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Worse wedding hall we've ever played

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Medford Bassman, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin
    So, we did a wedding last Saturday. We've played hundreds of weddings. The bride gives my number to the hall owner to make plans for the load in as our contracts state 2 hours prior to performance for load in, sound check etc. This woman calls me and immediately tells me how we're going to setup. I tell many of her suggestions simply won't work, however, I offer her several options for her and the band's convenience. She was incredibly rude but I maintained and wanted me to drive 55 miles to her hall 4 dat s before the gig and setup because setup on the day of the reception she was not going to allow.

    We manage to agree to load in on Friday at 4pm because I and the guitarist work until 3. 2:30pm Friday comes. She's calling me telling me she's been waiting 30 minutes for us and we're late. I politely tell her we agreed on 4 pm, she says no it was 2pm. I respond not possible because work till 3. We show up at 4, the hall is locked! Guitarist walks into bar to get her, as soon as he hits the door she's complaining we're two hours late! Guitarist cut her off said it was four and walked out. She eventually unlocks and we set up. One of her employees is setting tables up and tells us were lucky we only have to deal with her for one day, he works there! We set up everything except subs because she wouldn't allow anything off the bandstand before the reception dinner.

    Day of gig, we get there, all we brought in was guitars and keyboard. We put keyboard case down to unpack keys. No kidding we had it on the floor for 30 seconds, the dragon lady's husband runs over and tells us that can't stay there. We tell him we know just unpacking then putting case back in the truck. He stands there and just repeats himself 5 times! I normally handle these things but I injured myself and in too much pain to deal with these two. Guitarist tells him flatly you're not writing our check so back off. We put keys on stage and case in truck in five minutes.

    Then we see the hall owners have set up four giant pillars wrapped in vines and light in front of the stage/bandstand. No problem we get the pillars were right behind the head table. THEN dragon lady informs us the pillars will not be moved while we perform! We tell her they completely block the band from the audience and need the interaction with the crowd and wedding party. She insists no. That's it I had enough of this crap, reluctantly, I find the bride and groom to discuss this problem. I hate that because I like not to both the customer on their big day. They were kind and fantastic. They wanted to see the band and said of course they wanted the pillars moved I inform dragon lady of this new development. She rushes right over to the bride and our drummer follows. She didn't like that. Bride holds firm.

    Dragon lady and husband walk up to me and tell me pillars better not be damaged or their floor. I politely tell them have their people do it. They leave in a snit.

    We eat dinner with the wedding party at their invitation (food...terrible, courtesy of dragon lady). The band starts playing, dancing everyone had a good time. Bride, groom and their parents extremely happy and actually felt that the agreed price was too low.

    Now the funny part, Mr. Dragon lady comes to me on a break and wanted to know if the band ever plays bars. I said yes, sometimes. Was curious if our calendar might have some time for his place. Told I'd have to check, yeah we're pretty booked until 2075.

    Band took a vote, if another wedding wants us at that place were turning it down. Not worth the BS. I played my first wedding at age 17, in thirty years I've never experienced a place that bad, EVER!

    Thanks for the rant.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    What a mess. Sorry you had to deal with the mess.
  3. Stewie26

    Stewie26 Supporting Member

    Mmm...I hope she did not mess with your food. She sounds like a total PITA. I might have gone off on her. At least you are not that paid employee and have to deal with her daily. The good thing is your paying customer was happy.
  4. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    Dang. The worst I've ever experienced was a sound guy telling us we were too ugly to even possibly get laid after our concert :D
  5. Wow, that sounds bad. I've never experienced that as a performer, but when I do work as a live sound man, I sometimes have to deal with people like that. It really makes you wonder what gets into some people. It sounds like you handled it pretty well.
  6. The first time anyone repeats themselves after I've acknowledged them I say cheerfully: "Yes, I heard you the first time and I'm going to XYZ, anything else?" that nearly always results in being left to get on with it for the rest of the night. Idiots don't like to be shown to be idiots politely.
  7. I wouldn't turn down more work there. You can make the B&G appoint a go between and give them the layout with "no pillars here, here or here" in big red letters. Setup same day or fee $X added. You'll become their goto band eventually because everyone will know what the score is and it'll be easy for them.
  8. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    I disagree. Doesn't sound like the OP is hurting for gigs, and working for/with jerks is seldom worth it. The pros (getting paid) are far outweighed by the cons (being treated disrespectfully, looking/sounding bad due to unreasonable constraints, possible bad word of mouth from the aforementioned jerk when they're not/can't be pleased, etc).

    If the gig is the difference between making rent that month and being homeless then fine, but otherwise you're better off without the hassle.
  9. If we didn't work for jerk venue owners the list of venues would be decimated. The key is having both sides knowing what expectations need to be met.

    My main gig is for a certified *******. A sub band was booked for the venue in question when we couldn't do the gig. They set up and he told them to go away, no pay. After a lot of argy bargy and phonecalls they got paid. Are we going to cancel out on him? Not on your life.
  10. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Well, that's your main gig, and is subject to my aforementioned "paying the rent" clause :)

    I'm not saying never, there are places I play that I'd prefer not to, I'm just saying you have to set limits and stick to them. I've worked for bandleaders that would repeatedly get shorted at the end of the night, and continue to book the same places. In that case he was essentially giving the club owner permission to screw him. There was another who got shorted by $500 by one guy, the agent covered it out of his commission, and it was made clear that if it ever happened again it would be the last time he'd ever play there. The next time it indeed happened again, and the owner was genuinely shocked when the BL cancelled all of the remaining gigs there for the rest of the year. He was so used to bands just taking it that he thought that was just how you do business.
  11. A little re-education is definitely due a lot of venue owners.

