Summer stands for beach, drinks with friends around campfires, and of course a monster setlist to accompany the bonfire flames and the sound of the waves. Even in times of lockdown we can close our eyes and feel this sense of freedom. That’s why we’ve added a few new tracks to our Campfire Essentials.

What does a monster jam setlist look like? For starters, it has a lot of easy and laid-back songs that everybody knows and can sing along with. You also need a few tracks that are a bit harder but still pretty popular. Why? Just to show off some mad skills of course. You’ll find two of each bellow. This way you can choose between showing off or enhancing the vibe.

‘Drive’ – Incubus

So, let’s start with a vulgar display of skills. You can do this in two ways: By picking a song that sounds really good and interesting but actually consists of a few not so frequently used chords; or, you can choose the in-your-face approach by playing something truly virtuoso. We’ll start with the first.

Do you remember seventh chords? “Drive” by Incubus uses a bunch of those, making the song sound witty and jazzy. If you’re a beginner, the fast changes between barre chords will be difficult. This track is a walk in the park for intermediate and pro players, but it still sounds quite impressive. 

‘Under the Bridge’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers

If you’re looking to impress, this is a good one. Everybody knows the characteristic sounds of the “Under the Bridge” chord progression. This Red Hot Chili Peppers classic offers a fun way to show off your skills, especially when it comes to the intro. It’s amazing how John Frusciante turns two simple chords into an unforgettable melody.

This song is for intermediate and pro guitar players due to the fast chord changes, the use of barre chords, and the specific way Frusciante plays the chords — Jimi Hendrix style. If you’re a beginner, we suggest you just strum the intro in open chords and adapt the overall strumming pattern. By the way: The song is also a real finger breaker on ukulele.

‘Skinny Love’ – Bon Iver

The chords of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver might be easy, but the song certainly adds a nice touch of melancholy to the vibe. A perfect way to reach a peak in the middle of the set of your summer monster jam. Mind you, Bon Iver uses an open C tuning. This means his guitar is tuned differently. There are some nice guitar licks for the intermediate and pro players; but if you’re a beginner, you can skip those.

You can, of course, play “Skinny Love” in standard E tuning and, as a matter of fact, our chord diagrams show that it’s quite easy. There are five chords in the song, of which the Gsus4 — the hardest — is used only two times during the whole track. Just practice the strumming pattern together with the vocals, that’s the hardest part of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.” 

‘Shallow’ – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

You can also fake mad guitar skills. “Shallow” is an awesome song for intermediate and pro players. Why? Because it only sounds difficult due to the strumming pattern; it’s actually full of easy chords. “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper from the movie “A Star is Born” will get you the ultimate street credits when you throw it into your monster jam setlist.

We suggest putting this song somewhere at the beginning of your set. This way everybody will go quiet and start listening. Tip: Look a girl deep in her eyes during the first verse (“tell me something girl”) then suddenly turn to the nearest boy during the second verse (“tell me something boy”) lock eyes and start the stare down for extra dramatic effect. Happy jamming!

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