Thanks to all that responded. Lot of good opinions. Yes we could play danceable material and help our crowd but i have been playing for 30 years and its time to satisfy me. I was sure this crowd thing was widespread and i have told my guys that we need to tbink outside the box. I have a couple of ideas that im going to try this summer,see how that pans out.
I will keep everyone posted.
There are a lot of reasons why the gigs have gone away. The drunk driving laws--and I'm all for keeping drunk drivers off the roads; I don't want them hitting me on my way home from the gig--but especially the way they're enforced. The police don't wait for drunks to stagger out the door of the club--they pick them off at random as they leave the parking lot. I've been stopped many times after gigs--I don't drink, so I wasn't even remotely impaired, and the cops were really disappionted that they couldn't get me for anything! Also, there's competition from video games, karaoke, DJ's, and other entertainment that doesn't involve actual musicians playing actual instruments. I used to play six nights a week, made a decent living at it for years, but those gigs have been gone for years. In the late '70's, punk and disco came in--punk made it fashionable to be a lousy player, although it took a decade or two for that to catch on, and it didn't really affect the live dance clubs anyway, but it changed people's perceptions of what live music should be. Disco, on the other hand, caused dance gigs to go overnight from bands to DJ's, and it never recovered. I remember hoping in about 1979 that John Travolta would make a movie about country music and make live music cool again--well, "Urban Cowboy" came out, and the only thing that changed was that the club DJ's went from playing disco records to playing country records. Nowadays the DJ's don't even spin discs--it's all on laptops now and they download all their material right off the internet. No learning the tunes, no learning how to play at all--just push a button and let your computer do the gig for you.
I'm a baby boomer--I was a teenager in the '60's--and I think my generation and the '70's kids who came after us were the last generation for whom live music was a big deal. Today's young people--and they're the ones without family obligations so they have the time to go clubbing--don't really care about it--they'd rather dance to electronica (disco by a different name).
I remember when some clubs would actually pay a decent wage to attract a good band, but that hasn't been true for decades. I think most of the clubgoers out there don't think they can dance to a band because they've never heard a good one!
A few years ago, I was in a '50's rock 'n' roll band, and virtually all of our gigs were at old folks' homes and retirement communities. Talk about making you feel old--that's what I started out trying to play! (Heck, I AM old--I just don't want to admit it!) OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN...!
Last edited by jfine; 04-22-2013 at 05:49 AM.
I play in a working cover band in Jersey and we've seen very fickle crowds, too. We started out playing music we all love (hard rock from 80's - today) and we used to have a TON of people show up. But then the numbers started to drop and our drummer INSISTED we started playing more "dance/pop" music. All the major venues and "Jersey shore bar bands" are playing the dance/pop stuff, so we bought into it and started using sequencing to really get the synth sound that all these bands have. It's really hit or miss. Some venues we know for a fact the "dance" music isn't going to work. Other's we can play the same venue and one night the dance music works and another night the rock music works. We played at Joe Pops in LBI for Halloween last year and the place was going nuts ...people were up for every song the entire night and acting like we were real rockstars. But meanwhile we played that same "Jersey shore dance music bar band" stuff 2 times that we played there throughout the summer and it was just middle of the road response.
My opinion is the DJ's really get the crowds these days for reasons everyone else has said: young girls want to dance all night, and young guys want to come wherever the young girls are. Older people just don't go out to the bars as much due to finances and running children around on the weekends. I also don't think they want to see a live band mimicking the DJ's. This couldn't be any clearer than when we have played Shannon Rose in Woodbridge who have a DJ play while we're on break. The DJ gets the entire place up and dancing, and then we get up and we're playing the exact same genre (and a lot of the same songs even) and little by little people are sitting down. So the last time we played there in our 3rd set we through in a lot of retro stuff (Journey, Metalica, Guns n Roses) and THAT got people to get on the dance floor and sing along/participate while we were on. But we learned the lesson too late (or the rest of the band did anyway because I had been saying that for years: when there's a DJ we shouldn't be playing the same exact genre/songs).
I used to go out to the bars to see bands in the early and mid 90's and the bands used play all music I liked and they used to get huge crowds at places like Jenks, Tiki bar, Martells, the Osprey, etc. But none of those places get crowds like they used to now - even with the DJ's.
Besides economics, I think itunes and similar music outlets have ruined the live music scene. People don't listen to albums anymore. They pick and choose one song from a band or artist and move onto the next. How is an artist supposed to draw a following with this happening? In essence, the music scene has changed dramatically over the past few decades. I think we have all become a bit ADD when it comes to music.
frank--it's back to singles for sure, but it was that way in the '50's and early '60's too. Albums didn't become the focus until around '65 or so, with the Beatles putting out records like Rubber Soul and Revolver, and it wasn't until around 1967 that the concept of an album being a unified work rather than a collection of singles came in. To get radio play, your single had to be no longer than two-and-a-half minutes, and unless you were a huge star you could count on not getting radio play with a long track. Bob Dylan broke that barrier with "Like A Rolling Stone"--I'm still amazed that one got airplay as it was something like seven minutes long! FM underground rock radio would play long cuts, but by the time that really caught on it was on the way to becoming Album-Oriented Rock, or All-"Stairway-To-Heaven"-All-The-Time. Growing up in San Francisco, we had KMPX, the original underground FM rock station, and it was great while it lasted. They'd play the long versions of cuts like the Doors' "Light My Fire" and Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" where AM radio played shortened versions with most of the solos cut out. Of course the bands I was in played extended versions--back then you couldn't call yourself a lead guitarist unless you could blow your brains out for five or ten minutes at a time, and then came the drum solo...People would drop off the dance floor in droves, but all we had to do to get them back was play "Mustang Sally"!
Last edited by jfine; 04-23-2013 at 06:00 AM.