Originally when I planned out these Top 10s, I only intended to do a guitar and a vocal one, but then I remembered that I’ve played a number of songs live myself. So I’ve got room for one more list and this is my Top 10 songs I’ve performed live to an audience. These are songs I have played to more than a few friends in the room, this is to an audience of 10 or more people and actually, I think the lowest number on this list is maybe around 30-40 people with all these songs on the list.
So without further to do, here we go!
#10 – “I Got Erection” by Turbonegro
Yep, you’re not reading the title of the song and the band that sings it wrong. The only real bar band I ever played for was a punk band called Inept Inc. We played a lot of your average punk music, Bad Religion, NOFX, bands like that. One band we had a blast playing a song from was Turbonegro and their aptly-put title, “I Got Erection”. It’s an easy song to learn and ridiculously stupid. Hence why we loved it so much that we had to play it live at least once.
#9 – “Plug In Baby” by Muse
The place I learned guitar from had a rock band program. My band for most of my time in it was called Cardboard Baseboard and we played together for I’d say six years or so. One of our favourite bands to use was Muse. “Plug In Baby” was the last one we did, a song that really summed up how much we’d improved since starting years ago, granted with a few people changing in and out of the band over that time. It’s a song that while wasn’t the most fun song we ever played, it was certainly an awesome track that really showed how polished we were.
#8 – “Open Your Eyes” by Alter Bridge
At competitions the music schools would have to compete against each other, there was a ‘Vocal Entertainer’ category, which was basically sing and play and instrument. The first song I chose to do for that, you’d think I’d pick something easy, right? Nah, I went right for Myles Kennedy and shot to the top with Alter Bridge‘s “Open Your Eyes”. Luckily my range was still a little higher than and I could pull it off-ish. But it also introduced me to a completely different guitar tuning I’d never used before and back then, holy hell did that unlock a lot of musical inspiration in myself.
#7 – “Glass To The Arson” by Anberlin
A band we at Cardboard Baseboard also listened to a lot, we played two tracks from Anberlin, our favourite easily being “Glass To The Arson”, which was one of the few Anberlin songs that really carry a hint of badassery in it, as the band’s tracks tend to be more polished and serene. It wasn’t the hardest song to learn, in fact it was one of the easiest for us, but it’s a song that just sounded perfect with the members we had and the attitude we carried into our performances.
#6 – “Hysteria” by Muse
Our personal favourite Muse song, “Hysteria” is just such a fantastic track. I loved the song, but funnily enough I can remember being depressed about it, because I didn’t get to play the bass part, which is easily the best part in the entire song, the bass line in Hysteria is so freaking badass and cool and stands out when most bass lines never do. If you’re a bass player, this is a song you learn, no doubt about it!
#5 – “Roots Radical” by Rancid
Speaking of amazing bass parts, this was the second song I ever learned in the program. Looking back on it, I should not have been able to play this song’s bass lines at the skill level I was at. But the song was just so cool sounding that I couldn’t stop and I kept pushing myself to my limits and broke through. Rancid‘s “Roots Radical” is the lone punk song I ever played with Cardboard Baseboard, but man did we make a great pick with having that song as the only one we ever did. I still play that bass line today, granted on an electric guitar as I don’t actually own a bass.
#4 – “Lift And Fall” by Cardboard Baseboard (original song)
It sucks because I can’t put up a recording of us playing this song, we really should’ve thought about that. One year we were having trouble picking a song to do, so eventually our teacher suggested we try something really different: write a song. He had his own band and had some lyrics written that weren’t being used, so he brought one specific sheet for us, called “Lift And Fall”. We slowly but surely built a song around those lyrics and holy hell that felt fantastic to be able to accomplish such a task. For me at 14 or 15 to be in a band and have written a song that I felt was actually really badass, that felt so goddamn amazing, especially when people were amazed how good it was when we played it live.
#3 – “Broken Wings” by Alter Bridge
The only song that isn’t concert-related, I sang this song from last week’s Top 10 list at a karaoke bar that was absolutely packed. I knew no one would know the song, but that’s how I’ve always been with karaoke, I’ve never been a mainstream kind of guy. I was worried when I picked this song that my voice wouldn’t hold all the way through, but I have to remind myself that when I’m on stage, I’m a completely different person. If alone I can’t finish the song without a hiccup here and there, put me in front of a bunch of people and I’ll do it perfectly. As I got to the chorus, I hit Myles’ insane vocals so perfectly, I couldn’t believe my own voice. I was so happy and it served as a reminder to me just how much fun I have when performing in front of people, as it had been years since all my band stuff from my teenage years.
#2 – “Do You Call My Name” by RA
My personal favourite song that I played with Cardboard Baseboard, but serves at #2 for specific reasons I’ll get into later. This song from the band that loves to sound like Egyptian hard rock, RA‘s “Do You Call My Name” is one of the coolest songs I’ve ever learned, both from a guitarist and a vocalist’s standpoint, as I had backing roles in this song. Having to whisper and growl words in this song, it was such a fun and cool experience being able to do something like that. It was also absolutely hilarious watching people’s reactions when we played that song live. Generally speaking, people at these shows and competitions don’t play anything too edgy, because it “scares” the elitists.
#1 – “Blow Me Away” by Breaking Benjamin
In terms of overall value for how we played the song live, Breaking Benjamin‘s “Blow Me Away” is easily the best song I ever had the pleasure of playing in front of an audience. It’s one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever played, one of the most badass songs I’ve ever played, but that’s not even why I love it so much. Our second singer in Cardboard Baseboard was these really polished Chinese girl who I knew as being your cliche piano playing singer who only did more soft and vocal-driven songs. We in the band broke her pretty good with all our choices. This song in particular really unlocked a side of her I’m not sure anyone knew existed. There’s a part before the final chorus where Benjamin Burnley screams and the guitar solo kicks in. We joked around with our singer that she should totally do the scream and naturally she was like “No way!”, but we kept teasing her for fun, not expecting anything to come out of it.
Come show time, we’ve never gotten her to do the part. So we start playing the song in front of everyone, of course not expecting her to do it. That part comes up, I’m already lost in my musical trance as I concentrate on my own part. Then out of nowhere, I hear “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” and I look over confused…sure enough she’s screaming and holy shit does she sound incredible! I nearly completely lost my place because I was so surprised. She looked at me first, clearly embarrassed and I just started laughing and started really bouncing around on the stage. After all, I’m a showman, I can’t let her top me, right? Needless to say, I still lost to her that time…
Thanks for checking out this week’s Top 10, hope you enjoyed it! Have you ever performed to a crowd? Doesn’t matter the size, if you have, talk about it in the comments below!