By Kirsten Goeben
The last place I thought I would find myself last Sunday night was at a Naked Brothers Band concert, yet there I was. Nat and Alex Wolff performed at the Gramercy Theatre to promote their most recent EP, Public Places. Though it was not explicitly branded as this, I hoped it would be somewhat of a Naked Brothers Band reunion tour, and I was not disappointed.
The crowd at the concert was a mix of nostalgic millennials and an unsettling number of parents, so it was difficult to get a gauge of their current fan base. Though I was not remotely familiar with their new music, I just had to go pay tribute to the mid-2000s Nickelodeon icons. Despite some unforeseen changes, such as the fact that Alex has finally parted with his signature du-rag and the rest of the band has been replaced by middle-aged men, Nat and Alex are back and better than ever.
Public Places has an alternative rock sound with a few songs I would rate as “certified bangers”— “Rollin’ Around” and “Passing Through.” The flavor of the EP can be described as Generation Z heartbreak meets the 70s meets Andrew Bird. Nat and Alex have gone in a more mature direction and proven to be talented songwriters, as they wrote every song on the EP.
Some of the songs were uncomfortably mellow for a concert setting; nevertheless, the vocals were angelic, and I would recommend giving Public Places a listen. The EP is a lyrical journey through foibles with love and lighthearted narrated interludes. Nat and Alex also play multiple instruments, including the guitar and piano. A highlight was an elaborate drum solo from Alex. They are a talent to look out for, to say the least. The performance was fun and well-received; as America’s favorite audience expert Sean Spicer would say, the “raucous overflow crowd” exhibited audible enthusiasm with “a five-minute standing ovation.”
In what I would describe as the uncontested pinnacle of 2017, the distinct melody of the Naked Brothers Band theme song “If It’s Not Love” filled the Gramercy Theatre. The much-anticipated return to Nat and Alex’s roots breathed life into the concert. This continued as they followed with the 2007 Naked Brothers Band hit “Crazy Car.” This song is an extended metaphor that explores the complexity and unpredictable nature of love, written by the one and only six-year-old Nat Wolff. Just as I thought bubblegum pop had reached the point of no return, there it was.
Nat and Alex also played “Look Outside” from Nat’s 2015 film Paper Towns, the nostalgic “Thump Thump Thump” from their 2011 album “Black Sheep” and their 2014 single “Rules.” “Rules” is a soft jam that features whistling, which everyone knows is the main criteria for a fire track. These mixed in with songs from their EP and NBB days resulted in a truly eclectic set list.
Suddenly it was 8:30 p.m. (a reasonable hour…almost too reasonable) and Nat and Alex had taken their final bows. Overall, the national treasures put on a stellar show and listened to the calls of their persistent Naked Brothers Band fans. I give this concert my unqualified seal of approval.