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How important is set flow when you see a band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mancefine, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. mancefine


    Jul 7, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Orange Amplifiers and Spector Basses
    I’ve been having this debate with my bandmates for a while, and I just read a thread below that made me think to ask all my fellow TB’ers what you think.
    I play in an all original Black Sabbath, Mastadon esque three piece out of Austin. We are pretty good, and usually get a pretty great crowd response. We are trying to “make it”, and by that I mean we are trying to get to the point where we are playing packed venues. To do that, in Austin at least, you have to catch the attention of the right promoters, and I’ve noticed most of the bands they book seem to have it all together- good stage show, lots of merch for sale, all dress like hipsters or tatted rockers, etc. I have two questions:
    1. When you see a band and they have a lot of dead space between songs and then they are looking at each other asking which song to play next, does it lessen your opinion of them, even if you like the music? No matter how much we practice or if we print sets out, it seems almost impossible to get my guitarist or drummer to grasp the concept of set fluidity. We can be forgetful, and our guitarist seems to have to tune at least every two songs. He even had one of the Gibson futures where you push a button on the headstock to tune, but he just got an explorer, so it’s back to his tu-2 for now. He also says that if I or the drummer play while he’s tuning it, then his tuner won’t work. Even tuning aside, our drummer has to make sure everyone turns around and says “ready” before he will count in a song. It frustrates the crap out of me because set flow is a pretty simple concept, and we seem to just not get it. I just wonder if this small flaw makes us look unprofessional to the right people.
    2. Our singer is the only guy that really “looks the part.” He has long hair, a giant beard and tattoos. He and I are both fatter dudes, not obese, but we definitely aren’t skinny. In a clique town like Austin I worry that we don’t look grungy or rock star enough. Our drummer spikes his hair with gel and has one of those stripe neck beards that looks super lame. I’m just wondering if our image is hurting us. If anyone wants to see or hear us for reference,

    Thanks for the feedback!
  2. Twobass


    Aug 12, 2009
    For number 1 it does lessen my opinion of the band and I've been in bands that do the same thing. Making the songs flow does take some work, anytime music is not playing is a problem. I know that you can't play a whole set without stopping but you can try. You're playing the music and you shouldn't be surprised by the next song.

    I saw a band a few months ago and they went to each song without stopping. One song was done they started with the next one, no looking around like they didn't know what song is next.
  3. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    Set flow is VERY important. you need to be adamant about telling the band that they will NOT "make it" if they don't fix that crap. If the guitarist is whining about tuning then he needs to get his intonation fixed or stop bending strings so damn much. Either way he needs to get over it.
    The drummer need to count off and start playing and force them to catch up until they get the message. At the VERY LEAST songs need to be grouped in pairs or threes so drooling time is diminished by half to 1/3.

    As for the look, it just needs to be consistent...You don't all have to look the same but at least look like you're from the same neighborhood and tax bracket.
  4. Pro bands transition between songs in a seem less, calculated fashion. You are definitely on the right track OP and IMO this is a worthy battle to fight. Your guitarist might need to explore other options in the tuner dept, or bring another guitar that he can rotate and have a buddy tune the one he just used during a song or whatever. There is no time for excuses, every other pro band has figured out how to flow between songs without dead space...why can't yours? You guys need to polish up all the little details to compete with the bands that promoters favor in Austin.

    Musically you guys sound great...polish up the details of your show and you will seem way more pro!

    Image wise I don't personally see and issue. Just bring energy to every performance and be tighter than the competition on all levels.
  5. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
  6. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    If you get the chance to go see Kings-X do it. That's the way everyone should do every show IMO.
  7. Fender05


    Oct 20, 2008
    Set flow is SUPER important. People came to hear you PLAY. Not discuss what song is next, or wait 5 minutes between songs. You gotta keep the tempo of the set moving. You guitarist saying that he needs silence for the tu-2 to work is a BS excuse. If he's gotta tune, he's gotta tune, but it shouldn't take more than a minute tops. Then, IMMEDIATELY, the next song should count off and you go. In my band, we typically will transition straight from one song to the next for 2-3 songs just to keep the pace up.

    The other question-image-is almost as important. I don't think weight, necessarily matters as much (ever see the drummer from Demon Hunter, or look at Dino Cazares for example), but you gotta look like a band. Looking like 3 bums who just got off work and jumped onstage is not going to get you noticed by anyone.

    Just my 2 cents. Feel free to disregard anything you don't like.
  8. Yes. Without a doubt. I consider it unprofessional, and you can tell by the audience, it's not just the musicians who wish we could get more bang for our buck, less dead air, more music. It's only natural.

    Make the effort. Do the best with what you got. Then let your personalities and stage presentation/body language do the rest. What more can you possibly do? Liposuction? Audiences can tell and appreciate the effort. Lots of big boys are great rockers.
  9. Set Flow is very important. Bands that can play well as a group are rare enough but bands that play well AND have all the little details like set flow, minimal dead air, good interaction with the crowd and the proper"image" are sadly rarer still.

