Our recent acoustic set at a wedding recently is the inspiration for this weeks blog rock my reception:
There is no getting away from the fact that if you have a party of any form you are going to need music. End of. Without it, you essentially have a ‘gathering’ or a ‘meeting’, so in order for a party to maintain any atmosphere you’ll need music. Like a kind of social lubricant It gives the party pace, mood and fills the awkward gaps when the conversation may have come to a brief standstill. It’s what gives you’re party it’s swing- but what form of music do you choose…?
Since the 1940’s, the Disc-Jockey, or more commonly known as the D.J., has been the staple diet of many a party whether it be school disco, Christmas or Birthday parties, corporate functions and weddings. That jocular character could always be found behind his/her black-felted desk spinning disc’s on their twin tables, lights flashing and if it’s a really posh do, maybe a glitter ball spinning. It was, infact a certain controversial white haired d.j. from Leeds who is reputed to be the originator of the twin-table d.j. disco enabling a continuous play of records back in 1947 at a jazz dance hall. Technology has had a rapid change in the last 20 years which has left the classic turntables redundant. Some traditionalists bemoan the lack of crackles you heard on the original vinyls but what this leap forward in technology has meant is that a d.j. no longer has to carry hundreds of records in the back of their van, even then running the risk that someone will request something completely left-field that isn’t part of this already expansive collection. A dj’s contemporary list of equipment will probably include a laptop, memory stick or I-pad, all including every single recording ever known to man since the year dot. Or near enough.
As times and technology have changed so have the style of d.j.’s .Most d.j.’s today tend to get on with the task of sticking to what genres of music is asked of them, keeping extraneous chat to a minimum and simply playing music. A part of the acoustic wedding band Rock My Reception we’ll often hand over to a d.j. who will finish off the last couple of hours of the night and the vast majority are affable folk who do exactly what is said on the tin. There are however, still a number of d.j.’s, admittedly of the older age group, who still revert to type and try to steer the set to their own tastes. Anyone who’s heard Steve Wright on Radio 2 may recognise these traits; the over-ebullience, silly voices, the fake laughing at things that are patently not funny and the insistence on playing music that they want to play. For example, Steve Arrington’s 1985 hit, ‘Feel so real’ may remind them of their salad days where they were chatting up some young blonde in a Blackpool night club, but amidst the misty-eyed haze of nostalgia, they’re failing to realise that the couple who’s wedding they’re being payed to play at may not have even been born in 1985, let alone appreciate this middle of the road, soul air-filler!
We turned up at a wedding a few years ago to play a couple of sets for the evening. The couple were in their early 30’s and the dj had been providing music throughout the afternoon. Upon our arrival, the bride approached us ashen-faced.
“Please tell me you play some Indie tunes. This Dj keeps playing 80’s stuff- we have to keep telling him: No Cheese. But he won’t stop”
It was easy to see why the bride was so distressed. As if on cue came ‘Agadoo’ by Black Lace. The D.J. was adorned in day-glo shorts and a baseball cap complete with protruding arms holding two mallets. An outdated, badly trimmed moustache balanced precariously on his upper lip as he rambled non-sequiturs in and amongst the records, the irritation being further exacerbated by intermittent pumps on an old fashioned car horn attached to his desk!
One recent evening in between our sets playing acoustic wedding music, the ageing d.j. with a penchant for hearing his own voice and letting his ego run amok and overshadowing the proceedings. Throughout the first hour, our set was punctuated with annoying interjections from said d.j. on his desk microphone. It was then that we decided to take matters into our own hands. The d.j. had specifically asked us prior to our set to leave out some of the more popular dance floor classics, presumably so he could use them to bolster his own set. After 90 minutes of constant irritations we decided to let Mr Smashy have it both barrels and proceeded to launch into a non-stop medley of floor-fillers: Sweet Caroline, Dance the night away, La Bamba, 500 Miles, Hi-Ho Silver Lining, Twist and Shout, Johnny B Goode- the list went on and the d.j.’s face turned to the thunder as we used up his best crowd pleasing numbers. As we finished our set to Elbows ‘One day like this’, the d.j. looked crestfallen having already almost burning himself out with all his excitement throughout our set. We, and the audience left the dance floor to the d.j.’s last recourse: the old classic, The 1981 hit by The Tweets- The Birdie Song!