How can I get my singer to follow a set list?

BGDurham

Well-known member
In my limited experience many weekend warriors think they can wing most aspects of being in a band and are totally unaware of the benefits of getting more organized. I suggest discussing it at an upcoming practice. Focus on the benefits of creating and sticking to set lists and the idea that your song sequence can lead the crowd where you want it to go rather than the crowd leading you (the crowd does not know how to express that to you anyway. Including the loud drunk guy yelling for "Purple Rain" all night. Wait, that was me.) Hopefully at least some of your bandmates will support you. Above all be gentle with your request. And be prepared for it to fall on deaf ears.

"Purple Rain"!
 

BGDurham

Well-known member
You could also let the accepted "experts" tell them. I've been gently suggesting the "Cover Band Confidential" podcast to my bandmates because CBC does a nice job of going through the basics of being organized.
 

Quai34

Junior Member
The first band I was in the guitar player would announce what song he wanted to play next by playing the first riff, he would also tune his guitar by ear by having the bassist play the low E then tuning each string to the one above it, I was young and naive but looking back now that shit was dumb and unprofessional.

The most recent band I was in we had a setlist and stuck to it. We had set breaks in between specific songs, other songs ran into each other, the singer is going to banter with the crowd between these two songs, the two songs in this tuning are together, not all the fast songs are back to back, those two songs with the riffs that are REALLY similar aren't together lol! It made a world of difference in the consistency of the show and takes away the anxiety and sloppy starts when the bassist doesn't realize the song has changed.
Exactly, I was asked to do strings+brass+all the other usual keys in my previous rock band and between some songs, I really needed to make sure all the program changes were working well so, no way we could have a change but my guitarist, especially at the end of the show was systematically skipping some songs where I had worked a lot on my translation and was ready for a new one, the one on the setlist...then, they were starting, all together and no keys and I had to catch up...
On my funk dance band, I'm the band leader and I 1rst and second set always have claps or percussions that are done with the drumbox so, the drummer I following the click and mange the click... It's super smooth and when I need some more time than the usual 5/10 seconds, the singers are prepared to talk to the crowd.
Just ask her if she has already seen that on a show or on TV? For the singer goes to talk to the band on "voice of America" to decided what song they will play now?
 

Quai34

Junior Member
I'd second the "unprofessional" tag. With my band I played most of my gigs with, this approach would even have been impossible to do - guitarists had their sound banks in order and knew which guitar to grab, the keyboarder had to switch his banks on three keyboards, too, the brass section had to change their instruments, the DJ had to switch vinyl - the whole set was rehearsed over and over again over spring time so we managed to play a perfectly continuous show each summer festival season.
Exactly!!
 

Yamaha Rider

Well-known member
print them out a setlist in a set order and tell them to follow it. skip or move songs around depending on the crowd, but keep to the songs on it. and if they dont like it, then shape up or ship out. as bermuda said, its VERY unprofessional and shows you up :/

ive got a band on the go atm, two of them have never gigged before, and the singer has only ever done "gigs" as a karaoke host. its like herding feral cats sometimes! and this weekend we're trying out backing tracks and click tracks so gonna see if they can keep time and play along with them or not :/
😼😼😼😼😼
 
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Yamaha Rider

Well-known member
In my limited experience many weekend warriors think they can wing most aspects of being in a band and are totally unaware of the benefits of getting more organized. I suggest discussing it at an upcoming practice. Focus on the benefits of creating and sticking to set lists and the idea that your song sequence can lead the crowd where you want it to go rather than the crowd leading you (the crowd does not know how to express that to you anyway. Including the loud drunk guy yelling for "Purple Rain" all night. Wait, that was me.) Hopefully at least some of your bandmates will support you. Above all be gentle with your request. And be prepared for it to fall on deaf ears.

"Purple Rain"!
Asolutely. Do NOT follow the crowd big-mouths. They are not the music lovers, and will drag you down to their level.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I'll agree with everything everyone has said about this being really unprofessional

Sounds like a band that's not going to get very far. Dead air looks really bad from out front and it will hit you hard in the pocket.

A big part of the setlist is to look after everyone on stage. 2 hours of playing is hard work so you need that little dip in the middle of a set to catch your breath. It also makes the end of the set sound better.

Sounds like you have a megalomaniac on vocals who is just using an audience to feed their ego. There's karaoke's for participation trophy singing! New singer or new band time my friend, heading down a cul-de-sac here.
 
I too agree with everything everyone else has said. I'd suggest thinking seriously about bailing. But, maybe before that, talk to the other members of the band. And if they're all as frustrated as you, have a band meeting. If that works, great. If it doesn't, well, I'm guessing the majority of the songs start with instrumental intros before vocals come in—the rest of you could just follow the setlist and let the vocalist follow your lead.
 

LarryJ

Well-known member
I should add that I've played with one local artist for just over 40 years (someone else besides Al!) and he keeps a list of songs in front of him, but in no particular order. He calls 'em as he feels 'em, and he does read the crowd well. The difference is, he's talking to the crowd while scanning the list for the next song. So, no dead air.