    Once your band has a solid handle on the music then you can take it up an notch and smooth out your show with set flow, dead air,crowd interaction etc..

    Sometimes these things only come with experience - ie the more gigs the band does together the better all aspects of the show should become.

    my two cents
  10. Trying to instill a similar regimen in our band. Last night was the first night we took a set apart to actually REHEARSE our transitions which I believe will be key to winning the hearts and minds of my cohorts. That said, I believe it's important to let everyone water themselves and give the frontman time to chat with the audience etc. in a set.
    That tuning is annoying. I'm surprised the TU-2 doesn't block out all that is not plugged into it to allow the musician to tune silently. Not sure what you can do to reduce time spent on tuning.
    The ammo I have, but haven't had to use yet, is watch your favourite band's DVD. How much time do these pros spend between each track? The audience is eagerly waiting the next song, not really caring how the band gets to the next song, just get there. That's the experience your audience is expecting/hoping for.
  11. 1) Yes, dead space is totally unprofessional.

    2) Looks are subject to opinion ~ IE: a suit vs. a sock. :D
  12. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    1- yes it's huge. and it does.

    2- probably not holding you back near as much as number 1 above. if you like the way you look rock it. any body that doesn't like it can eat a bag of drumsticks. if that's not your attitude/confidence level that could be holding you back i guess, but probably not too big a deal.

    i watched your promo video... no vocals until 2:28? whether we like it or not vocals, and the vocalist, is where it's at. i know you didn't ask for that feedback but it seems like an important point.

    i like the band and the songs. you guys should do well if you can step on the gas and not let up.
  13. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    1. Of course you're right, the set should flow. The better and more pro the flow, the better and more pro you'll be perceived.

    I'm surprised you have to fight them over this. I'm not in a band that's that good nor trying to make it, but I still know you need to be smooth and tight. It's pretty basic common sense, isn't it?

    2. Eh, play well, good show, clean and appropriate dress, and you'll be accepted.
  14. randyripoff


    Jul 12, 2008
    1. Extremely unprofessional and amateur. You need to figure out a way to fill the time between songs, your guitarist needs to figure out his tuning issues, and your drummer has to keep things moving.

    2. Personally, I'm not a fan of aping the current fashions. Define your own look, set your own trends, make yourselves stand out. Not really as big an issue however.
  15. mancefine


    Jul 7, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Orange Amplifiers and Spector Basses
    It's not that they disagree with me- they have said they know it's important. It's that once that conversation is over they forget and then we barely acknowledge it, and in practice we almost never play like we would at a show. So then there are some shows we do it, but the overall majority of them there is tons of awkward dead space. I at least wish our guitarist would fix the tuning issue (where we can't play while he tunes) so that there could be some orchestrated noise between songs.
  16. KeddyLee


    Nov 12, 2013
    My band has this issue and we're actively trying to fix it. We do a Rush tribute so I have key and sample patches to change between songs, the guitar player has patches to change and we both have footpedals (PK-5's) that need changing. A lot to do and we keep it to about 20-30 seconds. To me that is still too long.

    I need to figure out a way to MIDI everything together (I know there's a way but I'm poor) so the changes can happen instantly. Maybe some day.

    Flow is so important. I always want to start the next song before the applause dies out from the last song. Know what I mean?
  17. Up the dose

    Up the dose

    Mar 10, 2013
    You pause, you loose the crowd. If the guitar player need to tune or twiddle the knobs on his pedals then bass and or drums have to start the next song. Unless your singer is the second coming of David Lee Roth there is no need to talk to the crowd. Play the tunes one to the next as quickly as possible.
  18. The way you practice is the way you play.

    If you guys have gotten into a routine of dead air and fiddling around between songs, it won't fix itself. You have to make a concerted effort in rehearsal.

    At rehearsal, identify spots on the set lists where the imperative is: NO DEAD AIR BETWEEN THESE SONGS. Start with maybe one or two segues.

    Make it happen in rehearsal. Do it repeatedly until everyone gets their head around it and it becomes the norm.

    Take it to the stage.

    The way you practice is the way you play.
  19. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Set flow is very important.
    I worked in a 6 pc. band that had horrible set flow.
    4 lead singers who couldn't make up their mind what to play.
    My last band,a trio had great set flow, no dead space at all.
    Guitar player always had an extra axe too.
  20. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    Maybe don't practice the whole song, that you probably already know anyway. Dedicate a couple sessions to just transitions. Leave just enough time for "thank you.."

    If your guitar player needs to tune have some patter ready... "ladies and gentlemen don't forget to stop on and see Randy at the merch table... he gets pretty lonely sometimes... etc"

    Work on learning how to be efficient.