Date: Sat 16 May, 2009 at 12:44
Headline: The Neurotic Connoisseur
Greetings & Salutations!
So I think I have the set list for the 5/28 Acoustic Show finalized.
I think. Maybe.
Last November's show at Mo's was a real highlight -- one of the most fun, rewarding gigs we'd played in a long time. Using what we played then as a jumping off point, I'm trying to find the balance between older songs, newer songs, cover songs, faster songs, slower songs, songs which worked really well last time, songs which will keep it fresh, songs where each of us have our time to shine individually, songs for which we can invite our friends on stage, songs in which the entire audience can participate, and so forth.
Equally as important are providing a good flow of moods and modes, being able to sustain a good vibe without burning out on it, placing the talk breaks and instrument switches at appropriate intervals that won't drag the pace out, when to stop vs when to segue, and the all-important question which has been plaguing me since this gig was conceived: to break, or not to break? In the time between sets we inevitably lose some people, but take the whole show as a single block and keeping up both the flow and the energy level becomes a much tougher challenge. And, in either case, it has to bear out mathematically too.
Choosing songs for the 5/29 Electric Show was a bit easier, mostly due to the gig's limitations. Our set will be much shorter, some of the additional musicians need extra practice time, and there are a few tunes in the catalog which really only work in big'n'loud context, so we wanted to make sure and feature them. Even then, we have alternates in place just in case some of the original song choices don't work out for whatever reason, but overall it was a much more simple show to design.
As I've mentioned before, I LOVE this stuff. I've been constructing set lists as long as I've been playing music, and it's one of my favorite things about playing music. I'll do it with our tunes, I'll do it with anyone else's, I'll do it when I'm on the clock and also just to unwind, making a mental mix tape for kicks like some folks would tackle a crossword or a game of Sudoku. I can get a little ...er... overwrought about it sometimes (in an e-mail just yesterday, Matt referred to me as "the neurotic set list connoisseur") but it's just like any other creative endeavor: deeply gratifying when it goes well, and even kinda secretly pleasing when something doesn't quite work out, because then there's a new puzzle to solve for next time.
One thing I'm definitely excited about is the span of material we're gonna cover over these next two shows. Only two songs will cross over to both, and even they will have very different vibes each night. Even so, the biggest hurdle has been choosing what to leave out...which is always a fantastic problem to have. :)