When it comes to crafting irresistibly catchy guitar pop with serious character, nobody weaves sardonic lyrical humor with ruminations on emotional detachment quite like Colleen Green. After a six-year hiatus following the critical success of her 2015 sophomore album I Want to Grow Up, Green tapped indie producer extraordinaire Gordon Raphael (The Strokes, Hinds) to help bring to life her long-awaited third album Cool, a collection of fuzzy earworms that touch on isolation, adult responsibilities, and troubles with modern day communication.
Now on her long-anticipated North American tour supporting the album, Green played an intimate set at the Sultan Room in Bushwick last night on a bill with Dropper, Shred Flintstone, and Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser, three extraordinarily charismatic and rambunctious acts who served as excellent hypemen for the audience before the main act. When the time came for Green to grace the stage, she emerged wearing a simple white top and black shorts to match her signature black Strat with “Happy Birfday Jeff” scrawled on the front.
Long known for DIY minimalism and playing solo sets with a drum machine, this tour marks Green’s first time ever playing with a full live band, which includes Mike Hunchback on rhythm guitar, Michelle Tucker on drums, and Jay McGuire on bass. Green maintained a hilarious rapport with the band, and was unafraid to correct mistakes. At one point Tucker started to rip into a drum solo on “Grow Up,” until Green abruptly yelled “STOP!” and the entire band laughed it off before quickly restarting the song.
A few specific highlights of the night were “You Don’t Exist,” and “I Wanna Be a Dog,” two pop-rock ragers off the new album with twangy guitar tones and irresistible hooks, the latter interpolating the refrain from the Stooges classic “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
Before the band launched into the final song on the setlist, “TV,” Green announced that it would be their “last song” with a wink and air quotes, indicating that there would indeed be an encore. She later re-emerged by herself to play one final song with her drum machine, popping on her signature Wayfarer-style sunglasses that have now become an unmistakable marker of her aesthetic.
Green isn’t necessarily a “showy” performer, and being showy is rarely ever necessary when you have a palpable stage presence. What makes Green such a convincing performer is the fact that she plays to her strengths. Her impassioned belting, charming charisma, and emotional bliss was firing on all cylinders last night, making her performance truly memorable. To borrow a humorous quote made by Dropper’s Andrea Scanniello earlier that night: “Colleen Green fuckin’ rips!”
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