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!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Which Set? - Opinions

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by drpepper, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    It seems that set list threads often don't go very far, and I concede upfront that trying to pick brains in an open group can be perceived as asking people to do "work." I also recognize that there are differing philosophies on song order…but here goes anyway, I'd love to get any input as to whether these would be set 1, 2 or 3 songs for you.

    Anyone willing to share opinions or experience on some of the songs (or even one of the songs…"My band opens the second set with X, and it goes over great.") would be appreciated.

    All Summer Long - Kid Rock
    All The Small Things - Blink 182
    Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes
    Blurry - Puddle of Mud
    Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
    Crazy Bitch - Buckcherry
    Crazy In Love - Beyonce
    Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
    Crazy Train/Party Started - Ozzy/Pink
    Darling Nikki - Prince/Foo Fighters
    Desire - U2
    Dirty Deeds - AC/DC
    Don't Stop Believing - Journey
    Everybody Talks - Neon Trees
    Friends In Low Places - Garth Brooks
    Good Times Bad Times/Classic Medely - Zeppelin/Sabbath/Aerosmith
    Hard To Handle - The Black Crowes
    Hash Pipe - Weezer
    Hate Everything About You - Ugly Kid Joe
    Hella Good - No Doubt
    Honky Tonk Women - Rolling Stones
    I Believe In A Thing Called Love - The Darkness
    I Got A Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
    I Love Rock and Roll - Joan Jett
    It's So Easy - Guns 'N Roses
    Jenny - Tommy Tutone
    Jungle Love - The Time
    Let’s Go Crazy - Prince
    My Own Worst Enemy - Lit
    New Girl Now - Honeymoon Suite
    Panama - Van Halen
    Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO
    Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry
    Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
    Rebel Yell - Billy Idol
    Rock And Roll All Night - KISS
    Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
    Santeria - Sublime
    Save A Horse - Big & Rich
    Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon
    Sex Type Thing - Stone Temple Pilots
    Sexy Back - Justin Timberlake
    Simple Man - Lynard Skynard
    Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson/Alien Ant Farm
    Spin Me Round - Dead or Alive/Dope
    Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
    Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
    Talk Dirty To Me - Poison
    The Middle - Jimmy Eat World
    Turn Me Loose - Loverboy
    Tush - ZZ Top
    Want You To Want Me - Cheap Trick
    Wonderwall - Oasis
    Word Up - Cameo/Korn
    You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi
  2. Here's one little nugget that seems pretty consistent from my experiences:

    If you have songs that you're uncertain about, unsure how the crowd will respond, maybe it's not a bonafide crowd pleaser or party starter, put those first up on each set. The first song of the set usually has a lot of your audience in the restroom, at the bar, outside for a smoke, etc. So put the questionable song up front. Good warm up for you and your audience. Then kick it into gear.
  3. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    Thanks for the input!
  4. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I would disagree with this. I have always found it better to open up with a great crowd pleaser. That way you get their attention immediately and it keeps them wondering what else you will play. I once saw band open with Bohemian Rhapsody. They did a great job and kept the audience's attention the whole night. If you open with a questionable song you run the risk of people leaving very early in your set.
  5. True.

    But put them in the middle, and run the risk of disrupting your flow and momentum.

    I'd rather see the floor empty during Song 1 than clear it in the middle of the set and have to work to get them back out there.

    In my experience, people are filtering back into the bar during Song 1 anyway. If 1.5 minutes of a mediocre song is enough to send them packing, that's a pretty pathetic crowd to begin with.

    Smack them with the rhythm stick on Song 2 and watch the mad rush to the dance floor.
  6. Agree with Electracoyote, especially if people have paid to see the band. The first song is a gimme, just make sure you play it well. The song should probably be 'burst out of the gates' song to grab attention.
    Then it depends on how the band is sold. One word of caution - you probably don't want to string dancey numbers and then hit'em with Blurry. Great tune, but you may lose momentum in the set and it can be hard to get people back.
    Our band starts out with the songs we like to play - radio-friendly, but not necessarily dancing tunes. We then move the set more to dancier numbers. The second set is generally big hits, dancier numbers. The third set starts out dancier and we'll usually add a slow number close to the end of the night but end on a couple of bangs.
  7. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    I actually prefer Kmonk's philosophy. Better play iffy songs in the middle, preferably between two strong songs. That way the audience is still hyped from the song that preceded it, and the song after it can bring them back up if their interest does begin to get questionable.
  8. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Just to further my feelings on the matter, anytime a band goes on they will always at least have my attention for their first song. That said, if they don't grab my interest with their first tune then I'm not likely to pay much attention to their second song or any after that. An iffy song in the middle won't destroy my interest if every song up to it was strong.
  9. Set 1: songs that please the sober and that you play well (set the hook with old reliables).
    Set 2: songs that pander to the vibe you're getting from the audience (reel 'em in).
    Set 3: songs that the wasted can sing/dance/party along with (haul 'em in and club 'em)

    Fish on!
  10. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    I always have to wonder about the random ass songs cover bands choose to play. I don't mean popular songs that suck, but songs that are really just like "why are you playing THAT of all the things you could have chosen?. I mean, never mind that Weezer kind of sucks to begin with, but Hash Pipe is far from one of their better songs anyway. Wouldn't Buddy Holly or Say it Aint So be a better choice? I dont know, maybe not, but it seems like at any rate then it could be replaced by something other than Weezer to better fit in your "sleaze rock" kind of aesthetic.

