Indie rock gets a wine pairing, with The Antlers
Hey, at least it's not Jager.
In what was described as a "innovative/interactive lifestyle platform that partners wine with live music and technology," downtown New York wine bar In Vino hosted Viewtopia, with indie band The Antlers playing in the key of Merlot.
Organizers from Cali's Wente Vineyard encouraged drink pairings like their juicy Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon/paired with bro-rock band The Hold Steady or the Riverbank Riesling/paired with West Indian Girl, members of which were on site. The Antlers -- who have lately been playing to rooms in the thousands, rather than the night's crowd of 50 -- split up their quiet storm set (broadcast live online, with technology to interact with other users) and in between, a rep for the winery would talk about the featured beverages. They were described in terms anybody could understand, but also in jargon that could pass in band one-sheeter bios ("dexterous," "moody," "bright").
The coupling of popular music and the drinking experience is nothing particularly new: doubtless our ancestors were pounding back drog when the first drum beat boomed from the cave. Schlitz used to have a music Festival. Jagermeister has a tour (mmm, tastes like Korn) and Red Bull has a record label. From Budweiser to Hennessey, liquor and beer companies put their stamp on "cool" fest-specific CD compilations, and in sponsorships/partnerships, music video placements, the ilk.
Last year, I attended a similar event hosted by Blackstone winery. Wines were consumed through the filter of acts like CSS, Beach Boys and Iron & Wine (I see what you did there), as tasters' feelings about their various wines were influenced by the music itself. It's a fact: loud dance music largely makes girls want to shop, just as Massive Attack makes me want to bathe in Zinfandel.
Two instances does not a trend make, but surely there must be other indie rock and wine events in the country. And I can see a connection between such bands and wine as an alcohol, at least loosely: "independent" artists such as The Antlers appeal to a certain listener, an exclusive or tastemaking consumer. With the light touch of brushes on a three-piece kit from drummer Michael Lerner, to the wiles and whimpers of singer Peter Silberman's vibrato. It's intimate and insular, an air we're conditioned to feel when we drink wine (The Verve : chardonnay :: Leonard Cohen : whiskey).
The Antlers revealed they're headlong into recording a new album, the follow-up to last year's phenomenal "Hospice." They warned their online audience and their fellow bar attendees not to expect entirely the same sound of this forthcoming effort. They head out on tour in the coming days.