Several things had me thinking about bands last night, whilst sitting somewhat uncomfortably, cramped into an old school chair (the kind we all know from days gone by, the one “just to small” for the size of your bum, no matter how petit it may be, listening to a primary school rendition of Charlie and the Chocolate factory
Firstly, there was the school band. personally I never “went there” when I was in school. For me, not playing the recorder well was as far as I went, together with a rendition of Jump by Van Halen on the “tennis guitar” (of course). Enough said about that, although kudos to the kids who did an amazing job last night.
My brain though, was triggered more by the busker who was performing at Oxford Circus station as I was on my way home. Whatever the reason – acoustics, a feel good moment given the tune he was playing (who could fail to be uplifted by a James Brown classic on a rainy London day) or just the fact that he was pretty damn good – it got me thinking about the who, where, what and why behind bands, weddings – and the DJ V Band conundrum that has become more prevalent in the events I have done over the past six months. To be fair, if it is good enough for Hollywood A listers, why not “Brian and Charlotte’s” wedding
One of the questions I am asked the most by any wedding client, is “what really makes the wedding?”, and to be fair there are many elements that, when tied together, create the truly one off spectacular that all brides, and their families, picture in their heads the moment the date and venue are set. However, the people and the band are always high up on any list of answers. Of course, the two are somewhat interlinked, and I have been to some poorly catered events where the atmosphere was unbelievable – some events where the catering was exquisite but the atmosphere lacking….
As the person paying the final bill, usually running in to £thousands, there is little doubt that you wish for the event to go off without a hitch. Months of work disappear in the blink of an eye, and whilst hoping that any back of house hiccups are the things you only find out about afterwards, in the event that the Smoked Salmon starter doesn’t look exactly like it did at the tasting, you find yourself a little more at ease if, at the end of the night, the dance floor is packed and hotel security needs to be called for all the right reasons as guests dont want to go home (always an advantage of a bank holiday wedding)
The cost of a good band can be anything north of £5000, although to be fair, this could easily be double for larger bands, and whilst there are some bands that everyone feels they “have to have”, there are other options out there, and its worth noting them down. In fact, and alluded to above, recently, I hosted a first wedding that used a DJ and percussion section, rather than a big band – and, somewhat unsurprisingly maybe, the atmosphere was electric.
For most people, the cost element for this part of the celebration is key. Priorities for the entire day have to be put in order, and the assessment of what you really want to be the lasting legacy of the event (see previous blog post) has to stay the focus in your mind. I dont believe that there has to be a stigma of some kind, that birthday parties need DJ’s and weddings need bands, at the end of the day, is the original version of Sex is on Fire better or worse than a live, possibly not so great, alternative version? You do also have to consider the type of music that you and your guests will want to hear, DJ’s may not do swing or big band – for that, there is no alternative to live music…..
My initial advise to clients is that, irrespective of the recommendations you have been given, the fusing of band and client, is something comparable to that of Jedi master and their light saber. One persons Dylan, is another persons Tommy Lee – and the one thing everyone wants to avoid is finding out which one they have on the night itself – think the Wedding Singer, and a particularly brilliant moment – need I say anymore than “do you really want to hurt me?”. bands feed off of their audience, the audience feels the music – and if that music is right, I genuinely think that the medium through which it is played can become secondary. That said, unless the DJ is as good as the music, you can not help but have the feeling that the DJ himself (or herself, my girlfriends sister included, who, I understand is a kick ass DJ, all be it not for weddings, maybe….anyway, I digress) is a bit part player in the proceedings.
The long and short of it may just be this, cost might always be the over riding factor, but I hope that it isn’t. There is a reasonably priced band out there for everyone, and don’t be sold the biggest number of musicians on the advise of the bad leader. A good DJ can equally bring the house down – but without the guests getting in to it, both options fall flat. Maybe a mixture of the two does work best, maybe, maybe, maybe…..My door is always open to additional advise, but on the way home tonight, I may be tempted to speak to that busker once again, and give him my card…..