1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

The issue of backing tracks

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Viper617, May 17, 2019.

  1. It's OK like, when Rush used to do a song like "Time Stand Still", where they had Amiee Mann's vocal tracks in there where she sang them on the album.....

    But... and I'm an old-school KISS fan (1973-1978) Paul Stanley using a pre-recorded vocal track for most of the current tour is kind of abusing the concept...

    I'd never even consider using any backing tracks to support me live. If I couldn't perform the material, then I guess I'd be in a bit of trouble....
    lfmn16 likes this.
  2. TheLowDown33

    TheLowDown33 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    You are playing electronic music...not a single person is going to be surprised if you use samples. If you want to make it more live, find a way to trigger the samples via midi. This creates a more of a live production feel, as opposed to the karaoke feel.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  3. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    This is just my opinion, but to me live music performance means everything the audience hears is produced in real time by human beings on stage. I don’t mind the use of backing tracks; I do mind it being called a live performance of music.
  4. Vic Winters

    Vic Winters Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Western NY
    I used to be against them, but I can see the merit in using them to enhance performances. My only restrictions are:
    -no replacing an instrument that's already on stage, you always play your part yourself
    -instruments that aren't on stage are fair game unless they are the focal point of the song or have a solo
    Nevada Pete likes this.
  5. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    You should have seen the drum corps forums when they first allowed amplification, recorded music and synthesizers.
    Mr_Moo and MDBass like this.
  6. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I have noticed that the majority of concert goers have come to expect a cinematic immersive experience. The average 3 piece garage band can't deliver it with guitar, bass, drums alone. I listen to people's opinions of live concert coverage all the time from sporting events, awards shows, etc. They want it to sound EXACTLY like the album. If it doesn't, and it sounds "organic", the band "jams", goes "free-spirited", improvises, etc, etc...they generally hate it. (Not lumping DMB followers in here, or blues folks, they love a jam)

    When these people learn about backing tracks, they are surprised, but they generally don't care at all. This is all in my experience, people ages 20-40. Wether they know it or not, the backing tracks gives the average listener what they really really want. Love it or hate it, that's how the $$ is made.
    Nevada Pete and Mr_Moo like this.
  7. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO

    I would venture a guess that they have played for more people, and sold more albums that a few on this forum...love em, or hate em. I would guess the majority of responders hate em.

    You think that bass and drums alone are making all that music? Look like the massive crowd cares? :angel:
    Nevada Pete, Mr_Moo and MDBass like this.
  8. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    It is a great idea and there are many successful acts in the EDM/jam band area doing just that. Groups like EOTO, Pretty Lights, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Adam Neely, etc. You've probably already received alot of ignorant posts demeaning the idea but the success of the acts i've listed should prove that incorrect.

    Go for it!

    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    Quinn Roberts and Nevada Pete like this.
  9. I was a partner in a MIDI band in NY from the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s, before I moved south. Three or four (with and without female vocalist) singers, live guitar, live bass, and live percussionist. No drummer, most of the gigs; when we got larger gigs, we would add a drummer (who was provided a click track in cans), a second guitarist, and occasionally another female vocalist.

    We had a repertoire of about 450 songs, spanning from the 40’s to the then-present day. We used Voyetra software at first, then migrated to Cakewalk, which allowed a smoother live show flow. We bought tracks, modified them to meet our needs, and programmed our own tracks as well. As far as I know, we were one of the first groups in the NYC metro area to work that way.

    This group required constant rehearsal to maintain proficiency. We learned how to adjust a set list on the fly to accommodate requests and caterer requests to end a set for food service. Harmonies for all the tunes had to be worked out and rehearsed with all of the repertoire continually. Our core group of three men were a constant, but female vocalists came and went, mainly due to the time commitment needed and the effect that had on their personal lives.

    I learned more from that band than I’d ever thought possible. Sound reinforcement, specifying and evolving the FOH and monitor systems; how to mix instruments and alter their timbres to sit properly in the mix; how to blend that mix behind the vocal and behind the live instruments; and, most importantly, how to tailor sets to suit a variety of gig types and venues.

    As pioneers of working this way, we got a lot of arrows in our backs. Overcoming the “no drummer” visual concerns for the audience was a hurdle, but that was overcome fast by the sound quality, the tightness, and the vocal blend. When train wrecks occurred - and they did, occasionally, mainly due to a vocalist missing cues - we learned to play around them. “When in doubt, lay out.”

