Keep Your Show Moving And Minimize Dead Air

Keep your show moving by having a plan in place for song changes, stage banter and instrument problems.

Matt-Ted-Tom of In Stereo
Matt, Ted and Tom Keep The Show Moving

   I’ve played in a lot of different live bands over the years and one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is keeping the show moving along at  nice pace. What I mean is minimizing space between songs, also known as Dead Air. Dead air happens between songs and can be a serious show killer. If you aren’t engaging your crowd, you’re losing them and that’s a bad thing.

   There are some key ways to minimize dead air between songs. The most important is to have a well organized, printed set list for every person in the band. When you plan your setlist it’s a good idea to group songs into sets of 3 that are easy to transition from song to song. When setting up a group of 3 songs you can group them by instrument changes, tunings, singer rotation or effect settings. After awhile, your band will remember what songs are grouped together in three’s and be able to transition quickly between those songs. This makes it easy to tweak your set list on the fly and still maintain some continuity by keeping the 3-song sets together.    Continue reading “Keep Your Show Moving And Minimize Dead Air”

Tips For Playing Live Band Gigs In Cold Weather

Here are some very important tips that will help you when your live band is playing a gig outdoors in cold weather.

In Stereo playing at the 2002 Winter Olympics Medals Plaza
Matt's band "In Stereo" plays outside at the 2002 Winter Olympics

   It’s the time of year when many live bands will have opportunities to play outside in some cold weather. I know I’ve played outdoor New Year’s Eve gigs, gigs on outside decks at ski resorts and some sweet gigs outdoors at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. For a live band, it’s essential stagecraft to know how to deal with cold weather.  I’ve played in temperatures well below freezing and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here’s a list of things you’ll want to consider when playing outdoor winter gigs. I’ll discuss each in more detail below:

  1. What type of stage will you be playing on?
  2. Will there be any stage heating?
  3. What types of clothes should you wear?
  4. How can you keep your hands warm?
  5. How do you care for your instruments in the cold weather?    Continue reading “Tips For Playing Live Band Gigs In Cold Weather”

Seize The Moment If You’ve Got A Large Crowd

If your live band gets the chance to play in front of a very large crowd, don’t let the moment pass you by. Seize the moment and Wow! that crowd.

Shufflin' Noah Rockin' The 90's
Shufflin' Noah Rockin' The 90's

  I’ve played to audiences of 1 person and I’ve played to audiences of 10,000 people over the course of my career in a live band. I’ve made some basic mistakes over the years and I’ve learned some good lessons from them. One mistake that I made early on in my career was not seizing the moment and giving an over-the-top show when I’ve played in front of very large audiences.

   I consider a large crowd to be anything over 1000 people. I have played to audiences of 1000 or more quite a few times over the course of my career as a live musician. It’s such a great feeling to look out and see a big crowd but it can also be quite intimidating and I’ve blown it a couple times.       Continue reading “Seize The Moment If You’ve Got A Large Crowd”

Dealing With Change And Guiding Your Live Band’s Evolution

Live Bands must change and evolve if they are going to keep on playing gigs.

In Stereo Sings 3-Part Harmony
In Stereo Sings 3-Part Harmony

   One thing I’ve found from all my years of playing in a live band is that things are constantly changing. The type and quality of equipment is always changing. The current popular songs are always changing. Your live band has to constantly change as well just to keep up with everything else. Believe me, the best way to let your band die is to refuse to change.

   One of the biggest problems I see in live bands is they become unwilling to change to fit the their ever changing environment. The biggest reason for this is because of plain old laziness. It takes work to keep your band up to date and relevant. The biggest mistake that bands make is an unwillingness to change their set list. You really need to get rid of songs that you’ve been playing forever and start learning some new songs. Your song list should be constantly added to and changed up at gigs.   Continue reading “Dealing With Change And Guiding Your Live Band’s Evolution”

How To Deal With An Emergency That Threatens To Cancel A Band Gig

How to deal with having a member of your band unable to play because of an emergency.

