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Question for American cover/bar bands re: setlists

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bassmingo, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. Bassmingo


    Nov 6, 2008
    Hi guys, hoping you could help me with some info.

    A bit of a debate has started on an Irish bassists facebook page about bar owners hiring bands, and that the bands job is to get more drinks sold behind the bar by playing crowd pleasers. what prompted the debate is a craigslist/blog post made by an american bar owner that i'm sure you've all read before.

    The point I wanted to make on the FB page is the difference between american and european crowd pleasers, as i think there would be a major difference between what a Irish/UK/Euro
    bar patron in the 18-35 demo would want to hear to that of the american patron.

    So, i'd like to ask if i may, for a typical american working covers band set from your typical american bar...semi-pro to pro level. whats your killer set that you'd use to impress a bar owner, keep a crowd happy and the beer flowing? I'll also ask my brethren this side of the pond for theirs and if nothing else we can compare cultures.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Drunk Heffalump

    Drunk Heffalump Tone that I have. Skill? Oh, that? Well....

    Feb 28, 2009
    Great White North
    *Grabs popcorn, adjusts seat, settles in.......*

  3. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Franz Ferdinand "take me out".
    Nothing brings a crowd to a frenzy like a song about political assassination!
  4. Bassmingo


    Nov 6, 2008
    I dont think my post is in any way controversial, unless I've missed something.

    What prompted it is the markets in both territories, top 40 here is not exactly the same as top 40 there....plus you guys have grown up with rock radio...we havent...contemporary rock and metal would find it's way into US bar bands set quicker than it would an irish one (if you want to get paid that is) different songs were hits both sides of the pond or not at all....

    ....but i also may be talking out my ass....
  5. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    We play a lot of typical classic rock (Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Eagles, Journey, Van Halen, Bon Jovi), some funky dance tunes (Kool & the Gang, KC & the Sunshine Band, Rick James, Wild Cherry, James Brown), a little bit of more modern or heavier stuff (Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Alanis Morissette, Kings of Leon, Weezer), and a handful of country tunes (Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood). Some people dance to AC/DC, some to Brick House, and some lose it for Friends in Low Places. You never know which is gonna go over the best on any particular night, so it keeps us on our toes.
  6. Here in CA, we have a little of everything, with blues, rock, country, and jazz probably being the main genres.
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I think there is definitely a difference between cover bands in the U.S. and those in other countries. Bar owners everywhere all want to sell as many drinks as possible and having a good band will help them to do that. The problem with many American cover bands is that their set lists are pretty much the same. For example, if they play Aerosmith it's usually "Walk This Way" or "Sweet Emotion", if they play Lynyrd Skynyrd it's almost always "Sweet Home Alabama". You get the idea. They use the excuse that they are playing what people want to hear. There are plenty of other great songs by these and other artists that people would recognize and enjoy just as much. A friend of mine just started a cover band that is playing songs that people know but rarely hear in bars. Here is a partial set list: Aerosmith "Walkin The Dog", Lynyrd Skynyrd "Working For MCA", Phil Collins "You Can't Hurry Love", Boston "A Man I'll Never Be". They are developing a great following after just a few gigs.
  8. Calebmundy


    Apr 5, 2007
    Here's a whole set I have for the band I'm running. This is what we'll start with as a framework for this Thursday night at a college bar, and call tunes/requests as we go. We probably have 20-30 extras we can pull out if needed, but are tired of (Brown Eyed Girl for instance). I take great pride in the fact that if you see a pop, rap, or RnB tune on this list we aren't flopping through it like a rock band making a joke out of a tune, we really work at nailing the record feel, which I think we do well.

