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  #1  
Old 12-03-2010, 05:49 PM
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Default Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

We all know (or we should all know) that dead spaces between songs are a gig vibe killer. How do you fill those spaces, or do you just go from one song straight into the next. We have a keyboard player, & it often takes him some time to change sounds. To be honest, my band needs to improve in this area. Most of the time, the singer fills the space with the usual singer show bull, other times, I'll start the groove early & just let it run. Anyhow, any suggestions / experiences / thoughts?
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

We actually rehearse the timing between songs and arrange the set so any changes in gear will happen when the singer is ready to address the crowd. Most of our set is pretty scripted, but it works really well.

Our rhythm guitarist switches from an electric to an acoustic for a number of songs so we all know when those will happen and we have planned things to say there. Our singer also dons a guitar for a few tunes and we know that the bassist will take over during those times.

This is the first band I have been in that does that, and it helps a ton. No more dead space between songs. We also put in a few medleys to keep people on the dance floor longer. No breaks=no chance to leave the floor.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

The key is to rehearse quick change overs.

Other things:
Arrange groups of songs that have the same tempo and are in the same key to be played as one extended piece.

Another idea is to keep the bass drum going at the next song's tempo under the singers gabbing. It may not be music, but it keeps the excitement levels up.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:31 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

good advice all. train your keys guy to do his programming during the big washy ending of some songs. another cute thing to do is little snippets and teasers between songs. my band does this junk all the time. its really useful if a string snaps. my bassist then plays pink panther or the a team theme or knightrider or 20th century fox theme or the start of an abba song etc. and i jam with him. usually these bits last less than 20 seconds. if someone in the crowd has asked for a particular song we may 'fake start' it all night to get their hopes up and then drop it in second last. and then there's the usual banter and wisecracks.
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Totally agree on rehearsing the spaces. The three-and-a-half-minute break between songs is a pet peeve of mine and clearly delineates amateur hack bands from professional bands in my opinion. If you paid $95 to go see a band on tour and they took forever to get from song to song, by about the third extended pause you'd be thinking you wasted your money.

The last band I was in, which was kind of my high bar standard for all other bands before or since, had "show practices" or miniature dress rehearsals where we'd make up a setlist on the spot to fit a time limit. We'd practice it like we were playing in a club, with no more than thirty seconds between songs. We'd lead from a drum-heavy song into a brief three-minute solo for me while the bassist and rhythm guitarist exchanged guitars for one song, which was always towards the end of the set so that the vocalist could start saying thank you to the venue and the crowd while they changed back, then into the home stretch.

Doesn't matter if it's covers or originals..... have a game plan. Rehearse the plan. Execute the plan. And then afterwards, discuss how it went. It sounds all uptight and everything, but it's also professional, and it's worked pretty well for me.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:41 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

we are pretty bad (i.e. unprofessional) about this. usually, there's an extended period between songs while we wait for our guitarist to get his effects boxes and other doohickies tweaked to get the right sound for the next song. he'll always give away the next song by strumming chords from it before we start. meanwhile our lead singer tries to keep the crowd's attention with stage banter, but sometimes she runs out of things to say and there's awkward silence. it's not good.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:55 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Back in the day, we were doing originals, so we're only playing 30-45 minutes.

My singer would just gab too much in between songs. So finally I just started getting in the habit of counting off the next song, ready or not. It was the only way to cut down on the gabbing and space.
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Old 12-03-2010, 09:12 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Adjusting a bunch of pedals is a no-no. Any guitarist OCD enough to "need" that degree of tweakery should set up patch loops. There are devices called loopers that let you plug a bunch of things together, all set the way you want, and you bring them in by engaging the loop with one button. If they "need" to have their Tubescreamer set this way for this song, and that way for the other song, just get two of them and use the one you want. That even allows the third option of having both on at the same time. The loopers bypass the effects that aren't in use and actually sound better than running the guitar though only a small handfull of pedals that are turned off. The big guys have Bradshaw boxes with all their pedals back by the amps. Then they push one button on a large box full of buttons and it sends a patch command to the backline where the desired effects pedals are hooked into the signal chain.

