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The Three to Four Hour Band Gig?

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by MilwMark, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    I keep seeing references to this beast. And I always scratch my head.

    You guys who are playing 4 hour gigs - where are you paying them, and what the heck do you get paid?

    We occasionally reluctantly sign up for a 3 hour gig. Feels like eternity.

    Two 45-50 minute sets is much more common or even one 50-60 minute set. I prefer that anyway.

    I mean, Springsteen is kinda lauded/mocked for his epic 3 hour shows. But he has a 40+ year career to pull material from.

    Just curious.
    String Tree likes this.

  2. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    My band has enough original material for 1 and a half 45 minute sets, and an eclectic mix of covers for 1 and a half 45 minute sets. We've played mostly single 45 minute sets, but have had a handful of 3-set gigs that last 3 hours. These are at private parties and bars that are more known for their food and location (i.e. on the boardwalk in a beach town), than as a touring band 'venue'. Those 'venue' bars are usually 3 bands each playing 1 40 minute set. There are also sports bars here that book bands for 3-set all-night gigs, but they are looking strictly for cover bands.

  3. DarkKnight37

    DarkKnight37 Tele-Meister

    May 21, 2016
    Mississippi Gulf Coast
    Four hours is the normal barroom gig here in South Mississippi and the surrounding area. I started playing in bands in 2003 and that's how it's always been. Casino gigs are the same way down here. There was one bar up in Vicksburg where we had to play from 9 pm to 3 am, both Friday and Saturday nights. We did that once and never booked a weekend gig there ever again.
    Gibsonsmu, aerhed, Fiesta Red and 2 others like this.

  4. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 14, 2013
    what's that work out to per person per hour?

  5. archiemax

    archiemax Tele-Meister

    Oct 11, 2016
    Phoenix AZ

  6. DarkKnight37

    DarkKnight37 Tele-Meister

    May 21, 2016
    Mississippi Gulf Coast
    Depends on the bar, band, and how many members, but I'll usually make $100-150 a night. You don't play music in Hancock County, Mississippi to get rich. I don't, anyway.
    oldgofaster and daddyplaysbass like this.

  7. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 14, 2013
    I'd like to live in a world where people pay musicians well, but ...

    we don't live in that world.

  8. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    That has been my experience as well. When you do those 3 hour gigs, am I interpreting correctly that you are not "the show" and so perhaps a different level of energy and showmanship is in play? I.e., much more laid-back and relaxed - you're part of the ambiance? That's generally been my experience. It's probably why I like them a bit less - but also whey they are do-able. I can't maintain the energy to front and entertain for more than about two 50 minute sets.

  9. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Nov 9, 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    Maybe some other acts, but not us! We take over the evening, our front lady is very engaging and charismatic and has enough energy to keep everybody in the bar lively for the full 3 hours. We wouldn't be a good match for a place that wants a musical act as part of the wallpaper.

    I like these gigs better actually because we get paid more, and because I just like playing for more time. I think we get more "cred" from the audience too. By the end of a 45 minute set, I am barely getting warmed up and I just want to keep playing. So sometimes we have a whole month between gigs, and the day comes around and I'm cold and hitting clunker notes for the first 20 minutes! Grr!

    I am also finding a difference in playing gigs in Philly where people may be a bit desensitized to the amount of good music they can see on any given Saturday night... vs heading to the shore or to the exurbs where people go to the one bar in town that books music because they want some entertainment. The energy in the latter crowds has been better for us lately. Although we keep the energy up at every show.
    MilwMark likes this.

  10. mudbelly

    mudbelly Tele-Meister

    May 19, 2012
    United States
    I have played many 8 to midnight gigs doing old school hard country at vfw and spjst halls for 50 bucks per band member. Dance floor be full of hard core two stepping waltzing and polka all night. Take two 15 or 20 minute breaks.
    Bob M, dougstrum, Fiesta Red and 6 others like this.

  11. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2014
    down every road
    Four hours is the club norm around here too, usually 8-12. I've played from 9pm-2am occasionally in the past, but never again.

    Furthermore, bars are paying local bands roughly the same as they were thirty-five years ago, when I started out around these parts.

