If you’re into the Boston bar scene, love fun bands, and/or have ever been to Whiskey Priest or Landsdowne Pub, chances are you’ve heard BearFight. And if you have, chances are you’ve left with a sweaty brow, a hoarse voice, and a sore shoulder/elbow/arm from intensely fist pumping for the duration of the performance.
Because one thing’s for sure: BearFight knows how to get a dance floor rocking. Like, really rocking. They’re the house band for a number of Boston party bars for a reason. But the best part? They can fuse their energy and their signature rock band style with the classics to make the ultimate wedding band for couples who want people to remember that their wedding was a par-tay, but also intimate and special. Which 95% of our couples seem to want… and we’re never mad about it. Not even one little bit!
Tell me a little bit about BearFight!
BearFight is going on our tenth year as a band, and we’re bigger and stronger than ever. We started out as a bar band, in fact we’ve been the house band at a pair of popular Boston pubs since each opened their doors. But in the past five years or so, we’ve added hundreds of weddings and corporate/college events to our schedule. It’s been awesome to handle that transition, and we couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out.
What made you want to play weddings?
As our friends and fans started getting hitched, we noticed a real shift in the wedding market. Couples wanted to get away from the cheesy, YMCA-type bands their parents and older siblings had, so we knew there was a need for a true rock band in the wedding space. We figured, why not us?
What types of weddings do you love to play for/what types of clients do you love to work with?
Every venue is different – from downtown hotels and ballrooms to beachside tents. It’s so hard to pick a favorite. The clients we work with tend to be young, fun couples who just want a big dance party for their wedding. Their personalities almost always match our personality as a band. It’s pretty cool.
What’s your favorite first dance song?
Whatever the couple wants to hear!
What’s your favorite last dance song?
Piano Man by Billy Joel.
What’s your guaranteed to get the dance floor pumping song?
Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon.
Take me through a typical wedding day for Bearfight.
A wedding day is always a huge day for us. We’re usually on the road early in the morning, sometimes after getting home at 2-3am from a show the night before. We pack the cars with gear, drive anywhere from 1-4 hours to the venue, and load everything into the reception space at least two hours before guests start to arrive. From there’s it’s about 90 minutes of setting up the speakers and instruments, a full sound check to make sure the volume levels are set, and then usually setting up a second or third speaker system at the ceremony and cocktail hour spaces. Once the event starts, we trade off between the band performances and our DJ for ceremony, cocktail hour, intros, dinner, reception, and set breaks. And before you know it, we’re singing the final song of the night, then breaking everything down to pack up the cars and head home. Being the first ones to arrive during the day and the last ones to leave at night is equal parts exhausting and rewarding.
Take me through everything that goes into delivering kick ass music for a wedding, from the moment the client inquires until the wedding is over?
Once an inquiry comes in, we put the client into our booking system and work out details for the event within the first few hours. Then we send them to our guitarist/attorney who puts a contract together. Once a couple officially confirms, we’ll send their deposit through our payroll system, introduce them to our in-house DJ, and from there we work out requests and agendas for the date, right up until a few days before the wedding. And we end up doing around 30 weddings per year, so we work hard to make sure each couple gets our full attention any time they need to talk, 24/7/365. Our biggest expense AFTER the wedding? Dry cleaning bills. We work up quite a sweat.
I always tell my clients to select two or three main priorities for their wedding and focus their resources on those items. If a couple is prioritizing music, how much should they expect to invest in an awesome wedding band?
A great band will handle the entire event from start to finish – including all the unpredictable highs and lows that come with it – without a hitch. That kind of professionalism takes experience and talent, and bands will charge accordingly. I’ve noticed three tiers of band rates over the years; $2-5k for newer, less experienced bands; $6-9k for veteran bands that can run the show and really get the party going; and $10k+ for the elite groups (think pro management companies, touring musicians, horn sections, etc). As with most things, you definitely get what you pay for.
What are some ways couples who are on a tight budget can still have great music at their wedding?
The band is absolutely vital to the energy and excitement for the night. Remember the meal you had at that wedding last year? Probably not. But I bet you remember the band. Couples should try to focus on getting great entertainment, and save elsewhere whenever possible. For example, select less expensive dishes instead of filet mignon and a raw bar. You can also DIY anything from a photobooth to flower arrangements (thank you, Pinterest). And if you need affordable recommendations for other vendors, just ask! We’ve met plenty over the years at various price points that can help everything fit your budget. If you’ve tried everything else and still need to save on a band, getting a younger band that’s new to the market can save you some dough – just make sure they’re up to the task!