If you have a fixed set order, the keyboardist should set up all the patches they need in sequence in a user area of the keyboard. Incrementing the user patch by one brings up the next thing. There's a little pedal called a MidiMouse that sends program patch changes incrementally with up and down footswitch buttons. Chain that through the keyboard stuff and one step will increment all the keyboards up one patch. Milliseconds and the next song's settings are up.

If you do unique set lists for every gig, then have folks write down the patch numbers they need next to each song on their list before the gig starts. At least that saves all the scrolling around looking for everything.

Have an order of precedence in MC'ing. If the lead singer is strapping on an acoustic, then it defaults to the guitarist. If they are changing instruments, it defaults to the bass player. As a drummer, we usually aren't going anywhere or moving around (unless you are calling up click tracks or something) so drummers make good back up MCs. We can see if everyone is occupied with something (maybe the guitarist was supposed to MC but they're trying to retune) and jump in to save the day. Just be sure folks understand what is going to happen. As sometimes a person might be thinking to MC but just be taking a couple seconds to do something and all of a sudded this voice comes out of nowhere (since they can't see behind them to notice that the drummer has taken over). I played guitar in one band where the girl singer and I might both step foward to the mic, spy the other out of the corner of our eye and back up, and then do this parallel up/back dance for a couple of seconds. All of a sudden the voice of God (our deep voiced drummer) comes booming out of the PA and we would just smile at each other with a sideways glance and launch into the song.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:19 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Dairyairman, the clip I've posted from our last gig will surely make you feel better about your own band.

This rabble, er, band is the slowest between songs I've ever been in. All the re-tuning ... and does it take a year to find a keyboard patch? ... and what's with needing to find sheet music after playing a song for over a year?? Tragic.

If I was serious I would have jumped ship a long time ago but they're nice people and it's easy and fun when you have a demanding job. But when the drummer needs to pitch in to help keep things alive, things are dire ...
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File Type: mp3 the world's worst changeover.mp3 (2.47 MB, 122 views)
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:44 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
We all know (or we should all know) that dead spaces between songs are a gig vibe killer. How do you fill those spaces, or do you just go from one song straight into the next. We have a keyboard player, & it often takes him some time to change sounds. To be honest, my band needs to improve in this area. Most of the time, the singer fills the space with the usual singer show bull, other times, I'll start the groove early & just let it run. Anyhow, any suggestions / experiences / thoughts?
It's called a set list and it requires planning and not flying by the seat of your pants..

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  #11  
Old 12-04-2010, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

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It's called a set list and it requires planning and not flying by the seat of your pants..

Mike
Mike, I think my OP might have given the wrong impression. I've done way more than a thousand gigs in my time (even with a 20 year break), & so have most of my bandmates. Of course we work off a set list, that's a given, and the sort of breaks I'm talking about are 20 seconds max. I suppose I'm really searching for novel ways of turning a good standard of performance into a show. It's all well & good scripting every last second of a show, but each gig, & each audience are different. There needs to be some element of flexibility to augment the performance according to the situation. Other players experiences and entertainment tips are often both amusing & valuable. I'm not above stealing a good idea or two!
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:36 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

These days my (originals) band plans out all the transitions between songs, anything else looks unprofessional. We didn't use to, so we know how it looks both ways!
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Try working with jazz players who are reading charts. No matter how much I stress how badly I want to keep the set flowing these guys take forever turning a damn page for goodness sake! Drives me nuts.

I give each player a binder with the charts in the order of the set list. You'd think it would be a simple matter of just turning the bloody page but somehow and for some reason jazz musicians make a big deal of it. I'm up there waiting for each guy to do whatever the hell it is they're doing and the seconds seem like hours.