    It's So Easy is another head scratcher. Good song and I actually happen to like it a lot, but you'd definitely get more crowd reaction to any of the THREE HUGE HITS from that same album.

    I think a lot of "career" cover bands have less than ideal setlists because by nature they are not "creative" types, so they tend not to have a vision for a cohesive song list. I think more effort put into home run song choices will go a lot further than song order. If every song you play is killer and they all fit some kind of "theme" (theme can be pretty vague as long as it's consistent), who cares what order you play them in? Probably nobody, as long as you don't totally screw up the flow too much.

    But aside from that, I agree, putting weak songs at the beginning of a set is a bad idea. Putting them in the middle of a set is a bad idea. Putting them at the end of a set is a bad idea. Why are you playing weak songs? Every song you play should be chosen for it's strength, presumably from the audience point of view, but at least from the band's. Go through each song and say "why is this included in our setlist?". The answer should be really damn convincing, otherwise it should be replaced by something else that's stronger. Maybe you need more "dancey" songs, maybe more "faster" songs, or maybe just plain more "popular" songs, etc...
  11. AdamR

    AdamR Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    Endorsing Artist: VF Cables, Dirtbag Clothing
    Heres our set list, We've added a few since our last outing

    Georgia Satellites, Keep your hands to your self
    American Girl, Tom Petty
    You May be Right, Billy Joel
    Summer of 69, Brian Adams
    With me, Us
    Cindi Lauper, Time After Time (remix)
    Rebel Yell, Billy Idol
    Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash (Remix)
    Time, Pink Floyd
    Banditos, The Refreshments
    What I got, Sublime
    Say it Aint so, Weezer
    Low, Cracker
    Doesnt Remind me, Audioslave
    Alive, Pearl Jam
    Plowed, Sponge
    Creep, Radiohead
    Sex on Fire, Kings of Leon
    Machine Head, Bush
    My hero, Foo Fighters
    Tomorrow, Silverchair
    Would, Alice in Chains
    Bound for the Floor, Local H
    She Hates me, Puddle Of Mud
    Slither Velvet Revolver
    encore, Fight For You Right (to Party) Beastie Boys
  12. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I vehemently disagree with this advice. The first song of each set is going to set the tone with the venue and audience. You need to come out guns a blazin', and give the people what they want, and make sure you OWN them from the get go.

    You should have NO questionable songs ANYWHERE in ANY set. You can tell when you practice them if they have life or not, and you need to find out something doesn't go over by accident, not by design.

    The songs you listed in the OP are nothing but safe. You don't have a single risky song in the mix. What you do have, though, is a lack of coherence. That list is trying to be everything to everybody. Personally, I would not want to see Prince, the Time, Garth Brooks and Led Zeppelin all performed in the same set, so you may need to at the very least theme out your sets.

    But since they're all pretty good songs, play them out, and find out what your audience likes!
  13. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    Thanks, for your input, mellowinman. Some things to consider, and yes, we'll see how things go with the audience and move on from there.

    Some of this is also responding to other posts (which I also appreciate getting).

    First, I'm new in this band. Most of the list settled was without my input. The band is making a transition from "hard rock" to blended "modern/party rock," so much of the list is new for the band. We haven't played out yet in the new incarnation, and the list (which is a work in progress) is partly the product of the band hanging on to some songs that they feel went over well before. It's likely true that in changing venues, songs that "went over" in the old context will be duds. We'll have to wait and see. So, some of the songs are head-scratchers for me as well, but for now, I'm going along and seeing what shakes out.

    I think the idea above of trying to fault lack of creativity is off-base. Building a great set list of covers does require vision, but that vision on mass-appeal doesn't come from "artistic creativity," it comes from focus and effective application of insight and observation.

    I think the usual obstacles to developing a killer set list come from these things as much as anything else:

    - Give and take of trying to make things "democratic" allows some self-indulgence in
    - Even with trying for broad appeal, personal preferences override realities (it's natural and very easy to fall into the trap of thinking because we like something, and/or a lot of people we know like it, that it's broadly popular)
    - The misplaced idea that at the same time you want to have broad appeal, you want to "be a little different from every other band" - that, combined with points 1 and 2 is what leads to things like choosing It's So Easy instead of Sweet Child O' Mine.

    That being said, there are simply multiple philosophies on song selection and and order. I can see valid points in varying approaches and the comments made here. I think that in terms of song selection, there's clearly going to be geographic differences as well as venue type differences. In this area, the bands that do the best in the bigger agency booked bars generally play a mix of current hits (whether rock, pop or rap), 80's hits, classic/modern rock and small portions of 90's rap/hip-hop and current popular country. Would a "themed" approach work? Sure. One band that's doing great is called The Reagan Years (obviously 80's themed).

