The Honey Brothers surprise at TTs

A review of The Honey Brothers at TT the Bears Place on January 25, 2009

, Staff Writer

As I stood in a TT The Bear’s place more crowded than I had ever seen, I wondered if I would be reviewing The Honey Brothers if the drummer had not been Adrian Grenier, known for his role as "teen in van" in AI, and some TV show I guess. Once they took the stage, however, it became pretty clear that these guys weren’t that bad after all: it was thankfully not an Adrian Grenier and then four other musicians on stage, but five buddies playing music and having a good time.

As a quick aside, the crowd did not realize this fact: it was filled with girls born on or after 1992, squeezing forward to get a picture of the famous guy on stage, taking photos of the band setting up, standing in between groups of friends, bumping and spilling beers of those without big X’s on their hands, and just generally being a nuisance. The flash of photography got to be pretty tiresome (unless, of& course,& it was coming from BMS photographer Phillip Bond).

The Honey Brothers are a Brooklyn-based quintet, self-described as ukulele-country-glamrock. It’s an interesting combination, to be sure, but in the end the country aspect didn’t shine through as much as the other two. They opened with "Demonstration", a pretty straight pop tune with a very Interpol bass line. The song allowed the band to showcase the fact that every single member takes vocal duties at some point, though the de facto lead vocalists would probably be Andrew Vladeck and Ari Gold. Their harmonies were a bit thin and hung together kinda loosely, but it was still impressive to hear them all taking the microphone together. Towards the end of the song one of the band members took to a small Alesis synth and sped up and down on a really cool-sounding theremin sample.

The show settled into a pretty solid pace from there on out: Vladeck strummed happily on his banjo while Gold swayed around with his ukulele. The timbres of the two instruments really complemented each other well, and at times they blended seamlessly together to the point that it sounded like one musician was playing one really impressive line. "Some Of Them Are Nice Days" juxtaposed punk cords with impressive rhythm work and was just a fun song to hear.

Fun would be the pervading theme of the evening – band members would just up and decide to switch instruments in between songs: Grenier at one point went from his drum set to the guitar for a song, and at the end picked up a recorder and played a solo that literally had nothing to do, musically, with anything else that was going on in the song. It was impressive, in a way, to hear something completely divorced from the time and tonality of the rest of the song, just a layer of noise on top of everything else.

The band’s set was a fairly short one, clocking in at around fifty minutes before the encore. What was there was thoroughly enjoyable, though. The show in Boston would be the band’s last for a little while, the end of a whopping six-show stint through the northeast. While The Honey Brothers aren’t exactly breaking any new ground, they do a great job compounding many musical influences into one very cohesive sound. The ukulele-banjo combination sounded great, and hearing four- or five-part harmonies consistently was impressive, and really speaks to their musicality. The guys downplayed the whole celebrity factor very well, and, in spite of a somewhat unsavory crowd, put together a set that was thoroughly enjoyable and well worth the inexpensive ticket.

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