It's the singer's call. If he/she makes a wrong decision, politely point that out the day after the show and make sure you remind him/her of that when the setlist is being put together in the future.
This dude gets it.For my bar /cover band, we play all of our more challenging or obscure stuff early in the night. People are usually just hanging out anyway, so they seem to appreciate more interesting song choices. Plus we’re into it, so that energy comes across.
As the night goes on and the liquor is flowing, we transition toward party/dance tunes as (hopefully) everybody gets rowdy.
Once the party gets going, I’d rather play Jesses Girl for the 1000th time to a crowd of dancing hotties vs pulling some obscure tune out of nowhere and watch them scatter like ants.
So first half of the night is what the band wants to play, second half is for the crowd...works for us.
Where did you draw the line on the quality of personal performance?Expectations, clearly stated, up front, make it easier. If everyone is explained what expectations and obligations there are up front, it is hard to hear complaints.
This is a great piece of advice. Like, I can't even tell you how many times in the last ten years my bar band has played The Joker - a song that I didn't like even in the best of times. So, what do I do? I concentrate on how I can enjoy it. I put in little flourishes here and there. I learn to love the way people dance to it. We jokingly add a bar or two of the Shaggy song that samples it... You know, we have _fun_ with it. That's what you gotta doI once told our piano player that I was really bored with many of our most popular covers. He’s been a full time musician his entire adult life. He told me that was nobody’s fault but mine and that I really needed to work at those songs, find new things to play on them, and to work on making them exciting again. Just one way to look at it.
One of our musicians friends can rap so when she comes to our gig, we play Good Times and throw in a few verses of Rappers Delight in the middle. People love it.This is a great piece of advice. Like, I can't even tell you how many times in the last ten years my bar band has played The Joker - a song that I didn't like even in the best of times. So, what do I do? I concentrate on how I can enjoy it. I put in little flourishes here and there. I learn to love the way people dance to it. We jokingly add a bar or two of the Shaggy song that samples it... You know, we have _fun_ with it. That's what you gotta do
After years of playing covers I believe it’s all about probability:The question I have for people who say they can be in a successful cover band by playing more deep cuts and playing them well: Do you think or do you know this? Have you done it? Have you seen it? Which deep, technical cut have you played which you can objectively say that a crowd showed much appreciation for?
I'm really curious because at one time I definitely thought more like some of the idealistic comments here .... I just had this belief born from what my musical friends and me like, that I could pick interesting cover music that an audience would respond to and leave behind the same-old-same-old. I would say things like, "If it excites us to play it, it has to excite people to hear it!" or, "people who like so-and-so will appreciate this deep cut by so-and-so".
After many years of trying to push against the expectations that people ordinarily have of a cover band, refusing to play certain songs and watching songs we love get no kind of response while songs that are of no interest to us fill the dance floor and the tip jar, I finally had to admit that it doesn't matter what I think people should like. A cover band can try to be an arbiter of good musical taste, or they can be successful. I have yet to see one be both of those.
Also, something I did not anticipate before getting much experience playing in cover bands was the need sometimes to have substitute musicians. The worst thing you can do if you want to be gigging regularly in a local place is cancel the gig because 1 person can't make it. You get maybe 1 pass at any 1 place if you already have an otherwise great reputation, but that's about it. If your set list if full of deep cuts other musicians can't prepare for, you could be in for a bit of trouble on that front.
Part of me still wants to think that if you have a way of getting in front of enough same-minded people on the same night, you can make a go of it. IME, that's actually harder than playing any song, and there's virtually no way showing up for a random cover gig is going to find that sort of audience. Deep cuts, even performed really well, tend to be about as welcome as deep cuts on the radio, which is about as welcome as a fart in a space suit.
I've never had an issue with quality of performance. But I also haven't gigged in years. I did quit a band over lack of practicing and the band members missing changes and screwing up songs, but I was hired to play in their band that was already functioning. My post is about setting up a band or how to better organize if you are hiring people to your band. Obviously during practice if someone was not up to snuff you tell them they're not cutting it. But the bands I was a part of forming, which was a few, were all set up this way. When I joined a functioning band, it was their rules, not mine, and most were weekend warriors who wanted to make enough to support bad habits and take advantage of some of the benefits of being in a band, but weren't serious about the music. I left quickly.Where did you draw the line on the quality of personal performance?
Did all manage to create NfN covers?
I’ve tested your theory and have not found it to be accurate thus far. No matter how well your band plays an obscure song, 99% of the people at a bar do not want to hear it.I have all kinds of problems with the universal barband playlist.
Outside of the fact that I think the audience WILL approve of well-performed fringe songs that are good songs, based on their merit.
But related to the OP even the well worn ones contain arrangements, exceptional performances and intricacies that get smoothed over, inappropriately, and that diminishes the value of the song.
If you can't do it like the record, OR an equal quality interpretation of the composition, reducing the song to a campfire singalong version bugs me to no end...and don't tell me you have never done it under pressure at the cover band level.
It's a cheap out from doing the homework and upping the game.
It will continue as, for better or worse, music has to start somewhere, but the drive and interest in a band progressing is rare in the shallow end of the gig pool.
You are correct, sir. I should have mentioned that I'm jamming with long time friends in a couple bands. Not interested in playing pop songs in a bar/patio. I just wish everyone else would loop so that they can get it as close as possible to authentic.I'm thinking that you probably meant to use the word repertoire instead of set lists in the first sentence. Set lists of course is the arrangement and sequence of your band's songs at a live show. Repertoire, overall, is another issue entirely. Am I on the right track?
I've not read through the thread, but this resonated with me. My last band had doubts about what kind of reception we'd receive from the Tears for Fears tune, "Year of the Knife"--a non-hit and fairly obscure. It was a smashing success. Now granted, we were a TFF tribute but that was one that we deemed a bit of a risk. Can always put a tune out there and if it doesn't work, strike it from the list.I'm wondering how all bands arrive at their respective set lists. This seems to involve sacrifice for some while others get their way.
I've spent so much time trying to learn a diverse range of music and to take the time looping at half tempo to authenticate the difficult solos/harmonies of hundreds of tunes. But the bandmates I've jammed with always want to play simple music that soon bores me.
I end up quitting and now believe that no one seems to care about playing anything that requires all band members be proficient and able to authenticate more intricate music.
I believe you can really impress and turn on the audience and don't have to play what you think they want to hear. I hate to think I've wasted my efforts.