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Why we never mail in a performance


EscapeRocks
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Just read an interesting article about Jim Kerr/Simple Minds.

 

In once section he talked about how they feel about playing one of their smash 80's hits all the time at every show, to this day...

 

Here's what he said

 

Heres the thing there are songs, and thats one of them, we never play for ourselves when were in rehearsal, said Kerr. Because we played them so much that the effect on them has worn off on us. But it never feels like that when you play them in front of an audience. Never feels like that. For some reason, you hear it through the audiences ears.

 

"You experience it through them. And you know it means so much to them. And they may only hear it once live. So you would never want to give less than 100 percent. You would never want to give some blasé rendition. You want to give it your best every time you play it.

 

 

Since my main gig is the tribute band, I get asked the question a lot. "Don't you get tired of playing......whatever.....all the time?"

 

My answer would be very similar to what Jim said above.

 

Just doing math and adding up our gigs for the last 12 years, I've probably played Don't Stop and Faithfully, etc at least couple thousand times for audiences.

 

Here is why I never get tired of it: You have an audience anywhere from a 150 to 9,500 people watching *you*

 

You're working thru your set list practically building the tension.

 

Then I hit the first couple notes on the Intro to Don't Stop Believing, and it never fails to get the crowd screaming and/or rushing to the front of the stage to dance and sing along.

 

All that energy from the audience flows thru me, and it's an unforgettable experience.

 

This is why we never mail it in, regardless of crowd size.

 

We play rooms where 100 people show up due to weather. We still give them our full 100%

 

As long as the people want to come see us, we will keep doing it, and make sure they get our best.

 

 

 

 

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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I know Nirvana used to purposely not play SLTS because people would come see them just for that. Kurt Cobain even used to play the intro then stop, just to wind people up. He was a troll before trolls existed.

 

At the gig I was at on Sunday night, Toto never even said the word "Africa" - they just called it "That Song". You could tell they'd played it a billion times, but as you say, the audience went crazy. Doesn't help that THEY called on everyone to stand up when they were about to start one of their singles.

We did get the last gig of their European tour though, and there were a couple of moments when Steve Lukather seemed like he just didn't want to be there. Whether it was a certain song, or during an inside joke he'd obviously repeated 1,000 times that tour. I was near the front so was able to catch his eye rolling and "shoot me" signs aimed towards those at the side of the stage, which kinda detracted from the experience for me but at the same time I totally get it. End of the tour, want to see your family. I'm like that after a weekend of 3-4 gigs, so won't judge anyone who's like that after months of touring/playing the same songs.

 

One thing I was told when I first started gigging was "there will come a time when you'll get sick of certain songs and just see them as jokes. It may be the millionth time playing it for you but it's probably the first time the audience are hearing you play it. You aren't playing for you; you're playing for the crowd; the crowd who happen to have paid to come see you."

 

I've also played with singers (and drummers/guitarists) who have said "Oh FFS not that song, no, not playing that tonight" when a song was called up. They didn't last long.

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My band just celebrated 15 years engulfed in Southern Rock/Skynyrd-centric music. There are some songs (Gimme Three Steps being one of them) that have worn out my ears. I'm almost to the point that I can't stand playing the song yet we still need to deliver a high quality rendition each and every time. In your case it is Journey and just Journey; at least in our case even though the Southern rock is Skynyrd-centric and it allows us play other artists in the vein. We just give the songs a break and not play them for several gigs so at least when it comes back into the show it has been a while and sort of recharges us. I think we probably have more leeway than you because we have a larger pool of songs to pull from.

 

Another thing that I have done is to go back and listen to some old concerts from the 70's and I see that Billy Powell used on many occasions a Wurli, so this past weekend I did alot of the songs using vintage instruments from the Gemini module, i.e. alot of Wurli rather than piano that he used later on. This alone recharged me.

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I treat every performance that way. I'm certainly not playing Uptown Funk or Cake By the Ocean for my own enjoyment, it's for the people who pack the dance floor. My enjoyment is watching their enjoyment.

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I treat every performance that way. I'm certainly not playing Uptown Funk or Cake By the Ocean for my own enjoyment, it's for the people who pack the dance floor. My enjoyment is watching their enjoyment.

 

This

David

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Yes, it's true... the songs that require the least amount of rehearsal (and that you woudn't want to constantly rehearse for fear of mental overexposure) are the ones that get the audience the most excited.

 

It's good, because I get to "relax" a bit by not having to cover complex parts (just some simple comping), and then look out at the audience dancing and having fun.

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I'd call that being a pro, even if you didn't hear the song through the audience's ears. Bands are hired to do more than just play tunes in most cases (though of course we've all done gigs where absolutely nobody is paying attention!). I'm just in a weekend warrior band but we do our best to act like pros when playing, singing and putting energy into a show. It's really difficult to do that when the audience doesn't give you much back, but that's the gig...

 

Not to mention, you never know who is paying attention. We've had a club owner give us a bunch more gigs even though it was a really dead night...because we still give it energy and played our best and he thought it was great. We didn't know he was even there, he was lurking around the back by the kitchen.

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Because snail mail takes too long and no one uses it anymore? :idk:

 

:rimshot:

 

Yer cruisin' fer a bruisin' there, Muscara. :cop:

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What everyone said about the audience. In both tribute bands I'm in, we play the songs just like the record, because that's what the crowd expects to hear.

 

It is sad when I see videos of great bands that are now on the "B" circuit, and the lead singer is just "talking" the words.

 

I always try because the wife of the guitar player is always video taping, and I often video tape as well, so I don't want to make any mistakes. They happen, but I'm always trying to play perfect.

