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Momentum on stage

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by PauFerro, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    One thing that I've believed for a very long time is that you have to keep the momentum going on stage. I find that in all bands I have, there is a lot of messing around between songs. Even when we follow a set list.

    Any suggestions on how to keep momentum going when you have a sax player who must switch saxes, patches on his keyboard (he alternates between keys and sax) and our guitar player must also switch settings on his pedal board?

    Particularly when people are dancing, and tend to leave the dance floor if there is too much of a break between songs?
  2. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!" Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    tell the drummer to keep playing an extended beat/intro to the next song in order to give the others time to make their switches. People will still stay engaged on the dance floor. Use the opportunity to make an announcement or something. OTOH, try to arrange your set in order to minimize futzing around making instrument changes, or simply adapt the sounds/instruments so that no changes are necessary. Where there's a will, there's a way. It takes a bit of thought and experience, but it's far from an impossible task.

    I've been in bands where dead times between blocks of 3 to 6 songs simply was not allowed, unless you were bleeding or passed out. It was taken very seriously for the reasons you are concerned about, and rightly so. It's called "having a professional approach to performance". If you're working a club that features a dance floor, then only good things can happen by taking a hard line approach to this. Whatever negative fallout there is should be outweighed by the positive benefits to your performance.
  3. The easiest solution to that is to find groups of 3-4 songs where nobody has to change much and just keep rolling between them. While folks are switching/tuning then the frontman can do his job and work the crowd for bit. It also involves creating setlists and sticking to them.

    These folks are the masters of the above:

  4. Don't get me started. I'm working with a 12 piece band at the moment and the whole band breaks into conversation between numbers. Sometimes I have to start a song so I count '3, 4!!!!' real loud before i start, otherwise i find myself vamping into oblivion.....
  5. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    I like the idea of having the drummer segue between songs by starting the next tune's beat.
    The crowd will feel the groove and you'll start to build the tension level, then everyone can come in when ant changes are complete.
    We usually have too much dead air in between songs and I hate that.

    Of course, if there's a signature opening riff/figure, then you have to make a clean break and do the thing right.
    People get bored easily with a band that is slow between songs, almost as bad as a band that's too loud for the venue.
    You gotta keep their feet on the dance floor if that's the type of music you play.
  6. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    Couldn't agree more…Im trying to get the current group of people I am playing with to understand this but it is next to impossible. they keep stopping every song, pausing, than counting off the next song…

    I've tried to get them to segue and do various other things but it just ain't happening….
  7. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    A brief pause isn't bad, when it is longer than say, 20 seconds, it starts to get embarrassing.
    Sometimes I appreciate the chance to change gears time-wise between songs, but too much is way too much, especially if it happens between every song.
    Our singer always wants to discuss the next song choice and she doesn't usually agree with the drummer's ideas, very frustrating.

    In a previous band we kept it rolling for at least 4 or 5 songs at a time.
    Kinda sucked when I broke a string and had to keep playing around a flopping string for 3 songs before I could swap basses, but the crowd has more fun and you get to learn quickly how to play outside of your comfort zone.
  8. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    No suggestions .. the band I'm with now is awful ... way too much "dead air", BS'ing between songs, keys player diggin' out his charts, lead player screwing around with his pedals and ancient Peavey amp. If I was the BL I'd address it, but I'm just the bass player.
  9. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Part of performance is planning and practicing the whole show....including the between songs/groups of songs, etc. It comes off as non professional with dead space. In my opinion this goes along with planning the setlist as discussed in the other thread. There were several comments in that thread about bands that selected songs "on the fly". It's in same vein. Believe me this comes across as non-professional and takes away from the performance aspect of the band. You should talk to your bandmates about the seriousness of this. Think about the best bands you have seen live....there is no dead space....everything is choreographed and planned. This is what you need to strive for.
  10. 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

    Great, thoughtful post!

