Middle aged bands. How should they dress?

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I'm looking for feedback on this subject after heated discussions with my band mates.
The band that I'm in consist of all middle aged members. We play Folk, Contemporary Bluegrass and light Rock. We don't have youthful sex appeal anymore. The members of the band like to dress down. We have a female mandolin player/singer. She has never been what you call pretty. She is short and heavy set. She always dresses with no femininity at all. The male members of the band also do not dress at all on stage. Tee shirts and jeans.
I always wear black pants and a nice dress shirt on stage with a hat to hide my bald spot. I often wear sunglasses for that cool look. I get compliments a lot on my appearance and I'm not what you would call handsome by any means. People seem to like my stage character. I never hear anyone compliment the appearance the rest of the band.
I think that because we are middle aged we should bring our dressing habits up just one notch. Fancy blouse for Beth (perhaps some beads or a neckless just to make her a bit more feminine) and nice shirts for the male members. Kind of like acting more our age so to speak.
As you have grown older have you and your bands gone this route?
If so, did you notice a difference in amount of gigs and audience response?
 

davidr

Senior Member
Like people from the middle ages. Think bells on your shoes. Seriously though, make some effort I say. Checkered shirts tucked in and jeans would be my choice for your kind of music
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Like people from the middle ages. Think bells on your shoes. Seriously though, make some effort I say. Checkered shirts tucked in and jeans would be my choice for your kind of music
The idea of uniform checkered shirts did cross my mind. I decided against it. I wanted to let each member have their own look. We also play light Rock songs. I didn't want to make us to country looking.
They are all PO'd at me now anyway! Todays practice will be interesting to say the least!
I have always noted that people are reluctant to deal with the suggestion of change.
This all started because I was working on a new web site and I thought that we should start with a fresh image for the band. I asked everyone to dress for a photo shoot and a video of our upcoming performance that will be on a large stage. I cancelled the video after the arguments ensued. Let them do the promoting and the web site if they think that they know so much!
They asked me to do a new site and see if I could get some gigs. I was trying a new approach to reinvent and make things better.
I liked your Middle Ages Pun!
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
How are the audience dressed? I'm not saying match them but if you are playing an upscale gig, then up the dress. If its just a casual bar setting then jeans are ok. I think Tshirts should be left for the teenagers. Maybe you can help the other members button their shirts. Or even polo shirts. I think they may be a whopping 8 dollars at WalMart.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
How are the audience dressed? I'm not saying match them but if you are playing an upscale gig, then up the dress. If its just a casual bar setting then jeans are ok. I think Tshirts should be left for the teenagers. Maybe you can help the other members button their shirts. Or even polo shirts. I think they may be a whopping 8 dollars at WalMart.
I was trying to move this band up a bit on the food chain and get them into "better than a dive" venues. I simply figured that if we "Clean Up The Act" a bit, it would be easier.
This band is not my primary band. I like these people and I am trying to help them. I also have fun slumming with them at outdoor events and such. It is good to get out and play relaxed gigs in informal situations. Playing with them keeps me level. I deal with high stress playing in my other band.
I wanted to validate my point to them that wearing a shirt with a collar can only help a bands image when searching for gigs.
 

davidr

Senior Member
The idea of uniform checkered shirts did cross my mind. I decided against it. I wanted to let each member have their own look. We also play light Rock songs. I didn't want to make us to country looking.
They are all PO'd at me now anyway! Todays practice will be interesting to say the least!
I have always noted that people are reluctant to deal with the suggestion of change.
This all started because I was working on a new web site and I thought that we should start with a fresh image for the band. I asked everyone to dress for a photo shoot and a video of our upcoming performance that will be on a large stage. I cancelled the video after the arguments ensued. Let them do the promoting and the web site if they think that they know so much!
They asked me to do a new site and see if I could get some gigs. I was trying a new approach to reinvent and make things better.
I liked your Middle Ages Pun!
The thing is there's a difference between each person having there own look, and each person not really trying to create a look or have an identity. I think you should very gently encourage them to make a bit of an effort. If everyone just looks like they don't really care about how they look it suggests they don't care about the music (subconsciously, this is how it comes across). If you meet resistance, tell them you'll be playing the next gig in a dressing gown and slippers. That'll show 'em.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
The thing is there's a difference between each person having there own look, and each person not really trying to create a look or have an identity. I think you should very gently encourage them to make a bit of an effort. If everyone just looks like they don't really care about how they look it suggests they don't care about the music (subconsciously, this is how it comes across). If you meet resistance, tell them you'll be playing the next gig in a dressing gown and slippers. That'll show 'em.
I think that that is it, exactly! When I dress to my character, I feel better on stage, and the audience senses that. I spent time trying to create my stage look. I based it in part on my age and my physical appearance. I didn't want to look like an old man who was trying to be a kid again. I wanted to look like I should. I became comfortable with myself and my stage of life.
That would explain why people comment positive to me about my stage appearance from time to time.
I don't think that the others in this band have looked at themselves and figured that out yet.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
At 53, I find myself wearing either short sleeve pastels or solids - black or blue - or those 'panel' shirts that guys who are 50 wear to look like they're 40. Kohl's, WalMart, and other discount stores are full of them in the $15-25 range.

