The Ideal Live Set
We have all seen a show that we have loved and one that we haven’t.
There are a few ways to engage an audience and to use your stage time to your advantage. I would like to share a couple tips with you on the “ideal live set” in my opinion. Wether you are a band, solo project, country or pop… Here are some things you will need to think of:
A start, a middle and an end. Pick a great representation of your music, something that you think is one of your best songs to start your set. This will determine wether or not you have people’s attention from the beginning, which is key. Your middle should possibly include a cover tune, just one is all you need. People love to recognize a song and be able to sing along, especially if they are unfamiliar with your originals. The end should be your current single or any song that people may know from your website, or radio. Finish off strong leaving the crowd wanting more. An encore is un-nessesary and should only be done if you are headlining a large show and the crowd is very persistent in wanting more. In which case, you should have 1 – 2 more songs, perhaps a new track and another single to give them.
Playing time: People and fans can be impatient… I would like the ideal set to run 5 originals and 1 cover, and dont play more than 35 mins. That should be all you need; any more you may start “losing” attention and hear chatting, which you want to avoid at all costs. So keep your set short and sweet.
Talking time: should be kept to a minimum, don’t feel obligated to talk in between songs. You can transition right to the next after the applause if you like. You should only have to mention a few things “thank you to the venue/promoter for putting on the event, here is our next song” and “Thanks so much for coming out to listen tonight, you can find us on facebook and twitter at __ here is the next song” and “Thanks again everyone, we will be at the merch booth after the show selling our current EP and would love to see you all there, goodnight and here is one last one for you” Live banter is unnecessary and can come off as unprofessional or cheesey if it isn’t done right. So stick to the necessary statements and do what you came to do… play live music!
Transition time: If you play multiple instruments, rehearse changing your instruments in your jam space. If may feel like 10 seconds to you. But 10 seconds for a fan to be staring up at nothing can feel like a long time. If you have any guest singers/musicians/performers have them wait side stage during the song before you call them up on stage. This will save time from them climbing through a crowd and getting on stage. A smooth transition looks so much more professional.
Practice, practice, practice. Never play a show unrehearsed or from a last minute request. If you show up unprepared it will show! Make sure you run through your set several times, then record the set, listen to it with your band and break down things you need to work on… then practice again. When you are at the venue on the day of your show – Warm up, sound check then warm up again!! Singers, drummers, guitarist, bassist…. everyone. This will also better prepare you mentally for whats to come.
Finally; find a balance between not enough shows and too many shows. In Vancouver BC there is a large live music scene. Some bands only play once or twice a year. Not quite enough to showcase your talent, network and practice performing live. On the other hand you have eager, rehearsed talented bands who are jumping at every opportunity to get on stage and perform every couple of weeks. That can also be seen as a negative, eventually you wont have a “draw” as your fans will be overloaded with shows and will not want to support or attend if you aren’t playing anything new. If you are playing one area, multiple times. I recommend on playing a show every 2-3 months or so. Spend the time in between rehearsing and really promoting your upcoming event to ensure the maximum possible draw.