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The Scramble for the Setlist

Every time I go to a big show, people go to great lengths to get one of these precious setlists taped on the floor. I have seen girls crawling on the stage, others begging roadies or security guards to give them one, others physically fighting for it, people would do anything to get the setlist,… and why is that?

I am interested by the setlists too, I write about shows, so it obviously helps to know what the band has played, but I don’t completely understand what people actually do with a setlist once they got one. Do they use it as a fridge magnet? Do they frame it? Or do they sell it on eBay for a ridiculous amount of money?

Getting the setlist after a show is way much cooler than buying a t-shirt of the band, because it’s kind of unique, it is the equivalent of getting the trophy after a battle or a sport event, it is a victory, a privilege, a check-me-out-I-am-so-special… The proof? People always pause holding the setlist in front of them and post the picture on their facebook the same night. It is the ultimate proof you are the authentic fan.

There is a site ( entirely dedicated to compile all the setlists of more than 21,000 artists, and some people have websites where they obsessively archive all the setlists of all concerts an artist they are fan of has ever played. It behan with obsessive Grateful Dead fans, going to every concert, recording every concert, archiving every concert and comparing the minutea of one song performance over another and has snowballed into this.  What can I say, the human species likes to collect and classify, it is in our nature.

I have a few setlists myself, but most of them these days are typed, not handwritten, and it spoils the whole thing a little bit. But you still have some bands who write it themselves, at the last minute on a napkin, on a paper plate, on a pizza box, and those are the cool ones!


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