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Were not following the set list!

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by wcnewby, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Yeah, I don't think we've ever used the same list twice. I do tend to always put certain songs in certain sets.
  2. Luvie


    Oct 23, 2012
    Houston, TX
    We play custom set lists. I'm the lucky one who gets to set them up. We're a country band and we mostly play at a club where there are serious dancers. Generally groups of several dance numbers and a then a song where they can go get a drink. Also, at least one waltz and one line dance per set. Last set has more rock and new county songs that aren't really dance tunes but rock songs (Jason Aldean, etc.). Because the serious dancers are gone by then.

    The other place we play at often is a biker bar where there isn't a dance floor. They like country but we also can add more rock and new country songs.
  3. Chazinroch


    Feb 2, 2003
    Ontario N.Y.
    We use set lists and adjust for each gig and at each gig we'll adjust based on crowd reaction. Set lists are important as the drummer is clicking off the next tune right after the one before is finished. We don't want to be standing up there asking what's next. Singer makes the list, band approves. Singer always has veto rights.
  4. Lazylion

    Lazylion Goin ahead on wit my bad self!

    Jan 25, 2006
    Frederick MD USA
    At my last gig, as the BL was handing out the setlists just before we started, he said "Here's the setlist we aren't going to follow." LOL and he was right! Typically we only get about 4 or 5 songs along in the first set before we deviate from the list.

    The good news: we've had Mustang Sally and Hurt So Good on the list in the last set for months, and have yet to play either of them. So I say things are going well!
  5. KeddyLee


    Nov 12, 2013
    We're doing a Rush tribute so it is more of a concert feel and, believe me, nobody came there to dance.

    Plus we have guitar changes, I have keyboard and pedal changes. Everything is organized and, with the exception of cutting a song for time, we play our sets as written.
  6. marmadaddy


    Oct 17, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    Every band is different. I've been in bands that did "the set list, the whole set list and nothing but the set list", a set list as a general guide and calling an audible for the next song towards the end of the current one. They all worked for the situation.

    I've never found it to be worth being too invested in which format to use. The key is to just find something that works for the band and move on.
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    Every band I have been in has used a set list. In one band, the BL/lead singer/guitar player would sometimes skip songs. He would often just start a song without saying anything to us. This caused a problem for the keyboard player because he wouldn't know which patch to use until the song started. A set list reduces the risk of having a train wreck due. Every major artist uses a set list so why should a local band be any different?
  8. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    We always throw together a different setlist before every show. Then we kinda sorta follow it. Our singer can be a little spontaneous at times, so we never ever have dead time. Sometimes, we worry about whether there are children in the audience, because she can go off on some pretty wild tangents. It's a little different every time. It can be a roller coaster, but it is always a good ride.
  9. mrpackerguy

    mrpackerguy Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Madison, Wisconsin
    We always have a setlist but deviate liberally depending on what folks are dancing to.
  10. +1

    Calling 'audibles' based on what the audience appears to be digging is great. A minute of dead air while you decide what to next is awful.

    My preference is to have a set list and be willing to make changes on the fly, but it has to happen quickly and smoothly. There can't be any debate or discussion. If the BL can turn around and call out a tune and everyone can go right into it, that's cool.
  11. tink9975


    Aug 10, 2006
    MoCo, MD
    We are a bar band, doing covers with a hand full of originals.

    we always have a set list, and usually make it 3 songs in before the BL calls out something else. He does do a good job of reading the crowd and keeping people happy, but there is far too much dead air and the Drummer never ever knows what song is next.
  12. Lazylion

    Lazylion Goin ahead on wit my bad self!

    Jan 25, 2006
    Frederick MD USA
    We'll be using a sub guitarist tonight. He begged for a setlist, so I sent him the last one we used, plus a couple of songs that we've learned since then. He answered "60 songs is too much to learn in 2 days". He wanted me to narrow it down to twenty. I said "we'll definitely play Wagon Wheel". That's the best I could do!

    Can't wait to see/hear what happens!
  13. You mean to tell me that he doesn't know at least half of your 60 songs already? Is this a change of genre for him?
  14. I play in a 10 piece band and we follow a set list every time. Occasionally we will eliminate a song here and there if we're running short on time but we don't "call audibles" anymore. One reason is that we've been doing this gig for awhile now (6 years) and have a pretty good idea what's going to work. The other reason is the "dead air" situation that's been mentioned before. In the past when a song was called out, there'd be one person in the band that would whine, "no, not that one" or something like that then instantly any momentum we had established would be gone. There's nothing worst than watching a band debate what song they should do next.
  15. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    When BLs call audibles, I prefer they do so *during* the song before the audible. Or better, call the next 2-3 songs while calling the audible.

    That way, there's no dead space before the audible or after it.
  16. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    How about using an automated set list generator that has keys and tempos listed in the app? That way when you decide to switch the songs around you have a nice mix. And no one gets mad that they spent an hour writing set lists that keep getting messed with in the heat of battle.
  17. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    What's sad is when it happens and the BL calls another one you know is gonna tank no matter how well you run it out. It's his job to keep or lose so I don't really care one way or the other, but you'd think after so long as a regular in the same joint they'd have a better read on their audience.

    Or maybe they do have a good read on the crowd and know they need an excuse to go to the bar, whiz, etc., so they call songs the crowd doesn't "feel" and will use the chance to go to the bar, whiz, etc.
  18. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I always use a set list, but I'm not afraid to call an audible, either. However, a well-designed set list shouldn't really need many audibles. You have to be aware of instrument changes, capo changes, different tunings, songs that somebody just can't sing right after certain other songs, etc. just to avoid a trainwreck. No guarantee that the audibled song is going to work any better than what's next on the list would have, either.

    I prefer to have certain places where a song (or even more than 1) may get skipped. The call is then, "skip!", & everybody knows to play the next song in the list.

    I know several people who think they are "masters" at "reading the crowd". Not a single one of them is actually correct.

    Personally, I believe that we, as musicians, should be leading the crowd, not vice versa. We are the tour guides here. We know where to go, how to get there, & what cool things there are to see on the way. That's our job. We're trained professionals. Don't try this at home.
  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    so did he get the call two days before the gig, or did you guys just wait that long to get him a list?

    since he had to "beg" for a setlist i suspect the latter, in which case any trainwrecks are IMO the band's fault, not his.

    (this assumes your setlist isn't 3 sets of "mustang sally", "last dance with mary jane", "sweet home alabama" and "what i got", stuff any gigging bar rock player should already know in his sleep.)
  20. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    We have set lists and usually start out following the plan, but as the night goes on we often skip songs or change the order of songs depending on how it goes. If the audience is very active and wants to dance we may for instance skip a slow blues and do a boogie or rock number instead. Occasionally we get a request for a song which we don't have on the list (usually something popular - to the audience, that is :) - like Mustang Sally ... and then we oblige.

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