To me it kills the flow, having all that time elapse between songs, and I'm the one who looks like a jerk because I've got to come up with something to say while the guys are futzing about.
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:13 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

I did this CD release gig for a local cat at Kuumbwa Jazz Center and the horn guys were amazing with their charts. During rehearsals I swear these guys could change a reed, check their phone, reach up and flip the page check the phone again and then put the horns in their mouth 1 bar before they were supposed to come back in. I never saw any of them visibly counting. Some insane internal clocks. Didn't matter if it was 7, 12, or 18 bars between horn parts. It was like they instinctively knew where they were. And they were always ready for the next tune, well before the frontman.

The cover band I used to play with in Waikiki never had planned set lists. We played 6 nights a week until 3:45 in the morning for several years in the same club. Often to the same house full of regulars. If you did the same songs in the same order, the regulars would get it wired pretty quick and it would be boring for them. So here's how we did it. The keyboard player was pretty static. He was always back there behind the keyboards. Everyone else moved around a lot depending on the songs. Both horn players, the girl singer and I played keys, the bass player and I could play drums, the bass player and guy singer doubled on guitar, and the sax player and I played bass. It was like a Chinese fire drill between songs. Especially without a worked out set list. The keyboard player was responsible for calling out the songs. He would play the crowd like a DJ, watching what they responded to and adjusting things as the night went on. More disco or funk, pop or rock. He had a 3x5 index card file with a rotating repertoire of about 100-150 songs. He would pull one out and stick it in a seam in one of the keyboards somewhere around halfway though the song that was being played. Everyone would look over, see what the next song was, plan out their moves and whoever wasn't running would MC. This was back in the days of real keyboards spread across the stage. A Hammond, a Rhodes, a Clav, string ensemble and a Roland synth. So people just jumped on the keyboard that they were arranged to play to do the necessary parts. Didn't leave much dead air futzing with things. And with the long term gig, we could afford to leave all these things set up.
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Old 12-05-2010, 03:10 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

a well oiled set list thats been practiced well should keep it down to minimum... we like to do no break between about 25% of our songs..keeping them on the floor..we also group drop D songs together ect..last night my pedal drive came loose and had to adjust it...we have back-up plans for equipment failure..solos..or BS...I let them know it would be a quick fix so they BS'd with the crowd.. good time to plug our merchandise for sale.... we took a band road trip to see one of our "competing for gigs bands" a few weeks ago they were 4 great musicians but so unprofessional.. big gaps and very sloppy unreheashed song endings..
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Old 12-05-2010, 04:35 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

a very important and useful question.

my band always tries to connect a few songs together .. normally in groups of 3 then a SHORT maybe up to a minute at the most speaking break... then a few more

sometimes its as simple as song 1 ends .. count off on the hats.. song 2

if there are hits at the end of the song we often will change the chord of the last hit to be the 1st note of the next song

if there is a guitar or drum intro .. ring out the chords of the last song .. solo intro ..
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Old 12-06-2010, 03:49 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

If you're playing in a bar, straight though isn't ideal. 2-3 songs chained together is about the most. You want to get them hot and thirsty, and then let them go order another drink, making room on the dance floor for another round of folks. What you don't want to do is have these two minute gaps where it looks like everyone on stage is doing something other than paying attention to the crowd. Worse, like they're trying to figure out what to do next.
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Old 12-06-2010, 05:22 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

I've found there's a significant difference between loud dance gigs and intimate lounge gigs where the band plays at a volume that allows people to talk. With dance gigs you need to keep things moving to maintain momentum; if you don't then the venue can easily find a DJ who will.

Lounge gigs are more relaxed and you can indulge in more patter. My only beef is that I want the spaces in the set to be controlled rather than due to some band members being disorganised. At my last gig I had to hold up a song's start because a Christmas beetle landed on my snare drum. I stopped the count-in, mugged at the audience, and said loudly "There's a Christmas beetle on my snare drum!" ... they had a laugh as I tossed it (unscathed) out the open window behind me. In hindsight, I probably should have done the rock star thing and thrown it into the audience like a pair of sticks :)

I enjoy that kind of informality, where gigs feel more like a conversation than a speech. It makes diddly-squat money but it feels more human.
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

We've been trying to address a similar issue, there is a lot of standing around looking at each other, waiting for the 'I'm ready' eye shuffle.

