If the words “wedding band” make you think of Adam Sandler in a shiny blue tux, you haven’t seen Brick Park play. Formed in early 2000 as a rock band, the group worked the nightclub circuit before bringing on lead singer Christianne Reiniger, a Swampscott attorney with some serious vocal chops, in 2005. It was then that the five-person band decided to bring its rocking performances to brides and grooms in Boston and beyond. “For most people, a wedding is the biggest, most expensive party they will ever throw in their lives,” Reiniger says. “They’re paying us to blow them away—we’re there to blow them away.” Here, Reiniger and guitarist, singer, and manager Julian Morelli talk budgets, drumstick-wielding guests, and why AC/DC and Biggie always get the crowd going.
Let’s start with the basics. Why would a couple choose to hire a band over a DJ?
CR: Live music allows for a lot of spontaneity. We have the ability to try different medleys and different versions of songs. For example, we’ll do “Africa” by Toto and I’ll start rapping to Biggie’s “Mo Money Mo Problems” because it’s the perfect beat for it. Then I’ll start singing the hook for “Hypnotize” and then go into Paramore. We do stuff like that all the time. We’ve even done acoustic versions of Metallica songs.
JM: We have a lot more to work with in our palette. At our last wedding, the groom surprised his bride by getting onstage and singing “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. We were up there rocking with the guy.
Why is live music typically more expensive than a DJ?
JM: You’re paying for extra people, extra equipment, transportation, and hours and hours of preparation. We’re constantly learning new songs and revamping things. You’re also paying for years of training. Everyone in the band except for one of us went to music school.
How should a couple go about selecting a band?
CR: Look for testimonials. Once you’ve done that, watch the bands play in their natural environment. We invite our potential clients to come see us play at the club. Talk to the band and see where they’re coming from. Do they care more about being rock stars, or are they more interested in making the night amazing for you? Also, you want a band that can cover all genres, that can play a good variety of Top 40, Motown, R & B, and rock. If guests know the songs, they’re more likely to dance and sing along.
JM: The clubs that we play at most frequently in Boston are Whiskey Priest, Bell in Hand, and Hennessy’s, and in Newport, One Pelham East.
What are the most popular songs on your set list?
CR: We actually don’t have a planned set list. I call songs on the fly, which allows for more of that spontaneity. People love anything by AC/DC, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and Madonna. “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Like a Prayer” are big.
JM: Everyone loves hearing “Don’t Stop Believin’” at the end of the night.
Are there certain first-dance songs that are particularly band-friendly?
CR: There are no best songs for a first dance. A couple should focus on choosing a song that speaks to them musically and lyrically. A good band should be able to handle just about anything. We’ve covered everything from Van Morrison to Adele to Metallica for first dances.
How do you please both the younger and older crowds?
CR: By having an extensive song list and knowing when to play which song. The second part requires years of experience and good instincts. Generally, we start the night off with more-universal songs and transition to newer, edgier material. By doing this we end up keeping all generations on the dance floor. Our ultimate goal is to have Grandma rocking out at the end of the night to AC/DC alongside the bridal party!
Are there any songs you can’t or won’t play?
JM: No, we’ve never refused anything. We even do classical music. Just on guitars, not harps.
What trends have you been noticing in the industry?
CR: The ’90s are back in a big way. And for ceremonies, people are getting more eclectic, with acoustic versions and adaptations of pop songs.
Have you ever run into any awkward situations while playing a wedding?
JM: A restaurant asked us not to play music that would entice people to dance so that dinner would go more smoothly. The couple agreed. We were in the middle of our dinner set, and this very cute old lady came up and stood point blank in front of me, frowning with her arms crossed. She said, “Why aren’t you playing show tunes?” She then went up to the drummer, grabbed a drumstick, and started banging and singing “New York, New York.” The bride was just going, “I’m sorry.”
A dynamic entrance song strikes the right note for your reception. Here are a few of Brick Park’s favorites.
“Thunderstruck,” AC/DC: This song lets the bride and groom enter the room like total rock stars.
“I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” Dropkick Murphys: Why not give a nod to the city you love?
“Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars: If a couple has dance moves to show off, this song is a must.
“We Found Love,” Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris: With lyrics about love and a danceable beat, this is a new classic.
“All You Need Is Love,” The Beatles: Guests of all ages will enjoy this song and its grandiose intro.
“I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” The Darkness: It’s perfect for the couple that loves to rock but also has a sense of humor.
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