What do one-hit wonder bands do for concerts?

People basically only go there to hear their one song, right? Like what does Dishwalla do when it holds a concert? Do they play their one song and leave?

While it is possible that a one-hit wonder truly only has one song to its name, it isn’t very likely. They play a set of their music (original or licensed) to fill the time they’re given. A band on its first album may only get 45 minute sets on a double (or more) bill.

I went to a Gerardo concert once at Six Flags Over Texas. He was a one-hit-wonder whose claim to (short-lived) fame was the song Rico Suave. They played the instrumental part of it over the speakers as we waited for the concert to start, he sang a few songs that nobody had ever heard of and then ended it with an extended version of Rico Suave. It wasn’t a bad concert but there wasn’t a lot of popular material to work with.

A friend of mine saw The Knack (technically a 3-hit wonder) in the early 2000s. He said they played My Sharona twice, once to open and once to close the show. In between they played their other 2 hits and a lot of material from the debut album, but also some newer stuff.

They open for bands that are just starting to make it big, but aren’t quite there yet.

ETA, looking very quickly, it seems that in the 90’s, Dishwalla toured with Better Than Ezra, Sheryl Crow and the Gin Blossoms.

I remember hearing on the radio that Europe opened and closed with The Final Countdown and played songs in between that nobody knew.

A few years ago I saw The Heavy play at one of the fests in downtown Chicago and they closed with How You Like Me Now. Seems pretty obvious to me, but vocal members in the audience kept yelling for it in between every song. Granted, that’s what we all wanted to hear, it’s an awesome song (and I know it’s an homage to an earlier song), but it seemed like the majority of the people there didn’t want to hear anything else. Then when the singer, Kelvin Swaby, called out and asked if anyone was going to their show that night, it was like a gag in the Simpsons where everyone kind of gulped and shuffled their feet. He was still real cool though and posed for pics after his set.

Not always, sometimes an act blows up so big so fast there’s some strange things happening.

I saw Alanis Morrisette as ‘Jagged Little Pill’ was really becoming a phenomenon. She was clearly headliner status but wasn’t copping to her earlier teenybopper incarnation. She had Loud Lucy (sort-of one hit wonder) opening for her (I think she was dating one of them) and she played her entire album plus two other songs. Fourteen or so in total. This was at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA that holds about 10,000 and she filled the place up.

They sing their hit song, then they go home. Didn’t you ever watch The Partridge Family?

We had a concert from The Tokens not long ago. Outside of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and MAYBE “Tonight I fell in Love” what did they do?

They did a whole bunch of do-wop cover songs from that era. It was like going to an oldies concert. It was actually fun.

It’s important to keep in mind that One-Hit-Wonder refers to a band that has only one song that gets mainstream success. There are plenty of bands that will have a single hit, but go on to record numerous other records, or the opposite, a band that has been underground for some time and finally gets a breakthrough. Sure, if people are going to see a OHW while they’re still riding that wave, chances are a lot of them only know that one song and perhaps a few others and aren’t that interested, even if it’s years later, chances are they’ll still play that big song. Still, even a band whose first single is their big hit, unless they’re a label-manufactured group, they likely spent years playing progressively larger shows and thus have to have enough material to fill up at least a short 30-40 minute set.

Of course, they would just play a normal set. Most one-hit wonder bands, I’d wager, have a plenty deep catalog and fans that are interested in more than their one mainstream hit (and a substantial minority are probably complaining about hating the one mainstream hit and/or being pissed off at all the new bandwagon fans.)

I saw Marc “Tainted Love” Almond in concert once. I wasn’t a fan, but the guy I went with was. The set was basically, a bunch of stuff that the fans knew and loved but nobody else had ever heard of… followed by “Tainted Love” as a surprise third encore.

I was a big fan of Blind Melon in the 90s. Never got to see them before their lead singer died (stupid marching band schedule) but I listened to their first album a million times when I was a kid. I would have gone bananas at one of their shows even if they didn’t play “No Rain” - they had a whole album’s worth of songs, plus whatever they were working on for the next album plus stuff that never got released.

Most bands that play live shows do not have 30-60 minutes worth of radio hits. I would hazard to guess that a very very small percentage of them do (and most of them have been around for 50 years). For the rest of the bands, they just play what they got.

The most obvious example of this is the Grateful Dead.

I used to go to concerts to see bands that had no hits up to that point – The Allman Brothers, the J. Geils Band, Bruce Springsteen, Seatrain, Sha Na Na, Jethro Tull, Mountain, Pink Floyd (not in the US), Dave Mason, and many others. Some had only released on album. In general, they would play the songs on that album (often in extended versions – part of the reason you went to a concert was to hear things you didn’t hear on the record), plus things for an upcoming album, and maybe a cover or two.

They plan on graduating to a Two-Hit-Wonder band.

I would have thought that fans of The Heavy would have also wanted to hear this:

Well I would choose the Dead as an example for this thread simply because they had only one Top 40 hit.

As I’m sure you know, the Dead had legions of fans who know every note of every song they ever recorded, and many others that they didn’t. Between their back album catalog and an eclectic list of scores of covers (not to mention playing songs that lasted 30 minutes or more), they obviously had no problem coming up with something to play, even for shows of four hours or more.

I suppose the fluke Top 40 success of “Touch of Grey” does raise an interesting question: whether this attracted any new, non Deadhead fans to their shows who would never have considered attending one in the past.

Nowadays it’s rare for an artist to record ONLY one song and have it put out as a single as in the old days. (The very term “single” is obsolete, in fact.) Most acts are signed to album contracts, and a full album is recorded, with the thought of releasing the most commercial song from it as a single.

This doesn’t mean that those attending their shows on the strength of that hit single are necessarily familiar with the rest of their repertoire, but the bands will nevertheless muddle through and play long enough to stick their big hit at the end.

Assuming they’re not a manufactured product, they will have hopefully paid a few dues in the clubs before hitting it big, so they ought to be competent enough to fill the time.

I had an interesting experience several years ago going to see “The Shangri-las.”

I put this in quotes because I knew full well that the three ladies on stage had nothing to do with those who had sung on the original records. (One, in fact, was the daughter of one of the others, and was less than a gleam in her daddy’s eye when these songs were recorded.) They were impostors with a manager who had managed to secure the rights to the name. But the tickets were free, so I went just to see how they would conduct themselves.

Now The Shangri-las were NOT one-hit wonders, but actually had several records that made the Top 40 charts and got plenty of AM radio play. They also recorded many fabulous album cuts that are among the finest examples of the girl group genre that will ever be.

So what did this group of phonies do? They performed exactly TWO actual Shangri-las songs! Everything else they did was a song by some other girl group, or not a girl group song at all.

Of course, 99 percent of the audience wasn’t troubled by this charade at all…so there you go.

Certainly it did. The old-line Deadheads referred to the new fans as “Touchheads” and looked upon them with loathing.