Amount of Time Between Songs Live

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by Rawkmann, Jun 12, 2016.

  1. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    Just wanted some opinions and feedback because it seems like every band has a different viewpoint on this subject. Personally I like about 30 seconds to 1 minute between songs when playing live, although I used to be the type that wanted to rush through the set as quickly as possible. Reason being is that when watching a band I really LIKE knowing when one song starts and ends and I appreciate the small break to talk with my mates or grab a drink from the bar without having to shout at everybody. I also think when there is 'dead air' the band thinks they are dying on stage but IMO in actuality the crowd is totally ok with it. Now of course there is a limit, anything over a couple of minutes would be getting pretty awkward. This has probably just come from years of gigging and getting older because I'm way more laid back than I used to be at shows, but a lot of the other guys I play with still feel scared when there's no music being played. Anyway what is You guys' stance on the subject?
     
  2. UnattendedGolfcart

    UnattendedGolfcart SSO's Fat Mac

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    I think if you're at the point where you're making inside/awkward jokes to the other band members on stage, you've taken up too much time and should start playing the next song. ;)

    Dead air isn't bad if the band doesn't act like there's dead air. I'm fine with a minute or so of no music if band members are switching tunings or positions or something, but if they act awkward it's weird. The audience only becomes judgmental when the band thinks they're judgmental, if that makes sense.

    Also, take the time to introduce the songs, even if it's just "hey thanks, this next one is called ______" and give a quip about it. It doesn't have to be long, but introducing a song just adds so much energy to both the crowd and the band, even if the mood is chill. If you don't introduce any of the songs, that feels majorly awkward. I did a cover band in the spring and at one of our shows my girlfriend (the singer) didn't introduce ANY of the songs, I had to tell her halfway through the set to introduce the songs because people would be a little more into it haha. If it's a cover, the audience gets psyched, and if it's an original, the audience gets to identify the name so they can look your band up online to check out that song with the cool name again.
     
  3. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    Exactly right, sometimes the other guys in the band are rushing me to start the next song as soon as the crowd dies down from the previous one and it just makes us look awkward. I'm like, 'Guys just calm down it'll be fine'. I always put myself in the audiences place and I know that 15 songs in a row with barely a break in between fatigues the hell out of me, probably even more so than being on stage. Also, another thing I really don't care for is running songs together with absolutely no pause in between. Big national bands can probably get away with this because the crowd will be really familiar with their material, but a local band is just going to leave the audience wondering when one song ended and the other began, or if You just played one 9 and a half minute long epic.
     
  4. broj15

    broj15 SS.org Regular

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    Our sets about 15 minutes long (5ish songs :lol:) and we try and blow through it as fast as we can (justified by some artistic bullshit about creating a freight train of oppressive atmosphere). We usually take 2 breaks for tuning in witch case we fill the silence with some ambient noise we have a loop of and a simple "thanks for coming out. Hope everyone's having a good time, etc."
     
  5. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    This is my pet peeve. I can't stand dead air between songs. There are many factors at play, though:

    1. Do you interact with your audience? If you need time to tune or drink water or move cymbals around between songs, that's perfectly fine, but this is the golden opportunity to talk to your audience. It can be about your upcoming album, or your next show, or about how great everyone is for coming out to support bands, whatever, but acting completely disinterested in the audience when there is no music playing is a sign of an unprofessional band, IMO.

    2. Even at that, if you take longer than it takes to play a song between songs, something is wrong. If you have to change tunings or play with effects pedals or whatever, you should at least make some effort to streamline it. I've seen a lot of young bands bring one guitar to a gig, break a string during the first song, then everyone stands around awkwardly whilst the guitarist changes strings, then play another song and have to retune the entire guitar down a full step. Then, for the next song, the guitar player has to tune back up to standard. That's when I start to really think that whoever booked the band made a mistake. --- If you need to go drop d, that's fine, it takes a second. If you need to retune to D standard, get another guitar for it, and if it's not worth it to you, maybe rethink why you need a song in D standard on your setlist.

    3. Don't insult your audience between songs. This pisses me off. If you are Mastodon or Slayer, you could get away with it, but then again, you probably understood not to do that up to the point when you got big. Some band playing their third ever gig calling the audience a bunch of p***ies for not moshing hard enough just makes me think you are a bunch of d*****bags who can't play music that's energetic enough for the crowd to mosh hard to.
     
