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Opening Songs

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BassAlchemy, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. BassAlchemy


    Nov 2, 2011
    During my time out playing with my group I have noticed many good original and cover groups start out with a song thats just not good enough to make a good impact with the audience. I always tend to think that fast instrumentals are always the best. We usually open with a number that we feel willl make the audience want to be interested enough enough in wanting to listen to the rest of our songs. This is kind of tricky cause and I think in an originals group its even harder enough to pick out that one song which will spark the interest of the crowd. What do you guys think?
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I had a guy running sound for us once who also had his own band. He was shocked at our decision to come out the gate hitting the audience hard. He said they started with something kind of low-key, and then built up to the faster, more energetic songs.

    I almost said, "so THAT'S why you're so in demand..." but didn't, because he was a nice guy.

    But seriously, they are NOT in demand.

    So I guess that about answers your question.

    As for your YouTube clip, that sound is the worst I've heard in my entire life. Please take it down, and don't link anyone else to it. It does not represent you well, due to the distortion and just sheer awfulness of the sound.

    I'm not dissing on your band; there's nothing wrong with you guys, but that recording makes you sound horrible.
  3. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I hate our opening song. Like A Rolling Stone - Dylan

    Our singer/acoustic player starts in by himself, so it's very mellow. Then drums & bass join in at the 2nd verse, but it's still super mellow. It bores me, so I can only imagine how the crowd feels. I've mentioned it before, but the other guys don't agree.
  4. Jarrett


    Jan 19, 2004
    Waxahachie, Tx
    I tend to agree with go big on the opening tune in most cases but its definitely gig specific. We did a gig in a small pub a couple of weeks back and when we were going on the dinner crowd was still there and the owner was concerned we'd run them off if we were too loud, so we opened with Moondance and everyone was happy. By the second and third set when the dinner crowd had cleared and the drinkers were there, we cranked it up a notch and there was much rejoicing.
  5. Definitely gig specific on these.. If people are raring to party, got to go with your up-tempo A game... If it's a slow start and especially if it's a restaurant/event with dinner still going, start off on the chill side.. Then come out like gangbusters on the 2nd set.
  6. jgroh


    Sep 14, 2007
    I had to fight my bandmates in my last band (a successful classic rock cover band) to open with one of our best, uptempo, rocking songs. I insisted and it worked out much better than the slow build up we were doing before.
  7. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Grab em by the cajones with the first tune of a set, and don't let go until you go on break. First and last songs are very important.
  8. There's a reason why every James Bond movie, or every action movie for that matter, starts with a gunfight or a car chase, gets slow and cerebral in the middle, and ends with another big action scene.

    Playing a music show is kind of like telling a story. You have to grab the listener's attention, then go into detail, then end the story with a climactic scene. Most orchestral music is also set up this way. Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Bach's Brandenberg Concertos, etc. all have a fast song>slow song>fast song kind of thing going on.
  9. Start with any song where the first 30 seconds represents your band well and the mood you want to put the room into:

    Rock = loud, fast drums and elec gtr
    eg. AC/DC Shook Me All Night Long

    Dance = Top 10 Pop mega hit
    eg. Poker Face, ABBA Dancing Queen

    Dinner/Listening crowd= Chillout tunes
    eg. Moondance, Eagles Take It Easy

    I played in a Jazz band at a fancy University Function, playing background jazz for drinks/meals. After speeches we rip into 'Hello Dolly' at a much louder volume - students started dancing and one person started dancing on a table. It only took 2-3 minutes to completely change the mood of the room.
  10. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    If you have a vocalist, you should NEVER open the night with an instrumental. Unless you are at a Steve Vai or Joe Satriani show, 95% of people want to hear the singer. Instrumentals bore most people.
  11. Blues Brothers show at end of movie - it starts with an instrumental, but that's because the singers are performing a special routine....
  12. nobodysfool


    Apr 22, 2010
    Shelby, OH

    A lot of our gigs are more along this line, where we need to start mellow, and build. We usually start out the first set with The Wind Cries Mary, which instantly grabs any musicians in the place, as we do the song pretty faithfully to the original. A lot of musicians do come to our gigs, as we have been mentors for more than a few of them. We usually follow that with I'll Be Back (Beatles), followed with Some Day, Some Way (Crenshaw). We end the first set with All Along The Watchtower, so our first set is bracketed with Hendrix.