As always, the gig governs the dress. While I can almost always get away with the middle-age casual look above, one band requires a classic or modern Country shirt. In fact, the leader bought everyone matching shirts and red Col. Sanders' ties, so that concern was handled for me... right after I bought 4 new western shirts!

Bermuda
 

davidr

Senior Member
I'm a big fan of the full suit and proper shoes, obviously drumming without the suit jacket on just plain white shirt maybe tie. Looks good at any age and makes you feel like an old-school jazz drummer.

Here's and idea: next gig tell everyone that for a laugh, you all have to buy an outfit for no more than £10 (or dollars etc.) from a charity shop (or goodwill store, whatever). Make it out as a team-building exercise and all go together. Say you're doing it as a way of raising money for charity, which is sort of true. I guarantee it'll be fun and everyone will at least look original, hopefully. They might appreciate it more than if you address the problem directly with them.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I'm a big fan of the full suit and proper shoes, obviously drumming without the suit jacket on just plain white shirt maybe tie. Looks good at any age and makes you feel like an old-school jazz drummer.

Here's and idea: next gig tell everyone that for a laugh, you all have to buy an outfit for no more than £10 (or dollars etc.) from a charity shop (or goodwill store, whatever). Make it out as a team-building exercise and all go together. Say you're doing it as a way of raising money for charity, which is sort of true. I guarantee it'll be fun and everyone will at least look original, hopefully. They might appreciate it more than if you address the problem directly with them.
Great Idea! That may wake them up when they start to have fun and laugh at themselves a bit. I learned along time ago not to take myself seriously. To have fun with music. People play much better when they lighten up.
Perhaps I'll come up with a dress theme for every larger gig that we do.
 
W

wy yung

Guest
I think one must always be presentable. Especially if one is being paid. But what is presentable depends on the venue and the clientele. I think an effort should be made.

I have a relaxed gig coming up in a tapas bar. I could wear anything really for this sunday afternoon jam. But I will make sure I dress well. I mean I've got to, I'm no longer young and slim. One must make one's best of ugliness I suppose.
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I am 40, I think mullet wigs and spandex pants would be appropriate. especially the guys with beer bellys. I wear black jeans or grey docker type pants and a colorful button shirt.
I don't care how old you are, If you are entertaining people you should look better than the croud. Why would someone want to go watch a bunch of scumbag looking people playing music. Dress clever and play your music the best you can and put on a killer show.
 

Drums&Beer

Senior Member
I have two golden rules for myself as far as gig attire goes. One absolutely NO shorts, regardless of the temperature. If it's hot out I will bring a pair and put them on after the gig. Second always wear attractive leather footwear. Trust me stylish shoes go along way in the presentation category. With a nice pair you'll never get into one of those situations where shoe style isn't cutting the mustard at a particular gig.
 

nocTurnal

Senior Member
No white shoes. No white socks. No T-Shirts (graphic tees are allowed). No oversized shirts that hang down to your crotch area. No loose jeans (like the ones President Obama wears). If you're a woman, no soccer mom jeans (like those aweful ones in that infamous overweight Jessica Simpson photo). No shirts with horizontal stripes (especially those of you whom are overweight/obese). No pleated pants.

Last but not least, this is the most important piece of fashion (Yes, I know.. you're thinking to yourself: "fashion is ugly") advice... If you think that you can just dress sloppy and wear whatever you want without much thought behind it, think again. I'm afraid people won't "accept you just for who you are." That just isn't how the world works. How you prefer to think how the world works is one thing, but how the world actually works is another.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I was trying to move this band up a bit on the food chain and get them into "better than a dive" venues. I simply figured that if we "Clean Up The Act" a bit, it would be easier.

... I also have fun slumming with them at outdoor events and such. It is good to get out and play relaxed gigs in informal situations. Playing with them keeps me level. I deal with high stress playing in my other band.
Bob, I get the feeling that the people in this band would rather play low pressure, informal gigs. When I was young I found the big venues we played were never as enjoyable as the residencies we had in a few smaller bars. It was easier to control the sound on stage and I loved the intimate and relaxed atmosphere. I think that's when we played best and when the crowd got into us most.

It strikes me that that's what they're after rather than moving up the food chain, hence the resistance to your suggestion to upgrade.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Bob, I get the feeling that the people in this band would rather play low pressure, informal gigs. When I was young I found the big venues we played were never as enjoyable as the residencies we had in a few smaller bars. It was easier to control the sound on stage and I loved the intimate and relaxed atmosphere. I think that's when we played best and when the crowd got into us most.