To try and make things a little more professional, we've started including in our set list ques. So the first two songs have BTB written in between. BTB meaning 'back to back' Then there's WB, for water break. etc etc, one of our guitarists has to switch to keys so during that period there's a bit of banter and quick tune up. It works, certaintly it makes us 'look' like we know what we're doing.
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Old 12-06-2010, 01:01 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

We do the same in my band - we string a few songs together (based on whether the speed or key allows a segue etc) and we also have a rule 'when one song finishes, get ready to start the next one'.

Also, get everyone into the habit of looking at the setlist BEFORE a song finishes (e.g. during the last chorus or whatever), so they already know what's coming next and you can all get ready. If there are guitar patches, or BPMs, or whatever, mark them on your setlist so you can get ready quickly. This works pretty well for us.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:56 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

my band can't do setlists, we try to do them for festivals but a big part of what we do is reading the crowd and keeping everybody in. We do alot of medleys anywhere between 3 and 6 songs. Our fans come see us all the time and we can't play the same songs in the same order.

Most of our songs start with the guitar player and I have a dozen or so that I start and usually I always have 1 or 2 songs ready to go and if can't think of one he just gives me a look and I go into one of the songs I start. you have to be on your toes in my band though you can't even take a drink of water between songs. I usually wait till a song with a longer intro to take a drink or adjust something on my drums.

I have tried and tried to MC when our singer is tuning his guitar or out of action and everytime I do it the crowd just looks around like "where is that voice coming from" it just doesn't work behind the kit. The last festival I played at was pretty thin on bands and there was 3 main bands and we all rotated and one of the bands played the exact same set 4 times all weekend long, the banter was exactly the same everytime. I was actually disgusted watching them do the same jokes between songs. We were all hanging at a bar after the fest and they said "I hope you don't think we just play the same songs over and over again we are just trying to push our new c.d.".

I am glad my band never does the same set twice and never repeats a joke or banter.
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Old 12-06-2010, 11:49 PM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Great thread, because this happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves when seeing a live band. What we do in our band is flow straight through to the next song, no stopping at all. To achieve this we write our set out in the order that we want to play it. From there we figure out where the guitar changes are and what songs will flow well back to back. In the instances where the songs don't flow well we write interlude songs so that they do. These songs are usually 1-3 minutes in length and sometimes don't have a vocal part, but rather our singer talks over us promoting merch and getting the crowd involved. Nothing seems more awkward on stage than sitting there not playing, so we simply play the whole time. :-)
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Old 12-07-2010, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

Man I could tell you of some things that went on stage in between songs.....anything from some guy "texting" on his phone or tuning their guitar strings!

Our biggest problem with three vocalists is that they can't decide on who is going to sing next. When they do decide, they then have to hunt for the lyrics in their song books.

We don't do set lists because of the numerous requests that we get but that should not stop us from using one as we can always go back to the list after doing the request. I have suggested this many times but to no avail. So I sit back there waiting. But our keyboard player will interact if the silence gets too long!
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:57 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
Mike, I think my OP might have given the wrong impression. I've done way more than a thousand gigs in my time (even with a 20 year break), & so have most of my bandmates. Of course we work off a set list, that's a given, and the sort of breaks I'm talking about are 20 seconds max. I suppose I'm really searching for novel ways of turning a good standard of performance into a show. It's all well & good scripting every last second of a show, but each gig, & each audience are different. There needs to be some element of flexibility to augment the performance according to the situation. Other players experiences and entertainment tips are often both amusing & valuable. I'm not above stealing a good idea or two!
Van Halen used set lists. Buy some lights! And that isn't a flip remark. Most people
aren't musicians and only know what they see.

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Old 12-07-2010, 06:59 AM
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Default Re: Gigs - arranging/reducing the spaces between songs.

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I have tried and tried to MC when our singer is tuning his guitar or out of action and everytime I do it the crowd just looks around like "where is that voice coming from"
That voice is coming from behind the curtain.

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