    VOCALS ARE KING. Good live vocals transcend instrumental chops. Good playing doesn’t save bad vocals. But really good vocals can save all but the worst problems. And we always had some a cappella tunes on standby to help.
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  10. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Jule-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand

    The amount of ignorant comments, who don’t realize that they’ve already seen and enjoyed a band using some element of playback, is actually kind of funny.

    A successful show is about about the audiences experience, not an ego trip for the people on stage.
  11. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Rush has used a keyboard player in the back, but I'm pretty sure that they were using tracks for the R40 tour. No hate, just saying that even the biggest bands use backing tracks of some sort. And teleprompters.
    Mr_Moo, Ronzo and MDBass like this.
  12. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Jule-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand

    Exactly why I find the ego in some of these comments rather amusing ;)
    Ronzo and CyberSnyder like this.
  13. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    No, that's a guy playing keys who - hopefully, if that's the intent - sounds like, "a dozen violinists".

    Now, mebbe some might think a chorus pedal is cheating? :roflmao:
    lfmn16 likes this.
  14. This! Took the words right out of my mouth! Your performing for the audience. Not for other musicians. They'll just stand at the back of the room with their arms folded across their chest, and stare at you (some of them). So when you see that, smile at them. It drives them crazy! Have fun with your new performance!

    Not exactly your genre, but there's an act here in Vegas that relies very heavily on backing tracks and plays whenever they want to. They can get as many dates as they want, whenever they want, and work over seas as well! Great people, too.

    More & Gendel

    The point is if you put on a great show and entertain your audience. Not how you do it. Good luck!
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    getbent likes this.
  15. IMO it comes down to a few things. Obviously genre and audience affect how acceptable tracks will be to the audience (and performers). Genre and setting affect what methods will work best.

    And then there's the question of what you're trying to achieve. If you want ultimate synchronised tightness, perhaps for a film score, a Broadway-style theatrical production with complex technical cues, or a to-the-second TV appearance, then some tracks, whether triggered live or sequenced in advance, can be great tools.

    On the other hand, if you want ultimate flexibility, the chance to show your improvisational chops, the ability to turn on a dime and respond to absolutely anything in the moment - maybe genres with strong traditions of improvisation, theatre with a freewheeling or improv aesthetic - then tracks might just get in your way. Having said that, even in those applications triggered samples are being used with great success.

    If what you want is the pure joy of playing the music, then you probably won't enjoy using tracks or samples. That's not necessarily ego.

    Having identified WHY you're using tracks, and WHAT you want to achieve, the HOW you do it gets narrowed down. As you can see by reading some of the posts here, there are probably more wrong ways of doing it than right ways. But there are right ways.

    I've had enough horror shows to be very cautious, personally. But then, haven't we all had horror shows with live musicians too?
    scuzzy and Nevada Pete like this.
  16. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    It is all in how you pull it off. If what you do is good believe me .. the audience won't care. The sax player in our band does solo gigs with backing tracks and is doing quite wel... I know it is a different instrument .. but as long as you play well.. I would not worry.
    Mr_Moo and Nevada Pete like this.
  17. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    An easy $300 / night and no schedule conflicts.
    Sav'nBass and Mr_Moo like this.
  18. Ultimately, we use the tools at our disposal.

    It was a revelation when the guitarist in my MIDI band got a programmable ADA preamp. I saw the MIDI connection and we figured out, since we were running the sequencer already, that he could trigger changes to the ADA directly from the sequence instead of using a MIDI foot pedal. Soon after, he purchased an Alesis Quadraverb GT and added that to the MIDI chain; no more stompboxes, no more pedal dance. The sequence triggered all patch changes on and off at precisely the right times. And we could pre-audition each patch for proper timbre and volume changes in the mix, incorporating that into the sequence as well.

    If I were doing that today, I would also add lighting control for every song in the show. Easy and repeatable.
    SteveCS and Mr_Moo like this.
  19. What's the name of that movie where the guy is busking, faking (Milli Vanilli style) playing sax to a backing track? And he gets picked up by Andy Summers....

    "Get that guy up here, ladies and gentlemen, the greatest saxophone player blah blah..."

    "What would you like to play?"

    "It really doesn't matter."

    "What a pro!"

    *band plays, time for the big solo... *


    *Crowd goes wild*

    EDIT: Another You, starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.

    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  20. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv

    And this is why it's sometimes hard to have an honest discussion on TB. Too many ridiculous analogies.
    Nevada Pete likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.