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View Full Version : What to Play (First Gig) ?



Tuko
03-29-2014, 03:44 PM
Hey guys, I'm sure this thread has been done more than covers of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (:p) but I have a question. I'm finally jumping on the opportunity to perform at an open mic night on campus, and I'd like to ask you guys for good songs for this gig. As far as I know, I will have the chance to play 1 or 2 songs (depending on length). I have been considering playing something off of Nirvana's acoustic MTV show, particularly "Where Did You Sleep Last Night", but I'm concerned that I don't have the raw power or emotion that Kurt had - I don't know if I can do it justice. I have also been considering country songs, as this is a Southern school ("Wagon Wheel" is a big favorite around here). The show is on the 31st, so if you could think of relatively easy-to-learn songs; that would be wonderful.

Again, sorry for the repeat thread and sorry for the rant.

pixiepurls
03-29-2014, 03:48 PM
Hey guys, I'm sure this thread has been done more than covers of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (:p) but I have a question. I'm finally jumping on the opportunity to perform at an open mic night on campus, and I'd like to ask you guys for good songs for this gig. As far as I know, I will have the chance to play 1 or 2 songs (depending on length). I have been considering playing something off of Nirvana's acoustic MTV show, particularly "Where Did You Sleep Last Night", but I'm concerned that I don't have the raw power or emotion that Kurt had - I don't know if I can do it justice. I have also been considering country songs, as this is a Southern school ("Wagon Wheel" is a big favorite around here). The show is on the 31st, so if you could think of relatively easy-to-learn songs; that would be wonderful.

Again, sorry for the repeat thread and sorry for the rant.

I would say Nirvana Come As You Are, but thats just me :D

Tuko
03-29-2014, 03:55 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, pixiepurls, I'll definitely look at that. I've been on a huge grunge kick for the last few weeks.

brUKEman
03-29-2014, 03:58 PM
If you play something familiar to the audience then you can encourage them to sing along with you. Wagon wheel sounds like a good start. Now that you have the crowd involved you can play what you consider your best song (your money song). I always start out with a little joke like I will hold up the uke and say "this is what happens when you leave your guitar in the dryer too long. Good luck and remember to have fun.

Tuko
03-29-2014, 04:11 PM
If you play something familiar to the audience then you can encourage them to sing along with you. Wagon wheel sounds like a good start. Now that you have the crowd involved you can play what you consider your best song (your money song). I always start out with a little joke like I will hold up the uke and say "this is what happens when you leave your guitar in the dryer too long. Good luck and remember to have fun.

Thank you BrUKEman! That's a big help. I like your joke idea too.

OldePhart
03-30-2014, 08:47 AM
The most important thing - play something you are completely comfortable with!

If this is the first time you will be playing and singing in front of a crowd and especially if using a PA the last thing you want to do is add unfamiliarity with the piece of music! I would not set out to learn new songs for a first open mic! Learning new music to "fit" a gig can come later, after you've had that first crowd/PA experience.

If this is the first time you will be singing with a PA be prepared for your voice to come at you out of the PA sounding nothing like you think it does. When you sing you hear partially through your ears and partially through bone conduction. The voice that will be coming at you out of the monitors will not sound like you because the bone conduction component is missing. Assuming that the sound guy is not a complete wanker what you hear coming out of the monitors will be very close to what other people hear when you sing.

So don't try to "chase your voice" in the monitor trying to make it sound "right." Just sing...as long as you are on key don't worry about how the voice sounds - that's the sound guy's job.

Above all - enjoy it. Many people are very nervous about their first public performance and some have to be practically dragged onto the stage...then after they get a taste of it you can't keep them off!

John

peaceweaver3
03-30-2014, 08:56 AM
Sage advice from John once again! I would have said the same, though much less tactfully. :D I especially agree with "Play something completely familiar!" I've been singing and playing publicly for years, and I never learn songs "for gigs" anymore. Why? Because I forget the words. Why? Because I don't like, and so am less familiar with, the songs in the first place. Yes, there's always an element of crowd-pleasing. But you must be comfortable first.

Good luck! Wagon Wheel may be a good choice if you already know it upside down, inside out and backward and can sing it under water while blowing bubbles in your sleep. I think you get the drift. Play something you don't have to think about.

ukuleledaveey
03-30-2014, 09:30 AM
good luck and hope you have fun, absolute great advice from john, i to have been asked to do a gig at a locsl drinking establishment, i have only ever done one open mic, and im certainly no musician, just a basic strummer with a poor voice, my wife and friends want me to do it, but i get terrible nerves
My advice similar to whst john saidstick with songs you know and play well, also a tip i was given is to dumb down when starting out playing live,such as songs with only 3 to 5 chords in, as the nerves kick in simpler songs are easy to pull off, i was told if you can perform upto 80% of your capability live then you are doing ok, but hey you may not get the shakes like me :) there is a great website for simple classic country songs http://www.classic-country-song-lyrics.com/

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Tuko
04-01-2014, 05:06 PM
Thanks all for your suggestions and support. Open mic night went well. I started with Eddie Vedder's "Society" and then Passenger's "Let Her Go" (where one or two people in the audience sang along). Lots of good feedback and constructive criticism. Mostly that it took me about halfway through "Society" to really get warmed up and in my element. Of course I got ribbed by my close friends. All in all, I'm glad I did it.

Wish I could have had audio or video but unfortunately I left my camera in the dorm and nobody else brought one.
Thanks again for all your suggestions and good vibes!

bunnyf
04-01-2014, 06:02 PM
Good for you, tuko! I wanted to put up an encouraging word but saw your post too close to the open mike to do much good. Did you end up picking very familiar songs (oldephart's advice was excellent)? Open mic is not the time to try something that you are not completely comfortable with. It's too easy to blank out on lyrics. I also find that while I want to play the songs I, personally, like..it helps to at least to open with a song that's also familiar to your audience. Do you think the Passenger tune was better received because you settled in or because the audience was more familiar. I am always curious about what goes over and what doesn't. Somethings are more predictably well received (like wagon wheel, with down south audience) and others surprise me (like Gnarls Barkley's Crazy or Sheeran's A team, with an older audience). Are you gonna do open mic again? How do you think your experience will affect your song choice next time?

Tuko
04-01-2014, 06:26 PM
Good for you, tuko! I wanted to put up an encouraging word but saw your post too close to the open mike to do much good. Did you end up picking very familiar songs (oldephart's advice was excellent)? Open mic is not the time to try something that you are not completely comfortable with. It's too easy to blank out on lyrics. I also find that while I want to play the songs I, personally, like..it helps to at least to open with a song that's also familiar to your audience. Do you think the Passenger tune was better received because you settled in or because the audience was more familiar. I am always curious about what goes over and what doesn't. Somethings are more predictably well received (like wagon wheel, with down south audience) and others surprise me (like Gnarls Barkley's Crazy or Sheeran's A team, with an older audience). Are you gonna do open mic again? How do you think your experience will affect your song choice next time?

Hey there bunnyf, I did pick familiar songs. I had first heard "Society" when my high school English teacher made the class watch Into The Wild (to this day one of my favorite soundtracks, but one of my least favorite protagonists) and I learned it on guitar and ukulele as soon as I could. I did follow oldephart's advice (thank you John!) and played familiar tunes. Your question about settling in vs. audience familiarity is a good one, and could be either or (though I know more people who know Let Her Go than who know Society). It's fun to see unexpected results with your audience. I'd absolutely do open mic again, and I plan on getting Wagon Wheel down pat for the audience!
Thanks for your support and for your questions!

-Tuko