Archive for January 7th, 2008

Avoiding Those “Party-Killing” Intermissions

Monday, January 7th, 2008

When a deejay needs a sandwich or a quick pit-stop, the music, and therefore the flow of the party, never stops. Live musicians – being human – need breaks once in a while. As the host, your task is to see to it that their time off doesn’t adversely affect your event.

There are three easy ways to accomplish this. Depending on the needs of your party, you may choose one, two, or even all three of them (they work great together.)

1. Schedule breaks early, not late. For a standard 4-hour evening, most bands expect three 15-minute breaks. It’s that last one – the one around 11PM (at an 8 ’til midnight gathering) – that kills the momentum of the party and sends half your guests home. So, instead of taking their breaks at 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00, I suggest moving everything forward by 30 minutes. That will get your musicians back on stage to start their last set at 10:45, and they can play straight through until midnight. You’ll need to clear this with your bandleader in advance, and I recommend doing so before you sign a contract with them.

2. Fill the breaks with attention-holding activities. My band has always taken what I call “invisible” intermissions. How? Well – at a wedding, for instance – nobody needs the band while the cake is being cut, toasts are going on, or bouquets and garters are being thrown. Plenty of opportunities exist for bandmembers to take care of their business, then be back on stage in time for the next set. But – if you do it right – none of your guests will notice, because they will be busy watching the alternate activities. All you have to do is plan out with your bandleader a schedule that spaces the timing of these events throughout the night.

3. Use recorded music to fill the breaks. No band can play every kind of music. And – at a diverse gathering – there comes a point in the evening when you want to “toss a bone” to whatever constituency has been ignored musically thus far. Simply schedule 15 minutes worth of those numbers back-to-back while your musicians take their breaks. It doesn’t matter whether the music is Big Band, 70s Disco, Latin, or a combination of all the above. The fans of those particular styles will be happy to have heard “their” songs, your band will be happy to have had their breaks, and – most importantly – you will be happy because the momentum of the party will never stop.

Your guests will have no idea how you made the evening flow so beautifully, they will only know that – all of a sudden – it’s midnight (two hours later than they’d intended to stay.) And on their way out the door they will tell you: “This was the best party – ever!!”