Spring/Summer 2009: The Experts

The Mix Master

Maybe you love Top 40, but can’t stand cover bands. Or maybe you’re just dying to do the funky chicken. (Hey, it’s your day.) Regardless of your playlist, it’s imperative to always keep the party going. 

By Amy Derjue

There’s a reason comedian Adam Sandler dreamed up a whole movie about wedding music: Most of it is totally groan-inducing. Fortunately, you don’t really have to hear an orchestral version of Bette Midler’s "Wind Beneath My Wings" unless you really want to. Darren Siman, whose Brookline-based entertainment company connects couples with both bands and DJs, offers sound advice. 

How does a couple know if they’re a DJ or band type of couple? The obvious distinction is money. If their budget is under $2,000, they’re not looking for a band. And if the venue doesn’t allow bands, or has multiple rooms, a DJ works best. A really great band, though, adds an interactive experience, while a DJ just hits buttons.

Do you hate "must play" or "do not play" lists? If you know what you want, it’s helpful. We don’t want to play something that doesn’t fit with your theme. But if you don’t have any preferences, just let the band or DJ decide—they’ll be reading the crowd.

Can music really liven up a party, or does it totally depend on the guests? Music—done right—can definitely help. Receptions typically start with some background music, like quiet jazz. We like to start it off a little funkier and get guests dancing, or at least give them some more modern sounds, like "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol. I think the coolest way to do it is to have guests walk into something upbeat, like U2′s "Beautiful Day."

What’s the best way to make an entrance at the reception? Nine times out of 10, our bands or DJs recommend a member of our staff do the announcing, with the couple phonetically spelling out any tricky last names beforehand. But sometimes there’s someone in the family who would like to be the master of ceremonies; it’s up to them.

When should people start dancing? It’s typical for people to think the dinner hour means jazz music, and most bands also assume this part should have quiet R&B songs, but I think that’s dated. We’ll play modern music, like singer-songwriter stuff, at a lower volume or with a slower tempo. Today’s bride and groom may not want to wait two hours to get the music going. If it’s a true party, I think it’s awesome to start the event with a bang.

Do many of your clients want to do crazy stuff like the "Baby Got Back" first dance that blew up on YouTube? A lot of them chicken out, but this season we’ve done three of them. One couple started with a ballad, then went into "SexyBack." That happened with a band, so the instrumentalist dropped the snare drum to scratch the record like a DJ would. Still, the majority of our clientele don’t want to make a joke out of it.

A lot of fun songs don’t have the cleanest lyrics. How do you get around this? Censoring. If the
crowd likes [a certain kind of] music outside the wedding, they still want to hear it here. Just have your band or DJ edit and keep the f-bombs off the microphone.

What should you do if folks start having a little too much fun on the dance floor? If the bride and groom are okay with what’s going on, we don’t stop the event. If it doesn’t fit, we’ll make a joke about it. I’ve seen guys get hammered and aggressive with the band—you need to put a lid on that. If we have to, we stop the music for a second. When the offending party hears himself without music, he usually realizes how embarrassing he’s being.

How do you wind the party down? We prefer to end with a bang—maybe we’ll play a song like AC/DC’s "You Shook Me All Night Long." You can also go with something slower, like "Hotel California." It’s a song people can dance to, but they can also go get some dessert.

Siman Entertainment, 617-739-5300, simanentertainment.com.

 

CROWD PLEASING

Tips on how to keep your guests—grandma included—on the dance floor.

Start with the old, transition to the new.  Siman’s bands and DJs will play some older songs earlier, but won’t hesitate to transition to something more modern. "If the songs have the same beat, older guests will pick up on the energy," he says.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up.  "We’ll play a song from the older generation, then transition into an indie rock hit," then back again, he explains. "Then the older crowd is dancing to a whole slew of alternative music, and the crowd that thought they didn’t like the traditional stuff is up too."

Keep the drinks coming. Some liquid courage, Siman adds, does help everyone enjoy the soundtrack. "I say, drink early and party late."