NWB - Community Blog


2 sets, 1 set, Small breaks between sets or what???

Filed Under : Rants , Other

Posted By : Mutha Humbucker | Comments : 35

What works for you guys

Always a question at venues .... We tend to work around 2x 45 min and 15 mins or 2/3 songs encore at the end - we always have a 30 min break chat to punters get changed tune up back on etc... however in some venues a shorter break - Is there a set way or do you simply go with the flow.

Sometimes a break can kill the atmosphere you have built in the first set then you have to start to warm them up again .....

Certain venues have set times you play and some leave it to you with a approx start time and finish time..

What works best for you?


# Posted by MICK NASH - 01/02/2012, 14:22 (GMT)

It used to be easy;
2x45s, (9.30-10.15) then (10.30-11.15) now it's "can you start at nine and finish at...well you can play all night if you want, most bands do three or four hours"

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/02/2012, 14:24 (GMT)

We currently do 2 sets or on rare occasions a single long set without a break depending on requirement. I prefer the single long set personally. Most of the venues we play ask for a 2 set show for some reason.

We seem to have it pretty easy over here though. A lot of the venues in the U.S. expect 3 or 4 sets starting at 8/8.30 and continuing to well after midnight.

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/02/2012, 14:25 (GMT)

Mick, which venues are they? I've never encountered that around here mate.

# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 14:39 (GMT)

@Mick Wow 3-4 hour sets - we have enough for about 3-4 hours but seems like a lot 2 hours seems a long time which we have done before - infact we had been doing near on 2 one hour set with an encore but saw that actually we were doing far more in certain venues than what was required..

@Bad Horsie - 3-4 sets... so how many tracks do you typicall y get through at a gig?

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/02/2012, 14:47 (GMT)

Thankfully I've not had to do the 3 or 4 set stint yet mate, but I have an extensive family and friend base over there. If I do manage to go and live in the U.S. I'm fully prepared for having to do so. :o)

# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 14:50 (GMT)

Sounds challenging.. amazing how the circuit req' changes pending on town, city or nation..

# Posted by Havoc 51 - 01/02/2012, 14:58 (GMT)

Generally we're finding we're being asked to do "between half nine till about half twelve".
This is generally done by us fudging the start time to 9:40 til about 10 to 11, then 5 or ten past 11 till we get told to stop. (insert your own joke here)

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/02/2012, 14:58 (GMT)

"# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 14:50 (GMT)
Sounds challenging.. amazing how the circuit req' changes pending on town, city or nation.."

No kidding. I was in New Orleans in September last year. The bar bands on Bourbon St work their asses off and are of a simply incredible quality.

As a for instance we actually went to one bar (name escapes me atm) 3 nights running purely on the song choice and the fact that we went out for Dinner at 6, watched them for 30 mins on the way back, went out again for drinks at 9 and they were STILL GOING at 1.30am. 3 nights running. It was amazing.

# Posted by Steve McCartney - 01/02/2012, 14:59 (GMT)

we just do the 2 x 45 plus encores though sometimes, if its a really good one, we'll push each set up to an hour. Though some places have an idea in mind. Some places have started asking us for three half hour sets instead.

# Posted by egbert - 01/02/2012, 15:04 (GMT)

Personally I don't like doing multiple sets (on the odd occasion we're asked to) as I find it really hard to cope with a break in terms of building up, stopping, building up again.

# Posted by Scott - 01/02/2012, 15:10 (GMT)

We were doing 1x60min followed by an 1hr 2nd set plus 15-20min encore, but it was unsustainable especially when gigging 2 nights on the trot, so we cut it down a bit.
Now we do 50min first set followed by a 45min second set plus 20 15/20 min encore.
We ask the venue what time they want us to start and finish, that the dictates how long a break we take in between.
Any venue that asks us for 1 set expect a 90min set. Don't think I could do much more than that without a break.

# Posted by Alyerpal - 01/02/2012, 15:22 (GMT)

What he said/\ - we ask the venuestart/finish time, but always have a break, just to get a drink if nothing else. First set is about 50mins, 2nd is an hour and 10 plus the 'encores' (which, like you guys, we were going to play anyway!)