    While I'm not defending all or any of the outliers in the list I posted, I know that what appears to be lack of cohesion can work…AC/DC, RUN-DMC, Neil Diamond, Neon Trees and Lynard Skynard all together in one set. I like a "live jukebox" philosophy to selection. Cohesion comes from delivery and flow. Sometimes flow can seem unlikely when you look at it on paper.

    Some of the modern country songs go over well, not because the people in the bar are country fans, but because particular songs have developed a bar appeal. People like to sing along with Friends in Low Places. And look at Sweet Caroline. People don't like to hear a band play that because they're Neil Diamond fans or even because they like the song. Hell, most of them would change the station if it came on the radio. They like to hear a band play it because it's become associated with part of a good time…they can get drunk and yell "Bah, bah, bah!!!" and "So good, so good, so good!!!" and do the "hands" thing. The same person who liked those songs might also like the good time that goes along with Jump Around, so they "like" Jump Around.

    The good thing in my situation is that we share a desire to do well with this on the circuit we'll be working, and in that, there is explicit willingness to adjust and drop things that don't work in order to get to the place we want to be. I couldn't be more happy to have landed in the band I have. All great guys, talented, and we work well together. With what I've seen to this point, I expect this to be my band home for years to come.

    Maybe I'll try again when the order is established.
  14. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    From looking at the variety in your list, here's my suggestion.......

    Take similarly themed songs, and clump them together in blocks and throw blocks of songs based on your audience reaction. For example, say you do All Summer Long and the crowd is ambivalent. Then you play Darling Nikki, and the place lights up for the Funk. So, you have your block of Word Up/Smooth Criminal/Funky Music up next to keep on the dance floor. Based on what you see, you might ring up another block of Funky stuff or upbeat dancy material. Or, if they look like they are ready to chill for a few minutes you can shift to another theme and see how it goes.
  15. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    Thanks, Jong. I'm going to be really interested to see what happens with Darling Nikki. I've never seen it played in a bar...total question mark for me.
  16. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    Well, this is basically what we ended up doing as far as programming...what was kept and what was left out.

    I think the response and one comment we got gives us a good idea on what adjustments need to be made. Overall, it worked pretty well (some rough start issues with it being this line-up's first night out aside), and I think we'll work from this point to tweak and replace songs. We have some more crowd pleasing songs to add. A really good, unprompted comment I got in talking to another bassist who was there was that he noticed and liked how the energy built and leveled from the start of each set and that it seemed very even compared to some more random arrangements. This was the exact goal. It was great to have it recognized by someone who pays attention to those kinds of things.

    Set 1
    My Own Worst Enemy
    Hash Pipe
    All The Small Things
    Sexy Back
    Smooth Criminal
    Sex On Fire
    Hella Good
    Let’s Go Crazy
    I Want You To Want Me
    Rebel Yell
    Spin Me Round
    Sweet Caroline
    Classic Rock Medley

    Set 2
    I Got A Feeling
    Crazy In Love
    Party Rock Anthem
    I Believe In A Thing Called Love
    Honky Tonk Women
    Save A Horse
    Summer of '69
    Don't Stop Believing
    Play That Funky Music
    Rock And Roll All Night
    You Give Love A Bad Name
    Talk Dirty To Me
    Pour Some Sugar On Me

    Set 3
    Hard To Handle
    Blister In The Sun
    Crazy Little Thing Called Love
    Everybody Talks
    New Girl Now
    The Middle
    Jungle Love
    Brown Eyed Girl
    Crazy Train/Party Started
    Friends In Low Places
    I Hate Everything About You
    Crazy Bitch
  17. Gravy4001


    Jan 9, 2012
    ^ DrPepper nice song selection, that's a pretty powerhouse night right there. All good songs so it almost doesn't matter what order. A rule we have is basically don't play a classic rocker when the dance floor is packed and they want to dance more.

    Couple other thoughts: around here the VH is considered dance floor killer so end of night is fine. We do Crazy Bitch mid second set, gets them in a frenzy and we don't let up, wouldn't want to wait til 1:30 on that one. Oh and Talk Dirty sometimes doesn't go over...but going right into the Def Leppard will pick things right up. Again, nice job!
  18. drpepper

    drpepper Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Columbia, Maryland
    Thanks for the feedback. It's appreciated. Crazy Bitch got moved around a bit for various reasons, and we actually stopped at Panama.

    I'll definitely take mid-second set frenzy hook under advisement.

    We're dropping a few to add some newer chart toppers and couple of Nelly tunes that can be rocked up.

    I'd say the song that went over best was Save A Horse. I think it was in a good spot and was a really good dance floor hook.

    The total surprise of the night was New Girl Now. I had been think that would be dropped, but I don't think so. People dug it.
  19. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    i'd play cigarettes and alcohol or columbia by oasis, but it's so easy by gnr always went over well with my friend's band in college
  20. 5StringThunder


    Dec 28, 2012
    I play an originals band and we have a song called Kick It with part of the chorus is "time to kick it into gear". We always start with that one.