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Set lists...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by McHack, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I'm sure this has happened to everyone... our set list has, what I consider to be, a bit self-indulgent & weak. But, because the band organizer, has a focus in his mind, he's not likely to change.

    Plus, I'm "the new guy". So, I really dont want to join & stir things up right off the bat...
  2. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    What exactly do you feel is weak about your set list?

    When picking cover songs for set lists, I try to be realistic about them - can the singer hit the notes, will the song match his voice, can we get away with doing song "X" without a keyboard or rhythm guitar? A lot of times my drummer will pick a certain song just because he gets to hit his drums really hard, he does not take into consideration that the singer may not be able to do the song...
  3. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    If this band is a gigging band and you are trying to please most of the people then you have to keep it popular and main stream. This is assuming that your band is a cover band.
    It's also important to enjoy what you're playing. If that means throwing in some songs that are not so well known but are fun to play then I say go for it. I have found that it is worth it to play some popular cheezy stuff and and get the girls up and shaking it.
    If this band plays original music then the songs are what they are, but maybe arrange the songs so there isn't a 10 minute guitar solo in every song.
    Always remember, you are the bass player and chances are they had trouble getting a good bassist so stir things up because they don't want to go through the hassle of trying to replace you. :D
  4. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    We're doing covers, but were aiming for less "classic rock" & more alternative/punky/off brand stuff, that everyone will still know. Thing is, alot of that stuff, just isnt very powerful...

    We're implementing the instrumentation needed. Bass, Drums, Lead Guitar, vocalist/rhythem, & Keys...

    I guess whats bugging me is, I'm worried we might have too many songs strung together that'll put people to sleep, instead of inspre them to party. Psychedelic Furs, ok.... but, you've gotta wake people up afterwards...
  5. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    My experience, you can never really guage what will go over where in the set, no matter how hard you try. Some things defy explanation. My band plays nearly every Friday and Saturday, and with 70 percent of the songs the same as they were 8 months ago, you'd think we'd have it down to a science. No way. It even changes from venue to venue as to what will go over best early or late.

    None of us ever agree to the best order, everyone will pick something different. The singer seems to be the best judge, and still 90% of the time the list on the floor isn't followed and we call audibles to keep the crowd up. Its so pervasive that we've developed hand signals for many of the tunes so that we can call them on the fly.

    And as for selection of songs to learn, sometimes we'll learn a new tune expecting it to go over great, and after a few weeks it just dies on the dancefloor. So, we drop it after giving it several chances. Problem is, it takes about 4 tunes out of 5 to die before one works live. Go figure.
  6. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    You don't need to do "set lists" either. That can become way too boring.

    In a previous band, we did something called blocks.

    A block consisted of three tunes and were categorized by things like: heavy, dancy, schlock, 60s, etc.

    We moreso felt the crowd and agreed on a block # which listed the tunes in the block.

    It made the gig more random and since we did requests it was much more fun.

    Hope this helps,
  7. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I guess ultimately, I need to just relax... go with it & trust that we'll weed out things that just dont seem to work out well.
  8. McHack,
    Why not just start suggesting some good songs in the same genre to your bandmates - they may be feeling the same as you.
    You may be able to improve the order of your current setlist with a bit of work.
    Here are some things I do to try create a flow. Forgive me if some of them seem obvious.

    General order:
    - start a set with 2 or 3 energetic tunes
    - put your acoustic / quieter stuff in the middle - right about when you think peoples ears will need a break.
    - Go out with a bang - make sure your best (most powerful) song is last, and build up to it.

    Song to Song:
    - As you start working out the order, think through the end of each song and the beginning of the next. Is the transition exciting?
    - Try not to put two songs together that are the same key or tempo.
    - Try to make the keys of the songs flow - think about how the transitions would work if it was all one song.
    - Think like a DJ: get people in the mood for music from one style or era with a "sure thing" tune, then milk it with some similar stuff

    Other stuff:
    - Try to keep the breaks between songs to a minimum - plan on which songs go directly to the next so no-one is tuning or changing guitars etc. Nothing worse than losing momentum and dancers with dead air
    - Keep your options open - have a handful of classics that you can drag out when needed -these are the songs that always go over (and we're all sick of playing) :)
  9. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Ok, how many songs is enough to start?