  6. Riffer

    Riffer PRS SE Inspector

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    I'm in a cover band and we play 3 sets a night. Each set is between 50-60 minutes. We rarely stop completely between songs. We have to keep people dancing so we usually go right into the next song without a stop. Like basically the last beat of a song will be the first beat of the next. Or if we do stop its only for maybe 10 seconds but our singer will talk and promote the band or tell everyone to tip the bartenders and get drunk. Also our drummer will keep the bass drum going with a constant down beat between songs if someone needs to tune or we need to address someones birthday or something.
     
  7. robare99

    robare99 SS.org Regular

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    You have about 7 seconds between songs before you start to lose the audience.
     
  8. VBCheeseGrater

    VBCheeseGrater not quite a shredder

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    Except for planned breaks where the singer or someone else can cover the space, it should be pretty much instantaneous - at most as soon as the crown applause dies down.

    We always had maybe 2 planned tuning breaks per set, for a minute tops if no one goofed. The singer is aware of these breaks and can plan a dialog to fill the time.

    If you're tuning, something else on stage should be happening - never just sit there tuning while everyone else waits! And for godsakes cut your signal when tuning.
     
  9. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I tend to think of it much the same way as how you'd space out songs on a CD or something like that- you want enough time for each piece to breath or be recognized as a distinct piece, but not so much time that you lose your momentum or break the atmosphere you've been trying to build. How much time that means is going to depend on the band, the style of music, how the songs connect to eachother, etc etc. IMO, a full minute between every song is way too much unless you're filling that time with something valuable.

    It's already been mentioned, but this also cuts into your time slot. If you put more than a minute between each song, that's potentially a whole song you no longer have time to play.
     
  10. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Something should be said about the venue and crowd's level of expectation, as well.

    If it's open mic night at the Dirty Water Saloon, you can get away with more slack than if it's as opening act for Tool at Mega Jumbo Stadium. I guess where it irked me most was at a big metal festival, where a lot of bands early on were local, and quite a few of them absolutely did not have their s*** together. The band after us didn't even show up until after we were packed up, then they asked the band after them to switch time slots. When that band said no, they asked us to play for another half hour in their place, but we were already packed up, so it made no sense, plus, by then, they only had 20 minutes left. Not to rag on them, but that was pretty much the way the entire first half of the festival went, nobody came completely prepared. There was one band that played three, maybe four, songs, and went through just as many strings, of course no backup guitar. IIRC, they were missing a drum throne or stand or something, too. I don't mind lending out certain things, especially if I've already finished playing, and somebody needs a pegwinder or a spare string, or a pick, but when people I don't know from Adam are asking me to play my guitar or use my amp, I don't know what kind of answer they're expecting...

    Anyway, enough ranting about that...

    I'd honestly say, that during a festival show like that, the level of people's irritation with your band is directly proportional to the amount of time it takes you between songs, and is easily compounded by starting late, needing to borrow stuff, etc. Most people in the audience are pretty chill about stuff like that, but some are not. You want to leave the best impression possible, because if you don't, another band will and that band, regardless of how they sound compared to your band, will swallow up any of the opportunities you might have had open up from the show.

    If you want a target amount of time between songs, I'd say you should shoot for zero. At rehearsal, you should be able to run through your setlist without stopping. If you need drinks of water or tuning breaks or drumset adjustment breaks or figure-out-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-the-bass-amp breaks, make it imperative that you continue entertaining the crowd during that time. Seriously, people's attention spans are not very long - single digits of seconds.
     
  11. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    We always planned our sets to where songs with tunings that were the same were grouped together, ie;

    3 songs in A-440
    4 songs in D (Down one step)
    4 songs on 7 string

    That made for only two guitar changes. Minimal dead air between songs, over the course of a 45 minute set, that may save you a few minutes, which may allow you to fit another song in there.

    Make the show the "SHOW", save the banter for the after party, sans a short introduction of band members or song title.
     
