A few weeks ago, I was walking around the town of South Plainfield, New Jersey, listening to Hospitality on my headphones. I had just left my upstate New York home to move to New York City, but I hadn’t quite made it yet. Songs like “Eight Avenue” and “Friends of Friends” are literal takes on the group’s Brooklyn lives, so Hospitality was the perfect soundtrack as I daydreamed about moving into the Brooklyn apartment we’d found (which we did move into that weekend). The colorful indie pop washed away the nerves about getting an apartment and making it somewhere new. So it’s only fitting that the night before we moved in to our new place, my girlfriend and I went to see Hospitality. They played a free show at Brooklyn Bowl on Friday, August 31.
It was surprisingly uncrowded, especially for a free show. When opening band ARMS came out, people eventually started to trickle away from the bar, but it still seemed like a small audience. Since Harlem Shakes fell apart in 2009, guitarist Todd Goldstein has turned ARMS from a solo side project to a full band. There are definitely shades of Harlem Shakes in his new music, but ARMS is still distinct.
Hospitality ended up on stage probably around 10. They played literally their entire self-titled album, plus a couple of new tracks — including the live debut of “Experience.” Their delightfully poppy songs like “Liberal Arts” and “All Day Today” are even better live than on record.
Amber Papini leads the band — both her vocals and guitar lines offset the rhythm created by bassist Brian Betancourt and drummer Nathan Michel. Papini’s diction can call to mind a more-Brooklyn version of Camera Obscura, and sometimes the music’s not far from it either. But more often than not, Hospitality just sound like themselves, and it sounds great.