Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

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Spottyfriend
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Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by Spottyfriend » Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:20 pm

So you often say in your interviews about being (especially live) an entertainer at the core, most akin to music hall or a travelling circus, and I absolutely agree with you. Or I thought I did until a couple of weeks ago...

Me and my band were playing our first headline gig ever(! very exciting indeed) and so we were last on the bill - seeing as the last few gigs we'd played went very well, getting a good reaction and bringing quite a few people. All the bands before us were varying degrees of hardcore/pop punk rock and the crowd were having an excellent time. The crowd, granted, were a strange group of people because it was a mix of ultra gig veterans - usuals of the venue - and friends of the bands, some of whom had never been to any gig before and had no idea what was going on, but everyone was enjoying all the bands. Now, the 'scene' we play in and around in St Albans and Stevenage is dominated by pretty heavy bands and when we came on (me - the front man - with an acoustic guitar) and played our early Andrew Jackson Jihad/You/The Front Bottoms/The Mountain Goats/Weakerthans influenced brand of folk punk, the crowded look pretty bemused. We played pretty well (if I may say so) and energetically as we could, but the crowd just didn't take to it and we were greeted with a polite, if begrudged, applause and after the first couple of songs they all started talking amongst themselves. After the first 6 songs or so we were asked to cut our set short to allow one of the other bands back on, as people had started to leave...

My Dad later commented that many people they just wanted something "they could easily mosh to", which has been done to our music but still, I saw his point. If this is true and it is also true that our primary purpose as a band is to entertain, what stops us from 'pandering' to the crowd of our area and simply becoming a full-on punk rock band that the average crowd would prefer? How do we strike a compromise between playing what WE enjoy playing and writing songs that say things that I want them to say, and entertaining the crowd? It's sounds arrogant to say that playing music is 'more' than entertainment, but if it is just that, why are we even trying to do what we do?

I understand you strike the much needed compromise by a good setlist - containing the fan favourites (that the crowd want to hear) along with new songs that you want to test out (that you specifically want to do and some of the crowd may prefer you not to - preferring something they know), but we are not yet in a situation where 'fan favourites' exist and so this doesn't seem to be the answer... But at some point you were in our situation and how, if you don't mind me asking, did you get round this dilemma then? How did you refrain from becoming the (infamous) Creep-avoiding Radiohead and at the same time a covers band playing dodgy versions of Beatles and Rolling Stones songs?

I know you often say that you are not the person that we should ask for advice, but I feel like this is something you might be qualified to answer, as a show playing veteran yourself.

Obviously anyone else is very welcome to answer this as well.

Here's our band if anyone's interested - https://www.facebook.com/thegreatindoorsband

Thanks,
Callum

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marowak
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by marowak » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:20 am

One thing I learnt doing gigs is never to headline until you have a massive following in the place you are playing.

A lot of promoters still do the whole 'you need to bring your mates to watch you' kind of thing.

This means the people there only really care about their friends bands.

If you always take the middle slot you are usually guaranteed to get the first acts fans there and the last acts.

If you believe in your songs enough the crowd will listen - if they are the right crowd. Interact with the audience. Talk to them. Challenge them to come forward and listen.

When accepting gigs in the future check who else is on the line up. And don't be scared to turn down gigs if they don't feel right.

And if you are asked to cut your set short make sure you still get paid for the whole set.

I hope that helps a bit.

I'm sure a few others here will also be able to add some comments and advise.
06 06.3 08.8
07 04.4 11.5 17.5 08.6 10.11
08 28.3 21.04 13.6 06.7 06.9
09 11.1 06.2 21.4 10.10 29.10
10 23.3 16.7 12.12
11 12.2 12.5 30.5 27.11
12 13.4 28.11 28.12x2
13 10.1 24.6 11.7 12.7
14 12.2 13.2 14.9 17.12
15 29.1 02.2 13.8 7.11
16 10.12 12.12

smige2
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by smige2 » Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:55 pm

It sounds like your band just wasn't right for that particular crowd. It's equally possible that a punk band wouldn't go down well at a show consisting mainly of folk acts, so I wouldn't be disheartened.

Coincidentally, I'm from the same area as you. I play solo but have very similar influences. Have you ever played Club 85 in Hitchin? It's a great venue and although the acts that play there are often quite heavy, my stuff usually goes down well there.
22.08.08, 29.10.08, 19.01.09, 07.03.09, 30.08.09, 29.10.09, 24.03.10, 19.06.10, 19.07.10, 10.12.10, 21.04.11, 27.05.11, 27.11.11, 13.04.12, 25.04.13, 12.09.14, 26.03.15, 29.03.15, 31.07.15, 13.05.17, 14.05.17, 29.07.17, 12.05.18, 03.02.19, 14.07.19

skhmmxi
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by skhmmxi » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:44 pm

After reading this, today's Zen Pencils seemed somewhat relevant - http://zenpencils.com/comic/calling/
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DaveHughes
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by DaveHughes » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:16 am

