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Playing different genres in a cover band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Helaskold, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    So my cover/fun band (we all work at the same GC) is working on the setlist... it seems that we've got multiple different genres.

    Here's a few examples of what we're trying to play:

    Pleasure - Glide
    Bruce Springsteen - Dancing in the Dark
    *Seinfeld theme snippets between songs*
    Pleasure - Universal
    Milli Vanilli - Blame it on the Rain
    My Drinkin' Problem - Hank Williams III
    Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl

    We were actually going to do some Kool G Rap but I read somewhere that any kind of rap is a show killer.

    Again, this is for fun (we aren't trying to make money at all) but we still want to crowds to have a good time and we know the family who owns the restaurant we are going to play at next so we want them to get business from it. Everyone from our GC is going, as the band has become an ongoing inside joke because it started as a fake flyer that we made, but I want other restaurant customers to enjoy it as well.

    Will mixing different genres, however catchy the individual songs may be, kill the mood for the audience?

    Thanks for any input!
  2. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    Not if you're good at them. Couple of years ago, I saw a local cover band (Animal House) segue from "Sugar Sugar" (yes, the old Archies chestnut) right into "Enter Sandman"...and pulled it off.

    Don't know if they're still around, but they played everything from 50's rockabilly to 70's glam & hard rock to 80's hair metal to current top 40...and did all of it really well.

    Very popular act everywhere they played, so yeah, it can be done.
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    As with everything in music, it depends. The key is to make every song groovin'. I've seen bands jump between genres and keep a dance floor packed the entire time, but it's a rare thing. Even if this is just for fun, I can tell you that playing to a packed house is much more fun than playing to a few people, even if everyone in the band is getting to play something they like.

    I'd try it for awhile, but if things don't seem to be kicking off then I'd stress the need to pick a genre and get really good at it.
  4. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    its a good exercise to stretch yourself as a player and as a band, but you got to put your heart into it and not just do it all half assed, that'll do ya more harm than good
  5. Fiset

    Fiset I do a good impression of myself

    Jan 13, 2007
    New York

    It can absolutely be done. The last cover band I played in had Gloria Gaynor and Tool in the same set and we had no trouble. Don't get caught up in genres...just don't suck. ;)
  6. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    We play a huge variety. In fact, we do one (long) medley, that includes:

    7 Nation Army (part of)
    Bad Romance by Lady Gaga (again, part of it)
    The Bad Touch by The Bloodhound Gang (entire song)
    Love Rollercoaster by The Chili Peppers
    Play That Funky Music
    I'm Sexy and I Know it (part of it)
    back into
    Play that Funky Music to end it.

    It ALWAYS goes over huge. Granted, it takes up about 1/3 of the 4th set, but it gets the crowds going. Other than that, we play everything from Charlie Daniels Band to Tool to Michael Jackson to Theory of a Deadman to Kenny Chesney to Sawyer Brown to you-name-it.
  7. Cycho


    Nov 30, 2010
    The worst thing (though very common!) is when all the songs sound alike. Playing multiple genres makes that impossible.
  8. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    It's fine from the crowd point of view. I've done everything from country and samba to reggaeton and kuduro on the same gig. Trouble can start when the genres that one band member likes consistently get a better crowd response than the genres that somebody else likes.
  9. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    It also depends VERY much on the crowd - will they know and like all these different tunes, or will they tune out when you make the switch to another genre?
  10. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I appreciate all the answers, guys... This makes me feel significantly better.

    It's an authentic Mexican restaurant. Not exactly a haven for funk or country but music is music. Worst case scenario, we don't make any tips. Haha.

    Thanks again for all the input!
  11. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    IMO it really depends on the crowd. My band may stick with one genre for certain gigs, and others we can go from Funk to Black Metal to Prog Rock instrumentals.
  12. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    The only thermometer is the crowd.

    If you can get the reaction do it.

    If you can't, you can't.

    This depends on a large number of factors, you, your bandmates, ability to work a crowd, type of crowd, ability to read that crowd, the songs themselves.

    No hard and fast rules, go for it.
  13. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    Totally not true. Two bands ago I played in a rockabilly band. Granted, we were not very good, but we were enthusiastic :) We used to end our shows with a mash-up of sorts: played the bass line to Queen's "Under Cover" (or "Ice Ice Baby", if you will) and the singer would rap the Beastie Boys "Intergalactic" over it. Drove the crowd nuts every time. Unlike our hyperspeed interpretations of classic '50s tunes :scowl: Man, we sucked ... :rollno:
  14. tubenutq5


    Mar 27, 2013
    Corvallis, OR
    I am a funk/R&B/jazz player and I hate to be corralled by a specific genre.

    A typical single set with my band is:

    Love Slip Uo On ya- Meters
    Actions Speak Louder Than Words-A Toussain/Galactic
    Matt's Funk- Jimmy Herring
    Mind Trips- Brand New Heavies
    Josie- Steely Dan
    A Go Go- Schofield/MMW
    Come And Go Blues-Allman's
    The One- Miguel Migs
    Voodoo-Neville Bros.
    All That You Dream-Little Feat
    Slippin' Into Darkness- Lettuce/War
    Fire On The Bayou- Neville Bros.

    Although funky and rhythmic it is a bit divergent.

    Sometimes even more divergent like: Purple Rain, Franklin's Tower, I Can't Go For That, Ride On,

    White guitarist can rap like crazy. Usually a night ender. Insane. People go nuts.

    Massive fun.
  15. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Fixed! :ninja:
  16. It really depends on the venue/event/crowd.

    FWIW: IMHO, the ideal cover band should have at least a few genres under their belt - IE. rock, country, and blues. That way you can book more gigs and feel crowds out quickly and adapt to keep them dancing and tapping their toes.
  17. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I was in a band about 12 years ago that also did "Sugar Sugar". It started out as a song that our guitar player's daughter liked and one night we played it in a club. It went over great. We were also doing STP, Pearl Jam, Aerosmith, Dobie Gray, Bon Jovi, Tim McGraw etc. If you can play the songs well, there is no reason why you can't mix genres or eras.
  18. A bar band should play across genres to keep folks interested as long as the songs are played well and are popular. You start playing tunes people can;t dance or sing along to and you are un-bookable. (I think I made the word up)
  19. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    IMO, every cover band ought to cover multiple genres (if they want to work regularly!). But ... not every genre is appropriate for every crowd.
  20. +1. Yep.

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