As an ECE entertainment consultant, I spend my days wading through emails, making phone calls, and networking with other industry professionals. We guide our clients through the process of booking a band, help them as they prepare for their big event, and then as the date gets closer the bandleader takes the reins through completion of an unforgettable experience.
Occasionally I sneak into the back of a ballroom to see one of our artists perform but never before had I seen the amount of on-site work that goes into an “effortless” performance by one of our bands. I recently tagged along with InsideOut, an 11-piece party band out of Richmond, on a wedding that I booked and I’m still trying to catch up on sleep!
Here is what the day looked like (make sure to check out the Instagram Story footage at the end of the recap):
12:00 PM: The band and I arrived at a Home Depot parking lot to meet the van. Many of the band members had taken half days or entire days off their regular day jobs in order to play this Friday wedding. They loaded up their instruments and stage attire and then we hit the road for a 3-hour drive to Purcellville VA.
The energy in the van on the drive up was subdued. Members either slept, joked with/on each other, or listened to the night’s song list on their phones quietly practicing notes or words. Brent, trombone player for the band, controlled the music with a well-curated and eclectic mix of jazz, show tunes, world music, and pop hits. Everything from Les Miserables to John Mayer!
3:00 PM: We arrived at Shadow Creek Weddings and Events and slowly spilled out of the van into the sunlight. Barry, bandleader for InsideOut, and the production crew had been on-site for several hours already unloading and setting up the basic elements of the sound/light system. We carried in the instrument cases and the members began plugging into amps and tuning guitars/horns.
After a quick full band soundcheck, the members headed off to change clothes and rest before guests arrived. They could be found throughout the venue tying ties, donning heels, and loosening up.
4:00 PM: Outside the guests began to arrive by shuttle and were greeted by the gentle classical arrangements of String Poets and a surprise guest (it was a horse). Alexa and Peyton opted for a trio which consisted of violin, upright bass, and keys.
The bride entered to “A Thousand Years” and several classic hymns like “How Great Thou Art” were played between readings.
5:00 PM: After the vows were exchanged along with a romantic kiss, the bridal party headed into the barn and the guests moved to the patio for cocktail hour. String Poets continued their sweet serenade with pop classics ranging from the Beatles to Bon Jovi.
While guests enjoyed signature cocktails outside, the band began doing last minute mic checks, ran through the bridal party names with the planner, and discussed a change in plans for the first few songs. The timeline had been pushed back a bit due to a late shuttle arrival so instead of going straight into first dances, the band planned to kick in with some light jazz as guests wandered in and took their seats. Victoria, one of the lead female vocalists, is a trained jazz singer and it’s always a pleasure to see her in her element.
6:45 PM: After a few light jazz tunes, with the bridal party lined up outside, the band kicked into “You Make My Dreams Come True” as the hilarious cast of characters made their grand entrance with dance moves and big smiles.
The bride and the groom were the last through the door and after a big round of applause they started their first dance to “Die a Happy Man” followed by the father/daughter and mother/son dances. InsideOut learned three new songs for the special dances in addition to another four new songs for later in the evening. Seven new songs on a weekend they were booked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! That is the true definition of musicianship.
7:15 PM: The band flipped over to an iPod playlist and headed outside for a quick dinner break. Typically bands eat vendor meals with a sandwich, chips, apple, and a soda but tonight they dined like kings! The buffet consisted of BBQ, mac n cheese, jalapeno cornbread, green beans, cole slaw, and more. They found some empty seats on the patio, ate quickly, and rested up for what was ahead. A two hour+ non-stop dance set!
8:00 PM: Now it’s time for the party to truly begin… InsideOut took the stage in their gold tuxes/elegant gowns, struck the first chord, and immediately the dance floor filled.
The band typically starts with some older classics like “Superstition” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and as the night goes on the songs become more modern. They specialize in the latest club hits so in addition to “24k Magic” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” they also busted out “Despacito” (a huge hit for the Spanish-speaking bride’s family) and “Strip That Down”.
They ended the night with a special request specifically learned for the bride – “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys (likely now stuck in your head)! Not a single guest was seated and after the song was over they begged for one song. InsideOut ended up playing two encores!
10:15 PM: Alexa and Peyton exited the barn to a shower of sparks and the band immediately began breaking down their gear. Set up usually takes several hours, but teardown happens in a matter of minutes. Despite having just finished a high-energy dance set, the band all pitched in to help the crew pack up the gear and load the truck. Sweaty clothes were swapped out for casual attire and the band loaded into the van after final goodbyes to the venue staff, planner, and parents of the bride/groom.
11:30 PM – 2:00 AM: Very little talking was done on the way home. For the first few minutes of the ride the band exchanged funny moments from the night and re-hydrated, but within 30 minutes of leaving the venue, every single member was asleep (including myself). We pulled into the parking lot at 2:00 AM, sleepily stumbled to our vehicles and headed home to bed. I planned to sleep in as long as my 16-month old would allow me, but the band had to be back in this exact location less than 10 hours from now to repeat the entire process!
I have an immense respect for the musicianship and talent of our artists, but see them in a new light after observing the amount of sweat equity that goes into making these events happen every week. While most people are home resting from a long week of work these guys and girls were bringing their A-game to create a once in a lifetime experience for the bride, groom, and guests of this wedding.
Working as an entertainment consultant there is no “off the clock”, but I’m thankful for Friday nights at home and Saturday chores. Thank you to the artists like InsideOut who make it look easy and provide unforgettable experiences to thousands of clients each year.
ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.