    Oh well. If you want to play, you book. If you want to make money, stay home ;).

  12. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2016
    Many bar gigs here in So Cal are 9pm-1pm. I don't see that as being unusual. Bars usually want more than 2 hours of music.

    The pay sucks. Usually $200 for the whole band and few comp you drinks. More than once I've had to use my gig money to cover my bar tab at the end of the night. I've had a Blues Brothers incident too where me and my girlfriend drank more than my gig pay and didn't have any money to cover the rest.

    I don't do it for the money. I'm lucky if I break even.
    haggardfan1, DarkKnight37 and blowery like this.

  13. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Feb 12, 2011
    9 or 10 to 2 for rock stuff (4 12 sng sets) long breaks
    7 to 10 or 11 for acoustic stuff (3sets)
    Patrick Nelson and soulman969 like this.

  14. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's

    Oct 14, 2015
    IL, USA
    9-1 is very common around here. I play with old guys that have some pull, so they usually play earlier and for less time. Last time about 2:15 minutes of music with a nice break between sets.

  15. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 17, 2003
    Charlotte NC
    Well , I've been doin' club duty for 4 decades, 4 hours was standard with 15 or 20 min breaks. After doin' this for as long as I have and as others have as well, 4 hours of material is a breeze ! Springsteen doesn't own this Rodeo ! I can probably front 4 hours by myself and I'm not even close to being the front singer. 4 decades is a lot of time to learn and catalog a lot of songs . What do we cover ? Haggard to Hendrix or also called Jones to Stones. A typical 3 hour gig will call for about 36 songs, maybe as many as 40. Gigs are NOT 40 totally different songs, we have always used a standard working set list but going astray is also very typical. We may play 20 on the list and 20 not on the list. It just happens. My own personal experience allows me to cover traditional Country, lots of Stones ,Beatles, Clapton, Petty etc..A bunch of Blues...just all sorts of music we have played thru the years that was always very well received.

    The past few years I have been doing 3 hour gigs, with some 4 hr gigs in between. How much do we earn ? A 4 piece band can earn $125 a man while a 5 piece a tad less, the total band pay is the same. I average $100/night.

    I carry an IPad with maybe 100 song lyrics and I generally only cover maybe 8 or 10 songs on a gig. Last gig we had a PAID request for "Please Come to Boston"..a $20 bill. Guess what song I sang ? yeh, we do that song now and then but it's not a regular.

    Just learn songs and keep track of them. One day you will NOT be sorry !

  16. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    I think this is for the "background music" type cover bands. Churn out 50 or so note-for-note covers to provide dance/party music in the background. Not for bands you actively watch who are trying to put on an entertaining show. I've got a friend who does this. They get hired and do weddings and stuff.
    daddyplaysbass likes this.

  17. TimothyC

    TimothyC Tele-Afflicted

    May 12, 2016
    Props to you guys. 5 hours of punk music at 1:30 average per song (=P) would be 230ish songs!
    kafka, Anode100, VintageSG and 2 others like this.

  18. soul-o

    soul-o Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 29, 2007
    4 hours is the standard bar gig or wedding reception. Its generally 3 sets (I've never held band that need a break every hour in high regard). Now, I usually do the cocktail hour at weddings and we very often get asked to do OT, so 6 hours is not very uncommon. Now, that's for cover gigs. Original gigs are 45 minutes or an hour and the pay scale is VASTLY different.
    soulman969 likes this.

  19. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    May 2, 2003
    Out in the sticks, and around 3 bills

    Depending on the project (band) , I do a lot more combo shows, with 2-4 bands on the bill, and the pay is, like, very little. Somewhere around here I have a scrap of paper, probably a cockitail napkin, which compiles how much was taken at the door, then how much the soundman got, then the 3 or 4 way split ,with a result of like 7 dollars for The Blowtorches :p

    In those shows you hope for decent merch sales

    Even at the better paying long gigs, you don't break even, if you figure everything into it.

    You do it out of love
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017

  20. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    Intriguing. Places with longer windows around here seem to book 2-3 bands to fill if they can.

    So a lot of those 3-4 hour slots are "general" covers then - 50s-today?

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