# Posted by MICK NASH - 01/02/2012, 15:26 (GMT)

When someone says "you can play all night if you want, most bands do three or four hours" they are taking the piss but they don't think I realise it. These days I usually do 2x1hour sets or 3x40mins but that's just because I'd rather be playing than standing around making one pint last all night. The guy who used to run the Queens, Leyland told me all the bands who play there did three hours, I told him that's not true but he was adamant and wouldn't be told.
Some guys reckon they play a lot longer but they probably only do one gig a week so don't have to pace their voice.
2 hours is plenty.
Also, two encores is plenty. Some audiences will urge you to carry on but they're just angling for more drinking time.

# Posted by MICK NASH - 01/02/2012, 15:29 (GMT)

Here's a question for ya! What's the greatest number of sets you've had to play in one night?
(overseas gigs count)

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/02/2012, 15:31 (GMT)

Just two (so far) here mate.

# Posted by Alyerpal - 01/02/2012, 15:37 (GMT)

Four x 40mins at Knights Bar in Macc and there was alot of headscratching to pad that out I can tell you!


# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 15:41 (GMT)

#Here's a question for ya! What's the greatest number of sets you've had to play in one night?
(overseas gigs count)

Well weve played in total for 2 half hours with a small break on a Friday night but then gone out and done the same the next day (Day time gig) then done a night time gig on that same day again 2half hours and a small break then done sunday night then a monday night it was over a bank holiday and I was tired to say the least

# Posted by On The Edge - 01/02/2012, 15:41 (GMT)

2 x 45 is standard for us, some places whant us to do 3 x 30 mins which goes bloody quick. but i have done 6, YES 6, 3 gigs in one day. NEVER AGAIN .

# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 15:43 (GMT)

Jesus - anyone up for a NWB marathon - proceeds go to Charity lol

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/02/2012, 15:45 (GMT)

Once I get up playing, I could do it all day. No exaggeration here. If I had the repertiore. lol.

# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 15:46 (GMT)

@ Mick... I have the same way of thinking just a I know my voice would give in before I did

@AYP I wonder how many of us have padded out the set to stretch it a little ... I know I have done it in the past singing Solo but it actually works the punters and other times you can tell its time to paly and stop talking in other venues.

# Posted by MICK NASH - 01/02/2012, 15:54 (GMT)

One of the bands I used to be in used to play a gig called the Tordenskjold, in Harstad, Norway, that was 6x45s. Another one had a residency in Dubai which was 4x45s, 6 nights a week. It’s hard work but you get used to it because the working environment lends itself to it …and the money’s good.

# Posted by Alyerpal - 01/02/2012, 15:54 (GMT)

It's a standard requiremnet of being a live playing muso isn't it? All the songs you've shuffled out of the set as you got bored with them and learnt new ones suddenly get a renewed lease of life! - well, for one night anyway.....

4 x 45 mins? For £40?


# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 16:04 (GMT)


# Posted by 4most Wanted - 01/02/2012, 16:06 (GMT)

@Mick Nash - 5 x 40mins, 6 nights a week. Navy Bar, Puerto Banus, Spain.

In answer to the original post, I think around 2 hours playing time these days is the norm. That could be 2 x 50mins and 15- 20mins encore, or 3 x 30 with same encore. Again though, I believe it's the venue and the audience that will dictate the flow.

# Posted by Mick (ex Bad Horsie) - 01/02/2012, 16:30 (GMT)

Generally speaking we (well, I) find out what time they want us on and off and I try to fit as much stage time in as I can between those 2 times. The break is usually extended by the amount of time it takes to get A: A smoking drummer back inside and B: A salesman singer to stop fucking yapping to anyone who will listen .lol.

# Posted by Mutha Humbucker - 01/02/2012, 16:53 (GMT)

I am in sales to ... I yap .. and I smoke LMAO .... Kinda like your worst nightmare when it comes to hurrying the Fxxk up and getting back on stage ...