" a good setlist - containing the fan favourites (that the crowd want to hear) along with new songs that you want to test out"
This here might be what you are looking for. You don't have any fan favourites just yet: you're a new band, everything you play is 'new' to the crowd. The 'fan favourites' that people want to hear are other peoples songs, and there is no shame in that. Take a look at the early videos of Frank that IamLars has uploaded to YouTube. He plays perhaps 25-30 minutes, but only around 6 songs, two of which were covers (usually an obscure one such as Half man Half Biscuit or Chris T-T, and then a rough version of a universally known song - Dancing Queen or In the Jungle - that everyone can get involved in if the alcohol has being flowing). These covers break the ice of the "yet another band with some songs we don't know" at a small show. Apart from the 4 or 5 songs of his own, the rest of the set is mainly rehearsed banter, but delivered in chatty/jokey way. All in all, the set endears the audience to him as a full package. If you have a tactic, you can even put 'Get Lucky' or 'Let it Go' in a set without it sounding forced or awful (although, chances are it will).

TL;DR: Use a cover to get people to listen to your own stuff, but let them know that is exactly what you are doing.

You really only need to get a new audience hooked on one or two songs of your own, then they'll come back to the next show and you can then start work on expanding your vision (but keep those two songs in your set - play one first, play the other last before your show stopping cover).

Don't look at videos on YouTube of your favourite acts playing sell-out shows now and want that for yourself, search for the early bootlegs and study them to examine how they built what they have from nothing. You'll find very similiar actions from AJJ, Against Me!, The Front Bottoms, even Green Day if you search for their Wigan Easter Show (earliest Green Day show you can view is 1989 at Pinhole Highschool). At this stage aim to be the Frank Turner of the 13th Note or Dunsfold, not the Frank Turner of Wembley (same person, but very different approaches to playing a show).

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NickSouthampton
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by NickSouthampton » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:37 pm

I have seen support bands ignored who were playing stadiums a couple of years later. It seems that unless people have a connection with a band or have been told they are good then many are unable to recognise a good band for themselves.
The only thing that seems to cut through this indifference seems to be when an act communicates well and makes a connection with the audience.. I think this is one of Frank's great skills.

There is an interesting video of a top classical violinist Joshua Bell who tried busking in a station. Very few people were interested but he was playing sell out shows at the time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0_YWhw
http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomser ... narybusker
Nick in "Sunny" Southampton.

www.nickhaynesmusic.com/

Evan
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by Evan » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:58 pm

Once upon a time when I was in a band, we were bombarded with cans and plastic pint cups for having the audacity to headline after the band most people came to see (we didn't pick the running order). They scrunched the cans up for maximum velocity and damage. We played on, but I am sure won no one over.

But either way, what Marowak said about headlining to a audience that isn't yours is very true. You are far more likely to capture people's attention in an earlier slot.
Beverley, Birmingham, Blackheath, Boston, Cheltenham, Dublin, Donington, Guildford, Hatfield, Hoboken, Knebworth, Latitude, Leamington Spa, London, Manchester, New York, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Sayreville, Sheffield, Southend, Wembley, Wolverhampton.

mankytoes
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by mankytoes » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:57 pm

NickSouthampton wrote:I have seen support bands ignored who were playing stadiums a couple of years later. It seems that unless people have a connection with a band or have been told they are good then many are unable to recognise a good band for themselves.
The only thing that seems to cut through this indifference seems to be when an act communicates well and makes a connection with the audience.. I think this is one of Frank's great skills.

There is an interesting video of a top classical violinist Joshua Bell who tried busking in a station. Very few people were interested but he was playing sell out shows at the time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0_YWhw
http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomser ... narybusker
I don't think you can talk about music that objectively. For example, I recognise many hip hop artists are good at what they do, but I have very little interest in listening to any of it. As people have said, it sounds like it just wasn't the right crowd.

I don't play, but I've read so many stories from great bands about doing loads of shitty shows like the one the OP describes. Same with stand up comedians, etc. You've just got to keep at it, and realise this can, and does, happen to anyone.

It's interesting, but I don't know if it really proves much. I don't listen to a huge amount of classical, but the stuff I do like I feel like you've got to get into it a bit, you aren't going to think it's amazing just by hearing a little bit as you walk past.
If you're oh so fucking different, who cares what you have to say?

reitzel6570
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by reitzel6570 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:43 am

NickSouthampton wrote:The only thing that seems to cut through this indifference seems to be when an act communicates well and makes a connection with the audience.. I think this is one of Frank's great skills.
This. So much this. There's bands that I like a lot that I'll go see when they come my way, but that I'm not motivated to follow around to multiple cities. It's that audience connection that makes the difference for me. And you're right, Frank is highly skilled at that.

Spottyfriend
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Re: Just a Ghost of Vaudeville?

Post by Spottyfriend » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:00 pm

Thanks for all the responses! They all raise good points and I shall be thinking about this thread when I play my next gig on Friday. I think the main fault in my argument was that, as Mr/Ms Toes put it,
mankytoes wrote: I don't think you can talk about music that objectively

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