I’m not actually sure where this is going. I think you could call this another view from the stage, or maybe a lesson for performing musicians?
See, I wanted to write something. Nothing that needs to be written looked appealing to me. So, I smoked some weed.
What I really want to write about is set lists. I suppose, I’ll start by telling you why – but I might get distracted and forget to tell you what I wanted to write. It could happen.
As the seasons change, so too must we. As a band, a band looking to expand, we’re needing to also expand our music varieties.
We have a few jobs coming up that I’m really looking forward to. We’ve been invited to perform at a blues restaurant that’s quite popular. It has two lounges and pays well. We might be going to a folk festival, that is still not decided.
Doing this means writing up set lists for just a few, sometimes single, events. We’re not actually going to get to play folk music at a regular performance, as much as we might want to. Ain’t no way I’m gonna bust out Lemon Tree in front of a few hundred drunks. Well, I might… I shouldn’t. The key point is that I shouldn’t!
One of the ways I look at set lists is by asking myself, “What albums, in that genre, can I listen to entirely and not want to skip any songs?”
That’s harder than one might think. There aren’t all that many albums like that – to me. Such is a very personal thing. My choices will not match your choices. I want to write about that, but not today. That’s like a whole series of articles, and might actually be better suited for MFU.
It then gets harder.
The next question I must ask myself is, “What makes these albums special?”
That’s a harder question to answer – but that one is much more objective. In short, they make you emote or think, or both.
This is could start fights in certain spheres…
Some of the best albums are actually greatest hits type of albums.
There… I said it…
Either way, I don’t feel like writing that today. So, you’ll just have to accept that I’m right.
No, what I want to take is just a single aspect of set list writing that you may not know about and that I enjoy. I use it to great advantage.
Sometimes, you get to have fun. The audience isn’t the only one that gets to have fun!
That’s right… Fun… How?
I often refer to it as, “Punching the audience right in the fucking mouth.” Let me give you an example.
Let’s say we’re doing 80s and 90s rock genre hits.
For no seeming reason, play a country song that they all know. Get one in the right era. Say, throw in the Alan Jackson song ‘The Chattahoochie.’ Don’t warn ’em. Just run right into it.
Congratulations. You’ve punched ’em right in the fucking mouth.
Wait for it…
Those drunks are gonna try to do line dancing and country dancing. A few of them will maybe even know what they’re doing, and even fewer of them will be paired up with someone who also knows what they’re doing.
Trust me… It’s one of funniest things you’ll ever see and they all have a good time, even though you punched them in the face with a goat ropin’ song.
When you’re done with it, don’t say a damned thing and just run right into another song from the right era and genre. Don’t give them time to think about who just punched them in the ears with country music, or why they did it.
They’ll resume their gyrations and not understand why they had a good time.
They had a good time because it was familiar, unique, drastically different, short, sudden, and brought back emotions while they had time to let go of some ego and do something they’re not used to doing on the dance floor.
Also, they’re drunk.
You overwhelmed them. It is like a sensory flood. You can’t do this too often, or they’ll get uncomfortable. It’s never something to do in a single short set or an opening set. Get ’em in the second set! It’s funnier than hell to watch you wiggle in a different style and not doing well at it. It’s pretty much the best day ever!
It’s not all work and no play. There are all sorts of ways to punch ’em in the mouth, too. There are all sorts of ways to have fun with the audience. Your set lists will help facilitate that.
Also, I think I’m gonna write more about performing for a while. That’s what it seems like. Dunno… Until next time…
Shut up and play us a song!