They booked our NJ corporate DJ package and we were scheduled as the opening act -- to warm-up the crowd during cocktail hour before they were given an intimate private concert by a secret surprise headliner. Little did they know what would soon be in store for them: a legendary rock star.
Upon arriving, we felt like 'rock stars' ourselves, as union labor handled our equipment (a mandatory requirement) and set us up. (We did not complain at all about that.) The scene prior to the event was full of energy, excitement, and lots and lots of extra police and security. (We suspected it had something to do with the surprise guest).
There were many vendors of all kinds setting up everything from event lounge decor, furniture, lighting, to seafood ice-bars, which had the branding of the event sculpted right into the ice. It was pretty cool to get a first look, behind-the-scenes of how a high-end upscale corporate event gets put together from start to finish.
The event was dubbed "The Thrilla in Philla". Based in part (obviously) on the the city's nickname, known as 'Philly'. Also, a play on the event title "The Thrilla in Manilla" - the 1970's-era boxing match made famous by former heavy-weight champion, the late Muhammad Ali. This entire corporate event had a boxing theme to it. They placed an actual boxing ring near the dinner area as an elegant string quartet played background dinner music right inside of it. (wish we had taken a picture of that!)
And this boxing /fight theme was largely in part due to Philadelphia being the home of another iconic boxing legend, who isn't actually a real fighter (unless you're from Philly and believe he is) -- the one and only Rocky Balboa. As you can see from the blog post picture, a replica of the 'Rocky statue' (the real one used in the films is housed at the Philadelphia Art Museum) was placed at the event, and I didn't hesitate to pose with it.
For my DJ set, I mixed a crowd-pleasing playlist of background music that had some bop to it. Too often, DJ's mistake cocktail hour music as insignificant and that the song choices don't really matter, because no one is listening. I disagree. Special attention should be given to this low-key segment of any event, because under the right circumstances it can really set the tone for the rest of the evening. In the context of this event -- with the extra large space, and the one thousand person attendance -- people really needed music that would encourage them to get loose and bounce around a bit, without it necessarily inciting dancing. Not yet at least. And this mission was accomplished, as the happy faces entered the grand ballrooms in a feel-good mood.
After dinner, guests moved into the concert arena portion of the ballroom. The lights dimmed, spotlights were turned on and there he was, rock star legend Paul McCartney making his way unto the stage, accompanied by his band. It was truly a surreal and jaw-dropping moment. Even though I had seen him previously in concert at Madison Square Garden and Citi Field -- the build-up and surprise factor involved was riveting. Not to mention, I had amazing seats!
Most of the guests in attendance are baby boomers and generation X, so this marquee act was right up their alley -- a performer from their actual youth. For me, he was always an idol of mine (as well as the Beatles) - even though I'm half of a millennial, I'm party old 'classic rock' soul. My father grew up listening to them, so it was only natural I did, too. Incidentally, McCartney is the reason I began playing guitar (after I saw vintage footage of him playing a live version of 'Yesterday' from 1965 -- my favorite song of all time). This deeply influenced my musical path. So this corporate event was extra-special because it brought a lot of things together full circle for me -- in regards to both my professional goals and personal experiences.
McCartney went on to give this private audience of 1,000 people a raucous concert and stunning live performance, complete with encores; no different than if he were playing for 50,000 people at Shea Stadium (as he did back in 1965). It was truly amazing!
When the guests exited nearly close to midnight (no one was going to dare tell Macca he had gone wayyy over his allotted time), the client asked if we could extend our DJ service for the remainder of the evening. By now, guests were really in the mood to continue the dancing party McCartney's rock anthems had incited. We were happy to 'close the show' for him.
In reflecting back at that event, there's no denying the technicality of it: I can say I opened up for Paul McCartney. (Check that off the bucket list) I warmed them up, he made them twist and shout (couldn't resist the Beatles song reference there), and then...I was their night cap, their last call before it was curtains on the evening. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
In the end, the large scale event planner agency (based in Portland, Oregon) was very pleased with our service and had this to say...
"We hired Jeron Music LLC to work at our large, 1,000 guest corporate event. From day one, Jeron was professional and diligent in following through with communication. Our client required a high-level of confidentiality and very detailed service.
Of course, working events at this scale requires vendors to be very flexible and accommodating on-site. Jeron was always professional, abided all requests and provided truly quality service. Guests loved his music selection and the presentation was wonderful. We'll be sure to call Jeron again!" -Nikki G.
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