    Our second set is where we hit them between the eyes, starting off with James Dean (Eagles), with an intro of Love Is Everywhere (Allman Bros, just the opening instrumental part), and the segue after James Dean is right into Sweet Emotion.

    It goes from there. Usually our last song of the night is What I Like, with a few additional snippets of other songs thrown in the middle, to stretch it out. Then we play our adaptation of Jeff's Boogie, called We're Outta Here, before we set down the guitars and shut off the amps.....

    Back On Earth
  13. BassAlchemy


    Nov 2, 2011
    I think I used the wrong word in "instrumental" to describe what I was really thinking. What I was thinking was more in the terms of "Up beat". I apologize as english is not my main language and I do miss some words that could ilustrate my point better.

    During the song creation progress when songs are about 80% I can usually tell if the song is a good opener or closer. I favor catchy fast riffs with good groove to keep the crowds really looking fwd to more music.
  14. ack

    ack Why Can't We All Get Along?

    Nov 19, 2006
    Somewhere near Raleigh
    Want to know how to open a show? Go see Clutch.
    I've seen them open with an old blues tune (Gravel Road - written, I believe, in the '30's by Mississippi Fred McDowell) and their delivery just energizes the place. It's surreal to watch a floor violently ebb & flow with such energy to an old blues tune. I've also witnessed them open with a driver like "Mercury" which lights you up right out of the gate. The entire show feeds off the initial energy.

    My son and I still talk about the show they opened with Gravel Rd...

    Another band that opened well was Pylon - they knew how to come out and set the tone for the set. You could FEEL the energy - it would almost knock you over.
    Then again, their entire set felt like you were in a wind tunnel.
  15. Your opening song is your opening statement - and first the impression is very important - the majority of the audience will judge you by your first song and either think you are awesome, ok, or suck eggs. The better you are at getting the audience up dancing, clapping and singing along with you on your first song the better you are.
  16. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Always open with 3 strong songs and close with 3 strong songs. Half the time the audience won't remember the rest.

    We usually open with Bulls on Parade or something. Sometimes, depending on the venue/crowd, we'll open with a tune like Flagpole Sitta.
  17. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    +1 to AfroCubanFunkMa's truth that a "strong start" depends on the type of crowd and gig.

    Given that, each set should start strong, stay strong, and end strong. If the band can't do that for all the kinds of gigs and rooms it plays, it's time to add more songs to the songbook.

    Right now, I play in one band that only has only 45 songs in the active songbook, I regularly sub in another that has about 120 active songs, and play in a third that has 215. The band with the thin songbook sometimes struggles with sequencing on three-set gigs, but it's never an issue with the 200+ song band.
  18. Eggzacly.. There really shouldn't be any lame material.. No matter what type of song you play, it should be played really well. Do that and everything takes care of itself.. That said, you need to read your crowd and give them the right stuff at the right time with passion, whether it's a ballad, mellow tune, chill groove, dancer or a rocker..
  19. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    +1. Start big. The classic rock band I played in for 7+ years always started with "Surrender" by Cheap Trick.
  20. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    Whatever you decide to play . . .

    If the venue requires a slow start, do something
    with harmonies and instrumentation that leave their jaws hanging open. Make it GREAT.. .not just "good".
    Knock 'em dead with your talent. This lets them know what
    they're in for the rest of the evening.

    If the venue is ready to party, KILL 'EM with a rockin' great
    number. Let them know your here to party with them and
    ROCK IT!

    But always make sure your opening (and as much as possible
    the rest of your songlist) is EXCELLENT enough for the audience
    to say "WOW!" at the end of the tune.

    :hyper::bassist::hyper: :cool:

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