Is there is a stigma to using a backing track for a live performance?

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by RobertVII, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin SS.org Regular

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    My band shared the stage with a guy who had to plug a laptop running Ableton into the board and sing over his studio tracks because his backing band bailed on him. It was basically karaoke of his own music, but he still put a s..t-ton of energy into his set and managed to give us a good show.

    Most people aren't gonna care, as long as you have charisma, good material, and they know you're doing SOMETHING on stage. If anything, they may just come away from the experience saying "Well, hey, that was interesting!"

    As for bands who have backing tracks... Nobody complains about that but snobby musicians and armchair "keepers of the laws of Rock n' Roll"... best advice I ever got: you really shouldn't care what those people think.

    In fact, after a while, you may start to realise how fun it is to piss those people off.:lol:
     
  2. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    That's okay, we didn't really want you there anyways.....

    The only time I have any issue with backing tracks is when you can't tell what's live and whats not or worse, when the performer is obviously faking a component that's already on stage. Both of my bands have keys and samples on backing tracks (and bass in one band), but there's obviously not a keyboard player on stage, and none of us is pretending to be doing live sampling or playing keys...so whatever. The pretentious nerds that wanna talk crap about a band using orchestration they don't have the members for don't really matter anyways, because they surely hate everything, are probably only OK at any given instrument, and 90% of the time will never be bothered (or motivated) enough to actually get on stage and do anything anyways.
     
  3. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    @Morphesia - pretty cool although the lone BM dude on stage looks kinda funny, like High School talent contest.

    I saw Jennifer Batten live on a tour last year with Uli Roth and another shred guy, she played by herself and was super weird. Didn't sound very good. She was definitely the downside of the night.
     
  4. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I saw Jeff Beck play to a bunch of backing tracks, and it was weird, for me. I guess it can be used in vary amounts of taste, like anything else, but, I don't believe there is really a way to do a one man show with backing tracks that won't seem weird to at least 10% of the people in the audience.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  5. RobertVII

    RobertVII SS.org Regular

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    This input so far is really amazing and eye opening! The general feel I'm getting is that this is totally do-able, but it's gonna be a little odd to some people. I'll have to be really engaging with my audience to really solidify myself though. Any ideas? I know I can talk to the audience in between songs and dance around like a fool during each song, but is there something more I can do?
     
  6. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Hmm, what does your EP sound like?

    In general, I think if you take the show seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously, things could stay above water level. Certainly it'll be more challenging without another musician or two.

    Also, what is your aversion to hiring a couple of people?

    Also also, where are you playing and how much time do you have to prepare?

    Other than that, I think you have some darn good general advice here already.
     
  7. RobertVII

    RobertVII SS.org Regular

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    https://soundcloud.com/r0bert-1/cold-calculation-demo This is an old demo of one of the songs.

    My aversion to hiring people is that I'm a college student and can't really afford it.

    I'll have a lot of time to prepare. The place I plan on playing at first is an open mic night at a bar. I was told that this place doesn't allow backing tracks, but another friend of mine has played there plenty of times using his backing track. The entire situation made curious on what people thought about backing tracks.
     
  8. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Ok,I'll offer a few thoughts, but keep in mind that it's based solely off of what you posted.

    1. If you are playing solo guitar to that backing track, a healthy portion of it is going to be you standing around doing nothing while the piano track plays. I hope you have a plan for that.
    2. You would need a piano player and maybe a drummer. Find them. A three piece would go over a hundred times better live than a backing track for material like that.
    3. Since this is kind of shreddy-ish stuff, I think you could get away with the backing track. But, that said, it's far from ideal. If you have any technical issues with the backing tracks playing, you are going to be in a really awkward situation, because there doesn't seem to be a solid contingency plan in case something malfunctions, and it seems like you aren't planning on using the track as an embellishment, so much as you would be dependent on it.

    EDIT: Maybe there's a generational divide or something, but for a one-off show, college kids my age would have been willing to play a show for a little gas money, a couple slices of pizza, or usually, just for fun. Maybe it's not like that any more, but I'd totally give it a try. I don't think the stuff going on in the backing track is too complicated for another musician to be expected to figure out, and the other instruments in your example have quite a bit of presence, so I think you should at least try that route.
     
  9. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    Yeah man, I don't see why you shouldn't just ask around and get some folks on board. Does your college have a music program? Start hanging around there, put up some ads seeking musicians for an instrumental project. If $$$ is tight then your best bet would be to make actual friends who will be willing to play music with you without being "hired."

    After listening to the first track, I really don't see that going over well as a solo gig unless you're got a crafty and interesting way of getting through the sections with just piano. I notice the second song has guitar running throughout the entire track so songs like that might be an easier sell.

    That all being said, with the right charisma you can pretty much get away with anything.
     
  10. RobertVII

    RobertVII SS.org Regular

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    Very solid points guys. I would be very dependent of this backing track and would be SOL if it malfunctions. I think I'm gonna give it a try though, but I'll be looking for a drummer probably as well.
     
