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The valves are warming up; your tuning pegs are turning; one of you is jumping on the spot in anxious anticipation, hoping that the next 45 minutes fits beautifully together. This is when most band members think “We should have practised the vocal harmonies in the middle 8 more,” or words to that effect.

We’ve all been there, and at least one band on every bill will be unprepared, or less prepared than they would like to be. The not-so-secret to a good gig is the work you put in off the stage, away from the lights and the pressure of an audience. The weeks running up to the date of the gig be organising your set carefully; what response do you get from the audience when you play a certain song? What’s different about your music from one song to the next? How can you use your live music to promote an upcoming release? Did we play this set last time?

These are questions one should ask whilst devising the next set list. As part of Erazer, we write all our written songs down on a whiteboard before carefully choosing them referring back to the above criteria constantly. After you have a rough set put together, do the following:

Blind Run-through
Just have a go through your songs, jam them out; have fun with them! With this its more of a case of seeing if you made the right choice of set list, or whether the songs don’t knit together as they should, then correct your set list as needed.

Finalise set order
This may seem early on, but if you decide there-and-then what your order will be, there is less arguing than if you decide to change it 3 days pre-gig… this also allows you to memorise the set and feel comfortable with changes in tuning ect. Get a set list printed off, write out notes for each song, for example ‘vocal harmonies,’ ‘swap guitars.’ Ect.

Time yourselves
This is especially important, to make sure you aren’t delaying the running order; always time yourself, but ALWAYS remember that things aren’t going to run as smoothly on stage to your practise room, you wont be able to see as well as in your well-lit practise room to tune up, so always allow for a bit of time to spare.

Record the Set
You often won’t notice holes in your music when playing live, and being immersed in the music, so record it in anyway possible: Video camera, phone, through anything you can. We are fortunate enough to have a modest little practise studio with recording gear to get a full mix of our set, but a video camera can be just as much, its never going to sound as well as it does when you’ve spent 30 minutes setting up your levels on your desk. After that, pick holes in it, write notes on your set, and correct them until you are happy.

Your practises before the gig should consist of only the last two points, repeating them as many times as possible. But that’s not all, what will happen outside the music, how will you promote it? It’s no good to have a great set if no one knows about the gig! What’s happening on gig day? How will you get there? Are you printing flyers? Do you have merch? How will you set that up?

All these things sound strenuous and back breaking, but it only takes a little organisation and initiative to pull it all off. 1,000 things could go wrong on gig day, so we all need to be prepared, with solutions, so that the day doesn’t fall apart!!

Dan Meadowcroft

Also read: 5 Reasons You Should Change Your Set List Every Single Gig - Click Here


I will be playing at Dry Bar with Erazer this Thursday (25th April 2013) so please have a wander down and check us out, we are debuting 4 new songs in our set; we’d love to play them to you. We’re supporting the fantastic Geordie rockers My Extraordinary again, and are looking forward to greatly!!! We will have copies of 2012’s Less Passion More Robot and we are currently building up to the release of an EP soon as well as our first full-length album, Alive.

Please support us by liking us on facebook and keeping up to date with all our Studio work and gigs around the area.

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