    1.All Right Now
    2. Crossroads (John Mayer) A
    3.The Way You Make Me Feel/Some Kind of Wonderful D
    4.All Night Long A
    5.Are you Gonna Kiss me or Not (Thompson Square G)
    6.Fast Car
    7.Meet Virginia
    8.Breakfast at Tiffany's
    9. Steal My Kisses
    10. The Real World
    11.What I Got
    12.She Drives Me Crazy
    13. I Like the Way You Move
    14. So Fresh and So Clean
    15.No Diggity
    16.Honky Tonk Women
    17.Old Time Rock n Roll E
    18. Summer of 69
    19.Your Love D
    20.Jessie's Girl/Jump
    21. Hit me with your best shot D
    22. Hey Ya
    23.My Own Worst Enemy
    24.The Middle
    25. All The Small Things
    26.What's My Age Again?
    27.Stacy's Mom
    28.I want it that way (Backstreet Boys)
    29.F**k You C (I refuse to recognize "Forget You" as a song. I hate censored material)
    30.Dynamite (Taio Cruz) D
    31.Locked out of Heaven E
    32.Party Rock Anthem
    33. Don't Stop Believing D
    34.Anyway You Want it G
    35.Young Wild and Free
    36.This is How We Do It
    37. Ignition Remix
    39.Wagon Wheel
    40.Fishin' in The Dark
    41.Dixie Land Delight
    42.Cruise (NELLY MIX!)
    43.I Believe in a thing called Love
    44.Fight for your right
    45.500 Miles
    46.Sweet Caroline C
    47. Friends in Low Places
    48. Hard to Handle
    49.You Really Got Me A
    50.Sunday Morning C
    51.Let's Get it On Eb
    52. Pumped up Kicks
    53. Save Tonight
    54.Tiny Dancer
    55.Good Times Bad Times
    56.To Be With You
    57.Purple Rain
  9. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    What are some of the essentials on your side of the pond, OP?
  10. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    You really got me- van halen
    Sweet home Alabama- skynyrd
    American girl- petty
    Don't stop believing- journey
    Rebel yell- idol
    Paranoid- sabbath
    Crazy train- ozzy
    Pride and joy- srv
    Brown sugar- stones
    Play that funky music- wild cherry
    Brick house- commodores
    Get down tonight- kc and the sunshine band
    My sharona- the knack
    If the house is a rockin- srv
    Oye como va- Santana
    Tush- zz top
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Here is a set list of songs we might do at a show. Some of them are kind of long, but our audiences seem to like them. I doubt we would ever get in all of these songs at a show; some will need cut, usually.

    Set 1
    Tush - ZZ Top
    Always on the Run - Lenny Kravitz
    Train Kept a Rollin' - Aerosmith
    Rockin' in the Free World - Neil Young
    Yer Blues - Beatles
    I Hate Myself for Lovin' You - Joan Jett
    One Way or Another - Blondie
    Call it Rock and Roll - Great White
    Slither - Velvet Revolver
    Bad Girlfriend - Theory of a Deadman

    Set 2
    The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
    Oh! Darling - The Beatles
    Piece of my Heart - Janis
    Beast of Burden - Bette Midler Version
    Ten Inch Record - Aerosmith
    Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
    Knockin' on Heaven's Door - GNR version
    Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh
    Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi

    Set 3
    We Will Rock You/Tie Your Mother Down - Queen
    I Hate my Life - Theory of a Deadman
    Don't Let me Down - Beatles
    Stealin' - Uriah Heep
    Kiss - Prince
    Peach - Prince
    Use Me - Bill Withers
    Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Love - Little Richard/Led Zeppelin

    Set 4
    Money - Pink Floyd
    Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
    Survival of the Sickest - Saliva
    Animal - Nickelback
    Whipping Post - Allman Brothers
    Long Way to the Top - AC/DC
    Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi
    I Know a Little - Lynyrd Skynyrd
    Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
  12. SuperK

    SuperK Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    mellowinman, Oh Darling and Don't Let Me Down are two of my favorite Beatles songs to play. I only wish my band would play them!!
  13. I'll play. We are a Dance/Funk/Top 40/Disco type band. We did over 250 gigs and events last year. This is what works for our casino crowd.


    June 20, 2013
    SET 1

    1) Aint No Sunshine - R
    2) Mr. Magic - C
    3) What You Won’t Do - Gio
    4) All Night Long - C
    5) Son Of A Preacher Man – C
    6) I’ll Be Around - Gio
    7) My Girl - R
    8) Ain’t Too Proud – C
    9) I Wish - Gio
    10) Got To Give It Up - R
    11) Get Ready - C
    12) Valerie – C
    13) Superstitious - Gio
    14) Papa’s Got A BNB - Gio

    SET 2

    1) Mercy Mercy Me/ What’s Going On – R
    2) Skin Tight – C
    3) Some Kind of Wonderful - R
    4) Shot Gun – C
    5) And The Beat Goes On - C
    6) Rock With You - Gio
    7) Jamaica Funk - C
    8) We Are Family- R
    9) Billy Jean - Gio
    10) Take Your Time – C
    11) September – Gio
    12) Lets Groove - Gio
    13) Blame It On The Boogie – R

