3a) THE SHOW: Wardrobe does in fact matter, and a nod towards tribute bands
I hadn’t originally intended to continue discussing the Show aspect of being successful, but I realized I probably should have elaborated more on the wardrobe. Then I remembered that I completely forgot about discussing whether sequencing is good or bad, and when I decided to break this off into a part 2 before moving on to Relationships, I decided to mention a bit about tribute bands, too. (Although I’m wondering if I’ll be able to do them justice as opposed to breaking them off into their own article completely. This thing is just getting out of control…)
Let me see if I can get wardrobe out of the way. For some reason I was pretty ambivalent about the importance of wardrobe, even though I recognized that for certain genre-specific bands it was a huge part of the package. But even now I’m having trouble articulating it’s value. I guess because I’ve seen bands be successful without necessarily going all out and dressing up. For example, a country singer can get away with jeans and a t-shirt, you know? But then again, I suppose it helps if they were well-fitted jeans and a well-fitted t-shirt, and not something dirty or sloppy. I guess at the end, it’s important to dress like you give a shit. Don’t half-ass it and show up like a slob because you insist, again, that it’s about the music, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. Definitely dress up befitting your genre—great fun if you’re an 80s tribute—though for a standard all-eras cover band that can encompass a lot and be pretty open-ended (and for that matter, I have seen bands take the wardrobe part too far as to become a distraction). All I can say is, just don’t be a slob.
And speaking of genres, I want to address tribute bands for a second. Tribute bands are a whole other animal from cover bands, with different challenges and different expectations (as pertaining to the wardrobe part above, tributes MUST dress accordingly). People who will vacate the dance floor when that variety cover band from my previous post self-indulges on that Led Zeppelin song may very well go nuts when that same Zeppelin song is played by an actual Led Zeppelin tribute band. The context is different, the expectations are different. But tribute bands are also a tougher sell for a bar or club on a regular weekend night. Not everyone at the bar is going to necessarily be a fan of a Led Zeppelin, or a KISS, or a U2, or an AC/DC, and if all they’re hearing are covers of the same band’s songs all night, they’re going to clear out after a few songs unless it happens to be that rare tribute that has a lot of danceable hits (I know some bar owners refuse to book tributes for this reason). But at the same time, when you have the right opportunity—ie St. Patrick’s Day is basically New Year’s Eve for a U2 tribute, or a biker rally for an AC/DC tribute—it can be just as nuts as the most popular cover band. Yet I’ve also seen tribute bands playing where every table and seat was full but nobody was dancing; in fact, they were all silent and watching the tribute intently. And I’m there wondering if something’s wrong and if the band is bombing or what, but then they finish the song everyone in the crowd goes nuts. As opposed to wanting to go crazy and dance all night, they were actually there to take in the music and the experience. Having said that, I find tribute bands would be best served limiting their bar gigs and focusing on landing corporate and other special event shows. A trend I see are pairs or sets of tributes playing on the same bill, and I think that will continue to be the standard going forward.