  11. iron blast

    iron blast Northern Winds

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    Try to plan a backup incase your main source for backing tracks fails. My band have a stereo spliter cable and a ipod with the tracks for if our ipad and interface fail. It is not ideal but atleast able to keep us playing. We are planning on getting a dedicated laptop with a solidstate drive and fast processor to run our guitar and bass cab impulses, click track, midi patch change, lighting, and our backing tracks.
     
  12. bhakan

    bhakan SS.org Regular

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    So this is only my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, but for the type of music in the soundcloud link, I think a one man band with backing tracks would be pretty boring live. I think a super charismatic frontman can pull off playing over a drum machine or something, but with no vocals and just riffing over a backing track it seems like it may come across pretty boring.

    I have no clue how you would possibly pull it off with metal, but maybe incorporate some of the types of ideas Mylets uses?

    Watching him loop everything live makes his solo performance into a spectacle instead of looking like watching someone practice.
     
  13. RobertVII

    RobertVII SS.org Regular

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    I'm thinking I could pull it off if I have a light show to accommodate me. I feel that will make it much more pleasurable to watch. I'm trying to find some budget options now.
     
  14. PBC

    PBC Composition Ontology

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    Totally doable with a backing track, just like other said it depends on the venue or music.

    Shaun puts on an absolutely killer show

    I just saw Inquisition. They used some backing, but mostly it was the two of them and they slayed. Even bigger bands use backing tracks and it's fine. I think the only time it would bother me is if the, assuming, guitarist/vocalist didn't play his instrument most of the time like a soft verse/loud chorus type structure.
     
  15. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Throwing it out there, if the music won't stand on its own, relying on a light show is not going to help the music, and a light show and a laptop is going to make you look pretty ridiculous, IMO.

    If you're going to gig playing alone on stage with a laptop to backing tracks, I'll echo the earlier advice and say go out there, play your ass off, but also make it clear you're having fun and taking your music seriously but not taking yourself too seriously. A light show is the antithesis of that.
     
  16. RobertVII

    RobertVII SS.org Regular

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    Dude you're right. I feel confident that I'll stand out, so I think I'll just go for it. Thanks for this everyone!
     
  17. SamSam

    SamSam GAS problems Contributor

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    At Euroblast last year I was initially shocked by how many bands were using backing tracks. And I think occasionally it was somewhat excessive. Ie: when guitarists were stood around doing nothing during the odd clean segment. But overall it changed my perspective on the whole concept and really filled up the live sounds nicely.

    It's something I've been looking into recently being in a four piece proggy metal band.
     
  18. zombieritual

    zombieritual SS.org Regular

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    if you want to play with yourself in front of a bunch of people, then play with yourself in front of a bunch of people. i think that's weird that places would have a problem with that, if you're going to have enough of a draw that shouldn't matter at all. i've played a bunch of shows where i had all of my stuff on my laptop as backing tracks and no one complained at all, i have a few friends who have done the same. someone mentioned putrid pile, he's doing an australian tour with black dahlia murder coming up and i'm pretty sure he'll just be bringing his guitar and his j-station and his ipod like he always does and people will go ....house like they always do. just go up there and do it and have fun, if you put on a good show it won't really matter. just don't stand there all stiff and not moving at all, have a good time. if people like it sweet, if they're like that one guy who said he'd turn right around and leave then .... them because they're assholes who will probably miss out if they don't at least give it a chance.
     
  19. primitiverebelworld

    primitiverebelworld SS.org Regular

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    The bigger the stage the more weird it will probably be and there is nothing you can do about it. On the other hand small intimate stage with a dude shreding his solo material is totally fine by many including me.
     
  20. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    As a general point of discussion, this works both ways: I've seen four piece and even five piece bands playing at coffee shops and breakfast nooks and it get's awkwardly loud and feels cramped.

    We used to play a lot of shows and see a lot of shows at a local restaurant that used to pride themselves on supporting the local music scene. I had the luxury of seeing some singer-songwriters there playing solo, and it was great. I saw a few three piece rock groups play there and it was great, although quite loud, and at least a dozen or more metal bands playing there and it was loud as hell and so cramped that if everyone inhaled at the same time, someone would have been squeezed out the front door.

    I have seen some really cool acts play with looper pedals and do the one man band thing, and it certainly has a pretty wide appeal. I'm just trying to be constructive here when I say that I've seen people do similar things with a laptop and a pre-reocrded backing track, and it was generally not well received; however, out of the 6-7 acts I've seen do this, at least one was really good anyway, but to be fair that guy stopped using backing tracks after a few weeks. Also, in all fairness, a bunch of the pre-recorded one person acts I've seen were clearly people with little or no stage experience. Also, one was a hip-hop artist, so that worked, but the style of music totally lent itself to that sort of act. And the other was Jeff Beck- and I love Jeff's work, but that show was really weird, but not so much the pre-recorded tracks as the deviation of the material from that era and what I expected, based on material with which I was way more familiar. Buckethead does the shred-over-a-pre-recorded-track thing quite well, so if you can embrace the uniqueness of it all, I think you'll be better off.
     

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