Playing tired, old, worn out songs...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jakelly, Jul 25, 2013.

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  1. It has more to do with the fact that a lot of bands in bars just aren't very good. IMO.
  2. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    I dunno. There are a lot of bad bands out there but that is a symptom not a cause. The pay for bar bands has been stagnant for 30 years and most who do it now are just hobbyist. The demand is down along with the quality and I think the bar cover band doing three minute radio hits from ANY era is an antiquated paradigm in relation to what the 20 somethings are looking for on a night out. Some of the bigger clubs around here have live music in one or more rooms and a DJ/lighted dance floor going on in another room. Guess where you find the younger people no matter how good the live bands are?
  3. Excellent point. I have applied your point in the real world...and you're right. I started an old school funk band a while back and after about a year ,we started to get a lot of work. My partner in crime/co-owner of the band persuaded to add top 40 to our repertoire, and it propelled our wedding and corporate event business to a whole new level. The most interesting thing to me is that so many people in the 40+/50+ range really want to hear modern top 40 too. It's like sometimes, people almost feel like you are condescending to them if you only play 'old fuddy duddy' stuff. They love it...and so do brides...and they pick the band;). Great post man!
  4. A fair point sir but I would counterpoint you with the fact that many bar bands lack the musicianship to play music of the same quality that the DJ is spinning.

  5. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    You're right that old guys who've been playing nothing but rock can't suddenly start playing electro house and expect it to work, but I don't think being old is the problem. I think the suddenly part is the only problem.

    A whole lot of old guys make modern music that teenagers are into. It's not about age, it's about getting the sound and the vibe right. I think Dr. Luke, Psy, Armin Van Buuren are all 35-40, to pick three completely different examples. Paul Oakenfold is like 50, and I'm trying to talk a singer who's probably around 20 into doing a song from his next album that has Azealia Banks on vocals.

    Of course they're old guys who have been at it for a while, they're not old guys who have only done the "real people playing real music on real instruments" thing and hated "fake plastic music" until yesterday.
  6. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    It's funny but true that you can play a prog song and impress people because it seems difficult, but play a simple Sean Paul song and they'll be even more impressed because until they hear it they think it was completely impossible. Shred solos on guitar still impress, but trance gates and filter sweeps on guitar playing basic open position chords impress a whole lot more.
  7. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    For what it is worth, I observed this going on back in the late 80's early 90's in the Philly/south Jersey and South Florida cover band bar scenes. You would play mostly 3-10 year old rock songs to a packed room, get a decent crowd response and a respectible dance floor, but on your break the DJ would spin the latest dance songs and the dance floor would be PACKED. I remember one particular place in Wildwood NJ where the clientele was particularly young and it was even more pronounced. I guess what I am saying is 20 somthings wanted to dance 20 years ago just as much as that same age group wants to dance now. The difference was, back then somehow we were all still playing 4-5 nights a week. So there must be much more to it than young people's taste changing.
  8. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    Old / Tired?
    Or....... songs that have endured the test of time?

    I LIKE Mustang Sally and Crossroads.

    I wonder how many Ramones songs will still be in the cover band rotation in 40 years?
  9. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Ramones?! If you are trying to use that as a point of reference for something newer or harder you need to refresh your mental cache. The Ramones are a 40 year old band, they are considered "classic" rock or punk. It would be awesome if they were getting played as part of a cover set, but I doubt that's happening.
    Frankly I Want To Be Sedated or Rock 'n High School are as good as any of of the other rock songs we've mentioned and are nearly as old.

    Now, if you wanted to incorporate one of The Ramones bastard children Green Day in a set, I think you could make a go of Wake Me Up When September Ends or 21 Guns. I think either could fit in a lightweight cover setting.
    Not that I'm endorsing Green Day; I hate the @%#$ out of them, but at least they are relevant.
  10. the yeti

    the yeti

    Nov 6, 2007
    raleigh, nc
    if they're still going over, pretend you enjoy them for 3-5 minutes.

