dead time on stage?

bojangleman

Platinum Member
it usually always happens with us...

so my question is:

How do you guys prevent having dead time on stage?

Alex
 

aydee

Platinum Member
It helps if someone in the band is also a stand- up comic/ storyteller/exhibitionist/sexy babe singer.
 

geeza

Senior Member
Knowing what songs flow together in the set usually helps. If there's a song that starts off on drums then you can usually vamp a little until everyone's ready. spend some brief time telling the crowd a short story or promote your website or myspace, but keep it short, people want to hear music. Pay attention to what's going on in the crowd. There's always something you can pick up on if you've got a mic. If you want to ham it up a bit, bring a sandwich toaster on stage and make some grilled cheese for a lucky audience member. Mount a cymbal on top of a helmet and ask an audience member to kneel beside your kit and be your human cymbal stand. Be creative, have fun and just go with the flow.
 

Crusto 62

Senior Member
It is usually a guitarist having to tune up or change a string ( if he hasn't got a spare guitar ) that will give you some space to fill. I have always just jammed with the bass players ( at a low volume ) until the guitarist is ready. Some funk ,reggae or jazz will do the trick. That will usually keep the crowd interested until your guitarist is back.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Knowing what songs flow together in the set usually helps. If there's a song that starts off on drums then you can usually vamp a little until everyone's ready. spend some brief time telling the crowd a short story or promote your website or myspace, but keep it short, people want to hear music. Pay attention to what's going on in the crowd. There's always something you can pick up on if you've got a mic. If you want to ham it up a bit, bring a sandwich toaster on stage and make some grilled cheese for a lucky audience member. Mount a cymbal on top of a helmet and ask an audience member to kneel beside your kit and be your human cymbal stand. Be creative, have fun and just go with the flow.

I dig that human cymbal stand idea, I may try that! lol

Dead time is never a good thing, and it's really up to your singe to fill it. Plug your website, if you have any merch, plug that, or just talk to the people about something till everyone is ready to rock.
 

Bigdumbdrums

Senior Member
It rarely happens for us because we always have a set list written out - but it does happen - and when it does, I make sure I know what the next song is and then start kicking in a groove in the same tempo - maybe at 1/2 volume - often the bassist will join in and start to improvise and we are suddenly kickin out a cool groove that when the delay is over, the rest of the band is ready to begin the song. The best part is, to the audience it usually sounds like an alternate version of the song's introduction.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I always just count off the next song. :p
+1!

Once you've played through a few gigs where you click off the next one right away, the band gets used to it. If you wait for the guitar man to get his pose just right you'll be there for ages, nd if you wait for the horns to get their charts up for the next song, your audience will outgrow their shoes. :) Last note means time for clicks unless it's a gig like a jazz trio where the pre-song powwow has to happen first.
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
It is usually a guitarist having to tune up or change a string ( if he hasn't got a spare guitar ) that will give you some space to fill. I have always just jammed with the bass players ( at a low volume ) until the guitarist is ready. Some funk ,reggae or jazz will do the trick. That will usually keep the crowd interested until your guitarist is back.
same with my band. its either elevator music style jazz or the girl from ipenema

j
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
lol... our guitarist usually breaks a string during smells like teen spirit and before sweet child of mine. its surprising how well take five or moondance fits in.
 

Aleksandr

Member
I find that dead time on stage is best avoided by knowing exactly when your going to play each song. Write a set list out for each member and keep it on stage with you. You will benefit, trust me.

I used to have the same problem your describing, especially in my earlier bands. Sitting on stage in between songs looking out at the crowd like a deer in the headlights, wondering if you should go on to the next song. Then suddenly everyone in the band comes up to you (the drummer) and asks if they should start playing the next song... Yadda yadda yadda.

All that can be avoided, make a set list; once you have it, don't rush, get in the groove, and enjoy the jams...

-Aleksandr
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Talk, introduce the band, ask someone a question in the audience (are those really your breasts?) Ridicule the guy holding things up mercilessly, entertain the folks. Tell lies. Big ones. Involve the audience, it doesn't have to be about the band all the time. Further your own agenda, ask the single girls to step forward, and ask them to rate the band members by applause. Anything to take control. Just don't be a human posterior, you're a musician, you must be cool about it. Great question.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
The first question to ask is WHY there is dead time on stage. A lot of times, in younger bands, it's simply that no one wants to take the lead and start the song, or you are nervous that someone won't be ready, so you hesitate clicking a song in. Other times, it has to do with tuning, etc. Other times, it's that a player who starts a song needs a quick break after the last song (you know, a song with a 10 minute drum feature is back to back with a song that starts with the drummer playing a solo fill and then a tough beat). Sometimes it's just someone getting a drink. Understanding why you have the dead time is the first step in fixing it.

Secondly, as was said, write out a setlist. But don't just do a list of songs. Here are some suggestions:

1. Make it logical. This is really important. If you have a set with three songs in drop-d tuning, don't put them at slots 2, 4, and 6. If you do that, the guitarist will have to tune 6 different times in the first six songs. Instead, put them next to each other, so that the guitarist only has to tune down once, then tune up once. If the drummer has a really hard song, with an intense part, then follow it up with a song started by the guitarist or vocalist. Make sure that every musician has one or two places to grab a drink in each set, so that they know it's coming, and don't grab a drink at other times, causing the band and audience to wait. It's a pain in the butt, but a good setlist goes a long way towards fixing silence on stage.

2. Designate talk times. This can be done by actually putting it on your setlist. Something like:

Song 1
Song 2
TALK
Song 3

We all want to talk to the audience for a second, to plug merch, a website, etc. This gives us the chance to know when it's coming. This also means that if it doesn't say "talk," the band knows that it is time to play, no questions asked.