Same situation with my blues trio. The guitar player/singer calls them in the order he feels them, but no down time because he knows what he wants to do next by the time we have finished a song. Works fine with a trio.

On the other hand, my big band always has set lists but still has down time because some horn player didn't pull his charts, drops them and gets them mixed up, or keeps them in his folder which just got shoved under his chair.
 

BGDurham

Well-known member
On the other hand, my big band always has set lists but still has down time because some horn player didn't pull his charts, drops them and gets them mixed up, or keeps them in his folder which just got shoved under his chair.
We have guy like this; he also misplaces his readers and/or it's too dark for him to read his charts. I love him to death but he drives me crazy with this kind of stuff.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
One band that I'm in complained that we don't follow a set list so for the next gig they wrote a set list. Then they proceeded not to follow their own set list. I found it comical.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
One band that I occasionally play with has a singer that calls out songs out of order from the song list. He does it in a very professional manner. No problem. But he only tells the guitar players what is next. Me being the drummer, way in the back of the band, can't hear what song he calls out. My hearing is bad and I wear an in-ear monitor in one ear. So sometimes the song starts before I know what song it is. It's like playing "name that tune".

Very frustrating!


.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Very early in this thread, the first post is where it started, everything I could have said got said. Just a thought but is there a mindset some people have that eschewing professionalism in their standards somehow makes them "better" than bands that "toe the line"? Interestinglythere's been posts suggesting your singer might be doing this as an ego trip and the one band member I've ever had the misfortune to play alongside who would demand mid gig setlist changes was IMO feeding his ego. Unrelated to song list changes he would even move on stage to get in line between me and anyone with a camera so that they could catch him throwing shapes. Very annoying. At one of our final gigs which we were playing to honour our obligations we were on a truly huge stage in a marquee as big as a circus tent. I saw a professional cameraman on the stage lip pointing straight at me at which point the guitarist dashed to a spot ensuring he'd be the subject of the photo. I remember sighing and thinking that yes, I had made the right decision to call him out on his ways that led to the band split, if things continue as they are in your band you might have a similar epiphany. Hopefully you can bring the band round to your way of thinking.
 

EricT43

Senior Member
Thanks for the great replies, everyone. Glad I'm not alone in this :) While the thought of leaving this band has crossed my mind, I do like to be gigging regularly, and I've come to think of my bandmates as friends as well, so I will do what I can to improve things. I really don't want to be a bandleader, but I'm starting to think that starting and running my own band might be the only way to do things the way I think they ought to be done.
 

moxman

Silver Member
As a rule of thimb, if you allow more than 4 seconds in between songs (well that's the goal anyway).. you lose your dance floor. Setlists are the most predictable way of achieving that.. eveyone knows before the end of each tune what to prepare for the next tune so they are ready to jump in. Another rule of thumb, to control the flow is 3-4 uptempo dance tunes followed by a slower tune for the 'waltz' crowd and to give your audience a break on their ears and feet.
THe other approach which is less common, is the 'hurry-up offense' where the band leader calls an audible and everyone jumps in.. this relies on reading the crowd and the flow. THe band needs to be on their toes and in sync.. otherwise you end up with dead air, sloppy beginnings, .. you know - a kind of half-*ssed stage pressence!
Just call a band meeting and tell the singer this is how it's going to be..
 

mrthirsty

Junior Member
I had a guitar player when I worked cruise ships who was extremely passive aggressive when it came to calling songs. Our singer would call the next tune and he would deliberately hold things up by slowly leafing through his song chord notes, didn't matter if the dance floor was packed. When we would have to play the "Island Night" party on the top deck our schedule would clearly state to play up tempo rock and pop, 3 songs into the first set he would be demanding to play some slow songs. It was obvious to the rest of the band and even the music director that he was doing this intentionally, I fired him after the first contract, no amount of discussion with him could change his behavior on stage.

Why do some players act like this? I imagine there is a whole host of reasons only they seem to understand.
 

TMe

Senior Member
In my limited experience many weekend warriors think they can wing most aspects of being in a band...
It's magic! No need for charts, sheet music, set lists, regular rehearsals... That geeky stuff would kill the magic. Don't be such a buzzkill. You think too much. (Sound familiar?)
 
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Otto

Platinum Member
two words...Shock Collar

If you pair it with a quiet splash cymbal you will eventually be able to remove the collar(but it is not suggested) - see B.F. Skinner for further reference.

While this is considered humane when used on singers, shock collars should NEVER be used on animals or misbehaving politicians.
 
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No Way Jose

Silver Member
two words...Shock Collar

If you pair it with a quiet splash cymbal you will eventually be able to remove the collar(but it is not suggested) - see B.F. Skinner for further reference.

While this is considered humane when used on singers, shock collars should NEVER be used on animals or misbehaving politicians.
I thought only metal bands used shock collars.
 
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