    if they're not going over, stop playing them.
  11. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    If being a working cover band means playing the latest katy perry or some techno dribble than theres not much hope for most of us, might as well just write badly crafted mundane pop songs and hit the big time like the the rest, if ya cant beat 'em, join 'em
  12. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I'd rather you did.
    I think some of the anemic music today is related to the lack of interest in making new music by musicians. When I was growing up no one wanted to play covers at fairs or bars; that meant you were washed up. Now there is a massive tribute circuit because its safe, proven and profitable.
    I totally get the psychology of wanting to hear music you know. People like familiar, they like booking a band that is going to be predictable. But what if Johnny Cash or Elvis decided to just stick to gospel covers? What if the Beatles just kept playing standards in German bars and strip clubs? How much music would be lost if someone didn't take a chance on originals? How much music has been lost because someone didn't take a chance on originals?
    Will the music industry just mirror Hollywood where the same crap is recycled, rebooted or put together in such a predictable way as to be childish? We are musicians right? We decide if that's going to happen.
    If you have to play Mustang Sally or Get Down Tonight for the billionth time at least try to make it yours, breathe something into it. If you are just going to play it like the original, why not just replace you with a MP3 player? If you want to do weddings where they are asking for Baby's Got Back or Firework then find a spin on it that makes it cool, puts it in your wheelhouse, but that is still recognizable by the crowd. Look at what Alien Ant Farm did to Smooth Criminal or what Dynamite Hack did to Boyz in the Hood, those are awesome covers that take the song in a totally different direction. Lacuna Coil's cover of Enjoy the Silence blows the original out of the water.
    If covers are what you do, own it!
  13. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    My band never works off a specific set list for each gig. We have a master list and play songs depending on the venue, audience, type of show, requests, etc. Yes, we play some of the "played to death songs" but that is what people want. However, we do play many songs other bands don't do or songs that people don't hear often. We also do our versions of some songs (e.g., a more upbeat version of Mustang Sally). We are there to entertain the audience and have played some songs more than we would like but that is part of the game. We do put some songs on the "injured reserve" list and give them a break for a while. When we revive them later on, they are rejuvenated and have a freshness to playing them again.

    I filled in with a band last week called The Classic Rockers (did the name give any indication of what they play?) and I had to learn their song list, which included many constantly requested songs and songs I have not done in 30 + years. I had fun playing those songs including Brown Eyed Girl and many others.
  14. Ha, for sure. Hell I'm a music lover and saw the Allman's about 15 years ago, it was great on many levels but even I was like "come on end this song already" on a few tunes.
  15. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    Seems a little synth pop with a big banging beat is the order of the day and the only rock guitar kids want to hear anymore must be massive sounding sludge accompanied by some person screaming like a banshee or trying to imitate bealzebub. There are exceptions of course but Im afraid the days of honing a well crafted hook and a groovin bass part maybe lost on the youth of today. Give them a smart phone and a glow stick and they will be entertained. Thats OK, now where did I put that savoy brown album.
  16. I've played in a number of very successful cover bands over the last 30 years and have rarely played any of these tunes.
  17. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    I think it's more they lack the instrumentation/technical ability to reproduce modern dance hits in a live band setting. Most hit songs require very little quality of musicianship to play, it's the quality of production that is hard to replicate. pklima seems to have mastered some of the technical tricks to pull it off. In my case I'm just and old dog. I despise modelling amps and most things digital and don't even get me started on autotune!

    Even more than this though I think it is an attention span thing. This was never more apparent to me than when I spent a night at a hot dance club in Miami. The DJ was spinning everything from Tupac to Skynyrd to Beetoven and mixing it well in short 10-20 second samples that were continually changing and bombarding the listener with familiar beats and hooks blended with some infectious techno dance grooves.

    This is when I saw the writing on the wall. How does say a standard three-piece band compete with this unless we all abandon our instruments and play laptops.
  18. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    I got so sick of playing some of that stuff in bands I was in!

    this is why I started a surf band with guys who wanted to play surf music.
    we did our homework and started with a short list of great songs from the genre, then added some unfamiliar ones, and then did some originals based on those, but staying within the genre. We fill the niche market well, and have gained a local reputation of being reliable & fun. we work as much as we want to, and have the most fun of any band I know, and we don't have to play songs we don't want to.
    People hire us for the genre that we play, not the songs we do.
    We stick to 1 genre and do it well, and I can play my James Brown ripoff tunes with some other band.
  19. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Now you sound like your grandparents :p

    Just for giggles though go listen to some Witchcraft or Graveyard on Amazon (not a prank I promise.) Very retro and bluesy, no screaming. Retro is back in a weird way
  20. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    thats it exactly, why spend all that time mastering an instrument when you can use a computer to sample material by other people that spent years perfecting there skills so your lazy ass can press a button to make sounds that people dance to.

    so this is what its come to :rollno:
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