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Rigid Set List


MDMachiavelli

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Who favors "set in stone" set list? In other words who makes set list days prior to a gig and does not believe in deviating from that list for no reason whatsoever?

 

What would be the benefit of doing it like that? I have a hard time tracking why someone would do that.

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Are you talking about a live set list? :confused2: If so, you might want to have me move this to a more appropriate forum such as the Backstage with the Band forum, but we can start it here...

 

I can see why people might want or even need to keep to a tightly scripted set list. If you have lighting and sound guys who are expecting certain things at certain times, or the pyrotechnics folks, it can be helpful for them. Not to mention shows that are using MIDI sequencing for lights and so forth... OTOH, I can understand why bands and audiences like to mix the set list up too, so that each show has some spontaneity and freedom to it and you're not doing the same thing in the exact same way every night.

 

In the studio? Planning makes all kinds of sense. In most cases you should have a "set list" or list of what you're planning on trying to record / accomplish that day. Going in and writing in the studio and trying to wing it only makes sense if you own the studio... or you're U2 and have unlimited budgets.

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We used to have a keyboard player who could read a crowd, see what everybody in the band was (or wasn't) doing and would be doing at the end of the current song and call out the next song the fit all of the above criteria so that there was no lull in the energy. That guy was amazing and nailed it 95% of the time. When he decided he didn't want to play anymore, we lost that metronome that kept the band direction focused on stage and ended up with lots of awkward pauses waiting for someone to decide what song was next. It took me several years to convince them that since we rarely play to the same crowd twice and getting rehearsals to happen was like hearding cats, that if we put together a show with a pretty set in stone set list, it would be much easier on everybody involved and we would only have to do it once a year. It's proved to be a good way to go for us as everybody now knows exactly what we'll be playing and what will need to be worked on. We typically have alternates listed, just in case, and given the right circumstance have no problems deviating from the list to suit the crowd. But most of the time the set list is well thought out enough that we don't need to. It also means that the lyric monitors don't have to be constantly re-arranged.

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We used to have a keyboard player who could read a crowd' date=' see what everybody in the band was (or wasn't) doing and would be doing at the end of the current song and call out the next song the fit all of the above criteria so that there was no lull in the energy. That guy was amazing and nailed it 95% of the time. When he decided he didn't want to play anymore, we lost that metronome that kept the band direction focused on stage and ended up with lots of awkward pauses waiting for someone to decide what song was next. It took me several years to convince them that since we rarely play to the same crowd twice and getting rehearsals to happen was like hearding cats, that if we put together a show with a pretty set in stone set list, it would be much easier on everybody involved and we would only have to do it once a year. It's proved to be a good way to go for us as everybody now knows exactly what we'll be playing and what will need to be worked on. We typically have alternates listed, just in case, and given the right circumstance have no problems deviating from the list to suit the crowd. But most of the time the set list is well thought out enough that we don't need to. It also means that the lyric monitors don't have to be constantly re-arranged.[/quote']

 

 

The band I'm in used to be exactly like this. Sadly, our keyboard player passed away from Cancer a few years ago and we also recently lost one of our female vocalists to brain Cancer - so now it's just the bandleader, one single female vocalist, lead guitarist (me) & the bass player.

 

I really miss having a keyboard player in the band because he also programmed the drum tracks for the songs and it was really, really fun to watch him play!! However, that "dynamic" in the music is gone and with just me and one other guy playing guitar, the music's really not as fun anymore. :( (I know that wasn't the subject of the thread....apologies to my fellow members).

 

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I spend quite a bit of time building set lists for my main band. It is designed to work the pacing, varying feel and style, as well as balancing our 3 lead vocalists. After 15 years, I have a 'formula' of sorts, but every gig gets a new set list. However, it is not 'written in stone', and there is a list of alternates, and we are always open to dropping a song or slipping one in depending on how the audience reaction is.

 

I worked as a 'replacement' for a top tier wedding big band in LA in the 90s, and the set lists were NEVER deviated from, [everything was charted and in a binder] but requests [when properly reque$ted and approved by the leader] were tacked on to the end of the set or the front of the next set. This was where I learned about properly pacing a set, and the arranger for that band was a master at it.

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Recording acts.... use set lists for the reasons posted above and because the crowd is already worked up, the band doesn't have to worry about calling the wrong tune.

 

When I was in Top 40 bands decades ago, we used set lists and they would just evolve as we rotated tunes in and out. These days I don't use set lists when I'm the band leader because I'm good at reading a crowd. I count all the tunes in, and many of the tunes I can start on guitar. I go for a two to three song medley and then talk in between the impromptu medleys. I usually try and beat mix to keep the dance floor going.

 

I also work in a Soul band, where the leader prints out set lists, but usually deviates quite a bit. We use them as starting points. If he is going to change a song, he will tell whoever starts or counts the tune, and we'll just fly right into it.

 

I have found that over the years, at least on casuals, you never know what the crowd will like, and sometimes more to the point, when they will like it. You might think that Old time R&R is a good song to end the third set, but it might be perfect for the second song of the first set. The crowd will let you know - if you're listening.

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I write up a set list and send it out a couple of days before the gig. It's 95% set in stone. Sometimes time restraints require me to call out songs to either shorten or lengthen sets. Sometimes I get a feeling that a particular song just isn't going to work for a particular crowd and pass over it.

 

But a 'set in stone' list reduces dead air between songs, arguments between band members over what to play next and just makes everything flow better.

