Miscellaneous Rumbles

Playing small venues


I’ve been trying to get it into the heads of my band mates that we need to be able to strip it down when we play small dinner set type venues. The drums are the main culprit. Now we’ve had a venue cancel a show last minute because they are fearful of having a “full band” play. I’d love to do accustic gigs where they would be appropriate.
I hope this cancellation gets the point across.
Anybody have advise on playing to the dinner crowd?
I’m thinking a full drum kit is a no go.


Blast stix and brushes, one mounted tom and no crash cymbal was the way our last drummer set up in smaller rooms.

(And it was exactly how he set up in the practice room, too)


Our drummer causes the same issues for us. Hey, They're drums. They're loud!

Acoustic acts are doing way better in my area than bands are, recently.


They make really neat little cocktail kits. My drummer sometimes uses one, though for him it's as much about the portability as the volume. He has no problems playing whatever volume is necessary.


If you want to seehow good a drummer really is give him a snare, brushes and a high hat.


Get an acoustic act together without drums. drums àre loud, and there's a reason there aren't a lot of drums in traditional acoustic lineups. And if it's going to come down to "snare and brushes", bring a snare and brushes. No use bringing a full kit for that.


Goes your drummer have a Cajon? Do you guys do songs that are the soft rock or sound right played softly?

My band is loud, regardless.

There is a venue in our town that has a dinner crowd then after 7 they want you to be a bar band. I have yet to book for this because we couldn't cover enough quiet ground to do it.


Our drummer uses the aformentiond hot rods, brushes, and bamboo brooms when we're putting parts together and performing in exceptionally "live" rooms. He's not pummeling his drums whenever we turn up the volume, so it translates well.

It goes without saying, but it's as much on the band to play to the room too. We've lost dinner gigs because we've played them like "rock and roll concerts with the volume on 2." Said restaurants' patrons found it just as aggravating as a loud band. It's a fun challenge for us to improve this version of our product.


We do a lot of softer stuff. We mostly play 80’s alternative rock. The big issue is getting the drummer to realize a full drum kit is just too much at times. He does have an assortment of “hand drums.”

I hope this cancelation makes him realize there is a time and place for both.

He thinks he can play quiet on a full kit, but I haven’t heard it yet.
I have no problem playing our entire song list soft/ quiet.

Sometimes I feel the perception of being too loud is sometimes just too much going on. Accustic vibe gigs to me have more empty space in the music.


Blast stix and brushes, one mounted tom and no crash cymbal was the way our last drummer set up in smaller rooms.

(And it was exactly how he set up in the practice room, too)

– Kevin Frye

Yup. And a well-behaved drummer. We have a lot of bar/restaurants here in PA and we often begin playing while the restaurant part of the evening is coming to a close and the bar vibe hasn't fully kicked in yet. We're very aware of playing at supper volume and being attentive to when to ratchet it up.


If not a muted drum set with brushes, et al...one of those cajones(sp).


Hank Williams didn't need no goddamned drummer. Learn your set acoustic. I've done it twice and it was a liberating experience both times, and the money goes that much further.


Agreed, did it for years playing Django stuff, it will do great things for your rhythm playing/timing/dynamics etc


Elvis’ first 45’s only had slapback double Bass. That’s Allright Mama and Good Rockin’ Tonight for example. As a student we had an acoustic set while walking in the crowd. Drummer only had a snare. Horns did not play, only clapped and sang. We already had the pretty girls adress before we entered the stage.


Our drummer switched from acoustic to electronic drums. For some small gigs he’s only brought a drum pad. This approach works well for us.

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