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Sticking to your Set List

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by dbassman59, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. dbassman59


    Dec 19, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Here's my question ... How many of you out there actually stick to your set list as written?

    I find that we end up going all over the map with our set lists. I mean if you got the floor rocking and pumped ... do you really want to add the slow song as maybe indicated next on your set list?

    Often ... or should I say ALWAYS we end up scrapping the order of the songs on our set list to adapt to the mood of the crowd ... The problem this sometimes creates is too much of a lul in between songs ...
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Just don't let the singer call the next song. I played in a band for several years that never had a set list. The guitarist and I would figure out what song was next and communicate our decision to the rest of the band so the only person who wasn't dead ready was whomever was singing the last song (cause he was busy). Over time it got to be almost like hand signals in baseball. Maybe just "mouthing" one word. That band was really focused though (a bunch of good pro attitudes). You can't do stuff like that in every band.
  3. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Never. Depends on the mood of the crowd, the whims of the bandleader, the timing. We don't try to figure out exactly how many songs it takes to get to a hard break, we just stuff each set with 14-15 songs then break when it's time to. We might not do all the songs, and certainly not in the right order.

    We get lulls too, not good but it happens. :meh:
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    We use the list to keep things moving. There are quite a few audibles during the course of a night, but we generally stick to the list.
  5. threshar


    Jul 30, 2002
    We rarely stick to the list. I make one for each show, we may get about 2-3 songs in before our fearless leader changes his mind or someone requests something or some band member votes something off the island.
  6. nvd


    Nov 9, 2007
    Virginia Beach
  7. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    we typically only use a set list for festival gigs or larger "one set" type shows...we never use one for a club gig...
  8. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    We don't use set-lists... primarily because we're an improv band.
    My last band often didn't write set lists and the drummer and I would communicate quite quickly what was to come next, so as to not interrupt the momentum of the show.
  9. Sparkdog


    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    We always go to a gig with a set list (I put it together cause I sing everything and I need to arrange the songs so it won't kill me) but we rarely get through it in the order written.

    If someone requests a song and we know it, we do it. If the house is rockin' and the next song up is a slow blues, we don't want to kill the buzz so we choose an uptempo tune instead.

    The downside, as others have noted, is that it leads to dead air between songs, especially if the guitar player has to switch instruments. I can change basses in about 10 seconds, he needs more like 5 minutes!

    I used to be in an originals band that did more concert/showcase type gigs, and with that outfit we had a tightly rehearsed set that we never changed. That was cool because we could really rip through the set and keep the energy pumping, but that just never seems to work in cover bands.
  10. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    For concert-type performances, we tend to stick to the set list, though we might cut a song or two if necessary. For gigs where people are dancing, I will almost always adjust the set list on the fly, depending on what is working with the crowd.
  11. I've never been in a band that kept strictly to the setlist, unless it was a single hour or less set of originals. Play to and with the crowd always.
  12. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    not only will we not stick to the set list but we will switch a song and do it either half step up or half step down which is why I stopped trying to learn everything on a 5 string.
  13. ForSix


    Jul 22, 2008
    We always play the list. Keeps the crowd under control.
  14. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Good thread.

    It really varies by night for us (variety covers band). There have been nights we've stayed 95% true to the set list, and others where we have switched whole sets around on the fly and/or switched-out songs on the list with ones we were pulling out of our a**es cause the crowd wanted them (which sometimes is actually kind of fun... totally faking your way through something and having the crowd act like it was your best song of the night).

    We essentially have two lead singers and they both have pretty good instincts as far as working the room, so I usually have no problem with their "audibles". The only problem we run into sometimes is we lose track of time and we either wind up scrambling to fill-out a short set, or conversely, when the floor is packed we just keep playing and the set winds up going too long. When you stick to the songs as listed, things seem to time-out better cause that's what you're thinking of when you put them together.
  15. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Whoa dude that would drive me flippin nuts. I'd be leaving my band in a hurry if they tried to pull that.
  16. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    I have a 5 tuned in standard and a 4 tuned in Eb. If they want to do a song usually done in standard a half step down I grab the 4. At this point I'm playing from muscle memory so with the exception of the simplest songs I couldn't adjust to the difference on the 5 string.

    If they want to do an Eb song in E I grab the 5 when it would usually be played on the 4
  17. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Chuck Berry used to do that A LOT. Considering that he was an old-school guy (ie. short fuse) and never had the same backing band twice, picking musicians on the fly where the tour lead him, that must've been even more nerve wracking.
  18. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    No offense, but why does your band choose to do that? Is it cause the singer can't hack the high notes on certain nights, or something else? To me, you change the key of the song (even by a half step) and you change the whole feel of the song. It's effectively a different song even if the melody, structure and lyrics are identical. The vibe is still different.

    Again, not saying it's wrong, I have just never heard of a band that rolls like this and I am curious the thinking behind it. It just seems like a case of making things harder than they have to be.
  19. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    We will change keys occasionally to suit the singer's range. I don't think it changes the songs. Some songs, yeah, the key change is noticable. But most of them, it doesn't seem to matter. At least in my experience.

    Not much harder either.
  20. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Are you talking about changing keys in praise & worship situations? Been there, done that, doesn't cause me a lot of problems. Play a song one Sunday in D and the same song the next Sunday in G to accommodate different singers.

    It was the half-step thing, in a band with presumably the same singer gig after gig, that kind of threw me. And also, maybe I'm wack but I guess I'm more OK with changing keys of contemporary P&W songs than bar band standards that everyone has heard in a particular key for 20+ yrs on the radio.

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