.It’s so easy to fall into mediocrity. The venues don’t care. The audiences don’t care. If it’s close enough it’ll pass at 1am. It’s science.
For some the fear of “you suck” keeps them from branching out and trying new things. There’s nothing wrong with playing “Sweet Child of Mine” just like the record, but when what you’re doing looks and sounds just like everybody else, why should a client/venue pick you over the 20 other bands doing exactly what you’re doing?
Most bands suffer from being too generic. They play what everybody in their town plays and there’s no defining item that sets bands apart. Every town is chock full of bar bands playing the same tired 50 songs the same way night after night.
So what can you do? Do you have to reinvent the wheel? No. But it would behoove you to be a student of your competition. Go see some shows. Look on youtube. Make notes of cool ideas other bands are using and incorporate that into your performances. It could be as simple as searching on youtube for a song you cover and watching a few of the highest played videos…
Do they have a cool transition from one song to the next? Do they have a cool stop in the middle that draws attention? Is there [gasp] a choreographed moment that looks fun for the audience? Maybe they do a stylized cover that another band did that is more energetic or raucous. There’s a lot of wiggle room.
And once you find a few of those things, incorporate them and try them out. It may not make a difference at first, but maybe over time you accumulate a stage show that really transcends the other bands around. Maybe you crash & burn on the first try or there’s a train wreck. That’s fine. You learn more from your failures than your successes.
Maybe you play a bar one night and a couple is there that want to hire you to play a private event. Maybe that event gets your more private event work and you don’t have to play out in clubs as much. A few simple upgrades to your set list and performance can get you a lot of return. It worked for my band.