How to Choose Songs for a Great Concert Set List
Playing a great live rock or acoustic gig requires making a great set list. After playing close to one hundred shows I found have found tested results about pacing guitar and placing songs carefully in a set list to keep your audience engaged. Here are tips for how to prepare an awesome set list for acoustic and rock gigs and concerts.
Start out at 100% energy and what would be the song you have at 80% of your fastest tune to start live concert. You want to be able to build up to peak energy in the middle of the show. You also want to come out at least 90 beats per second to get the crowd lively. Choose an opening song for your set list that is emblematic of your band or sound. For me, “Return” is a thematic entry to my shows that introduce the style I will be playing for the night.
Take the speed notch up 5% to song number two of the set list. Keep the energy high and introduce a song with an additional element like a time stop or a solo to break up any feelings of similarity for the first song. You may also choose to do the same with the third song.
Around song three or four is the time to break out your first off beat, slow song, or ballad. This is the perfect occasion for one of your favorites. “Losing Sleep” fills the void for that song in my gigs. Take the audience to a softer place for this one and let them think about your lyrical skills and background instrumentation and make them realize your versatility.
The fifth or sixth song will usually launch the ramp of speed back up again. Build your bass and drum coordination to get the audience excited here. Bring the noise as you have reached a middle ground for upbeat sound for a rock band or resonate vocal escalations for acoustic shows.
Now that you’ve arrived mid set pull out your best song. Bring the heat and sell it with your heart and nothing else. Bring the energy and deliver your sound.
Back off a bit and bring out the second ballad or slow song. Be reflective and invite participation where necessary. From here there is a separation of opinions between leaving them rocking or leaving on a middle drift note to leave them wanting more. Finish the gig and finish the crowd to rock another day.