Apr
09

Why do bands suck when they play live?

Some bands just don’t do great live. My Chemical Romance is one of my favorite bands, but their live performances are not nearly as good as the recording…I love Paramore too, but the live performances are okay, but not great. Paramore sounds cool on their albums though. I know the problem is the singer in most cases of live bands. Why is it such a different experience? I know that they fix up mistakes in recording studios, but when they play live there shouldn’t be much of a difference.

As someone who does music production, a few ideas

A) Auto-tune, Compression, Filters, Sound/synth background effects/add-ins..and recordings done via multiple microphones with different 5+ band EQs for each mic are possible in studios. Often none of these set-ups is possible live, especially in a not-so-fancy venue.

B) Better acoustics in the studio vs. the live venue

C) Multiple recording takes in the studio (many bands I know of even record each riff separately)

D) Let’s get real…in recording studios the band pays a lot for recording time while in a live act one of the members may arrive, say, a bit drunk/drugged/hung-over or just honestly dog tired from a multiple-day long bus trip to your city.
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Some musicians I’ve heard who are just as good live include Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Darius Rucker, and Carlos Santana. Sadly, with most "multi-platinum" artists, most of the polish is added by lots of studio work…it’s kind of like photo-shopping some pretty-good-looking woman’s pic to look dashingly super-model-ish.

Then again those are not huge/major groups (at least on the level of, say, Nickelback) but more self-sufficient and independent acts and, as such, their live and studio setups are much more alike than more major-label type artists. Plus they rely more on musical technique and less on fancy effects to back them up…so even if you gave them terribly crappy recording equipment you’d still find they retain much of their quality.

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16 responses for this post

  1. Mouse Says:

    The screaming fans ruin it.
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  2. MrsDaveWelsh Says:

    Sometimes it’s because the lead singer is jumping around to much and they don’t sound great due to lack of breath. And some people just aren’t that talented. :)
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  3. Caroline ♥ Danny Jones Says:

    Yes I agree with you 100%…I am also a big MCR fan, and have to admit that Gerard’s voice when he is on stage isn’t that great…
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  4. mawty92 Says:

    youre not used to hearing how they REALLY sound until youve heard em live….
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    depends on how much my dixie wrecked…..

  5. Spiffy Says:

    It’s because they usually aren’t rehearsed enough.
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    internet and duh!

  6. Philly Says:

    Those two bands you named are highly commercial and a lot of time and effort goes into over-producing their recordings. There are many other bands who do great live shows.
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  7. maximus Says:

    they sound bad because they are in an open area, with alot of other noise around them. when you listen to recorded music, usually equipment is used to make them sound better. it mixes noise levels of instruments to have a better quality sound.
    when in concert, they dont have that equipment. and depending on location, some concert halls are terribly set up for acustics and echo problems which make the sound quality suffer greatly. having to stand for 3 to 4 hours usually makes the experience worse, especially when some fans feeel that drugs are a necessity.
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  8. Tessa Says:

    because those bands suck. obviously they’re going to suck live too.
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  9. Wire & String Says:

    several factors:
    -the mix, a sh*tty soundboard guy or bad acoustics can ruin a concert
    -the tricks, there are all sorts of things you can do in the studio that you cant do live
    -the skill, you may not want to believe it about your favorite band, but some bands just arent that good and use studio musicians etc to bridge the gap.
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  10. mariel Says:

    I am absolutely a BIG MCR fan. I’ve been to their concert… and yes, they don’t sound that good live but it’s not that bad. They’re still great doing their music and their style. And one reason is that because when they record it, they can still edit it and stuff to amke it a little but better, and to fix some stuff on the record… so when they do it live or they have a concert, they can’t edit it and stuff of course. :)
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  11. K-Press Says:

    the non commercial bands always sound the best. usually in studio, artists voices are doubled over for a better sound and you obviously can’t get that live. the big famous bands are just there for your money while bands like dream theater are there to play for the love of music.
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  12. Mush Says:

    You answered your own question with MCR and Paramore.
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  13. M S Says:

    As someone who does music production, a few ideas

    A) Auto-tune, Compression, Filters, Sound/synth background effects/add-ins..and recordings done via multiple microphones with different 5+ band EQs for each mic are possible in studios. Often none of these set-ups is possible live, especially in a not-so-fancy venue.

    B) Better acoustics in the studio vs. the live venue

    C) Multiple recording takes in the studio (many bands I know of even record each riff separately)

    D) Let’s get real…in recording studios the band pays a lot for recording time while in a live act one of the members may arrive, say, a bit drunk/drugged/hung-over or just honestly dog tired from a multiple-day long bus trip to your city.
    ————————————-
    Some musicians I’ve heard who are just as good live include Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Darius Rucker, and Carlos Santana. Sadly, with most "multi-platinum" artists, most of the polish is added by lots of studio work…it’s kind of like photo-shopping some pretty-good-looking woman’s pic to look dashingly super-model-ish.

    Then again those are not huge/major groups (at least on the level of, say, Nickelback) but more self-sufficient and independent acts and, as such, their live and studio setups are much more alike than more major-label type artists. Plus they rely more on musical technique and less on fancy effects to back them up…so even if you gave them terribly crappy recording equipment you’d still find they retain much of their quality.
    References :

  14. ɦăňňăɦ ĭš ă ƅăšƙĕtčăšĕ Says:

    Come back after you’ve spruced up your musical tastes.
    Cheers,
    ~Hannah
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  15. Death to False Metal Says:

    Your first problem is that the two bands you mentioned both suck period, just what the other guy said: they only care about commercial success and over producing their music to make a profit rather than actually putting forth effort. many bands I like are incredible live. there are better bands outside of the mainstream.
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  16. keeprockin Says:

    Well obviously they aren’t going to sound as polished as a recording,which probaby took god knows how many takes before issue,but live a music performace is alway better than recordings no matter what your taste in music is
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