When I was a young feller, and still interested in MAKING music, the last band I played with insisted on a TWICE-weekly practice schedule! However, the more we practiced, the worse we played, so, instead of being a tight, precise unit of sweet jammin' jams, we ended up fucking HATING the songs. I never lobbied for less practice because the other folks in the band were my friends AND kinda (ahem) serious about playing. BUT, if we happened to skip a week of practice, our playing ALWAYS improved by like a BILLION. We'd run through our set like it was magic—the songs felt fresh. Whatever, the band went nowhere and eventually split up, but the experience really ingrained in me that less practice was some kind of a "truth" for a some bands. Um, not unlike how a lot of folks feel rehearsing too close to a live date can decrease the energy of the live show! Anyway, I always thought the less-is-more approach was my thing until TODAY, when I discovered one of the most important rock/soul guitarists EVER, Stax house songwriter, studio musician, and one of the MGs, Steve Cropper, DOES NOT practice! Instead, he's maintained a "life-long focus on being present in the moment, on improvisational attention to detail—rather than overthinking things." Of course, he says a LITTLE practice is good. “We might rehearse a song we haven’t played before, but I don’t want to get too good at this!”
YES! Vindication! It's not just me! Or, maybe, it IS just me and Steve! Either way, I'M NOT ALONE in thinking when you play you WANT that edge, you NEED to feel pushed to a point of WHERE AM I to keep it exciting for everyone, the players AND the audience.
I don't know if less practicing would work for every band, some of the contemporary math-rock/prog groups I can't see missing too many practices (count to three then 17!) or a backing group reading charts, but I'm always more struck by a band that captures some immediacy!