    We write a carefully thought out set list- it's supposed to ramp up as each set and the evening go on. Everybody gets one, our guitarist notates each song with foot pedal settings so there's very little lost time - similarly, our keyboard player keeps a 3x5 ring binder of each song's presets and arranges them in set list order ahead of time. This really helps cut down the time between songs and losing momentum, and the need for idle chatter from our singer ( She's terrible at it!). Having good equipment that stays in tune, pedal boards with good cables and really being ready helps solve a lot of this too.
    It should be the subject of a band discussion for the OP, good luck :)
  11. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I think that many (most? at least below a certain level) bands tend to think in terms of songs, rather than a complete, fully-integrated show. The result is that you end up with what amounts to 45-60 individual "shows" over the course of an evening. Each song is its own little show, & whatever energy you get into the room has to be re-established for every one.
  12. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I believe in rehearsing songs in blocks, and developing segues.

    I also believe in rehearsing SOME of the stage banter, so it sounds smooth and professional. If you get comfortable, and can wing it, FINE. DO SO. But mainly, there can't be dead air. Dead air is a sign that you simply aren't a good band.
  13. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    In a dance situation, what if you have a recorded song between hard-to-changeover songs? This way you move from 2 performed songs to one recorded (or video) song? and then continue on with your live music? Just brainstorming...but I'm glad so many people see this as a big issue. I do too and like many others, I can 't get the band to "give a darn".
  14. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Develop sets and song blocks, and stick to them. My own band is gifted with a singer who worked as a radio DJ, and he's great at drawing the audience in with a bit of banter, plugging us on FB, etc during some of the longer song setups...but that took time and practice, and we're always looking to streamline the amount of time necessary to change patches, switch instruments, etc.

    Structuring the sets as complete shows and keeping equipment maintained so that it doesn't require "fiddling with" are huge. Discipline is also a necessity; the show is not time for idle chatter between band members, and it's not the time to try and dial in a reverb pedal to perfection.
  15. randyripoff


    Jul 12, 2008
    If I were a club owner who hired a BAND, I don't think I'd be too happy about this.

    If I were a club owner who hired a band that played recorded music and it kept people on the dance floor, I'd start thinking "why do I need a band? A DJ would be just fine.".
  16. In the rooms I play, for the audiences I play for, dead air is the kiss of death. I even know a few club owners who will walk over and give us the hairy eyeball if we have gaps between songs--not a good sign.

    The vamp is your friend, my friend. If one musician has to play with his gear, a couple of others (hopefully the drummer is free) should go ahead and start a beat in tempo for the next song to fill the space. At the same time, a good frontman will know what to do and say to keep the crowd into it.
  17. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    we pretty much do the same thing, and as an original band, I feel like keeping the flow of the show helps keep the audience attentive in this already hard situation. Our singer is very good at including the audience and welcoming them to be part of the show...not just bystanders.

    We want people leaving feeling like they not only have heard cool music, but were also part of a communication. Our "Stage/show presence" is that of a mid 80's "no barriers" crossover thrash band. WE all grew up seeing house shows, or bands play in small intimate dives where there was no separation of the fans and band. There is lots of joking etc. This is all set up by the flow of the set and some planned out places for stage banter...
  18. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Lots of good advice so far. My band also uses blocks of songs and planned segues to streamline things as much as possible. The only thing I can add is that when rehearsing your set, you should be rehearsing the changeovers quoted above, working on making them as quickly as possible.

    In my band, I am "that guy". I play conventional bass on half of our songs, and 8-string on the other half. I purchased a Radial Bass Bone to help with this, and I rehearse making the changeover quickly. My guitarist will often step up to the mic when I switch to the 8 to make a joke about how I need to have more strings than him to feel secure or something; just something humorous to fill in the couple of seconds it takes me to switch basses.

    I also have a lot of effects, and sometimes I start making mental notes in the last few bars of a song, planning ahead for which ones I need to turn on or off for the next tune. I'm not too sure this is a good idea though. It kind of takes me "out of the moment". :meh:
  19. SuperK


    Sep 12, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Are you sure you don't play in my band?? Sounds just like my band. Probably my biggest pet peeve. Like you said, I'm just the bass player. What can I do when the BL is the one most guilty of dickin around between songs.
  20. SuperK


    Sep 12, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    +1 to start running your rehearsals like they are shows and practice jumping from song to song without breaks. As I type this I realize that is our band's problem. At rehearsal the two guitarists spend 5 minutes fiddlin with amps and pedals, tuning, or just BS'ing with each other in between songs.

    I like the idea of having the drummer start playing a beat to the next song to keep things moving.

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