In Stereo with Frank Lee
In Stereo with Frank Lee

   A couple weeks ago my live band , In Stereo, was faced with a situation that you hope you never have to deal with. We had an important gig scheduled and one day before the gig our drummer, Ted,  came down with a life threatening staff infection in his ankle. It was very obvious as soon as he was admitted into the hospital that there was no way he would be able to play the gig. That left us with a commitment to fulfill with the club that had us booked and as you know, the show must go on. So what are your options in a live band when one of your core members goes down?     Continue reading “How To Deal With An Emergency That Threatens To Cancel A Band Gig”

The Difference Between Playing A Song And Playing A Song Well

When you play a cover song in a live band you can just play a song, or you can play a song well. The difference is in the details.

Copying The Original Artist
Matt Copying The Original Artist

   I remember back when I was in my first live band how awesome it was just to make it through an entire song from beginning to end. We would get a chord chart and the lyrics and just play through the songs. It was fun and it sounded pretty good. As time went on and our ability to listen to the individual parts that make up a song increased, we realized that we were missing a lot of subtle nuances that made the songs we were playing go from good to great. It’s true when people say “The difference is in the details.” That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

Continue reading “The Difference Between Playing A Song And Playing A Song Well”

A Happy Band Means A Happy Crowd

Have A Good Time Onstage!

   I previously wrote an article called A Happy Crowd Means A Happy Band, in this post I’ll discuss the opposite point of view. It’s true that the band feeds off the audience, that being said, the audience is the most unpredictable part of your gig. We as live musicians would like to have a pumped up, excited audience every time we play. We can’t control the audience mood but we can control our mood. Or at least how we appear when we’re playing. Whatever your mood appears to be onstage, it will carry over to the crowd. So even if you’re having a terrible night, keep things light and keep a smile on your face.

Continue reading “A Happy Band Means A Happy Crowd”

Need A Change Of Pace? Go Unplugged and Play An Acoustic Gig

Kiss - Unplugged in 1995

   The “rock band plays acoustic gig” format really came to popularity when MTV introduced the “Unplugged” concert series. The series began in the ’89/’90 season with a concert by Squeeze with Elliot Easton (of The Cars) and Syd Straw. From there the series took off, soon every live musician was working up an acoustic set of their music that they could play in smaller, more intimate concert settings.

Continue reading “Need A Change Of Pace? Go Unplugged and Play An Acoustic Gig”

Be Prepared For Your Gig With This Basic List Of Essential Items

Pete Townshend Winds Up To Trash The Stage

   When you’re preparing to play a gig, it’s extremely important to prepare for the unexpected. Murphy’s law seems to always rear it’s ugly head at a gig. Here are a few basic essentials every live musician can do to prepare for equipment problems and breakdowns at a gig.

   Make sure you bring some basic tools. At the very minimum you should have a Leatherman Multi-Tool and a flashlight. It’s a really good idea to have a soldering iron as well. You can fill out your toolkit with the following:

  • Super Glue
  • Electrical Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Cable Tester or Multi-Meter
  • Battery Tester or Multi-Meter
  • Allen Wrenches
  • Wire Cutters

   You’ll also want to have some extra basic equipment accessories such as: Continue reading “Be Prepared For Your Gig With This Basic List Of Essential Items”

How To Request A Song From The Band…

Typical Audience Member Requesting A Song

Pre Holiday Clearance Sale at!

   I don’t know who originally wrote this but I’ve seen it on a few forums and Blogs. If you’re the author, leave a comment and I’ll give you credit. It’s just so funny I had to post it on Live Musician Central.

How To Request A Song From The Band…

When requesting a song from the band, just say “play …. my song!” We have chips implanted in our heads with an unlimited database of the favorite tunes of every patron who ever walked into a bar and all songs ever recorded so feel free to be vague, we love the challenge.If we say we really don’t remember that tune you want, we’re only kidding. Bands do know every song ever recorded, so keep humming. Hum harder if need be… it helps jog the memory, or just repeat your request over and over again.

Continue reading “How To Request A Song From The Band…”

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