Live: Adrian Grenier And The Honey Brothers Make Midtown West Feel A Lot Like L.A.
The Honey Brothers (with Adrian Grenier)
Random Warehouse on Tenth Ave.
Wednesday, April 18
Better Than: Would Turtle's band be Saigon?
Let's get this out of the way now: Adrian Grenier was member of new-wave folk troupe Honey Brothers before he was Vince Chase on Entourage and not the other way around. The band even had some influence on the show; Vince's endearingly aggro agent Ari Gold got his name from Grenier's bandmate (whose website notes that he was neither asked nor paid for this identity theft). And as someone who has recently documented a number of very strange events that hosted actors-turned-musicians, going into last night's Honey Brothers show knowing that the HBO star has been in his band for seven years gave us some hope.
As always, where there are celebs, there's commercial motive too. In this case, Grenier was celebrating the launch of his newly founded SHFT project, a green initiative to promote sustainability within the culture-branding arc of art, film, fashion and music. The preview took over a swanked, two-floor warehouse space on Tenth Avenue where things like pate and truffled mushrooms were served alongside martinis and ad execs discussed Green Initiatives and yoga mats. Idle strums of a tuning ukelele played nearby. In short, Midtown West was beginning to feel a lot like L.A.
The ukeleles weren't all that bad, really. Once a trio of street-performing warblers, the Honey Brothers have evolved to make mindlessly playful, Vampire Weekend-dunked college rock. Their short set was made from the kind of stuff that benefits from the fact that everyone likes the Beach Boysthough we would later hear one band member mention Silver Jews and Ween as inspirations. In honesty, the night's dose of summertime surf rock felt a lot like an attempt to take big ideas and make them palatable to the sustainability-minded folks who would eventually fund or promote SHFT's lifestyle umbrella. This is a band that has Grenier earnestly singing lines like, "Space is everywhere except when you need it," while reaching his arms around a female vocalist to tap out a beat on a drum machine, an act that made this female writer green with both nausea and envy. We'll begrudgingly admit that the sparkling, synth-backed cheeriness of "Green and Gold" is kind of a jam, though.
It's probably unfair to let the whole "Entourage Star Promotes Going Green With Band" headline get in the way of the fact that the Honey Brothers make fine, perfectly inoffensive music, music that was at times unbearably precious in it's earnestness. And there's definitely something larger to be discussed here in that the night's events were also co-sponsored by Ford, they who conveniently had their newest eco-friendly car on display. But for now, we'll have another martini please.
Critical Bias: Everyone's a rock-star these days, huh.
Overheard: "So happy they have cheese. I'm not eating carbs."