Think of the last time you went to see a great gig. Perhaps it was a local show, with a well-respected local band or maybe it was a bigger sold out show where hundreds of people turned out to see the band play. The lights dim and the band come on launching into one of your favourite songs, as the gig continues the night gets better and better. By the end you’re left exhausted and hoarse from singing at the top of your lungs.
Regardless of who the band may have been, they have just put on a killer show. Their set list will have been deliberated for countless hours in a rehearsal space until they conjured up a list of well-rehearsed songs that flow well with a natural progression and best of all, the set list leaves the audience wanting more. But how have the band crafted their set list to work so well with their audience and show off their best songs?
Open with a great riff
First impressions count for a lot and it’s often said that if you don’t win over an audience within the first few songs then it’s unlikely they’ll be coming to your next show. Your first song doesn’t have to be your best song, but it definitely needs to be one that keeps an audience interested and keen to listen to the rest of your set.
Less is more
It repeatedly becomes apparent that when planning a set list, less is definitely more and there’s nothing worse than watching a band play a set that never seems to end. By choosing five or six of your best songs, putting them in an order which best demonstrates them you’re more likely to win over an audience and have a great gig.
Write in an arc
Most set lists are written in an arc style. This means that a set begins with upbeat and energetic songs, quieter and laid back songs in the middle then moving towards the end with more energetic numbers.
Finishing your set
When choosing a song to end on, you should select a song, which will make your band memorable to the audience. Ideally, this song will be a sing-along song where the audience can get involved before your set ends.
If the audience are impressed by your performance, you may find that you get the opportunity to play an encore. You should always have a spare encore song ready if this chance arises. For some bands, this encore could be a popular cover song or maybe a popular original song, which you know will go down well with an audience.