# Posted by 3 Daze Lost - 01/02/2012, 17:38 (GMT)

We used to just keep going until we felt like we wanted to stop. Using the 1st set of 10 songs (approx. 45 mins) and 2nd set of 12 songs plus scribbling down a bunch of potential encore tunes (anything up to another 16, I think was the most we ever wrote down. With the intention to not have to play them all, but just for choice, venue dependant.)
But we've decided this past 12 months that we're playing usually far too many for the money we get paid and have consciously tried to keep the times down a bit under control.
The longest set we ever did, was a 2nd set that started at 10.45 and ended at 12.55, at The Pub in Lancaster cos the whole place was up from song 1 in the 1st set! So after the break, we just kept going. We only stopped cos we know they close at 1am!
This year, we're doing 1 x 10 songs, 1 x 12 songs, and have 8 as encores. But we'll play it by ear at each gig, tbh.

# Posted by Mark C Marauder + Whitefake - 01/02/2012, 18:22 (GMT)

We did the usual 3 hour total playing time at the Black Bull on Saturday. We usually do 1 hour first set, 20 min break then around 1 and half hour second set including encores.

# Posted by Jez - 01/02/2012, 18:24 (GMT)

with my punters head on, I prefer a break in the middle.

# Posted by THE EXIT - 01/02/2012, 19:25 (GMT)

Agreed - two sets, of a decent length, plus any encores, to be judged by the atmosphere on the night and the feedback from the punters. Finish at a reasonable time, especially if you got work the next day! You need a break in the middle, surely - call of nature, top up the throat varnish of course. But I'm glad it's not just our band that has trouble getting certain nattering/smoking members back on stage!


# Posted by Roj (Black Rose) - 01/02/2012, 19:32 (GMT)

We play a 50 mins 1st set, have a 15 min break, then do about 70 min 2nd set, then a couple of encores. 2 hour plus show. We're doing a Sunday afternoon gig at The Talbot in Burnley sometime in May and they want us to do 3 30min sets which is unusual for a pub, although I have played 3 sets before in a working mens club.

# Posted by Boomin - 01/02/2012, 20:31 (GMT)

Yeah 2 45 minute sets about 20 minute break to chat to people and get the drinks in and 15 minute encore usually.


# Posted by The Extras - 01/02/2012, 21:43 (GMT)

i have always prefered to play straight through, the multiple set thing is a throwback to cabaret/ clubland were they make the band work around the bingo and open the box.

unfortunately most pubs these days have longer opening times and so need to keep the punters entertained for longer, when i first started out everywhere had a 11pm last orders and everyone out by 11.30 so it was easier to do the one long set.

the worst scenario is when they want you to do the first spot at 9pm and then only want you to finish at 12.30 which then means you end up with a 1 to 1 &1/2 hour break and everyone gets pissed off waiting.

i have never been to the Apollo or the M.E.N etc to watch a band who buggered off after 50 minutes for a 30 minute break, the only band i have ever known do this was the Eagles.


# Posted by THE STAN'S - 02/02/2012, 13:22 (GMT)

Usually 2 sets of approx 50 mins each, 15 to 20 min break and 10 to 15 mins encore. Sometimes 3 sets 35 to 40 mins including encore

Cheers donna

back to top

Blog Search

Follow NWB on Facebook and Twitter

Cottam Guitars

10% Discount for NWB members, email max@cottamguitars.co.uk

LaLuna Amp Repairs

Valve & solid state amp repairs, mods and servicing. FX, PA & studio gear repairs. Hadfield, Glossop north Derbyshire.

Bakehouse Studio

Accrington's cosy project studio. Book online 24/7. Use code NWB20bc110301 for NWB members special 20% discount.

Who's On?

Hot Posts

Community Blog Guidelines

  1. Be nice: Even if you disagree with someone, you need to keep your tone civil and reasonable.
  2. Keep on topic: Please keep discussions relevant to each topic and avoid multiple topic posts.
  3. Don't Spam: Show restraint with your posting frequency. We're all doing cool stuff on NWB, but if we post about it too much, it can be distracting.
  4. Respect the Moderators: The entire Community Staff were users once, just like you. We try very hard to answer everyone's questions, so please be cool.