It’s 6pm on a sunny Sunday in Glasgow and I’m strutting down towards Wild Caberet in Merchant City to do my best intrepid reporter/Clark Kent impression while at that moment realising that I’m probably attending a bit of an upmarket venue and dressed like an off duty trucker from somewhere in deepest southern America!
I make it to the place and after relief at seeing many jeans and t-shirted punters, caught up with Wedding band ‘The Brightsde’ who are hosting and performing at an exhibition night in the venue for potential couples/clients (brides….lets face it!) and anyone else who may be interested in hiring them for their big day.
The band play to an almost full house and pull out an absolutely cracking set consisting of songs ranging from rock staples such as ‘Jump’ by Van Halen to early 90’s dance classics like ‘Ride On Time’ from Black box.
It’s fair to say that wedding bands in general do rather well but with the current economic climate of austerity and more lovely cuts on the way by Chancellor Snort Goblin George Osbourne, how does this hit on the public affect a group like ‘The Brightside’? I met up with guitarist Lyle and singer Selina after the gig for a boozy and revealing late night chat in Maggie May’s and after much well deserved brown nosing I asked the pair how the current economic climate and austerity measures by the aforementioned Lord Cocaine has affected the band.
“It’s hit us too!” Say’s Selina, who says business in the last few years has definitely taken a bit of a nosedive with at least 30% reduction in clients since 2012 with more couples relying on DJ’s and more financially slender weddings. Haggling has also become a ‘thing’ for the more shameless bride (in which one could argue that they are quite right) with The Brightside confirming that couples do indeed ask for discounts, price trims and flat out reductions on a regular basis and while this has never been a new thing in the history of anything anywhere it seems to have grown in trend since the country’s broken political system has elected and re-elected the Irvine Welsh cast of a Muppets movie to parliament.
I quizzed the two Brightside members on why they think that Wedding bands seem to always do relatively well (even with the current situation against them) as opposed to the band playing their original material?
“It’s completely different!” says Lyle “We’re providing a service rather than fulfilling our own musical needs!” with the pair (who also happen to be a lovely couple!) confirming that potential clients regularly work with the band to create tailor made setlists for their special day, usually from an extensive list of covers that the band already know but also are willing to learn on request from whatever rabid bride may be hiring them.
It’s more than fair to say that the band have an extremely sharp and high level of musical skill to be able to learn pretty much any song on request, but do they feel that this is all they do in life? The answer is a resounding no! A few of the band members have their own projects where they write their own music so the avenue for a creative outlet is covered but why is this large portion of the bands talent on the whole ignored by the public?
Couples and weddingy type folk like to try to define their love and affection for one another by using other peoples words and music but with the wealth of talent available to them why do they settle for second hand feelings when they could ask the band to compose a song that is 100% original and for them and them alone?
The question received a split response from the Brightside pair with Selina seeming very much in favour and keen on the idea of a personalised touch to offer couples (with the advantage of having writers credits and royalties to play around with) whereas Lyle took the hairy man approach of practicalness by putting forward the case of overload if the band are trying to musically satisfy three or more couples a week and and hence taking the magic out of what is meant to be a truly personal experience.
So it seems like the Government putting the ordinary folk of the country in a rather crap production of Oliver has indeed affected the Wedding Band community like everyone else but not so much that they can’t still comfortably live off what they do, but what of the other side of the coin? What about the musicians that struggle day in and day out writing & recording their own material and sometimes not even getting the price of the petrol to the gig never mind payment?
It’s no secret in the musical community that most people are out and out idiots when it comes to music appreciation with the general populus quite happily swallowing the same spoon fed crap that the radio and media offers up with zero deviation or even want to stray from the indoctrinated path of Orwellian machine made pop music or the same 30 year old radio ‘classics’ that are repeated to the point of murdered on the commercial airwaves, so what happens when a band do their own thing and try to take it on the road?
Bacchus Baracus are a rock band from Glasgow who play a particularly energetic brand of fuzzy, raw edged retro style music which is extremely popular at the moment in the guitar based band community but time and time again they have failed to be able to get a tour organised as costs are simply far too prohibitive because putting it lightly, they don’t get paid…….ever!
These are no amateur musicians either! The band have a full length album out on Wasted State records, a music video, their own personal rehearsal space and have played extensively over the last 5 years to legions of enthusiastic crowds who go crazy for the bands brand of bluesy driving rock so why aren’t they making a living?
I spoke to drummer/singer Quzzy about the band’s most recent tour failure with American band Heavy Glow.
“The Heavy Glow/Bacchus tour for this autumn fell through as promoters just ether are unwilling to book bands who don’t have a massive name or are looking for what they see as too expensive (£150-£200 was what we were looking for for both bands…considering that Heavy Glow were coming from the US of A and most English bands seem to get about I don’t consider that expensive at all!”
Quzzy also tells me of a proposed tour of France and Spain that also fell through last year due to Scrooge like promoters offering as little as 50 euros total to the band and how the situation in the UK is just as bad if not worse due to a rather inefficient way that money is handled and distributed in music venues.
“The Venue/PA/Soundguy cost alone in most places might just be covered by the walk through on the door…but when you factor in flyers/posters/feed the band/petrol extra venue cost…How can a band get any cash deals at all?”
The band continue to write, rehearse and play under difficult circumstances and one may have a thing to say if such a life choice was simply poorly paid but to have absolutely no payment at all for providing the service of entertainment with just as much skill, blood and sweat as a wedding band there seems to be something severely wrong in how people today see music and musicians in terms of value.
After much deliberation it is the sad conclusion that the general public do not want new, original and interesting music, but rather the same old stuff that hasn’t changed in the last three decades or simply rehashed versions of existing songs and genres. The Brightside and other wedding and venue bands have obviously and absolutely quite rightly so capitalised on this rather sad state of affairs but make no bones about it, the band work incredibly hard at what they do and deserve every single penny of what is both a physical and mental job which demands time, effort, a personal touch and bucketloads of talent and this is backed up by the hundreds of satisfied clients who praise the band ever week on their services.
It’s sad then that groups like Bacchus Baracus have to struggle through life with a prick’s chance in winter of seeing any money at all from anything, yet the cost of musical equipment, recording and travel are identical (and extortionate) for both groups.
As the second wave of austerity comes from the gremlins at Westminster who preach that we are all in this together while quaffing their champagne and parking their nibs inside small children, the arts community has clearly suffered in all areas due to the obvious primary school maths problem of people not being able to buy anything because they have no money. Of course you can’t expect any less when you elect a penis masquerading as a politician to head office but bands like The Brightside can still make a living out of doing what they do but the art of music is in serious danger of imploding on itself due to the acute stifling of new talent who are not out with the intention of becoming millionaires but just simply trying to pay some bills
Whether this is down to public stupidity or the current trend of devaluation of music isn’t clear but the cuts from the chuckle brothers at Westminster certainly don’t help as they not only affect the paying public but the artists themselves who, contrary to belief, still need to eat, sleep somewhere warm and hand over cash to buy overpriced petrol and that isn’t going to change anytime soon but still they power on like troopers for the love of what they do.
As Rick James once said (and probably George Osbourne too) “It’s a hell of a drug!”
The Brightside can be booked by visiting their website at http://www.thebrightsidepartyband.com
Bacchus Baracus can be booked by visiting their website at http://www.bacchusbaracus.com
Bacchus Baracus Photo by Chez M Photography