 

Put a video camera on a tripod, plug a Rode mic into it (red input), and let it record, even if people walk in front of it.

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There is a link to this topic and playing along with backing tracks.

 

I've given this a great deal of thought and I've decided that I don't / can't hate the use of tracks in all instances. It depends on the genre. It depends on the tune. Some lend themselves well to tracks. And if, for example, a band has a floor show where their four or five vocalists come out front to sing and dance while the tracks play, I tend to give them a pass.

 

However, if a band is going through the motions and everything except the lead vocals are tracked - and the band is clearly faking it but doesn't care if the audience knows this or not - well, I'm not a fan.

 

Imagine if you will a band that uses tracks for all instruments - and more - and on top of that, they're mailing in their performance. They're bored & tired of playing the same tunes over and over again because it's always the same. Always the same. Always the same.

 

They're tired of it... and after a few gigs of playing to those same tracks, their audience becomes bored, leaves, and doesn't come back to hear them again knowing that it's nothing special. And now the audience feels that, in the eyes of the band, THEY are nothing special.

 

Same ol' thing...

 

Nothing to see here...

 

Move along. :rolleyes:

 

And one more thing - the energy. If you are onstage with your band and playing without a net (no tracks), anything can happen. And guess what - it could turn out that this synergy makes the performance a once-in-a-lifetime had-to-be-there show!

 

As one forumite in good standing pointed out in the tracks thread, when the drummer has a click track in his ear, he's playing to a machine and - depending on the drummer - the performance may have no give & take of playing ahead of the beat and/or playing behind the beat. The tempo is set by the machine, and depending on the particular song, the great vibe that otherwise might be there has gone missing - nowhere to be found.

 

Understand that there are always exceptions, as pointed out above. But the acid test, as you all have heard me say over and over again is this: after hearing a band (or song), do you want to hear it again? If the groove isn't there, and the energy conduit between the players and the audience is missing, then what's it worth to you? You might as well stay home.

 

Sorry if I seem to ramble... and my throat is really dry. I'm going to the kitchen for a brewski. Taking orders guys. Who's in? :cool:

 

Tommy

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Hey Tommy I concur with all of that.

 

We are live, even our 5 part vocal harmonies. Yeah we are up there without a net, but it makes it fun and organic.

 

Sure, things happen, but as pros, you play right thru them and don't go into histrionics.

 

I like to tell people that if you don't have a "Spinal Tap" moment once in a while, you're not trying hard enough:)

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Arturia Keylab 61MK2 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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Yeah, I agree -- never mail it in.

 

I was called recently to fill in with an Allman Brothers Tribute Band. But it was such short notice that there was no time to prepare. So, I declined the gig even though I enjoy the music, it's a good band, and it was at a nice venue with undoubtedly a good audience. My feeling was that it would be wrong and even disrespectful to not play the piano solo in Jessica exactly like the record. I knew this solo cold as a kid but would have had to spend some time to whip it back into shape. I think I did the right thing but the guy who called me wasn't pleased and probably won't call again.

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I don't know Al. I think you're a great enough player, know the style very well - that you could play something that would be great on its own.

 

Yeah I knew that Jessica solo has a kid too. But after playing it out in the band for 5 nights a week for a few years - I would play the opening bars, then do my own thing. And then come back with the Leavell lick that set up that triplet figure leading to the guitar solo.

 

Did the same thing with Southbound too.

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And you know it means so much to them. And they may only hear it once live. So you would never want to give less than 100 percent. You would never want to give some blasé rendition. You want to give it your best every time you play it.

 

I remember Wix Wickens saying the exact same thing in his last interview with Keyboard Magazine.

 

 

 

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While I've mostly gotten away from it now, there are some 80s songs that have been in the list regardless of the band, ever since the 80s. I went from a pop band, to a variety duo with a heavy 80s component, to an 80s tribute, to another 80s tribute, to a classic rock band that did some 80s, to filling in with pop/rock bands that still do some 80s....and usually the same few songs.....Jenny, Jessie's Girl, Don't Stop, etc. some of those I was playing every weekend 95 shows or so a year for quite a long time. The 2 "J" songs I bet I've played 2,000 times since the 80s. But as long as the crowd is having fun, it's all about the show. There are other songs that I don't like from the very beginning, but if the crowd likes it, then I'll put my all into it. The songs that used to burn me out - Margarittavile and Brown-eyed girl- have luckily gone by the wayside a very long time ago. I only played in one band that did mustang Sally and we only did it for a very short while and quickly replaced it.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I recall many years ago, I saw Siegfried & Roy doing their show in Las Vegas. Why I was there, I'm not sure. In any case, we had a table pretty close to the stage, so I got a pretty closeup view of the boys.

 

I'm pretty confident they were 'mailing it in'. Not to denigrate any performer, but man o man, they would do a trick, and then hit these stock poses with these stock zombie-like looks on their faces. I couldn't help but laugh, it looked so damn out-of-place funny. I get it - after how many tens of thousands of shows, doing the same thing night after night. Mailing it in, as much as you can with the big tigers laying around them.

 

I guess not too much later, those tigers tried to eat them...ugh.

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I treat every performance that way. I'm certainly not playing Uptown Funk or Cauke By the Ocean for my own enjoyment, it's for the people who pack the dance floor. My enjoyment is watching their enjoyment.

Well, Cake I could understand why but Uptown Funk, I could play it all the time... Ok, new band, I'm the BL, 3 female singers, pure Funk/Dance band only, post 2010 songs almost in a city where there is a lot of "classic rock" and same repertoire so, I might end like you but starting this new band after 3 years of only the same classic rock and bars/legions gigs when now it's events/corporate is a great way to get " refreshing"....

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