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We have a fixed setlist for each gig but the setlist changes for every gig. Since everyone in the band knows what the next song will be it greatly reduces the time between songs. We also schedule our talking to the audience. Typically we play 2 - 3 songs and then briefly chat with the audience. We strategically schedule these for when I have to change settings on my pedal, etc. to buy me a little time. That way the audience is "distracted" while I'm making the change.

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My band has a rigid set list. We do the same sets every gig. I really like it because there is never any question about what comes next. I don't have to learn 150 songs. Our shows flow really well. Never done it this way before and I like it.

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2 of my 3 bands use a pretty rigid set list. The Pink Floyd band- absolutely rigid because lights and video are coordinated. We don't play the same song list every show though, just no audibles. The dance/party band things are pretty well set because we try to have zero down time between songs and I have to know what patches to call up for the next song. Once in a while we'll throw audibles in (I make the lists for that band) if we're running long or short on time or if people make a request. The 3rd band is a deadhead/hippy thing, and we use a set list as a suggestion. Otherwise we have like 200 tunes to choose from, so cutting the list down to 30 songs where we might end up playing 20 in a show makes it a little easier.

 

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Interesting comments and thoughts. I guess I only play in leader based bands, because there would never be an argument about which song to do next, the leader calls the tune, and you better start it within seconds - often before the last tune has ended. I suppose another reason that my bands don't use set lists is that we play so often at the same places and have many of the same people at our gigs. For instance, we've got a twice a month Saturday afternoon gig, with many regulars. There is also a band that plays there, pretty much each and every Sunday - for the last ten years or so. Both our band and theirs wouldn't dare use set in stone lists, as we would bore folks to tears.

 

I've often thought it would be nice to have more rooms in the rotation, but with my band and my solo gigs, there are fewer rooms but higher rotation. However yes indeed, it means learning and recalling a lot of songs. That's okay - it's good for the mind, like music Sudoku!

 

Seems like different situations call for different approaches. Always nice to hear other's thoughts.

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I think this somewhat depends on the band and the musicians in the band. I've had classic rock bands in the past where everyone was just always on the same page and we could easily read a crowd and adjust our set list on the fly. There was a time where we didn't even have a set list; just a master song list our drummer would have and he would call out the next 2 or 3 songs depending on the crowd.

 

Then there was the dance/pop band I played in and it was very pre-programmed. We had segues and medleys we would play and it was necessary to stick to the script.

 

Now, I have one of each of those situations going. I'm back playing classic rock with a great band. These guys are really good and on the ball. We can adjust on the fly with no problem. People in the crowd can call out songs and we'll look at each other and say "why not".

 

I also have started up a Modern Country band. Right now, we're sticking to the script. We finalized the line-up back in June and just had our first 2 gigs a week ago. The songs are pretty new to everybody, so we have been rehearsing our 3 sets in order so we can hopefully keep everyone on track until they become more familiar to us.

 

 

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I plan the set lists for my rock band a few days before the show. The song selection is tuned to the show; we don't really want to open a wedding reception to "She Ain't Pretty" or "La Grange", after all.

 

At the end of the final set is a list of "Reserve" songs that will be called if we are short on time. The lead singer loads lyrics in his iPad, and he has final say on skipping tunes as the night goes on, responding to requests, or calling audibles.

 

The set list is planned so that each set is the right length, has the right pacing, gives the other guys a chance to sing a tune or two per set, and minimizes dead air. Dead air is a killer, so we don't want to play songs in an order where I have to pause to change patches on the keyboard rig, or the lead singer has to swap guitars.

 

And of course the "Uuuuhhh" factor. Ask me what songs I know, and that's the answer you're likely to get. Uuuuuuhhhh...

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If you don't have (a) a band member that can call out the next song well to read the crowd, and (b) a consistent methodology among the band members to pick up that signal immediately, and © a group of musicians who can adapt to that change on the fly without delay, you end up with set-killing dead space. In my last band, I would sometimes call out an audible, but only now and then, not as a general rule. I often had a drummer that would treat the end of a song as his break time and I'd have to almost smack him on the head to keep the beat going. The solution was a fixed set list, and at rehearsals we'd practice transitions from one song to the next to keep the flow going.

 

Unfortunately, I think most bands probably need this.

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I plan the set lists for my rock band a few days before the show. The song selection is tuned to the show; we don't really want to open a wedding reception to "She Ain't Pretty" or "La Grange", after all.

 

At the end of the final set is a list of "Reserve" songs that will be called if we are short on time. The lead singer loads lyrics in his iPad, and he has final say on skipping tunes as the night goes on, responding to requests, or calling audibles.

 

The set list is planned so that each set is the right length, has the right pacing, gives the other guys a chance to sing a tune or two per set, and minimizes dead air. Dead air is a killer, so we don't want to play songs in an order where I have to pause to change patches on the keyboard rig, or the lead singer has to swap guitars.

 

And of course the "Uuuuhhh" factor. Ask me what songs I know, and that's the answer you're likely to get. Uuuuuuhhhh...

 

We did this too. And the other factor is that we had two lead singers, so we tried to pace the set to have an even flow back and forth between to two, and to give one a break after a song that maybe was a stretch to do. Things like that.

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I do the set lists. The singer deviates and is pretty good about it especially when there is a lull in energy so we can switch it up. Some of my guys are not good on the fly and can get thrown. It's gotten better the longer we have been together but our drummer really likes the set list up from and emailed a few days before the show and I am trying to get him out of the habit. I can play anything as long as I have a few seconds to get my sounds in order.

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