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Length of breaks on 4 hour gigs

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jimc, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. jimc


    Sep 17, 2002
    New Carsmell, CA
    This Friday we played our second gig at a local bar, it's a typical 9:30-1:30 gig. The first time we played there we did a 1.5 hours set followed by a 15 minute break, then we played 45 minutes until midnight. We took a longer break probably of 25-30 minutes and then finished with 45 minutes until 1:30.

    Before our next gig the venue contacted us and requested we change our set times. They said that a lot of people left when we were on our second break. The times they wanted were 9:30 - 10:30, 10:45 - 11:45 and midnight - 1:30 which we did last night.

    I think just 30 minutes of breaks on a 4 hour gig is insufficient, I felt beat up on Saturday and I'm sure the rest of the band did too. Just curious what you guys typically play?

    Couple things to note, my band is all in their fifties, as our most of our followers. This is why we usually play a long first set as we know a lot of our crowd won't make it until the last set. If my wife comes to a gig, I'm honored if she makes it to the second set! This is also why we don't play many bar gigs these days, we get some local festivals, fairs and winery gigs. As we expected the place cleared out some after our second set and we were left with a long set with the place half empty.

    We did suggest to the venue that we start earlier (say 8:30 - 12:30) but they weren't interested in changing their regular live music hours.

    Back in my casino playing days we would play 45 mins then take 15 off each hour. Just curious how the rest of you handle this.
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    We play 45 minutes, and then take 15.

    Sometimes, we short ourselves on these breaks.

    I would go all night with no break, if the venue asked me to do it.

    I would play a few songs that require no drums in at least three sets, if we ever did that.
  3. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    15 minutes
  4. 50 minute sets with 10 minute breaks. 4 hour gigs are pretty standard aound here. NYE played 3 1/2 hours with one ten minute break! Age makes no difference, I'm 64.
  5. jimc


    Sep 17, 2002
    New Carsmell, CA
    Pretty much what I thought but let me ask another question.

    Are you finding that the crowd thins out in the last set?

    I see this with a lot of bands around here. If you're a young band in a college town I can see keeping a crowd until 1:30am but in our local scene people are worried about getting a DUI and just don't want to party all night.

    Some venues seem to think we're still in the seventies (and they're still paying like it!).
  6. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    We do 15min breaks after hour-long(+/-) sets. Up here,the crowd during the first set are usually carry-overs from the dinner rush. Thins out at the beginning of the second set,and fills in again towards the end. For the 3rd and 4th sets,the crowd that's there are there to party,so turn it up and GO!!
  7. Did you mean to write "The times they wanted were 9:30 - 10:30, 10:45 - 11:45 and midnight - 1:30 which we did last night. " ?

    How did it go last night regarding audiences leaving after midnight? I think it's very normal for audiences to thin out after midnight. People want to go home. 45 min break for 4 hours set is normal. That last set could be midnight-1:15AM. The bar staff want to go home too. Did people, other than your buddies, really stick around till 1:30AM last night because of the band?
  8. Sad Stories I hear, are that bands got paid more in the 1970's! If one accounts for inflation, then 1970's bands got paid WAY more.

    IMHO, it's normal for crowds to thin out after 12:30AM. People who travel by public transportation need to take the last bus/train home. People by car can stay later, but need to be alert enough to drive. People who are living so close by that they walk home can stay till they are kicked out by the staff. How many of them are in the bar?
  9. jimc


    Sep 17, 2002
    New Carsmell, CA
    Yeah I'm so tired from the gig I can't remember the set times correctly! I'll change my original post!

    This issue was that our followers didn't stay until the end and we didn't expect them to. The venue felt that they were leaving because we were on break but I'm pretty sure they would have taken off around midnight whether we were playing or not.
  10. jschwalls


    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA

    50/10 makes me and the bar happy.
  11. We usually start at 10:00pm,and play three 1 hr sets,with 20min. breaks in between.
  12. It all depends on how you break up your sets. We did 5.5 hours one night and we did 2 hours and had a 30 minute break, another hour, 15 minute break, and then finished about an hour and 45 minutes into the last set, or just until the room started thinning out. Yeah, I was tired but at least I didn't have enough time to drink too many beers. The longer the break, the more tempting it is to drink. I'd rather have smaller breaks and get the gig over in 4 hours.

    I'd say the protocol would be 15 minutes to the hour.
  13. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Our 4 hour set typically contains 2 15 minute breaks. Anything longer, especially later in the evening, and people start to leave. 25 minutes is much, much too long.
  14. Play 45 minutes then 15 minute break at the end of sets one thru three. Obviously no need for a break at the end of the fourth set in a four set gig.
  15. nofrets5

    nofrets5 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2005
    Ferndale, MI, USA
    Interesting; In regards to those much longer sets: I pushed a band I was in to play longer sets, especially during the "money set 2" of 3 sets to help keep people at the club. Then we got some minor feedback from the audience that we played TOO long and people needed a break, had ear fatigue etc. So many variables I guess when it comes to different bars and areas.
  16. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    We take 3 fifteen minute breaks. We play an hour and take a break, play 45 minutes and take a break, play 45 minutes and take a break and finish with a 45 minute set.
  17. i've played all the way through on some occasions to not lose the crowd... as long as the singer's cool w it
  18. Wow, most places I play up here (and I averaged 5-6 nights a week gigging in 2011, so I play many different venues) we take 30-45 minute breaks between sets - sometimes even longer! You guys are hardcore...
  19. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    This varies greatly for my band and the particular gig, depending on what's going on that night.

    One thing I'm finding as I get older: I prefer 3 sets that are a little longer, rather than 4 shorter sets. When we do 4 sets, I'm always counting the minutes until the end of the night. I just can't start and stop 4 different times in one night. 3 sets works for me.
  20. we take the shortest breaks early and if the floor is packed we get no break.
    later on if the crowd thins our we take longer.
    only 10 mins on first break max.

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