I feel like a few of you cringe every time I get on (oh no, not this kid again!), but I've got a question regarding building a set list. I've got ties in my local banking business, and I begged a friend of mine who is a VP at Plains Capital Bank to let me and my band play a few formal shindigs. We've got the matching tailored suits ($200 apiece!) and the gear to pull off a professional show, and I know we've got the chops to trick most people who don't work in music to believe that we've been doing this for years rather than months. The only thing we're missing: songs that can be played in front of bearcats and other fancy personages of the sort. Any ideas for some covers that have a charge and energy to them, but won't insinuate a riot in any other venue? We want to make the suits get up and dance, and maybe call us in the future. Thanks in advance.
I play 3-4 weddings and corporate events a weekend in a suit all year round.
I play every venue on Long Island, and in Manhattan. Including The Plaza, The Waldorf, and The Pierre regularly. I've done standard weddings, to galas with Trump, Bloomberg, Spitzer, and other upperclass people in attendance.
What I can tell you from HEAVY experience, is it doesn't matter how fancy the place, or how fancy the clothes. People. Want. To. Dance. Regardless.
Of course, stay away from your awful bar tunes. Mustang Sally, Sabbath, **** like that.
But honestly, anything from Sinatra to Pitbull and everything in between is fair game. Don't let the venue, or crowd intimidate you. They want to have fun just as much as anyone else.
You just need to remember. Be professional. Have fun, be energized, but be professional. Designate a band leader who has phenomenal people skills. That way you can network.
Dont rely on a set list. Get a ton of songs, and practice going into them one after another. No breaks.
When you take a break for dinner, salads, etc etc, rotate musicians. Always keep the music going. Have the keyboard player do a few instrumental ballads, or pop tunes. Then have your drummer and guitar doodle with some cool 90's rock. Thats what we do, and we get rave reviews, because its different and cool.
Feel free to PM me. I'll give you a rundown of all the music that kills at every event I do.
Sorry two more things.
1 - When I say no set list, I don't mean memorize 2 - hour and a half dance sets. But have enough material so your band leader can call out the next tune while you're finishing up the previous one. I haven't played off of a set list in 4 and half years. And I don't think I ever want to again.
It took us a while to really get a groove of what songs work together, to where we have a pattern with a handful of songs. We switch it up a lot, but it takes practice. But you'll get it.
2 - Make sure theres a person running the party. You need to carry the party. Not run it! Timelines, speeches, whatever. Make sure you coordinate when you get there.
Don't be naive! My band wanted to get big on originals too, but sometimes popularity comes in different forms. Did i ever think you'd be able to google my band, our members, my pictures, and our reviews? No, but you build a reputation out of any situation you can. Whether it be from originals, or from being a well known party band. A lot of people are always looking for the next big thing in my field. But my band thrives because we all love what we're doing, and we managed to make a big name for ourselves here in the tri state area. And it keeps us working.
As far as networking for the venue, I've found getting in in with the Maitre 'D is priceless. Especially since we frequent the same venues, and we get recommended by Maitre 'D's we've grown close to. In your case, you'll want to network more with the crowd and the people who would hire you again. Just be friendly, professional and give them a good show.
With exposure, your audience is limited with the private events, compared to bars and clubs, if you're only doing a handful of private gigs. BUT, if you're looking to branch out more towards the private event aspect, then you can tell bars to go suck an egg. I wouldn't trade my contacts with bar exposure for ANYTHING. Bars will juggle through bands and DJ's, and bump you if someone cheaper comes along, regardless of relationships. For example, I did 6 weddings, where the same 6 couples, and the same guests were all in attendance. One couple booked us, and then 5 others booked us after that one performance. This has happened more than a few times for us. Plus, call backs get us more money! Then people start writing reviews on wedding sites, and on our companies site, and boom, you've got a name. If you nail a good private event, they'll hire you for the next one. And the year after that, and the year after that. 4 years ago I did a private event at Cippriani Wall Street, and another at The Plaza Hotel. We've since been their go to band for both yearly events.
In your case, you've got a good opportunity to play both fields right now. Don't let the "classy" part scare you. Just because they're dressed up doesn't mean they don't dance, or drink, or have fun. It might be a tad more formal and professional than a bar, but don't dial down the energy. You'd be surprised to hear about some of the people I've had dancing.
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