Milo Greene has a sound that will inevitably land it a spot as backing music for some sort of television commercial. Whether it’s behind some sleek new computer product or the anthem for a new hip luxury sedan, this band will score some serious airtime as a commercial band. Don’t take that as a negative statement—many a good band has made its breakthrough on an Apple commercial. Milo Greene just exhibits that catchy and conflicted melodic sound that embodies our current times: that sound that you will not be able to get out of your head, reminding you of whatever product it is as if you are one of Pavlov’s dogs.
So it was fitting that the quintet played a private rooftop set at the Soho House in New York City’s Meatpacking District to the very audience group that it will one day help sell products too—affluent posses of suave and chic Generation Xers who barely took notice of the intimate set the band was performing. Granted many of the rooftop patrons were hotel guests and after-work private club members who perhaps were not expecting a show, the performance space was a bit muddled by the surrounding bar and lounge areas. On the bright side, the lack of people there solely to see Milo Greene meant that when the band started playing, it wasn’t tough to nudge into a good spot. And when they hit the first notes of “Cutty Love,” things instantly got better.
It was a picturesque setting: an agreeably warm summer evening accented with breezes off of the close by Hudson River and great views of the new World Trade Center’s progress glowing in the background. However, acoustically it challenged the band. The space was limited causing multiple hiccups of feedback and there was obviously no professional sound equipment that the band typically would play through at a club—the set was more raw and rehearsal like, with guitars directly played through the band’s own amplifiers and vocals out of a couple JBL outdoor speakers that will probably used to announce bingo numbers the next day. As a result, the band sounded a bit more like an MTV Unplugged version of Milo Greene than the one you might see the following night at the Mercury Lounge. And don’t let me forget to mention that guitarist/vocalist Graham Finkexplained that they had been up for 36 hours straight after traveling overnight to record their first national television appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman.
Though the odds were stacked against Milo Greene, the band still pulled out a great show. Running through most of the debut album, the band played highlights “Perfectly Aligned” and “Don’t You Give Up On Me,” before closing with lead single “1957.” It was uncanny how they were able to recreate the vocal harmonies from the album so perfectly; each member (except for the drummer Curtis Marrero) has a truly talented, unique and frontperson-worthy voice. As guitarist/singer Robbie Arnett recently told CMJ, there’s a reason the band has no clear frontman.
As he walked from the stage at the end of the set, Arnett asked a group of friends, “Was that as bad as it seemed?” Well, if that’s your average show, maybe (and I know it’s not). But, under the given circumstances, the band still gave a memorable and intimate performance and showed off its talented harmonies and melodic music for those who were listening. And for those who weren’t, I won’t say “I told ya so” when you can’t get the Milo Greene song from “that (insert brand) commercial” out of your head.