Clover Club fails To Exhilarate; Ninjasonik Inexplicably Does
And the award for the most over-hyped bar to open in the last month goes to . . . Clover Club, the fancy-pants cocktail lounge that opened its doors mid-June as the latest addition to Brooklyn's Smith Street scene. Blogs are nuts for Julie Reiner's new baby (her old baby: Flatiron Lounge), and pretty people are constantly spilling out of the glass doors every time I walk by, but the praise just bewilders me. I'm no longer even wooed by the hanging baskets of sweet pink flowers out front, which in most cases would be reason enough for me to pledge eternal devotion. I am that underwhelmed.
The drinks—what everyone pretends they're coming here for—are fine. Good, even. But, like, who doesn't think it's fun to drink expensive cocktails with nostalgic names and kick-ass pebbles of ice? Who's going to choose that aspect to complain about? Priced at $10 and $11, they're divided into nine categories: Sours and Daisies, Collinses and Fizzes, Bucks and Mules, Cobblers and Highballs, Juleps and Smashes, Swizzles, Royales, Punches, and Cocktails. (Each category also includes a wordy description that passes for tongue-in-cheek, but you know where else they do that? Houlihan's. Yeah, that beloved Middle American chain restaurant whose lunchtime offerings are called "Nooners" and whose website once offered a virtual version of the "I Never" drinking game—maybe not exactly the association that Clover Club's looking for.)
On my first trip, I asked our server for advice: I was choosing between the Bohemian Fizz (gin, elderflower, lemon, and soda) and the Hemingway Cobbler (white rum, maraschino, grapefruit, and lime). She enthusiastically suggested the former, since "it's one of those drinks you just can't get anywhere else." I nodded politely and agreed with her, since she just seemed so pleased with herself, and kept my mouth shut regarding the fact that it's essentially the same goddamned drink I get at all these places—Hotel Delmano, Angel Share, etc. On my next visit, I didn't bother asking before I chose the Sorrello (muddled orange, Campari, Punt y Mes, and champagne). I do love bubbles.
The space is adequate, even if I don't love the layout. Mahogany bars and tin ceilings, while beautiful, no longer feel terribly original—particularly in Brooklyn, where they're ubiquitous—but my dating record alone makes it clear that I'll forgive a lack of wit when coupled with a handsome face. Nor is the problem with the service. (Our girl, as evidenced above, was perfectly friendly.) Maybe in four to six months, when it feels a bit more lived-in, I'll change my mind, but for now, the ambience is all wrong. Clover Club feels like a hotel bar without any of the sexy transience—because, listen, if you hook up with someone you meet here, you will see them again, Maybe on the train, maybe during brunch at Bar Tabac, maybe down the street at Brooklyn Social when he/she has wised up and realized that it's still the better option. But, uh, trust me on this: Don't fool yourself into thinking our little borough is bigger than it actually is.
Similarly, if you've ever gone home with someone from one of the Chief mag parties, expect to run into him or her at what will undoubtedly serve as a complete scenester shit-show—if it's possible to imbue that description with a degree of fondness, then please understand that I do here—this Friday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Crunk-punk act Ninjasonik, a dance-party fave for months now, is officially a legit recording act with the release of its Tight Pants EP (Chief Records); helping to celebrate is a bill that includes Japanther, the So So Glos, Juiceboxxx, and DJ Dirty Finger.
The duo of Reverend McFly and DJ TeenWolf get that music doesn't have to be brilliant if you've got charisma in spades—and a sense of humor doesn't hurt. They're rapping about snug jeans ("I'm a tight-pants-wearing-ass nigga") and Internet fame ("I got a MySpace/I got a Gmail/I got that Facebook/But I don't do Friendster/I'm on the Internet, bitch/I'm fuckin' famous"), which, you know, kind of speaks to their devout Brooklyn following. Or at least enough so that they've been remixed (Team Robespierre), spoofed (giggly girls in sunglasses on YouTube), and sampled (the Death Set did "Negative Thinking," which gets super-singsongy over an electro beat, and I love it: "In hindsight/I saw that your crew was trying to dress like mine/Tiiiiiight pants").
Not that there haven't been detractors, of course. Most obviously, Ninjasonik flies in the face of groups like Thug Slaughter Force, the anti–"tight clothes" Brooklyn rappers that the Voice reported on a couple weeks back. There was also a debacle back in January at a Knitting Factory show. And then came the minor blog battle in May with Hot 97 radio personality and blogger Miss Info, who wrote with regard to Tight Pants' title track: "The only way we can go from here is up." ("Judging from this video, this guy probably won't procreate!" she added.) Not to be outdone, Ninjasonik attempted to clear the air via their MySpace blog (lots of [sic]'s here): "this tight pants thing isnt even just about tight pants. its about being different. for years every kid in the hood that refused to dress in the 'hip hop' uniform of baggy jeans and white t's has been shitted on and when they wore tight pants, some motherfuckers had the nerve to go say some shit like 'look at this tight pants wearing ass nigga' . . . fuck the haters tho . . . thats why we made the song . . . to say we are proud of who we are."
Show 'em you're proud, too, at the launch party on Friday. Tickets are $10; visit musichallofwilliamsburg.com to purchase.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.