1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

How do you arrange your songs within a set?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bottom Feeder, May 14, 2006.

  1. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder encridublee smatr

    Nov 22, 2004
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Our singer has suddenly jumped on the "I've got a great idea!" bandwagon. For an upcoming gig, his has come up the the set list and order of tunes we will play. Problem is that I have minimal respect for this guys intelligence. His driveway definately does not meet the road.
    Now I'm sure that it's been done this way before but he wants to try to arrange the sets by genre. For instance, he has arranged all our Sabbath tunes (3) back to back to back and then we move into Crazy Train. That's a lotta Ozzy in 20 mins. This type of thing repeats itself with other bands we do more than one cover of. I don't think I like that type effect. Then our last set is all our mellower stuff. I like mixing it up more. I just believe he has taken the easy, non-cerebral road to our set list.

    Do you think sets should be arranged in some format. Should they mix up the sets so you begin a little quiet and reach a crescendo? Should they begin with a bang and then taper off? How do you arrange your sets?
  2. The set list should depend upon the gig. For a concert-type event or a larger club, I like to keep it rocking throughout the set (assuming you have one set). For house-band gigs where you play all night or for other events where people want to snuggle, etc. add in some slower things, but I'd never make a full set of the slow things - that will drive the rockers out.

    I would also avoid clumping covers by bands - that has "tribute band" written all over it, which is great if you are a tribute band or if you do a tribute set (I saw a band many years ago that did a Killer Alice Cooper tribute set - the crowd loved it to death).

    For a usual set, I usually come out with a rocking tune (but not too heavy) to start, followed by another rocking tune right after. From there you can slow it down if you want, but I usually try to build up to the end of the set for a dramatic finish.
  3. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    The way I guage sets is have dress rehearsals, maybe with a small audience. Play just as if you were on stage, that is no stopping and small talk, farting around, uneeded tuning, or generally fing around between songs.

    that way you can feel where the set has juice and where you start to lose the audience.

    It then becomes easy to feel that, "this chunk of songs needs to be moved, or this one just doen'st fit at all, or the singer needs to intro."

    I've found that if you are doing a lot of rocking tunes and then suddenly do a balled, no matter how good it is you lose people and they go to the john or something.

    going into ballads is tricky you almost have to have the singer talk the crowd into it and intro.

    I'm a big fan of back to back with no real breaks for a whole set of rocking heavy tunes. Just have the singer scream to the audience in between lyrics to work the crowd. Really gets the energy going.

    Biggest problem when breaking in a set is to get a band not to f around between songs, especially if they havn't played out much. don't allow any guitar wanking or errant drum fills.

    Trust me do this at practice, because no matter how much some noob says how he will follow the set live, if he hasn't practiced it they twiddle between songs (short attention span I guess)

    They usually learn real quick though if you tape a live show, and show them how they lost the crowd when they stood in front of tuner for a full five minutes, expecting the singer to magically turn into a stand up comedian. (Happened to me.)
  4. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    The way we arrange is in accordance to tunings and feel. We usually hit people with the song that hits them in the teeth, and then play the songs that are left in that first tuning. Then, we switch gear to the next tuning, which also has a song that hits them in the teeth to start off with, play a couple more songs, and then the final tuning and save one of our best songs for last.
  5. megiddo


    Apr 5, 2003
    Houston, Texas
    Songs on the E string

    Songs on the A string

    Songs on the D string

    Don't care much for songs on the G string.

  6. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
    open with something stong, have the mellower stuff in the middle then end on a nice strong happy song.:hyper:
  7. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    You don't need sets either... I've never been a fan of them. Take turns calling out 2-3 tunes in a row or write down 2-3 tunes in a row on a sheet before the gig.

    Doing 2-3 tunes in a row versus a set can be way more dynamic in my experiences.
  8. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder encridublee smatr

    Nov 22, 2004
    Huntington Beach, CA

    Interesting approach.
  9. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I try to start with a strong song and end with a strong song. People have short memories. If you start strong you will get their attention. As long as you don't completely blow the other songs, if you end strong, that is what they will remember.
  10. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I usually try not to play more than one or two covers by the same band anyway... unless you're going for the "tribute set."

    But yeah, never put too many slow tunes together. More than 2 or 3 and your crowd will start to lose interest, unless you're playing for a high school Prom or something... lol...

    The only reason I'm a fan of sets - rehearsed transitions. We've got about 3 major sets - a 30 minute set (for when you're playing with 3 or 4 other bands), a 60 minute set, and a 2 hour "This is our concert" set. We could play longer than that, but rarely get the chance.

    Anyway, it's good to have transitions worked out so that you can move smoothly from song to song without having to "reset" between every tune. That means you can program a keyboard solo and give the drummer a break after the loud and fast song instead of simply waiting a minute or two (dead time) to let him rest.

    Our 30 minute set especially is getting to be more and more seamless. The first 3-4 songs have at most 3 seconds of space between music. The third (or fourth if we have six) tune requires a bit of a setup and starts with an acapella intro, so my bassist and drummer do a little latin groove in the key of the tune.

    The only time that we stop is towards the end, and that's to teach the audience our "audience participation" song.

    I've seen bands who play exclusively one set, and while it gets a little stale when you see them multiple times, their set is TIGHT as all get out. One problem with relying on a front man to make verbal transitions is that it tends to vary set times. If the crowd is responsive, the front man talks more. If they're dead, he talks less.

