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Question to the Irish peeps (and anyone else interested) out there

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Someone suggested something to my band the other night that had kinda sorta maybe occurred to me in the past, but I didn't really give it that much thought. Please be honest and fill me in from the best of your knowlege/experience. Here's the deal.

    The Nerve! has been playing many years. While we don't claim to be the greatest musicians alive, we know our stuff, we're pros, we've got the music down, and we know we can entertain a crowd. We've done it countless times and we've gotten lots of sincere accolades, often by other musicians. Point being, we don't suck. Our forte is our own music, but to earn more money we've been doing an average of 1 cover gig a week.

    Lately we've been playing a lot of new bars. Lately this strange thing has been happening. We finish a song - DEAD SILENCE. We talk to the crowd. DEAD SILENCE. 3 sets of our best stuff, we can stand on our heads, take off our clothes, ask for requests, it don't matter - we don't exist. A few people will come up to us and say stuff like, this is the best band thats been in this bar in months. The owners will want us to come back, pay us with no problem, make some lame excuse for the crowd - but we're ignored, and it sucks. It's really hard for us to want to go back to these places.

    Anyhow - my guitarist used to think this might have been because we're not a typical cover band - we don't do Creed and a lot of the popular stuff most cover bands do. We do mix it up though and have enough Franz Ferdinand, Hendrix, Pearl Jam, Chili Peps and Beatles to keep just about any crowd happy. We also often do our own renditions of songs, but we do enough of them like on the cds that I always disagreed with the whole we're not a typical cover band theory.

    This is getting long...anyhow... the other night someone said to us. "It's cause you're not Irish". Duh! This ONLY happens to us in Irish pups. Doesn't happen anywhere else, and the majority of new places we're playing, are Irish bars. 2 of us are Italian (and you can tell) and the other guy's a jew. Any clue what truth there might be to this? If so, any suggestions for a cure? Would playing lots of U2 help? I'd feel almost as if I were patronizing them by doing that.
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Hmmm... this is rather amusing.

    The post has been up for several hours now and it's getting the same response as we're getting in the bars. :)

    Perhaps there IS something to this theory.
  3. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    Dress as leperchauns next time.
    Go in in green, and bowler hats and tape beards on and sing everything in a really annoying stereotypical irish accent. Ya know the one, the angry one Conan does every once in awhile. You're guaranteed to get some response ;)
  4. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe play some irish drinking songs and I guess some U2 couldn't hurt.
  5. I-Love-Ratm


    Feb 24, 2003
    I dono about that but I have no experience with "Irish Pubs" cos I actually live in Ireland so all the bars are just well......bars!
  6. ladros2


    Jun 2, 2005
    it's because, in foreign places, people go to irish pubs to listen to irish music. they want planxty, the dubliners, etc. all the stuff you won't be able to pull off without a piper, a mandolin/bazouki, a bodhrán, and probably a tin whistle.

    things are different in actual irish places, like, here in ireland, it's the same as your generic pub.

    oh, and irish pub-goers tend to either not acknowledge the musicians, or they sing along whole heartedly. but you wont draw that response without the above listed instruments.
  7. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Is it an "Irish pub" or a bar that is frequented by lots of Irish folks or owned by an Irishman?
    If it's an Irish pub, people will expect Irish music. But, the owner/manager of the club should know that and book accordingly. If it's the latter, it just may be the mood of the bar.

    U2 may seem patronizing, since they are an Irish band that plays mainstream music. Playing Sinead O'Connor won't be much different.

    You want a response? You want guys gurgling pints, getting rowdy, and loving your band? Play music by the Pogues. It's up your alley in that it is Irish and Rock music. Sort of like Irish Folk music with the energy of punk. I suggest that you learn a few of their tunes. Once you play one, they'll be hungry for more. YMMV, but it works like a charm in Irish pubs on Chicago's south-side.

    If you're gonna go Irish, do it respectfully and in the parameters of your band. Some other bands to consider are Shane McGowan (formerly of the Pogues), the Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, Corrs, My Bloody Valentine, etc. These are Rock bands with Irish influence that I found to be popular with the Irish community in Chi-Town. Also, by attending a couple of Irish Weddings I learned that any ABBA tune is a crowd pleaser.

    But, trust me on the Pogues thing. If you play some of their tunes and still get the same response, I'll refund you the cost of this advice.
  8. pigpen02


    Mar 24, 2002
    I'm Irish, and we never went over this in the meetings. I think its just strange. Maybe your fly is always down?
  9. cossie


    Apr 29, 2005
    I'm irish and in a regularly gigging band, and the dead silence thing is pretty common alright - its not a reflection of your band or anything, its just the way people in pubs can be.

    there's a terrible attitude in some irish people for knocking people down, you might play a great set and people would be like "ah, you were alright" - simply because they can't get over themselves to say something nice.

    especially if you're new to the pub.

    it can be really disheartening.

