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Best Bar Songs for 21-35 Age Group

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by crawdad, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. crawdad

    crawdad Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2006
    I need some help here. I am in a “classic rock” band—talented players and great singers. We like what we do, but every year, the audience gets younger. We need to update our songlist so that about 40% is current, semi-current or at least no more than 15 years old. LOL!

    In short, we want to have a bunch of songs that the younger audience can relate to.

    Now, there are tons of songs to choose from in that category, but what I am asking is which songs are the tried and true bar songs that “work?” In other words, I’m looking for the standards of the current generation of club goers. For about twenty years, stuff like Brown Eyed Girl, Mustang Sally, You Shook Me All Night Long, All Right Now, etc, were all you needed. While these songs still (unbelievably) seem to still work, I’m looking for songs that include a younger demographic.

    What songs would you suggest—especially you “younger” folks who like to go to clubs? Also, those of you who play rock clubs. What are the tried and true songs these days?

    Your guidance and help will be appreciated immensely…
    thunderbyrd likes this.

  2. Breen

    Breen Friend of Leo's

    Mar 4, 2009
    Foggy Mountain Breakdown, for the encore.

    I would love to hear Sittin' On the Top Of The World or Working Man Blues ;)

  3. firefuocco

    firefuocco Tele-Holic

    May 19, 2008
    Cornwall UK
    I don't really know but these could work, especially Song 2.

    Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
    Kaiser Chiefs - I predict a riot
    Blur - Song 2 (woo hoo)

  4. firefuocco

    firefuocco Tele-Holic

    May 19, 2008
    Cornwall UK
    Nirvana - Smells like... would also be on the list.

  5. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 28, 2009
    London, England
    Heck, Nirvana ANYTHING. They've got a fairly big catalogue of very well known, well written and (thankfully for any band trying to learn a bunch of songs) EASY songs. That should be your first port of call. After Nirvana work o ntheir contemporaries, Pearl Jam, etc.

    This one's a must too....sure it's sort of a cheap trick but you will get the bar moving EVERY SINGLE TIME:


  6. castpolymer

    castpolymer Poster Extraordinaire

    May 27, 2008
    Edmond, Oklahoma
    You still can not go wrong with AC/DC ( if you singers don't mind dusting their voices ).

  7. dburns

    dburns Friend of Leo's

    Ask'll get some awful suggestions that you would never play, but you may find a few things that work. Find the compromise of playing stuff that 'chicks' dig but are still cool songs.

    Sorry I don't have any suggestion of my own. I'll get back if/when any come to me.

  8. vanklomk

    vanklomk Tele-Meister

    Nov 12, 2009
    GR, Mich.
    Built To Spill - Big Dipper, Distopian Dream Girl, Conventional Wisdom
    The Raconteurs - Steady As She Goes
    Modest Mouse - Float On
    Kings Of Leon - The Bucket, Spiral Staircase, True Love Way, Someone Like You
    Guided By Voices - Glad Girls
    Cold War Kids - Hospital Beds
    Beck - Gamma Ray
    Arctic Monkeys - Flourescent Adolescent
    Incubus - Pistola
    Liam Finn - Second Chance
    Peter Bjorn & John - Writer's Block
    Ryan Adams - Halloween Head
    Spoon - Underdog
    Stephen Malkmus - Real Emotional Trash
    Wild Light - California On My Mind

    Any of these would please the college-age crowd, I'd say. If you guys are really old, no offense, it would be really entertaining to me if you played The Strokes - Last Night. I'm smiling just thinking about it. The hipsters would be so confused.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010

  9. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2006
    Dallas TX USA

  10. hal

    hal Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 4, 2006
    Memphis, TN
    I play some clubs with my cover band. We keep a couple of club dates in the mix, so potential clients can check us out.

    We are a dance band, period. We play music from all decades. And they know the songs regardless of age. If it's danceable, it will always work. We recently played a gig for a large private high school here in Memphis. I was worried, but they knew the words to every song and stayed on the dance floor all night. You can check out our songlist at

    Over the years I have heard from a lot of musicians about this subject. Some of them say they would be appalled if they had to play some of this music. The bottom line--it's not about you. If you want to work, you play what people want to hear, not what you want to play. And the truth is--this stuff is really a lot of fun to play and sing.

  11. tdu

    tdu Friend of Leo's

    Jan 4, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    This is an interesting list, and I personally would like a lot of it.... but as far as a mainstream bar crowd, I don't know about most of these tunes. If you setup as the cover band for the night at a normal bar HERE and played these tunes, you would have to deal with some serious flack from the locals. A college campus possibly, but not any bar within 50 miles of where I live.

    I'll just list a few tunes that I have seen go over well in the bars around here. And I am 33 for reference.

    Ramones - I wanna be sedated (seems to be timeless, and people dance to it)

    AC/DC - Same deal with ACDC. The hits seems to go over well with any age group. Timeless.

    Green Day - Some of the earlier hits seem to go over really well

    Weezer - they are on and off the radar when it comes to mainstream stuff, but their earlier hits seem to go over well. Most people in the age group know them because their hits span across a couple of generations (as with Green Day at this point).

    My other suggestion, though it will make some people cringe, is to look through the tunes on the ROCK STAR and ROCK BAND video games. The amount of people in the age group you listed that play these games is ridiculous. It's not just teens. They know, and love these songs.

