Getting the Set Right
What we’ve got here applies to both bands and DJs to an extent, but obviously we’re talking from our experience as a four-piece band to help you as clients. Like all of our other blog articles, the idea is to help you get an insight into what goes into the band’s performances but also to offer advice from our experience of playing at events all year round. Most of the info here is written with our work as a wedding band in mind, but it applies to our gigs as an events band and party band as well.
The real question is, what type of music do you want to hear at your event? We understand that in the case of most weddings for example, you have to consider the tastes of your friends, your parents, and grandparents as well as your own. Some people even ask us to play what we like most so that we enjoy ourselves!
The starting point, as you can tell from our repertoire, is to mostly play songs that people know. That doesn’t mean the “Birdy Song” or “Grease Megamix” – no offence to those who might want to hear these but you’re possibly in the wrong place! Pop songs that most people know are usually well covered by classic tunes from the likes of The Beatles, The Jam, Stevie Wonder etc… That way you’re not marginalising too many people.
And then it’s good to add some that you and your friend’s generation might know better. In the last few years this tends to be ‘indie rock’ from the 00s, so artists like Kings of Leon, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand etc…
Then what we like to do is throw in some of the stuff you are interested in that might not be so well known. That could be some more indie tunes by artists like The Smiths, David Bowie or more rarer Motown numbers.
And then to keep things up to date – especially for any younger guests – we play some modern songs that work well with our live band line-up. That way we’ve worked hard at pleasing as many people as possible by playing songs that people know but maintaining the style and we have as a live band.
Having well-known songs is all well and good but if you’ve booked a wedding band then you most likely want people to be able to dance and have fun. So it now becomes more than just familiar tunes but ones people can dance to. We used to get asked for some songs a lot because people knew them and could sing along, but too many songs like that in a set and people find it hard to stick around on a dance floor and enjoy themselves.
Some music is timeless for it’s quality as dance music. It just automatically gets people moving. Good examples inlude “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder or “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours or “Mr Brightside” for the jump around anthem.
Unfortunately, there are some limitations however to what you can get from a four-piece band. In the case of some songs with iconic female vocals or serious brass hooks that can’t be done without extra members, then with our basic setup we can’t always offer them. However, that is where those songs can feature in a DJ set. Or if you want something really special, we can hire in more vocals and brass for that classic soul sound – like we’ve done for a couple of weddings!
Picking the Songs
Back to the matter at hand, there are three options to choose which songs from our repertoire that we play at your event:
- You choose
- We choose
- Choose together
In any of the above scenarios we then order the songs into the right set. This can be quite a dark art but we like to organise it by looking at the different style, feel and speed of songs as well as the keys. Believe it or not, place too many songs in the same key in a row and everybody will get subconsciously bored without even noticing why! We also work hard on making sure there aren’t any gaps between songs so that we keep the energy up and your guests are not standing around waiting for the next one to start!
The photo above of one of our sets looks pretty full-on for information, but it’s something we’ve developed to make our sets flow as musically as possible. We also never play the exact same set twice as it keeps it fresh and also makes it unique to each client.
If you’re looking at booking the band then feel free to let us know about any songs you might like to hear that we don’t currently offer. House of Chords are always up for ideas of new songs to learn as there must be so many out there that would suit our sound that we’ve not thought about yet.