    Bono once said that he came home from doing a world tour, thousands of people came to see them every night, he walks into his local for a pint and the first thing someone says to him "still wearing those f*cking sun glasses are ya?", and it brought him right back down to earth with a bang.

    as for what to play in these irish pubs, if there is a regular irish clientele then U2 and Thin Lizzy are quite popular, i don't think i know of too many cover bands that would do a Pogues song though - if you can't do it like Shane, i'd be wary of doing it at all.

    but you only need to include a few of those songs in your set, don't totally overhaul it just for those pubs.

    if its an irish pub with a non-irish clientele, i think they're expecting the "diddly-idle-doo" music - fiddles, banjos, accordians etc - but that's up to the bar manager to sort out the right band for the right gig.

    get a listen to planxty or kila for an idea of that sort of music, plus there are loads of rebel songs too, but that may not be a great idea to sing if you aren't irish, as they're on par with our national anthem to some people.

    what you might want to try is back load your set with the better songs, think of it as an alcohol to air guitar ratio - the more booze the more likely people are to get into the music.

    in my band we have an opening half of poppier stuff, then the last hour and a bit is rock - thin lizzy, ac/dc, led zeppelin, g'n'r.

    if you are worried about being patronising, for U2 i'd suggest playing: "With or without you", "Pride", "Desire" or "Angel Of Harlem".

    Thin Lizzy: "Don't believe a word", "dancing in the moonlight" but i'd suggest only doing "the boys are back in town" as a _last_ resort.

    If you want to impress people (esp. if its an irish crowd) do some Rory Gallagher, "Bad Penny" is a well known song.

    Do "Nothing Compares To You" by Sinead O'Connor, but try do it more like Me First And The Gimmie Gimmies.

    "Dearg Doom" by the Horslips is another great song! the opening riff of that song is fantastic but the rest of the song isn't as good...but stilll, check them out:


    Tip: if there's a lot of younger _irish_ people (20 - 30 year olds) anything that they can sing "Ole, Ole" to will be gold dust.
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    What does the owner say about it? Do other bands get them swinging from the rafters? If so, perhaps you could go along and see if you can figure out what makes the difference?

  11. eldave777


    May 24, 2005
    I'm Irish. My name is David Connelly. My grandmother on my mothers side is from Ireland. My grandfather from my fathers side was our first generation born in America. I'm so Irish I freak out if you say potato famine. We're not an excitable bunch. We are prone to violence especially if you talk about our mothers. We DO like to drink. Take heart that no bottles have been thrown at you. That is the Irish seal of approvial. Do a rocked out version of Danny Boy! Or some Thin Lizzy.
  12. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    soudns like the start of a bad joke

    2 italians and a jew walk into an irish pub..


    honestly, it could possibly be that you guys arent irish.
  13. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane what goes here?

    Feb 23, 2003
    Denton, Texas
    Play your sets without stopping between the songs. Actually run the songs together in chunks of four or more. When you do stop, and no one claps, pretend like you don't notice. It's beginng to sound like you might be gigging in one of those places where the clientele is just too cool to clap.

    I had the same experience at an outdoor biker club a couple of times. Afterwards, many people gave compliments about the band. But, they were so busy being ultra cool during the show that they showed little enthusiasm.

    Irish doesn't have anything to do with it.
  14. Good man Joe. I'm Irish (born and bred) and this complacency happens everywhere it ain't us!

    Mind you I was at a gig by a decent Irish band called "The Walls" recently and it was like Night of the Living Dead. There was plenty of people there but they were were all just standing around on the dance floor, pints in hand, having a chat like. Band was giving it loads but they were barely getting any applause between songs. It was the oddest thing and a few people commented on it to be honest.

    If you really wanted to get an Irish crowd on your side, my advice would be a Pogues one-two knockout punch of "Fiesta" and "Pair of Brown Eyes". Really simple songs but very effective. First one for the inherent Irish alcohol sodden lunacy song and the other for the melancholic Irish alcohol sodden love song. The two I'm sure could be easily adapted to your own band's style and would grab attention. Plus a new take on them would be honestly appreciated by any Irish out there.

    You do not have to be Shane McGowan to do one of his songs. And having met the man you wouldn't want to be him. He's a genius but a tragic genius all the same.

    Stay away from horsesh12e like the Corrs :D
  15. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    Im Irish and to be honest, Ive never heard of such a thing.

    I have played at bars that act as you describe though. Up in Wyoming, we have learned that in the first set we let them sit there and we get a few golf claps after songs. We open the second set with some AC/DC and then all hell breaks loose.
  16. It's hard to clap with a pint in each hand! ;)
  17. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Thanks everyone. I appreciate the input. I've been learning a lot here at TB lately. What used to sometimes feel like a waste of my time it becoming very helpful. We are going to work on some Pogues tunes, and I will start taking it less personally when we're ignored. I'm going to simply consider it a cultural thing, or just a plain "thing" that these people do. Perhaps I'll write a song with an Irish melody...

    It's nice to clap for the band in the bar - put down yer pint and clap
    Take a slug, then clap again, and then get up to dance.... copyright joenerve 7/27/05 :)