It strikes me that that's what they're after rather than moving up the food chain, hence the resistance to your suggestion to upgrade.
I think that you're right Polly. They asked me to try and get them better gigs and at the time it sounded like a good idea to them. When push came to shove, they simply couldn't jump from the plane, no matter how many parachutes that I offered them.
They are afraid. They realize that the fans that follow them to the low gigs won't follow them to higher level gigs. They will lose the security blanket of the small circle that they live in.
So fighting with me on the clothing issue is just a smoke screen to block an underlying problem.
I'm just the opposite, When I play a big gig, I feel powerful on the big stage. All they feel is fear!

Good advice from everyone so far, Thank you!
It appears that most of you agree with me on the point that a band with older members has to dress differently than a younger band. A band that is playing larger gigs has to dress for those gigs.
 
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mrchattr

Gold Member
Bob,

Almost everyone I know who gigs regularly gave me this advice when I was starting out, and I have to say that I agree with it: you have to be yourself on stage, including dress. It's important for a band to have some cohesive look, some vibe that they give off that visually suggests that they are all together, all united...but it has to be a look that the whole band, or as much of the band as possible, is comfortable with. One of the bands I am in, the one that is my main source of income, is a cover band. Three of us are in our late 20's, but our bass player is 45 and actually looks older. When he joined up, he would wear dress pants, dress shirts, and occasionally a tie. Nice look, but he looked out of place on the stage. When the rest of the band has an image, even if it is just a simple image of "tee shirts and jeans," then you can actually be the one breaking that image by dressing up too much. In this case, YOU may actually be the one who is breaking the image of the band by dressing up when they are going for a relaxed, casual look, whether intentionally or just because that is who they are.

You say: "I always wear black pants and a nice dress shirt on stage with a hat to hide my bald spot. I often wear sunglasses for that cool look...I think that because we are middle aged we should bring our dressing habits up just one notch." In other words, you are wearing what you are comfortable in. You are dealing with your age in a way that you see fit. But then you suggest a "fancy blouse for Beth (perhaps some beads or a neckless just to make her a bit more feminine) and nice shirts for the male members. Kind of like acting more our age so to speak." But maybe that's not how they are comfortable.

By asking the band to all change their image to match yours, you may be asking them to all be uncomfortable, and not be themselves...something that they don't want to do, just as you would be uncomfortable if they asked you to wear leather pants and go shirtless.
 

mcbike

Silver Member
a bartender once told me always dress one step above the people you are serving.

If they are in flip flops and tank tops, your in shoes and a t-shirt, if they are In shoes and tee shirts you are in a polo shirt, etc.

Last night I played a private party (christmas dinner) with a $75 cover, everybody in the crowd was in formal dresses and dinner jackets. We all wore dress shirts and ties with jackets, of course by the end of the night my tie was around my head like RAMBO, but at least we started out on par with the crowd.

Today I'm playing a toy drive show at a honky tonk bar, It will surely be come as you are, but I will probably wear a western shirt untucked with jeans and nice shoes/boots.

Dressing nice really helps your band to look like a band. It helps you to meet audience expectations, and it shows you take your music seriously. If you show up looking sloppy why should people care what you are doing on stage?

I'm a professional musician so in my situation buying outfits for playing a show is a tax deduction. It's helped me to justify having "show clothes" and get into dressing up.

I had a turning point one time there was pictures of me with the road crew after a big gig. I was wearing a t-shirt, cut off army pants, and doc martens. Honestly you couldn't tell the difference between me and the roadies. I realized then I have to start looking like a musician.
 

ChipJohns

Senior Member
I think that you're right Polly. They asked me to try and get them better gigs and at the time it sounded like a good idea to them. When push came to shove, they simply couldn't jump from the plane, no matter how many parachutes that I offered them.
They are afraid. They realize that the fans that follow them to the low gigs won't follow them to higher level gigs. They will lose the security blanket of the small circle that they live in.
So fighting with me on the clothing issue is just a smoke screen to block an underlying problem.
I'm just the opposite, When I play a big gig, I feel powerful on the big stage. All they feel is fear!

Good advice from everyone so far, Thank you!
It appears that most of you agree with me on the point that a band with older members has to dress differently than a younger band. A band that is playing larger gigs has to dress for those gigs.

I used to do quite a bit of public speaking as well as playing drums. So, I am used to being on stage in front of varying numbers of people, both as a musician and as just myself with a mic.

One of my mentors shared with me that if I am uncomfortable with a venue it's because I do not have enough of a relationship with it. Get there early. Spend some time just walking around the stage and become familiar with it. When it's time to go on, you are more comfortable with your surroundings. It realy does work.

See if there is a bigger venue that you can get these guys into just to practice. Spending time on a bigger stage can become more comfortable and relaxing for them. They may even like it...

I'm with you about bigger stages. Personally, I haven't played huge venues. probably about 6,000 tops, and I don't like playing dives. but clubs that hold a couple hundred are great.
 
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