    SET 3

    1) Selena Disco Medley – R, C
    2) Bad Girls - R
    3) Boogie Oogie Oogie – C
    4) Get Down On It - Gio
    5) Kiss– R
    6) Bad Mama Jama - C
    7) Ain’t No Stopping Us - Gio
    8) Forget Me Nots – C
    9) Shake Your Body - R
    10) Fantastic Voyage - C
    11) Don’t Stop T Y G E- Gio
    12) Respect - R
    13) Dance To The Music – C

    SET 4

    1) I Want You Back - R
    2) Good Times - Gio
    3) Le Freak – All
    4) Brick House - Gio
    5) Forget You – Gio
    6) Treasure - C
    7) We Found Love – R
    8) Get Lucky – Gio
    9) Give Me Everything – R, C
    10) On The Floor – C
    11) Moves Like Jagger – Gio
    12) Mr. Saxobeat – C
    13) Blurred Lines -Gio
  14. rust_preacher


    Dec 17, 2009
    I want your gig faulknersj.

    I was recently in the Bay Area and listened to Sirius/XM on the car radio, driving around the Silicon Valley. The mix on the "Classic Rewind" channel was quite a revelation as to what American music was considered staple in this genre. I don't think many people in Europe listen to eddie Money, The Cars, or the like. Van Halen was featured ad nauseam. There were bands I knew from the 1970s, living in Illinois, locals like The Styx, R. E. O. Speedwagon... fun to hear after a long long time. Tom Petty and Joe Walsh as well as The Eagles were there, as was Aerosmith. These seem to get less airplay in Europe.

    Of European acts, Rolling stones seems still to be very popular, as are Phil Collins, Genesis, and Sting/The Police. Thin Lizzy might have made the mix if I listened long enough.

    If I were in a classic rock band - wait - I am! I'd.. we'd... we actually do find less played but fun to play songs... One day we will play live as well, but now it's not a priority :)

    Give these a try: "Milk and Alcohol", "Birthday" by the Beatles (great party song, someone always will have a birthday), "The One I Love" by R.E.M., "premonition" by John Fogerty.But if you come to our town, don't steal our thunder :) Good luck!
  15. Bassmingo


    Nov 6, 2008
    As Kmonk said, there are staples that the punters expect, but some of them are different over here. if it's GnR it has to be sweet child, metallica - sandman. KOL - sex on fire, ac/dc - you shook me.

    bruno mars is popular, and wagon wheel and galway girl are lumped in with brown eyed girl in the "do we have to?" category

    I find it very interesting the difference between cover bands culture wise.... a band here would do one set of 2 hours minimum say with maybe a small break in the middle. this 4 set thing you guys do would never happen. do you guys start earlier or finish later? small pubs would be winding down here a mindnight so you'd be starting at 9 or 10pm at the latest.... late bars might run till 2 but thats eating into the nightclub time....

    Thanks everyone for posting sets, i'll have a look in detail and compare later.
  16. I'm looking forward to the Irish set lists!
  17. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Totally depends on the region, bar, type of audience. IME there's a market for everything; oldies, classic, 90s, modern, rock country jazz blues... except metal.

    We play a mix of popular radio hits from all over the map, but the main requirement is "popular." The reason: broad appeal to as many people as possible. A few will appreciate the deep cuts, but more people will like the A sides. It's not an excuse, it's a marketing strategy. I don't understand the "excuse" comments anyway. Seems unnecessarily haterful... :p
  18. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    We play 9 pm until 1 am, sometimes 10 pm until 2 am. We do have one gig that's 7 pm until 11 pm. (my favorite!)
  19. SuperK

    SuperK Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Here's a partial setlist in no particular order. We're a classic rock cover band in case you can't tell.

    (1) GET READY
    (13) CHINA GROVE
    (16) WILD THING

    (7) BANG A GONG
    (10) BORN TO BE WILD
    (13) ALL RIGHT NOW
  20. SuperK

    SuperK Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    "Classic Rewind" is SXM's "recent" classic rock channel. Mainly stuff from the 80's. "Classic Vinyl" is their "early" classic rock channel. That's where you'll hear Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who, Cream, etc. Listening to Classic Rewind would explain all the Van Halen and The Cars, etc.