    40? More?
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think you shouldn't even broach the subject for a good couple months until you get to know these guys and their tastes. You said it, you're the new guy. Don't join a band and try to make sweeping changes right off the bat. If you don't like it, find another band and quit this one. But it's bad form to join a band and try to change it right off the bat. Hell, I've been in my current band 6 years and I don't even try to do that. I'll suggest something now and then, but that's about it. Trying to make sweeping changes when you're the new guy will only result in getting one thing swept...you.
  11. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    Assuming that you want to play the "standard" 4 hour cover band bar gig, you really need at least 3+ hours of material. Assuming you play 3 sets with a 20 minute break between 1-2 and 2-3, that works out to 3:20 (200 minutes) worth of music. Try to time your sets in rehearsal to see how long they run, and then determine the average song length. That will dictate how many songs you need.

    And I disagree with DaftCat to some degree. We like using setlists to make sure that we vary the pace of the sets and don't get too monotonous. We also have 3 guys sharing lead vocal duties, so we try to mix it up to avoid stressing vocal cords with back-to-back-to-back songs that kill one guys voice.
  12. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Here in Columbus, the club standard is three one hour sets, with 30 minute breaks in between. There are a few venues that are the exception, but this is the norm.

    We usually run around 15 songs per set, but we run them pretty much back to back without downtime at all.
  13. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I know your pain. We've been doing a lot of short sets - 6 or 8 songs - and we've been stuck with the same 6 or 8 songs every time...

    But what can you do? We get a lot of gigs opening for other bands or doing quick shows for youth groups and such.

    I guess just keep trying songs until you get a setlist that seems to work. My experience is that the first 3 or 4 tunes will almost always be throwaways, as the crowd is trying to figure out how they are supposed to react to your group (jump, dance, stand, sit, etc, etc). Knowing this, I have a tendency to stack all the "best" songs toward the end of the set. The problem with that, of course, is that the crowd only really gets into it the last 3 or 4 songs. I've tried to put the "best" songs toward the beginning of the set, but then the crowd just ignores them.

  14. Skeezix


    Sep 28, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    Good idea, but add 10% to that time.
    You always go faster in front of an
    audience. ;)
  15. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    I also played in a band that worked this way. The drummer called the songs. He would call a certain song and we would know what the next four or five songs would be. Like you said this gives you the ability to feel what the crowd wanted.
    The band i'm in now works from a set list but we do have some songs that we always group together because it helps with the flow.
  16. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    We don't do set lists. You never know what will get the crowd to respond. We have a list of 140 songs broken into categories and it sits next to the drummer. Between him, the guitarist and myself, we either think of something and mouth it to each other or wait till the end of a song.

    It's a different way to do a gig. Trust me. But if you know your potatoes, it's a non-issue. Plus, you have a better chance of consistently connecting with what your audience responds to.

    Case in point: last week, two corporate Chriustmas gigs. One in pub and one at a restaurant. Both started fairly quietly to warm up everyone. The second gig never kicked into a big dance effort until the last hour the company had the restaurant for. If we stuck to a set list, we would have had a bunch of higher energy tunes that would have annoyed these people. We ended up playing quiet jazz for most of the night. We had a couple of intimes where 2-3 people danced but it never really took off. It was a small group of 30-40 people. Their dinner dragged out throughout the evening. We had to be flexible and give them what they wanted. In the end, it makes it more fun because you're shifting gears, challenging yourself and your band mates.

    You need to play to your crowd.
  17. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I've tried that before, especially when playing bar gigs (performance oriented gigs are a little easier to script). Long story short, I suck at it. Long pauses between songs as I'm trying to look through the master list and pick out songs that suit the situation and still keeping track of what we played *tonight* versus what we played *last night*...

    Plus, I was trying to pump the crowd up by playing dance tunes when they were just sitting looking at us... so by the time they were sauced up and ready to dance, we were having to repeat tunes.

    Of course, then you have people who show up at the beginning ready to dance and leave before you get to the upbeat tunes, thinking that your band is boring...

    Like I said. I suck at it.