On the evening of March 19, we were asked by Sophie and Guy to play for their wedding reception at the National Gallery of Victoria. We played our first set outside in the beautiful sculpture garden, and then moved into the equally lovely Persimmon Restaurant and played two more sets over dinner, before a DJ took over for the later part of the evening. The bridal couple particularly wanted a guitar-based ensemble, so I bought in the amazing Judd Niemann to join Myles and I for a total of seventeen hard-swinging strings.
If you’d like my thoughts about the importance of live music for outdoor-indoor events like this, and the logistics involved, please read on!
During the warmer months, it’s great to start an event outdoors, especially when the surroundings are as beautiful as they are at NGV. Having music playing as guests arrive in that situation is important, particularly from the perspective of the guests who arrive first. Walking into silence and waiting for other people to arrive can feel a little awkward, so to have live music playing is to break that silence with some musical energy, and also provide a smile and a greeting and a little interaction. Then as other guests arrive, they have something to chat about with people they don’t know, or something to stand and watch and listen to if they’re a bit shy and their friends haven’t arrived yet. As more and more people fill the space, the music switches gears a little to create the appropriate ambience for high-energy congratulations and catching up.
At the point where guests are ready to move inside, we can quickly pack up and move with them. In this instance, we were to provide instrumental music inside a fairly small room, so we opted to use the same three small amplifiers as we were using outside. In other venues, I might have a PA system set up inside the venue ready for us to plug into, but it wasn’t really necessary here, particularly since there was a DJ already set up with a PA of his own, who could put on some background music while the guests found their seats and we moved our stuff, and who could provide a microphone for speeches later on. Keeping the amplification fairly minimal also enabled each of us to do a fairly straightforward one-trip load in through the loading dock and security at the gallery (which is very beneficial at venues where access for equipment is slightly non-trivial), and to get the gear out of the restaurant fairly straightforwardly when it was time for the DJ to take over.
Having things run smoothly in these situations is the result of a lot of small decisions. Decisions about instrumentation, about amplification, about timings and shelter and power supplies and stairs and ramps and all sorts of other things which might not seem as if they’d have a big impact. In the context of an event where you’re looking for a seamless transition from one location to another, there’s quite a lot to consider, and there’s value in hiring people who have made enough mistakes to have learned how to avoid them. Things can fall over remarkably quickly if, for example, nobody remembers to check where the power supply is for the outdoor set, or someone doesn’t realise that it’s common to be delayed going through security at a large venue like this, so it’s important to leave extra time. I’m pleased to say that we avoided all those potential pitfalls and had a great time entertaining Sophie and Guy and all their very appreciative guests.
We extend all our best wishes to Sophie and Guy, and our thanks to Emmett and the staff from Peter Rowland at Persimmon.