This week we had the privilege of speaking with Rob Hamilton, the guitarist for the high-energy and versatile Vancouver wedding band, Side One – an Heirloom preferred vendor. The band is an eclectic mix of talented, experienced musicians from Vancouver, the Island, Manitoba and Argentina, all of whom thriving on involving the audience and working with their clients to provide the best entertainment, tailor-made with a guarantee to have the crowd on the dance floor all night long.
Rob explained that people forget that the dancing part of a wedding is often around four hours, which is half of the event. “If you are going to spend half of your wedding dancing, you should make sure that you’ve made the right choice – having a band is the way to go, it’s a must if you want an unforgettable night.”
Before starting Side One, Rob played in many cover bands around the city. One night he got to talking with a wedding planner, Erin Bishop, at an event his band was playing at, about how wedding bands can be a bit cheesy and that Vancouver needed a great cover band. The two got together and Side One was the result.
“To have a band at a wedding is a special experience,” said Rob. “You don’t see bands in nightclubs anymore, but 20 years ago there was a band playing in every club, now it’s all DJ’s.”
The most popular choice for their wedding clients is the dance band, which comes in four different varieties made to suit all budgets. Each option includes the original six-piece: two lead singers, Martin Acosta and Rebecca Shoichet, the guitarist, Rob Hamilton, the bass player, Cory Curtis, and the drummer, Chris Hockey. From there you have the option to tack on more: an eight-piece by adding a horns section or two back up singers or a full 10-piece, which according to Rob is ‘the party pack.’
“Even though we are a cover band, we have a sound,” he said. Their lead female vocalist, Rebecca, is really great at imitating other artists as she comes from a background in voiceover work for cartoons like My Little Pony. “When you hear her do Lady Gaga or Aretha Franklin, you can almost swear it is.”
On the other hand, when you listen to their lead male vocalist, Martin, he has a very specific sound. Even when he sings other artists’ music, he has a very unique flavour. “I think between the two of them we have this great balance.”
Ever wonder how a wedding band comes up with a set list? Side One meets up with the bride and groom before the big day to discuss their taste. “It’s a very fun and involved process,” explained Rob. “We are happy to work with each couple closely because ultimately it’s their day and all about them.
With that said, if you have 200 people at a wedding, you are going to have 200 opinions about what type of music should be played.
The first and foremost goal at your wedding is to party, have a good time and pack the dance floor – maybe that means having to put aside your own musical taste,” said Rob. “One thing that we tell our clients is to keep in mind that there is more than just the two of you at your wedding. What we do is play a lot of different music in hopes that we fit in everyone’s taste.” It’s not uncommon for the band to play 80-90 songs in one evening.
Even though Side One has a set list of tunes they know are going to work to keep the crowd excited, they ask their clients to give them a list of as many songs as they can. Their repertoire is so vast that a lot of music can be easily included into the night.
“It keeps things fresh for us – we’ll go from playing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes or Vampire Weekend then straight into Party Rock Anthem. It’s fun for us to do, and shows the range that we have.”
Side One emphasizes that they are very professional, but at the same time go-with-the-flow with an open attitude towards their clients. If you have specific things that you want, they are happy to incorporate them.
“Once we had a bride whose favourite movie was Disney’s Enchanted,” said Rob. “It has this huge ballroom dance scene with lifts and everything.” The bride and groom practiced the dance for six months and were very concerned that the band played it exactly like in the movie.
“We had no rehearsals or anything, the first time they did it with us was on their wedding night and it turned out great, everyone was standing up and cheering.”
Side One also has many different options for your ceremony, not only your traditional jazz trio or string quartet. The latest trend people are asking for, which was considered taboo in the past, is to have a live singer rather than just an instrumentalist.
“Most instrumentalists have a certain repertoire with the usual Pachelbel’s Canon and very traditional wedding stuff,” explained Rob. “We will do any song you want.”
“We had one couple that wanted an Iron Maiden song for their processional,” he laughed. “So we made this beautiful ceremonial thing out of it, you wouldn’t know the difference between our version of the Iron Maiden song and something traditional.”
The band also offers acoustic guitar and vocals for your cocktail hour, personalised couple introductions and customised playlists during dinner. They can provide wireless microphones and any other sound or lighting equipment needed – basically a one-stop shop taking care of all things music and sound on your day.
“Music, noise and anything coming through speakers we can definitely take care of,” explained Rob. “Anything to do with noise is our business.”
The love and enthusiasm for what they do and the music they play was so evident throughout our entire conversation, which is what we feel has made them so successful. For more information, pricing and contact details please visit their website: www.sideone.ca