  12. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    There are definitely tons of factors, I'm just thinking of most gigs that we attend being the typical bar/club setting. Opening for a national act then we probably would take just long enough to intro each song. Also, if You have a charismatic frontman (and if they are Your frontman they should be) give him a chance to talk up the crowd. That stuff probably annoys musicians but most people get off on it. Spacing out the songs a bit is probably the only thing I'm a little relaxed on, because at our gigs we ALWAYS get there early, start on time, set up/break down quickly, and NEVER EVER curse out the audience. For some reason more than half the local bands You go see around here seem to think You are obligated to call Your audience MotherF****** the entire night. Also, looking at it from a listener's viewpoint, do You like when a band just plays straight through with hardly a break in between? I hate it when I turn to my buddy, and rush to tell him something only to be cut short when the band immediately launches into their next song. Of course I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the only guy who thinks like this, I'm usually the odd man out lol
     
  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    If you're at a show, like the ones I like to go to, to catch up with old friends, then you are at the wrong place. Usually, though, we see 3-20 bands play back to back, and there's not much time (typically 20-40 minutes on average) for bands to play, and plenty of time to chit chat between bands. But I do hate it when the house music between bands is as loud or louder than the bands themselves.

    I guess to address your point further, if you stop long enough that people think it's time to strike up conversations with other people in the audience, you already took too long.
     
  14. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    Guess I'm in the minority then, I'll shorten the gaps between songs from now on.
     
  15. zenshin

    zenshin SS.org Regular

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    It all comes down to knowing your venue, audience, etc. However I'm personally in Bostjan's camp. I do like setting up special interludes to help transition between songs that carry a drastically different energy to them. They can be musical or they can be something random yet entertaining that the crowd doesn't expect.

    My view is, always be throwing something at the audience that makes you memorable. When people leave the venue, you want them to be talking about you and your show so always throw something out there that is unique and memorable. A great example was when I saw Nothing More and they did this insane bass session where 2 or even 3 band members would be jamming on one bass at the same time. It was incredible... and memorable. People remember things like that so it's worthwhile to come up with something that is unique to your art.
     
  16. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    I've only played in one band where we had a vocalist who was also a good frontman and actually came prepared. Ironically, that was the band that played the least and smallest shows :lol: all the others would stand with their back to the crowd, ramble about things not related to the band/show, and try to make a joke about "oh .... what song is next" or "I need my phone to read the lyrics on this next one" :noplease:

    I always shoot to have 5 to 10 seconds in between songs if we're just playing song after song with no crowd working or interludes. Just enough time to identify the space as a new song starting, but not so long that you lose everyone's attention. Interludes on an iPod or other backing track can be cool if you need to buy more time for adjusting a drum throne, change tunings, or grab a swig of water, but I'd still try to keep it around 60-90 seconds tops. I think a good frontman effectively talking to the crowd thanking them for coming out, mentioning an album release or another show, or giving a little tidbit of info about the next song (inspiration, dedications, etc.) is good for keeping an audience's attention, but too much can really kill the vibe in a room. People want to hear your music!
     
  17. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    I like as short as possible but it also depends on your singer or who is interacting with the audience .if they are a good talker and entertaining it can be a little longer. ours starts telling bad jokes so we keep it short
     
  18. shredfreak

    shredfreak SS.org Regular

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    As short as humanly possible.

    That's mainly because i'm not much of an entertainer for such things. Also if you want to display some energy for a heavier genre it just doesn't look good. We got 2 pair of songs where the outro & intro is nitted together wich helps.

    Just a spot to notify the crowd with merch & cd's is more then enough for my tastes. You definatly want to avoid that you need to fill the space between songs or it'll start looking like a bunch of newbies who don't have enough material to fill a set.
     
  19. MattThePenguin

    MattThePenguin SS.org Regular

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    I'd say give yourself like 5 or 6 minutes in between songs at LEAST for bathroom/smoke breaks.
     
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  20. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin SS.org Regular

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    I think pausing for audience interaction is key to forming a connection, so you don't just seem like you're going through the motions and rushing through your set. True, if you're at a club and you've only got so much time, you don't want to be cut off, but its still good to make time for the audience.

    Still, if you're going to talk for a lengthy period, make sure you're good at it. I think Bruce Dickinson is a fine example- he'll prattle on for a bit, but it never really seems like a "prattle," because he's got good wit and charisma. If you're not, maybe plan what you're going to say so you're not standing there going "uhhhhh..." between every clause.

    And you probably don't want to do it between EVERY song either. The way my band gets around this is we'll either have songs transition right into each other, or the keyboardist will play a little interlude piece. And we either won't say anything or maybe I'll just briefly state "This song is called..."
     

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