Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Real Life Examples of the Science of Setlists

Not so long ago I discussed a number of rules for setlists and since I've seen a number of shows in the past few weeks, I figured I'd mention a few bands that got things mostly right. I spoke in the earlier post of how bands should be balancing the material from all over their career and still, playing some surprises for good measure, Cake and Doves both did that in their recent 9:30 club shows. Here's the breakdown for the bands by albums (and I may be off by a song here or there):

Album 1: 3
Album 2: 6
Album 3: 4
Album 4: 5
Album 5: 2
New Song: 1
Covers From B-Sides Album: 1 or 2

Album 1: 3
Album 2: 4
Album 3: 3
Album 4: 6
Old Pre-Doves Song Called Space Face That I Love Very Much: 1

Cake did a number of good things: they played the most songs from their best album and the least songs from their worst album (it's amazing more bands don't do that). They were unafraid to play some ballads and the ones they chose were great (Mexico, Guitar, Sad Songs and Waltzes). They were also unafraid to play the hits and I've rarely heard as much audience participation. Plus they snuck in their only instrumental song Arco Arena for good measure (no doubt satisfying the fellow behind me whow as calling out for it).

I could quibble a bit about the Doves set length - only an hour for the actual set, plus a decent five song encore, but what they did play was great. They played plenty of hits but weren't overly behonden to them. They didn't play New York or Catch the Sun but did get to the last songs on both The Last Broadcast and Some Cities. Plus the two non-hits they played from their first album were fantastic choices (Firesuite and Rise). And even though they could have easily stopped playing it years ago since they now have plenty of material for their set, they brought out Space Face, an old classic they used to encore with back when they were just starting.

All this is to emphasize that while you can't please everyone, most people would be damn pleased with the sets these two bands played.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I misplaced a bunch of my cds during my most recent move and unfortunately all of my Cake cds disappeared. I hope they come back to the city soon so I can obtain my required dosage.

You know who could take a lesson from the Max Nova? Conor Oberst. I've seen him at 9:30 twice, and he only played around three old songs each time. He gave a speech on his reasoning, something like "I played those songs already." Never again.