Guest Post: Getting the Party Started from Night Shift Entertainment
December 12, 2012
We have a real treat LBBers. William Garside from Night Shift Entertainment (one of our beloved entertainment LBBers - who knows the party inside and out) is here to share with us his tips on finding the PERFECT band for your big day. We all know the right entertainment can really set the atmosphere for a phenomenal party, so without further ado, let's here from William...
If you have ever attended a wedding reception and recalled how the band made the party, then you understand the value of great live entertainment. Comments such as, “guests were on the dance floor all night,” “my feet were sore the following morning,” and “people are still talking about the band” are touted frequently from ecstatic brides, grooms and their guests. There is no doubt that the right band has the ability to create a party and memories like no other vendor. For this reason, it is worth the effort to solicit the best band that is in your budget.

Within the wedding environment there is an abundance of bands, but as with most professionals, there is only a small percentage in any industry that rise to the top in their market. A bride and groom will always be able to find an available band on their wedding date, but the absolute best are in limited supply. Clients are often surprised to find that the band they are requesting has been contracted elsewhere for a year or more. If your wedding reception is taking place on what we consider a prime wedding date, it is strongly suggested to make your band search a priority. Consider that a florist can almost always create more arrangements, but a band is one of a kind. The individual personalities within a band create a team and chemistry that is truly unique. The best bands are comprised of the best musicians. These are people that dedicate their life to their craft, and desire to play along with other accomplished musicians. Together, they can create a musical experience for the listener that is often unexpected, refreshing and rewarding for attendees at an event.
All this being said, it is all about reputation. The best in any industry is known and recognized by the other great vendors and companies within the industry. The premier venues, caterers, event planners, and photographers are continuously witnessing live entertainment at events. They know which bands are truly exceptional and are generally happy to offer their opinion when asked. Top vendors see and hear the best with regularity. The cost of a band is generally a function of demand, and not determined by the number or kind of musicians.

The bands at Night Shift Entertainment maintain large, diverse song lists that are continually being updated with the most current and requested songs. Typically, in a reception of four hours, a band will perform 40 to 60 songs. Considering that our bands have repertoires consisting of 400 to 500 songs, they have the ability to personalize every client’s musical experience. Allow the band flexibility in determining the music for your reception. Great bands have lots of experience, and have performed at hundreds if not thousands of receptions. A band should be willing to learn a few of your most important song selections if allowed sufficient preparation time, however, a song list for the band isn't necessary! This crimps the band’s ability to be spontaneous and creative with the music.

Generally, brides and grooms will have a wedding reception that includes guests of a variety of ages and musical interests. A great band will be diverse in its repertoire and a master of many musical styles. This should not suggest that the primary objective of the band should be to satisfy all of the guests by covering all musical artists and genres. When it comes to the music, it is most important that the band knows, through experience and intuition, what song selections to make at any moment to keep guests dancing and maintain a party atmosphere. The most coveted bands understand how to format an event in order to maximize dancing and maintain continuity. Once dancing commences, our bands leave virtually no time in between songs. A new song is beginning as soon as the previous one is ending. There is no down time during the dance set.
So, what size band should you consider, and what instrumentation? Bands come in all sizes. Generally, the most full sounding, diverse bands consist of seven or more musicians, including a full rhythm section, multiple vocalists, and horns. This arrangement allows a band to most accurately reproduce the many genres of music. All of our bands have both male and female lead vocalists. Not only does this allow the band to cover the widest range of music, but it also creates a visual dynamic on stage that is desirable to our clients and their guests. We are always willing to add extra musicians to our bands at the client’s request. Clients and event planners often ask us to include additional horn players, percussionists and vocalists. Our experience reveals that this augments the visual experience, or the “wow” factor, but does not necessarily impact the overall sound of the band.

How do clients visualize the band at their wedding? The visual image of a band is not always a priority to the band, but should never be ignored. The best bands put extensive thought into their look as well as their sound. Bands will provide their own stage lighting, which helps create an ambiance that is complimentary to the party. Additionally, a client may contract an outside lighting company that can design a very specific lighting scheme. In this case, the lighting company may consider lighting the band in an effort to control the color theme throughout the space.
At Night Shift Entertainment, we believe it is important that a band cultivates and possesses its own identity, not only through its music, but also in its presentation. A band should always maintain a balance of sophistication, elegance and style. The days of the black tuxedo are long past. Unless otherwise requested, our bands are dressed in black suits with ties, and females generally wear evening dresses. Great bands understand that they are often a focal point and should compliment the party at all times.

The “flow” of the reception is most critical to the success of the party. In the absence of an experienced wedding planner, the band is often responsible to manage the order of events. When guests enter the reception room from the cocktail party, it is suggested that the band play upbeat, festive music. This is critical to energize your guests and set the tone of what is to come. It’s not essential that people dance, but they often do. This segment of music lasts as long as it takes all the guests to transition into the room, often about fifteen minutes.

During meal courses, bands play a wide variety of low-volume music. This allows guests to converse while enjoying live entertainment. A seasoned band will often incorporate short dance sets in between courses, as long as it does not interfere with toasts or other formalities. Once guests commit to dancing at a great party they want to continue. Bands work diligently to sustain as many guests as possible on the dance floor. Interruptions, due to announcements and speeches can sometimes prevent a party from elevating to its greatest potential.

No one likes to see a great party come to an end. If there is any potential of desiring the band to perform beyond its scheduled time, it is prudent to negotiate this as early as possible. A band chooses songs and creates a pace based on the length of the event. Informing the band early that you would like to extend the party helps them deliver their best performance. Remember, the band wants your party to be a success just as much as you do.

By William Garside of Night Shift Entertainment / Photography: Jason Zucco Photography, Isabel Roeder, & William Garside