I walk inside, see a bunch of girls in large flat brim hats drinking mojitos, and everyone looks at my friends and I like we’re riffraff. (Probably because we are not yet grown up.) Upon our entry to the basement, we notice things are weird. The crowd is a mixture of adults, mostly over thirty, and some of the men are wearing glitter. Why? Are there Aaron Carter groupies after all these years?
We enter Liberty Hall, the Ace’s basement club. There are dudes in paisley shirts, enthusiastic girls in tutus, and no sign of Aaron. And the whole band is dressed up like they’re going out to sea. What is going on? A man dressed like a captain walks up and says hello; he apologizes. Wait for it! “Aaron Carter won’t be with us tonight but every performer on deck does not have a meth problem.”
This captain turns out to be Ben Lerman. I’m at an underground variety night covering Billboard Top 100 hits thrown by somebody smart enough to lure kids like me here. And somebody wealthy enough to hire a full band of trained musicians, including a string and horn section, to back up different singers and performers (some of whom are of Youtube acclaim).
A grown man covers the One Direction song “What Makes You Beautiful” after telling us that every thirteen-year-old boy is really just looking for humility in a girl. These are good people, trained musicians, and a smart and hilarious marketing team. I got fooled by fake hype and I love it. This part variety show, part comedy club, part underground music party takes place every fourth Monday night at the Ace Hotel. They cover different Top 100 hits every week with gusto, and make politically incorrect jokes like, “They’re not indie, they’re Hindi,” or “Wanna hear part of my intervention letter to Aaron Carter?”
This is bad. This is the best kind of bad. This is irony that knows it is irony. So clear a Monday night and go see the Big Band Hot 100, because sometimes it’s great to not take yourself seriously even a little bit at all, spend some time listening to a full session band, and dance to hits like you’ve never heard them before.