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  • Breaks

    This weekend I pllayed a gig at a fairly remote whitewater rafting camp. First set went OK, not much dancing but solid applause, people paying attention. Took our first break after 75min or so, came back and started building a nice dance set, people were into it and after another 80 min or so we played "Bang on the Drum All Day" and everybody was totally into it, dancing and singing along. At this point I called a break, wanting to end the set on the highest note possible, knowing I had a ton of funk and dance music left for the final hour and thinking people would stick around and dance. While we are on break the staff lights a huge bonfire in the outdoor area and a vollyball game starts up, gobbling up at least %50 of the crowd. As a result our last set isa flop even though I know if we would have kept going with those same songs the joint would have kept jumping.

    I'm wondering how you guys handle breaks in your bands. Do you always take them at a scheduled point in your setlist? If you have the crowd do you ever skip them? For the sidemen out there, would you be upset if your bandleader just decided to plow ahead through a break?

  • #2

    Breaks are all about balancing the biological needs of the musicians with the needs of the event.  Done right, everybody's needs get met.   I'm good for a maximum of about 90 minutes of music - at which point a break becomes a necessity. 

    It's the length of breaks is where I can be very flexible.   To be honest - I rarely (if ever) need the full amount of our breaks.  I'd much prefer to short my breaks to the minimum needed to hit the head, grab something to drink, etc. - and quickly return to playing in order to keep the party going.   I'm all for cutting breaks short to avoid giving a crowd a reason to leave.

    The SpaceNorman

    Keyboards and Tone Generators: Yamaha CP300, Kronos 88, Roland AX Synth, Motif ES Rack
    Keyboard Rack: Samson SM10 Line Mixer, Motu MIDIExpressXT MIDI Interface, Shure PSM200 IEM system, M-Audio Wireless MIDI, Live Wires IEM ear buds, iPad wOnSong.
    Stage Amplification: Stereo via 2 Yamaha DSR112s


    • Potts
      Potts commented
      Editing a comment

      I love when this discussion comes up- there's always a lot of good observations which makes for good reading.   

  • #3

    Depends on the venue and the gig, but if the crowd's into it and there's no reason to take a break, then we don't. We often go 3 hrs straight. If someone needs to take a leak, we have songs where each of us can lay out. But in our experience, unless it's a private gig, usually a break is an invitation to leave, and the place empties out.




    • roamingbard13
      roamingbard13 commented
      Editing a comment

      Most of our gigs are in nice restaurants and pubs that seat people for dinner on the late side -- so we are playing from 9:45-1 or 10-1:15 or so most of the time. We keep our first set around an hour, take a 15 minute break where we bump some upbeat music through our system, and then play until last call. By taking our first break on the early side, we've found that we are able to hold the crowd, and then we take as many as we can to the end.