    Nothing like coming in at 8pm for a 3 hour gig and running out of material by 10:30... By the same token, nothing like trying to program 30 minutes and getting cut off by the soundman before your last tune.
  11. Thunder Lizard

    Thunder Lizard

    Dec 7, 2005
    Lethbridge, AB
    Canadian Distributor, Basson Sound Equipment
    First, it always does my heart good to hear musicians talking about how to make the show better for the audience....if only every band paid attention to those details, eh?
    We used to go through a lot of instrument/patch changes, and even a couple of place changes (drummer out front to sing while keys guy goes to drums, etc), so we HAD to plan our sets out to maximize music time and minimize dead time. We were also fans of segues....changing songs without actually stopping playing....lol, there were some pretty inventive key change methods. Naturally, we ended up putting together songs that allowed us to play for a good 15 or 20 minutes, then pause a minute or so to make changes, and go again. We used to have some fun with "mini solos" as well......somebody keeps the music going with a 30 second solo, or a stretched, stripped down intro (say drums and bass only, or a tiny bit of "Eruption", or some other really recognizeable intro) to let others change, then we'd all kick it in.....that was often a LOT of fun.
    I'm intrigued as well by the idea of building sets by having 'groups of songs' and just grabbing them randomly....you wouldn't be constantly figuring out what to play song by song, but you'd have a variable and flexible set that would be different every time...sounds fun!
    Our usual set concept tried to hit 'em hard at the start, build it, then let them relax with a palate-cleanser or 2, and then build to a finale that makes them want to stay for the next set, and it worked fairly well, depending on the gig. When we used to play a lot of small town pubs that would start with a really mixed crowd that would end up being fairly young at the end, we did the music the same......started with mostly older rock, mixed with a song or 2 of newer/ more "popular" to keep the kids happy, and then it got progressively newer and/or more aggressive as the night went on..... worked at weddings, too, to a lesser degree. (Is it only me, or do wedding crowds often make nearly unreasonable numbers of requests? Half the time our list went out the window, trying to fill requests)
    I'm really going to try that idea of song "groups" though.... I like the concept.
  12. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    We have a fan who will literally take my setlist from the floor while we're playing and CROSS OFF the rest of the set between where we are and the song she wants to hear. :smug:
  13. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    suppose it depends on the band, but I don't think I've seen many actual profesional stage bands do this. I think letting each member have a turn at deciding what would be the next three tunes on the fly, while performing, is asking for a train wreck. It doesn't consider..........

    1. what shape the singers voice is in, is he ready for that next song.
    2. Tunings.
    3. Are the players warmed up for that next song.
    4. Can everyone in the band remember all of the songs you play off the top of their heads, and suddenly pick out three that would work together.
    5. Does the songs your drummer want to pick sound really strange next to the ones you just picked.

    And if you write them down before a gig, isn't that a set list?
  14. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I think the concept is to have several "mini-sets", with three or so songs in each group. Then you just have to shout, "Number 4" or "Southern Rock" or something to cue everyone to the 3 that you're about to do. I suppose you could then write all your mini-sets down on a list to refresh your memory, but it would make the set a great deal more fluid and responsive to the crowd.

    Of course, I've tried calling songs on the fly... we then usually end up playing all my favorite tunes at first, and then we've got a ton of slower stuff and other "leftovers" at the end of the night.

    It's easier to keep my favorite songs spread out when they're planned in a setlist... especially when I'm trying to plan for guitar changes and such...

    EDIT: And for the record, I've seen a lot of pro jazz musicians call tunes on the fly. And in defense of this method, it's supposed to look like they've got a planned set. Just more fluid. If done well, you wouldn't even know that they're calling out "mini-sets" on the fly.
  15. my current band uses set lists that change slightly from gig to gig - always refining as we add new material. for back-to-back fri/sat nights, we vary them more.

    we usually spread out songs by the same artist to keep it interesting for the crowd. 20 minutes of any artist risks running people out.

    i worked in one band several years ago that created song groups. each group had 3-5 songs that worked well together with tight segues. each song group was named, usually after the first song in the group. so an hour-long set consisted of about 4 song groups.

    it was really easy to write sets and to change during a set if we sensed that something else would work better.
  16. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    I'll be honest- my band is probably the least professional outta all your methods.
    We have a "master sheet" of covers. And a master sheet of originals. We take turns saying what we want to play. We usually play 3-4 1 hour sets at bar gigs. We tend to try and play the best stuff at the beginning. And the "not so great" stuff toward the end (when people are so drunk they don't care). I realize this is a terrible approach, but it keeps things interesting, and keeps you on your toes. We all remember all the songs, and if you don't- thats to bad, you best be figureing it out soon.

    But for shows of "importance" or when we're promoting ourselves, we'll have a setlist written out. For example, battle of the bands we'll have transitions worked out, have the order worked out, and everything even down to what the singer will say inbetween songs, and how long he has to talk ect. We like to start out big for these type of gigs. Then we like to keep it big. Slow it down a little. Then gradually bring it up. Finish huge.

    Our former producer told us this- people remember 2 things. How you start, and how you finish. So you're first 2 and last 2 songs have to be your best. You want to "captivate" and audience at first, or make them think that you're good enough for them to stay. And then you want them to remember you being good (at the end) so they'll come back.
    That's his theory, as you can see he's our former producer, so he wasn't the best at his job.

    my .02
  17. SOA_bassist

    SOA_bassist Guest

    May 10, 2006
    My band plays thrash/death metal and we only play in Eb Standard so we worry more about tempos than anything else. So far it seems like if we do 2 or 3 fast tempo songs we will throw in a mid-tempo song, if we do 4 or 5 fast tempo songs we will then do a slow-tempo song or two mid-tempo songs.
  18. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    If you only play in one key, how does anyone know when you're done with one song and on to the next? :bag: :D

  19. ROFLMAO :D
  20. seventai


    May 9, 2006
    alphabetical order imo

Share This Page