    I personally think Hal's comments are on the ball. With the bars in this town, it's all about FUN and keeping people dancing. No offense to some of the suggestions listed, but too heavy, too dark, or too slow just doesn't go over well in that atmosphere. Not everyone would want as much of a 'dance' oriented setlist, but their mix of 'timeless' tunes is a great approach and could be applied to a more Rock formatted list.

  12. EasilyAmused

    EasilyAmused Tele-Meister

    I play in a dance band that mainly does weddings/functions, but we also do the occasional club gig so clients can check us out.

    A few songs that have really gone over well in clubs with that demographic around here lately are:

    Hot & Cold - Katy Perry
    Please Don't Stop the Music - Rhiana
    Just Dance - Lady Ga Ga
    All Summer Long - Kid Rock

    And the 80s seems to be making a huge comeback. Can't go wrong with

    Billie Jean
    Mony Mony
    Don't Stop Believing - Journey
    Anything big song by Bon Jovi

    We play all of these songs in clubs with just 1 guitar, bass, drums and a vocalist, so it can be done.

    The biggest thing I feel is that what ever you play - try to make sure it's danceable. I'd much rather see the dance floor packed with girls dancing the night away than have a bunch of dudes sitting down merely thinking that we are a great band. If you can get the girls dancing EVERYONE has a good time.

    As much as the demographic you mentioned might like Nirvana, Kings of Leon, Incubus, the White Stripes, etc... my experience is that most of their songs aren't really dancable, and don't elicit a lot of dancing. If you are looking at those bands, pick your songs carefully.

  13. vanklomk

    vanklomk Tele-Meister

    Nov 12, 2009
    GR, Mich.
    I don't think the OP means "club clubs." Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but I think he wants rock music, not necessarily dance, but just for a younger crowd.

    My suggestions might have too narrow of a scope (but not Kings of Leon, they'll appeal to anyone), but most of them are fun songs to play and I think they would get a good reaction from the 20-somethings.

    For less hipster music, I suggest Better Than Ezra and Gin Blossoms. I still love those bands, and the 20-35 crowd should know all the words to songs like Good and Desperately Wanting (Better Than Ezra) and Hey Jealousy and Found Out About You (Gin Blossoms).

  14. EasilyAmused

    EasilyAmused Tele-Meister

    I didn't think he meant "club clubs" either. But even when I've played bars (around my part of the world, anyway), I've found that if people don't know how to dance to it (or, at least, jump around to it), it'll often fall kind of flat IN COMPARISON to songs people can dance to. People may well enjoy other songs, but nothing sets the room off than getting a bunch of 21-30 year old girls dancing. That's all I'm saying. :lol:

    oh - and we do really rock on the songs I listed - despite being keyboard songs originally. You'd might be suprised how much fun they are as guitar rock songs!

  15. firefuocco

    firefuocco Tele-Holic

    May 19, 2008
    Cornwall UK
    How about:

    Jet - Are you gonna be my girl (good uptempo rock song, should be on the list)
    U2 - Vertigo
    U2 - Beautiful Day
    The Hold Steady - Stuck between stations (lots of other songs by them).
    Darkness - I believe in a thing called love (crazy falsetto)
    Nickelback - Rockstar (this one definitely will go down well)
    White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
    Johnny Cash - Hurt (perhaps for a quiet moment, bring the crazy kids down, well known and they love it).
    Artic Monkeys - I bet you look good on the dancefloor
    The Strokes - Last nite
    Cold Play - Yellow or Clocks
    Franz Ferdinand - Take me out
    Bon Iver - Skinny Love (could work?)

    Probably need to do stuff by The Killers, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire (maybe)

  16. tdu

    tdu Friend of Leo's

    Jan 4, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree. In bars you have to play what the crowd wants, not what you want. At the bars around here on a Saturday night they want people up dancing. That doesn't mean 'dance music' but music people can dance to. They want everyone up dancing and drinking.

    It could be a regional thing, but (no offense vanklomk) songs by Better Than Ezra or Gin Blossoms would sink like a stone in a bar here on on a Saturday night. Even stuff like a lot of Pearl Jam hits would sink even though they were huge radio hits because they aren't the right vibe.

    Again, all of this is based on playing a busy, 'jumping' bar or club. The type of place where people party. Which from the OP, I think he's referring to. The recommendations would not apply to a quieter bar where people sit around and drink.

  17. firefuocco

    firefuocco Tele-Holic

    May 19, 2008
    Cornwall UK
    How about (not all that recent):

    Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
    Primal Scream - Rocks
    The Zutons - Valerie
    Aerosmith - Walk this way
    Black Crows - Hard to handle
    Chilli Peppers - Give it away or Californication
    Fun Loving Criminals - Scooby Snacks

    Something by Weezer, Razorlight, Evanescence.

  18. truittsosebee

    truittsosebee TDPRI Member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Kennesaw, GA
    Jet-Are You Gonna Be My Girl
    Buckcherry-Crazy *****
    STP-Dead and Bloated

    These three are absolute musts at the clubs I go to if you want to get people dancing. All 3 are fun to play, too.

  19. garymaddox

    garymaddox Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 25, 2009
    Foat Wuth, Texus
    Listen to some radio stations that cater to the crowd you are playing to. Normal working people want to hear what's on the radio. It's been that way since radio started. Check the local Arbitron ratings for the radio stations in your area. Approach it like someone buying radio time for the demographics you want to target and spend some time listing to those stations. Pick out the songs you like and will work with your group and you should be golden!

  20. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

    May 19, 2004
    No offense guys, but I'm glad I don't have to play most of these songs. :p

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