How to find really good live party bands

How to find a party band to hire is the easy bit.  Most of us start our search on the internet and will find literally hundreds of live bands.

Well that’s good news, isn’t it?  There’s certainly no shortage of bands to hire, but how do you find a really good band for your party when there’s so many to choose from?

You might have started by searching for “party bands” or “covers bands” or “live band for a birthday party” but all the bands say they are “party bands for hire” so this is no help at all.  You can narrow your search a bit by including the County and even the town where you are having your party e.g. “hire a band for a party in Surrey” or ” find a party band to hire near Guildford”.  This still won’t tell you if the bands are any good.  

Are the best bands on the first few pages of the Google results?  Not necessarily.  The bands that come at the top or on the right hand side have either paid to be there, or are very good at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or have paid a company to do this for them.  SEO is a method of getting a higher page ranking in web searches i.e. your website comes nearer the top in search results.  So the bands in the first few pages are very good at getting their website found.  Unfortunately this still tells you nothing about how good they are.

If you read what each band says about themselves, it seems that every band is the best live party band ever, with huge experience of weddings, parties, functions and corporate events.  Many bands say that they “guarantee to fill the dance floor” or “guarantee a night to remember”.  It all seems too good to be true and in a lot of cases it probably is!  A lot of these bands may only (or mostly) play in pubs and clubs.  This doesn’t mean that they’re no good, but it does mean that they may have little or no experience of playing at important functions like special birthday parties or weddings.  

So how do you find the right band to hire to play at your party?  Perhaps you’ve already heard a band you like or maybe someone you know has recently hired a band they would recommend.  If not, you’ll just have to find some bands to see and hear.  This is sometimes possible on-line as many bands have videos on their websites or on Youtube.  See if the videos appear to be genuine i.e. an obviously live videos rather than a video with a sound track added.  If you like what you’ve seen and heard of a band’s videos then try to see them actually performing.  This is important as you need to know they’re as good playing live as in their videos or demos.  Also you need to feel comfortable with their way of handling a crowd.  It is worth talking with the band too, as you need to feel at ease when dealing with them.  A band with too much “attitude” might appear to be a bit threatening to your guests.

Many bands have only one lead singer and this can lead to problems.  If this singer is ill or has a bad throat then the band may have to cancel your booking!  Also listening to just one singer all night can become a bit samey and tiring.  Although female singers can and will sing some male songs, and vice versa, the range of songs that can be performed reasonably authentically is bound to be limited if a band has only one singer.

A band with male and female vocals has a much wider scope of songs.

There are loads of four-piece bands which feature only guitars, drums and a singer.  A band with keyboards will sound much better than a band which only has guitars, always assuming that the keyboard player is any good!   Keyboards have sounds like piano, organ, strings, brass, electric piano etc.  Most songs use instruments like these and they play a vital part in how that song sounds.

It is very helpful to have some idea of your budget when approaching a band with a view to possibly booking them.  Most bands are willing to discuss prices and negotiate.  It is definitely worth looking “up market” instead of trying to get the cheapest band you can find.

There are plenty of cheap bands but as a rule you get what you pay for.

What could happen if you book the cheapest band you can find?  Well, if you’re incredibly lucky, they might turn out to be very good indeed, being both friendly and polite, arriving to set up well before your guests appear, only checking briefly that their amplifiers, microphones and PA system are working and that the sound is just loud enough and well-balanced.  Drums can take a while to set up and tune but, if the band arrives early enough, this won’t be a problem for you.  After setting up, the band would leave background music playing and retire to their allocated room to change into performance clothes, eat the refreshments you’ve arranged for them and wait until they are required to start playing.  When it’s finally time for the live music, you and your guests are impressed by the range of songs you love that are being played and the dancefloor is full to bursting all night.  The full dancefloor is every band’s aim.  It’s the best accolade to the performance and is what makes it all worthwhile from our point of view.

In reality, when hiring the cheapest band imaginable, the situation is more likely to be like this …
Band turns up late (or certainly not early enough), they are rude, set up with a lot of noise including totally unnecessary guitar and/or keyboard and/or drum solos, they only have the jeans and T-shirts they arrived in, finding the bar seems more important than anything else … They probably start late and then you discover that what they play is the music THEY like at the volume THEY like and the microphone feedback is almost non-stop and your guests start leaving and within the first five minutes you’re wishing and wishing that you hadn’t booked this truly awful band.

This is something to be avoided at all costs … and note the word “costs”.  It’s not very likely that you’d be thinking “it was a dreadful night, the neighbours called the police, I’ve lost my wife and most of my friends, but at least the band were cheap!”

It would be so much better to be thinking “well, the band cost more than I was expecting but everyone had the most amazing night and they’ve been talking about how great it was for the last year and wondering when are we having that band back and where else are they playing?”

If you want live music for a special occasion, you have to get a good band because you have only the ONE chance to get it right!

Famous Five Band      Tel. 01483-236161      E-Mail  ffband@ntlworld.com