3. Write on your setlist. A lot of people I talk to have the mindset that if their setlist has notes on it, they will somehow look unprofessional if someone sees the setlist. I think this is stupid. Fill it up with notes if you need. I suggest keeping a master list of each song, and any notes needed for it. Not lengthy, wordy notes, but things to remember for everyone. In the one cover band I play in, this was really helpful early on as we all got comfortable. It also helps when you have multiple versions of a song, or mulitple possible intros. For instance, we play Lump three different ways...the normal way, a really fast version, and then a country-shuffle version. We also string songs together sometimes (a ">" on the setlist means to segue into the next song), and sometimes play only parts of songs live, even though we know the whole thing. To keep everyone on the same page, we just throw it all on the setlist. So, instead of:

Heartbreaker
Breakfast At Tiffany's
Lump
Angel
The Joker
Beverly Hills
Here For The Party
Save A Horse

You get:

Heartbreaker - Drum/Guitar solo ending
Breakfast At Tiffany's - Derek start
Lump (Fast)
Angel> One chorus only
The Joker> Thru second chorus
Beverly Hills
Here For The Party> Drop D, Jon start while Derek tunes
Save A Horse - Drop D, Derek start while Jon ends HFTP

Sure, it looks messy, but the end result is that the band is all on the same page.

4. Color-code your setlist. This is really not necessary, but if a band is having a hard time transitioning well, it can help. You can do this a bunch of ways. Every three or four songs are one color, and you know you don't pause when you are playing another song that's the same color. Each person gets a color, so they know what song they start. Different tunings are in different colors. There are a ton of ways to use this technique, though I admit, once a band is tight and knows it's stuff and is playing out for a while, this becomes pretty unnecessary.

5. Question the necessity of alternate tunings. Remember: It is more important that the audience not get bored than anything else. If you have a guitarist/bassist who loves alternate tunings, that's fine, but they damn well better realize that the pauses between songs need to go away. Whether this involves keeping mulitple guitars on stage, in different tunings, and all plugged in and ready to go, or starting a lot of songs without the guitar, or whatever, it's just important. People, in general, care a whole lot less about the bass player being able to hit a really low Eb, instead of just a regular Eb, than they do about being able to dance and listen without having to stare around bored.
 

SharkyBait911

Senior Member
it usually always happens with us...

so my question is:

How do you guys prevent having dead time on stage?

Alex
Either what we do in my band we like the sounds to gether OR the singer chats to the auidiance i think the second one is the best because it gets the crowd goin and it's good to feel relaxed and it make you look like your enjoyin it !
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
lol... our guitarist usually breaks a string during smells like teen spirit and before sweet child of mine. its surprising how well take five or moondance fits in.
I'd be like "Alright, we don't have to play Sweet Child, w00t! Good night everybody!" :)
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
It is usually a guitarist having to tune up or change a string ( if he hasn't got a spare guitar ) that will give you some space to fill. I have always just jammed with the bass players ( at a low volume ) until the guitarist is ready. Some funk ,reggae or jazz will do the trick. That will usually keep the crowd interested until your guitarist is back.
Probably a better idea is to sell some swag, CD's DVD's or T-shirts or whatever.

Also be sure to tell the crowd about your mailing list, website and availability for bookings for their private parties and the like. Tell them they can come and visit between sets and chat and buy CD's. People LOVE it when a band is personable and approachable.

Thank the crowd for coming out to see LIVE music, especially YOUR band. People LOVE to be complimented, so SHMOOZE man!!!

Also, you must compliment the wait staff of the venue your in. It pays to be nice to them as it'll make things very loose between you and the venue making more bookings a breeze.

All of this stuff should me more than enough over the course of a night so you don't have to "jam" between songs to fill time. Once you get familiar with doing it it'll be a natural thing and you won't have to think about it to do it.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Probably a better idea is to sell some swag, CD's DVD's or T-shirts or whatever.

Also be sure to tell the crowd about your mailing list, website and availability for bookings for their private parties and the like. Tell them they can come and visit between sets and chat and buy CD's. People LOVE it when a band is personable and approachable.

Thank the crowd for coming out to see LIVE music, especially YOUR band. People LOVE to be complimented, so SHMOOZE man!!!

Also, you must compliment the wait staff of the venue your in. It pays to be nice to them as it'll make things very loose between you and the venue making more bookings a breeze.

All of this stuff should me more than enough over the course of a night so you don't have to "jam" between songs to fill time. Once you get familiar with doing it it'll be a natural thing and you won't have to think about it to do it.
I will say this: for bigger, better paying venues, you better not do this more than once, maybe twice a set, or you won't be back, period.

EDIT: And when I say that, I mean during dead air time. It's another thing entirely to do the stuff you said during an extended intro to a song, or something like that. Those are all great ideas, but only if you aren't stuck with dead space on stage.
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
I will say this: for bigger, better paying venues, you better not do this more than once, maybe twice a set, or you won't be back, period.

EDIT: And when I say that, I mean during dead air time. It's another thing entirely to do the stuff you said during an extended intro to a song, or something like that. Those are all great ideas, but only if you aren't stuck with dead space on stage.
In all the years I've been playing, I've NEVER found any of that to be a problem. We've always "been back" without issue.

Venues are always happy when the patrons are happy, keeping them from getting bored is never a bad thing as bored people LEAVE and spend their money elsewhere. Dead air and "noodling" will chase them out of a club faster than a fire in the men's room. Keeping the patrons focused on the band is what keeps them in their seats and on the dance floor. And when they are interested in the band, they'll belly up to the bar, the REAL reason for a nightclub.

Agreed though, if there's too much dead air it's time to rethink your setlist flow, equipment problems and other distractions.
 
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