Here’s what I’d like to do. As Stu Hirsh, leader of the Stu Hirsh Orchestra, I want to talk to you about Chicago wedding bands. But instead of giving you nothing but a lot of hype and hyperbole – telling you why my wedding band is the hottest, the coolest, the greatest, the most unique band in the entire country… the world…the solar system…the galaxy…and the universe, blah, blah, blah – I want to give you real information about wedding bands. Information and insights that will help you make your decision about music for your wedding. After 25+ years of performance, I hope I have some good information to share with you.

On to music, wedding bands, and info….

Live music vs. DJ’s

Let’s start with live music/wedding bands versus DJ’s. All of you are working with a budget. All of you want your wedding to be as beautiful, unique, personal, and as memorable as possible. Music is such an important part of a wedding.   I’m biased. I lead a wedding band in Chicago, so I’m in favor of live music. But some of my best friends are DJ’s, and I can’t say anything really bad! Here are some pro’s and con’s:

Pro’s for DJ’s:

  • Less expensive than wedding bands.
  • Will be able to play just about any song ever recorded.
  • Every song will sound like the original artist, because it is the original artist.
  • Each song will sound perfect.

Con’s for DJ’s:

  • No matter how many flashing and pulsating lights they may use, one man or woman, working behind a turntable/laptop/iPod, is not very exciting.
  • The songs are perfect, but always the same (I’ll explain this in greater detail).
  • The recordings can’t interact with your guests (more on this, too).

And now, wedding bands. I’ll start with the con’s…

Con’s for Chicago Wedding Bands:

  • More expensive than DJ’s.
  • Can’t perform every song ever written.
  • Bad wedding bands sound…well…bad.

Pro’s for Chicago Wedding Bands:

  • Live music brings with it an energy that cannot be matched by a DJ.
  • Excellent wedding bands have a very large repertoire and can reproduce almost any style of music.
  • Wedding bands are able to interact with your guests and create the fun entertaining wedding that you hoped for.
  • They can assist with all aspects of your wedding – ceremony, cocktails, dinner and dancing.
  • Certain song requests actually sound better live, because a wedding band can make adjustments to songs either in advance, or on the spot.

Let’s start with energy. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a great band perform live? The vocalists, the horn section, strings, the rhythm section – guitar, keyboard, bass, drums and percussion. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching a national recording star at a concert, or a wedding band at a reception. Whether it’s someone performing their own original music, or a wedding band performing covers. It’ fun. It’s infectious. It’s exciting. Live music makes a party.

So the DJ plays a recording, and it is perfect every time, but the recording has no “life” to it. It’s sterile. The recording wasn’t made for your wedding. It wasn’t made for your guests. It was made for everyone to buy on iTunes.   Did you ever try to make eye contact with a lap top, or iPod? Not too exciting, right?

Chicago wedding bands or national acts….when great bands play live, the performance is directed toward and for the audience.   The music is being made for you, right then and now.   You’ll never hear any song performed exactly the same way twice. Close, but never exactly the same. Music has a very strong affect on people. It can conjure up all kinds of emotions and memories.   I don’t want to get too psychoanalytical – it’ll get boring….But by watching musicians, as they create music, live on stage, that experience heightens your response to the music (I took a psychology class in college).

When wedding bands or national acts performs live, the live version of a song can be different from the original recording.   Remember, so many songs are recorded for radio air play or online purchase. The songs are a specific length of time and a particular feel – whatever the recording company thinks will sell. The best bands feed off of the audiences’ response to the music and vice versa.   It’s still the same song, but bands can take liberties with the song – slower, faster, longer, or shorter.

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