When did cover gigs balloon to 3 hours?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Trevorus, Apr 24, 2024.

  1. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    So, I've been doing the church gig stuff for years, so I've been out of the loop. When did the cover band set expand to 3 hours? It used to be an hour and have two or three bands. I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently, because I've got two different bands with two different three hour sets, playing lead guitar on one and bass on the other.

    The bass gig they eventually want me playing upright on a few of the songs, and thankfully the keyboardist owns one he'll let me borrow. But I've only screwed around on one that happened to be around, no real performance experience there.

    I've got my work cut out for me. Oh, yeah, full time job, kids, and all the accoutrements that come along with that, too.
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  2. Most gig slots around here are 4 hours. 4 sets.
    And actually, imo, those 1-2 hour gigs are a pain the arse.

    I’m glad they went back to longer gigs.
  3. Tom Winter

    Tom Winter

    Nov 21, 2022
    Lebanon, IL
    If we played 3 sets, they were longer. Usually 4 sets.
  4. I've been gigging since I was a 16 yr old drummer. Yes, I was one of them once.

    4 hr gigs are the norm. The current band does 3 sets for 4 hours routinely. Even my dad who's turning 80 on Sat has been playing 4 hr gigs since I can remember.

    We have 1 2hr municipal gig in Aug and there's a sound man with that one so that's like a vacation for me.
  5. coryr1000

    coryr1000 Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2024
    Cranford, NJ USA
    We do 3 sets of covers and as far as I can remember its been this way for many years.
  6. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I suppose setting up once for the evening is a more efficient way of doing things, that's for sure.
  7. mrjim123

    mrjim123 Supporting Member

    May 17, 2008
    The Late Night Revelators
    When I started playing in the 70's gigs were typically 4 hours long; 3 hours is cake.
  8. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Here, cover gigs are typically either 3 or 4 hours. Can't remember that there have ever been one hour cover gigs unless it's for a public event/festival.

    All the work is setting up and tearing down. Playing is the fun part.
  9. lowfreqgeek

    lowfreqgeek Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    Tijeras, NM
    3hr has been the norm for as long as I've been gigging, and that's several decades.
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  10. MotorCityMinion


    Jun 15, 2017
    Decades ago. 40 tunes that will include some longish jams or about 50 regular length tunes. Used to start around 9:30ish and last to about 1:45. 3 or 4 sets depending on the atmosphere.
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  11. djmay


    Apr 8, 2022
    I play in a big band. Our gigs are usually two hours. We play a big ball every year, which is 3 hours. That is an exception.
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  12. bordinco90

    bordinco90 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2011
    SW Louisiana
    Around my area, the norm used to be a 4 hour show (9P-1A ect...). We would usually do 3 one hour sets with 30 min breaks in between. The crowds and club owners hated that, but I wasn't the band leader so I didn't mind. Now the norm is 3 hour shows. My band usually plays 2 80min sets with a 10 min break in between.
  13. Bluesrock


    Sep 28, 2021
    West Virginia
    Bands have been playing 3-4 sets (hours) for many years. Nothing new.
  14. RGerhart

    RGerhart Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2021
    Portland, OR
    3 hours? Count me in. For years, it was expected that cover band gigs were four hours, sometimes longer if you were playing a casino gig.
  15. I've beeng gigging for 9 years and for cover bands 3 hours has always been the minimum, but 4 hours is the norm. I've even had a couple places that want 5 hours. Most cover band gigs are 1 band bills, multiband bills are for tributes and originals, around here anyway.
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  16. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Most gigs in my market are 3-4 hours and from what I remember from my "going out" days, the bands played 4 hour nights. I'm with @StereoPlayer : it's not worth the load in/out for less than that.

    I know it's common for original band to do the 2 or 3 bands per night thing, but I've never heard of cover bands doing that regularly. Yes, some newer cover bands will agree to split a show because they don't have the material to cover 3-4 hours and they want exposure, but I've not seen it happen as a regular practice.
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  17. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2023
    In my area, the actual "standard" is 3 sets of 1 hour each.
    I also see randomly some 1 1/2 to 2 hours long single sets.
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  18. shoot-r


    May 26, 2007
    The country/rock group I'm with plays the Illinois, Western Indiana, Eastern Missouri areas.
    All bar, pub, animal club gigs have always been 3 to 4 hours.
    Outdoor Fair and Festival jobs (where we're the main act) vary from 2 to 3 hours.
    Opening for a larger acts jobs, 60 to 90 minutes.
    Paid rehearsals where we're the artists primary backing band varies.

    (This is off topic.)
    What has changed recently in our area is some large stage, outdoor jobs where in the past FOH support was furnished is no longer being provided.
    It's now being written into the contract that's it's now the band's responsibility to furnish a system that will cover a set number of people or area.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2024
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  19. Dr. Keebs

    Dr. Keebs Bassmaster General

    Jan 9, 2016
    Very rarely do cover band gigs but I was schooled playing in cover bands doing four hours, four sets starting in the early 90s. That’s still more or less the standard where I’m at.
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  20. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earth-based Alternative Scientist, Sex Researcher

    Feb 25, 2012
    Dallas, Texas
    In my case in a blues band playing half originals, half covers, the only time we play for one one hour set is festivals. We play two regular gigs where there is an opening band, but they play 2 hours, then we play 3. Otherwise all our gigs are 3 hours.
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