the typical attitude of "we play what we like, we do what we like, it's about us, you should be happy we're here". We followed them on stage with our mediocre music, mediocre talent, and high energy antics. Audience response was overwhelmingly positive in our favor. Our thought was that if people just wanted to hear good music, played well, they'd listen to the radio. But they came out to see a live band, so there's more to it than just hearing good music played well, because they can do that without ever leaving their homes or cars. But again, you have to have that element in your personality to do it or enjoy it.
  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    One band I worked with had comedy going on by changing a few
    key words in a tune, dirty drinking songs. Always went over well.
    Another had comedy by bumping into each other and dancing
    completely out of sync. Always got attention.
    Never know till you try it.
  9. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have tried for years to put together a GG Allin cover band...so far no takers. Want to do a trib band looks, music and act. :D
  10. rocmonster


    Oct 31, 2011
    to be an authentic GG Allin band, you have to stink.....literally!
  11. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Musically and body :) Yea no takers after all these years.
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    My cover band does a few things that sets us apart from other local bands. First, we all dress the part - and that's not a small thing. We *really* go for it.


    Our image has definitely gotten us better pay that other bands I play with. On top of that, we've added lights, lasers, and a projector/screen combo:



    It's a new band, but we're already pulling $4-5k for weddings and corporate events, and $1.5-1.7 for clubs. We're already known for bringing the party, keeping people dancing and having a good time. If you think just playing well is enough, you're in for an awakening....
  13. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    Being entertaining is important for all bands, not just cover bands. That's my opinion, and as a result, I wear shiny polyester most times I'm on stage. The cover band doesn't generally share my opinions, although they do jump around. The R&B/jazz/blues/whatever it is band gets dressed up and really puts on a show. We play out a whole lot more. We are all day job types, but there's no reason not to put on a good show, whether you are making a living doing it or not.
  14. bassbully

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

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Great looking group you have there.
  15. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Pacman's crew looks very sharp. I'm not sure it's the kind of corniness the OP meant to ask about, but it's a great example of investing in your image and dressing the part.

    I didn't join them, but I auditioned for an 80's cover band that was committed to looking the part. At their gigs, everyone dressed in some kind of over-the-top 80's look; Devo hats and teased hair and mullet wigs and all that. They seem to be doing very well, 3-5 gigs a month. Not bad for weekend warriors.
  16. Twobass


    Aug 12, 2009
    Pacman, I love the look of your band. I'm trying to get a new look, I'm trying to move away from the jeans and tee shirt look. This gives me some inspiration.
  17. There is a local all female cover band around here where they'll do some "different" things, like the guitarist puts on a luchadore mask for a couple songs. They are popular and it works for them, but I don't think it's something I feel the need to imitate.
  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    These guys *all* care about it. They definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, from an image perspective. But I'm a believer more and more - this stuff works.
  19. +1

    I haven't seen these types of antics around here.
    Being a 'showman' is very important, being a fool, not so much. Just my opinion, many disagree and that's fine with me.
  20. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Pacman's band wasn't what I was referring to. They look great and not at all corny IMO.