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Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for any opportunity to get out of the oppressive, sticky summer heat and into a room with AC. But Joe’s Pub is not without its own discomforts. It’s a little classier than my usual hangouts and, though I’ve been to the club a handful of times, I’m still not sure how to act.
More like a jazz hangout then a rock venue, Joe’s is an intimate haunt with tiny candlelit tables, a few booths, and a bar in the back. The setting—not to mention the pub’s two-drink minimum—dictates that the audience is seated and constantly consuming some sort of food or beverage. Me, I’m more of a fan of the dance party, and I’m not usually comfortable with the whole sitting down and listening to music thing—it tends to put me to sleep. But, I tried to keep an open mind as we took our seats and waited for the band to play. After all, it’s about the music, not the venue, right? And I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about Brookville, the sort-of side project of Ivy co-founder Andy Chase.
As the show drew closer, snooty up-towners in their mid-twenties began to fill the room - possibly attracted by the 13-dollar martinis. Perhaps it was their presence that accounted for the band’s valiant efforts getting lost in translation. After taking the stage awkwardly, Chase informed the audience that this was the first New York show that the band had played since the release of their most recent album, Life in the Shade. As such, they seemed genuinely surprised to see an almost-full room, especially since it was the July Fourth weekend.
The band loosened up soon after the first song, shaking their jitters away, but the crowd was not responsive. Nevertheless, Chase trudged on—if, at times, appearing a bit uncomfortable and out of place. He concentrated mainly on material from Life in the Shade. It’s obvious from the way that Chase attacks the songs on stage that they are his babies, and that having his own project is a cathartic experience. But, though he’s shared the stage and collaborated with some pretty impressive people, he’s still learning how to look comfortable fronting a band. Still, you could tell that he really wanted to break out his shell.
Brookville’s laid back indie-pop songs tend to sound a bit more full and eclectic on the album. That’s not to say that live, there wasn’t an effort to shake things up—every now and then the keyboardist added some trumpet, and a few songs had an almost bossa-nova feel. “Nothing’s Meant to Last,” for instance, made me want to sip a fruity cocktail poolside or paint my room an exciting color.
The highlight of the evening was “Break Yourself”, a song with just the balance Brookville are trying for, and an example of their sound at its best. Other good morsels included “Crawling in Circles” and “Hey You Hang On”.
As the night went on, the band continued to loosen up, and even started to look like they might be enjoying themselves a bit. But even when they finally relaxed, they still couldn’t connect with the audience. Was it the music? I don’t think so. The presentation? Doubt it. Joe’s Pub? Almost definitely.
Although I did escape the heat outside, Brookville didn’t cool things down quite the way I’d hoped. Still, it wasn’t a half-bad way to spend an evening. Next time, I say bring on the bossa nova, sell some cheaper cocktails, and remember that intimacy doesn’t necessarily equal excitement.
Brookville - Nothing’s Meant to Last