    That's why I don't see a problem going back to that one for high value wedding work. They aren't doing the hiring and firing, just fellow contractors working for the same client. Treat them as such and all the problems go away, bad food excepted.

    Going back to them for a bar gig, sure, not available! But give it a few more weddings and I'd consider it if I thought we had some trust going.

    Even really weird weirdos can start to like you after you show them not to mess with you while still being friendly. The true jerk is more rare than people that just don't know how to behave properly.
  12. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    I'm glad it worked out in the end. You did the right thing by involving the Bride & Groom. The band and the Couple got to work together toward a great end result. Dragon lady & Lizard husband got put in their place. You could play there again just tell the Bride & groom to tell Dragon lady not to hassle the band on their special day.
  13. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Valid point. Back when I had a day gig I worked for a kitchen manager who was constantly talking down to me and giving me attitude. I've got a pretty long fuse, so I generally just let it go and kept working, but one day after about six months he finally got under my skin. I chewed him out in front of the entire staff (in the middle of the lunch rush no less), stormed out the back door setting the fire alarm off in the process, lit up a smoke and waited for him to come out back and fire me. He came out and apologized for talking to me that way and asked me to please not quit, as I was a valuable employee, etc. That was a pretty valuable lesson for me, that people will treat you how you allow them to.
  14. Medford...

    Feel for you... I know this is a rant thread.


    When doing weddings, I have the bridal meeting at the venue (figure this into the cost)... iron out the details... have the bride assign a family/friend to deal with details (in our contract)... I would have quickly made this the family's problem (would not have spoken with the nutty venue manager)

    Sounds like these whiners are used to whining and getting thier way... no way to win with these folks except get them confused in their whining (or make someone else deal with it)
  15. vinny


    Apr 3, 2006
    Las Vegas, NV.
  16. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    About 20 years ago, I was in a wedding band and we played a local wedding hall a couple times for owners not as bad but close to what you encountered. They were nasty with the bride and grooms, bridal parties, and the guests, as well as the bands and DJs. Needless to say, word got around and their business became almost non-existent. The hall is still there but I don't know anybody who books it these days.

    On the other hand, Some friends of mine bought an old hall a few years ago and turned it into the banquet and wedding facility and they had no experience at all running private events. I helped them with their grand opening event and we played and sold the place out. I also helped them with advertising and marketing and how to be in the business. I also told them what they needed to do regarding the entertainment. The place is very nice and they are two of the nicest and most professional people to work with. As a result, they are now one of the premier wedding halls in the area and are booked every week for private events. The plus side is that all of the entertainment who ever works there loves how they are treated.
  17. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Yeah, I'd have done the same ... :D
  18. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    We played a wedding a few months ago where the hotel's event manager insisted on having absolute control over the timing of everything, and would not let me even speak with the bride and groom regarding things like the timing of their special dances. Unfortunately, the event manager's only concern with respect to the timing of these events seemed to be her food service schedule. Four separate times during the course of the evening she ordered us to do events that the bridal party was not ready for. For example, she ordered us to do the father/bride dance at a time when the father was not in the reception room. That one was relatively harmless, as we were able to just flip the dances and do the mother/groom dance first. But then she ordered us to play start the cake cutting at a time when the bride was in the bathroom. We ended up playing the song for five minutes while the groom stood awkwardly by the cake waiting for the bride.

    I spoke with the bride and groom after the reception and fortunately, they recognized that these snafus were caused by the hotel, and not by the band. (We work very closely with the bride and groom before the wedding day to develop a timetable for the event, and we include a representative of the hotel or reception hall in those discussions, so the bride and groom were well aware that it was the hotel that was off schedule, and not us.) In fact, they complemented us for doing a great job of rolling with the punches and adjusting on the fly to the hotel's schedule.
  19. I'm a 10-year veteran wedding professional. While I feel your pain, here are a couple of observations.

    First, you can't possibly plan in advance enough. Your needs, the bride's needs, the venue's needs and expectations, the floor plan, timeline, every infinitesimal detail needs to be discussed and even put in writing so there's no confusion. The venue management was going overboard--thinking they were protecting the client, which is par for the course at weddings in my experience. Things like arrival and set up are real sticking points, and the entertainment, venue/event coordinator, and bride/groom all have to understand what's going to happen so you avoid the headbutting. You may have been right on the points of debate, but introducing conflict to the bride on her big day is really risky, and you're better off planning this stuff out way in advance.

    I have learned that any potentially unneccesary or distracting movement by wedding vendors during the reception sets event coordinators off like a hand grenade. Very typical in my experience.

    As for turning down future bookings, well, that's your call, but I doubt he would have been that much of a PITA on a more low-profile gig. And now that you and he have come to terms and a working arrangement and understanding has been developed, future upscale events and weddings probably would go a lot smoother too. After your guitarist told him to back off, I'm surprised he still wanted to work with you guys in the future. You must have brought a good party to the reception.

    In short, event coordinators have massive egos, control issues, and wildly over-protective mother instincts with their upscale events. I usually let these attitudes roll off like water on a duck's back, even if I'm 100% right and the M.O.D. is the biggest douche on planet Earth. I always think of the bride and what I can do to not disrupt her day or cause her any concern. You were absolutely right to ask her if she wanted the band obscured, but, again, this and other aspects of the floor plan and load-in could have been worked out in advance.
  20. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Sounds like a typical wedding gig :)
    Wedding planners...and wedding hall owners ... gotta love 'em!