10 worst things bands do

by Devender Sellars

Set length too long

When a band is an opening act, or supporting a headlining band, they should be respectful of the time alloted. The opening band is generally not what a majority of the audience is there to see. If people sit through an hour-long performance of songs they don’t know by an opening band, the impression of the music will be marred by annoyance. Most performances you see aren’t the bar bands of old, where an artist is asked to play for a certain amount of time in order to get paid. Appropriate set times vary by genre and situation. Any larger show, or more professional gig, will have a specific set length. If a band wants to be asked back, sticking to that length is key to the sound guy, bartender, manager and other key people who might want to have you making noise again in their club. As a rule, always leave the audience wanting more. Most performers should play at least two fewer songs than they do.

Taking forever to set up equipment

While the amount of time a band should play varies, the amount of time to set up equipment should not. This should always be as quick as possible. Any mildly seasoned musician should be able to set up their own gear very quickly. And if the gear has any special requirements, it is the duty of the musician to get things ready ahead of time, or to inform the sound guy. Even experimental bands, with many instruments or details, can be taken care of by reducing set lengths, or playing shows where there is adequate time to set up equipment.

Long sound check

Most bands take too long to put their equipment on stage in order to get ready to play. And when they are up there, hit snare drums, fiddle with guitar sounds and generally make entirely too much noise before playing. This is annoying to listen to. But it also lessens the excitement or drama of a band getting ready to play.

At medium to large venues, the opening acts make just enough noise to make sure levels and sounds are in the right places. Headlining acts often don’t make any noise at all before playing, because they have checked everything before the doors to the club have opened.

Disrepecting load-in time

Clubs can have ridiculous load-in times. Bigger venues will ask for a band to be at the club several hours before the show even starts. This is for a reason — bands are late creatures and often are unreliable. Even if it seems ridiculous, respect the venue’s protocols. Your show will run a lot smoother for said respect. And if you can’t get there early enough, calling to let them know a few days ahead of time helps. This really makes a huge difference, rather than acting like a vanful of dilettantes with put-on attitudes.

Lack of promotion

Is your band playing a show? Did you tell anyone about the show except for your girlfriends? Did you distribute a flyer to promote the show? If not, how do you expect anybody to show up to the concert? If you don’t want to promote your own band, why should you expect anyone else to make any effort to see a concert?

Asking audience to do something

Often when a performer says something into a microphone between songs, it is muffled by lack of articulation, or just ignored entirely. So when a singer says, “Hey, get closer to me, I won’t bite,” they are trying to get more audience participation. Mostly, an audience will timidly do what is being asked, then quickly jettison. Not wanting to appear rude, people will come closer or sing along, then go back to doing what they were doing before. Some of this is due to fame — when Bruce Springsteen asks the audience to clap along, they do it enthusiastically.

Take too long between songs

Bruce Springsteen is a professional, playing sets longer than two hours at 60 years old. But even he knows he can’t keep the audience’s attention in between each song. His band will often go straight from one song to the next, with just a few seconds in-between. After a handful of songs, he’ll stop and interact with the audience with an anecdote. This is true of many popular bands. Next time you go see one of your favorite bands perform, count the amount of seconds between each song. It will be a very low number. When a band takes longer than a few seconds between songs, it takes away from the energy and pacing of a performance. It is even worse when a singer just talks too much, too.

Try to be funny when you are not

Just as not everyone can carry a tune or keep a beat, not everyone can be funny. If you’re not a comedian or can’t tell good jokes, just don’t do it.

No guitar tuners

Guitar strings are made of thin steel, going out of tune at slight changes in temperature or stress placed on them or the guitar. Most musicians can’t quickly tune a guitar by ear. And hearing most guitar players attempt it is like watching a train wreck. The aid of even a cheap tuner can help a show run smoothly, and make sure you avoid any cringing off-key tones that can ruin a song.

Over playing

It is easy for a band to get very excited about their music, and want to play a lot of concerts. For most bands, however, this turns into playing their hometown every other weekend. This quickly turns into over playing a scene, which diminishes crowds at each respective concert, and is disrespectful of those who would take time to come see them play. Why go to this show when they are playing again in a week? And as with all of this list, treating those who you want to come support your music with respect and honor makes a difference in the quality of fans will you attract.