I had an epiphany today - conflicts in my cover band over volume

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by wrxplayer, Feb 1, 2018.

  1. wrxplayer

    wrxplayer Supporting Member

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    We've been having a fair amount of tension in the cover band I play in for a while. It centers on volume, both front of house and stage levels. Most in the band are constantly complaining that we're too loud. Me and another are of the view that you can't have a rock cover band and play at levels so low that those sitting 10 feet in front of you can comfortably speak with their date.

    I realized today that, for the most part, I'm wrong.

    We play mostly in small bars or restaurant/bars. Our clientele are generally >35. I may be a Whipping Post kind of guy but they are not.

    The "epiphany" is that the fix is in the material we play. Whipping Post, Running Down a Dream, etc., do work best at volume. Instead of me fighting to avoid playing them at talk-over levels, we ought to just drop them from the repertoire and play songs that actually work in the setting we're playing at (CCR, Beatles, Bonnie Raitt, for example).

    Anybody else facing a similar volume issue find the answer is in the material you play?
     
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  2. LaceSensor1

    LaceSensor1 Member

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    If I owned a bar I would want a decently loud band. Not Marshall stacks hurt your ears loud but definitely hard to talk over. I feel like having to yell at a bar to talk to the person beside you and alcohol sales go hand in hand.just my experiences.
     
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  3. somecafone

    somecafone Member

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    Yep.
    One example is Use Somebody by the Kings of Leon.

    There is one small place we play and we don’t play it there.
    Drummer, who is dynamic and musical, just can’t do it justice by his own admission.

    Easy fix.
     
  4. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    Well, you're both right.

    And yes, you've figured out the solution: tailor your act to the gig you have, not the gig you wish you were playing.

    If you're playing in a small place where the management want people near the band to be able to comfortably converse, put together a set that fills that need, or go get a gig somewhere that wants Classic Rock at non-conversation levels.

    Just because there's room to set up your gear and stand there and play, doesn't mean that the room is big enough for a given act.
     
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  5. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    My solution was to not play in bars that don't really want live music, which meant basically giving up gigging.

    I didn't depend on gigging for income, and playing a crappy place at volume levels that prevent anyone in the crowd from getting into what you're doing wasn't exactly my idea of a good time, so I stopped. If you need the money, or don't care if anyone appreciates what you're doing, by all means, knock yourself out.

    Look at it this way - if you're playing so quietly that people in the front tables can talk to each other, they're going to keep talking to each other, no matter what material you do. You may as well not be there, or they should just play the radio or jukebox.

    It's no mistake that the glory years of cover bands, and even the very popular bands today, coincided with carrying full production and rocking the house.
     
  6. bluejazzoid

    bluejazzoid Supporting Member

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    I would argue that perhaps those sitting 10 feet in front of you are doing so so they DO NOT have to speak to their date at all! :tapedshut:aok

    But I do appreciate your predicament!

    :dude
     
  7. Fishyfishfish

    Fishyfishfish Member

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    We have a “10 foot talk to your date” place in town. Very nice place but feels very weird to have a full band playing when perhaps should be a solo acoustic show going on.
     
  8. JK1965

    JK1965 Silver Supporting Member

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    It is beyond lame to be playing rock music at such pathetically low volumes. Its fake and it sucks. When I hear "turn it down, its too loud, turn it down!" I turn it off and that's it.
     
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  9. Neenja

    Neenja Member

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    Weird. I would never be in a band that thought they were too loud.
     
  10. Alchemist XP

    Alchemist XP Silver Supporting Member

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    Start playing jazz in coffee shops ...
     
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  11. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    For many years in my previous party covers band we had the same tension over volume. The singer and other guitarist (who was also the main backing vocalist and also sang lead) would always think we were too loud. They both targeted the drummer as the main offender. IMO our volume was fine. I'm a rocker, and so was the drummer and regularly seeing other coverbands we knew we were not that loud. The real issue was that the drummer would play the first song at much the same volume as the last song. If you tailor your set list and dynamics so as to ease your audiences ears into the experience slowly, you will rarely get complaints.

    Eventually, the singer and other guitarist got IEM's and all was well.
     
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  12. Fulldrive-1

    Fulldrive-1 Member

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    If your date was here, in 1968, you reckon you'd be having a conversation?


    [​IMG]
     
  13. wrxplayer

    wrxplayer Supporting Member

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    Interesting perspective and one worth further thought.
     
  14. MLaVache

    MLaVache Member

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    That setup's not going to work at the local Applebee's, though.
     
  15. ant_riv

    ant_riv Supporting Member

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    I think it all depends on the venue. Most live music that features cover bands is intended to enhance the environment, not be the primary purpose. It wasn't that way years ago, but it is now.

    Our bandleader typically has our first couple of songs as "introductory the band is starting now" in tempo and volume.

    This has worked very well, as we don't suddenly crush the room with a 'heavy metal thunder.' The first set builds.
    Second and third sets vary how they start depending on the vibe in the room. Rinse and repeat or hit 'em hard.

    Incidentally, our stage volume is very reasonable. Everything goes through the PA, which does all the heavy lifting. I can get singing feedback without blowing anyone's ears. There is a huge amount of intensity that can be created using dynamics, rather than pure volume.

    We are there for our audiences listening pleasure, not to compete with jet engines.

    I know some musicians feel you can't be a real rock band if you're not LOUD!
    I feel you can't be a real rock band, in today's environment, if you can't rock the house with intensity.
    Well, a cover band can play at bombastic levels if they are touring the basement, garage, 'man cave' and 'home studio' circuit.
    Otherwise, if the venue feels the overall band volume is too loud, they probably won't be playing anywhere else.
     
  16. uitar99

    uitar99 Member

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    At our age, we just don"t care anymore what volume folks want (or really what they want to hear) we just play what we want at our usual volume. After all we are an electrified band.
     
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  17. Fulldrive-1

    Fulldrive-1 Member

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    That's what I liked about playing punk. Everybody: venue owners, audience, soundmen, bandmates, all knew it was going to be loud, and thought it was COOL!
     
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  18. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    I’ve learned that if the audience is complaining you’re too loud, your playing the wrong music.

    In the 60s my sax teacher said “you should be loud enough to be heard, but not so loud that people can’t tune you out if they want to”. Good advise.
     
  19. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    Based on the evidence supplied by YT clips from the audience of even the biggest names playing clubs, the amount of crowd chatter (over the band!) is nearly unstoppable in any event.
    I keep suggesting that the trend to house PA and mic'ing everything ('just for spread and clarity' they say) has contributed to not leaving enough quiet spots in venues for the chatters to hide out, and also keep the sound off the bar.
    I don't do enough gigs to prove my point, i.e. don't mic instruments, focus the PA to the dance floor (the band may not control a fixed system), let the band be louder but sonically confined...to suit the venue.
    You have to set up to do that, and it goes against the notion of filling the room with CD quality sound. I know it happens naturally in long rooms as they fill up.
     
  20. 8len8

    8len8 Member

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    Not in my neck of the woods. The cover band bars in my area have a large stage with many lights and people go there to drink and watch the band. We are the center of attention while playing.
     
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