NY Magazine’s Highbrow BBQ @ Solar One Complex, NYC

NY Magazine sponsored the Highbrow BBQ at Solar One Complex, a solar-powered, “green energy” arts and education center along the East River. “Top Chef” fans of the indie rock persuasion flocked to the event in the name of a 2-year subscription to NY Mag, free food and beer, a chance to witness “Top Chef: Season 3” contestant Chris “CJ” Jacobson take on grillmaster duties and a full set by indie rock darlings Islands (all for 25 bucks!). All in all, it was your not-so-average rock n’ roll beer-b-q along the NYC waterfront with awesome food and a kickass band.

The crowd was a mix of “Top Chef” fans, Islands fans, foodies, hip New Yorkers and “free beer” fans alike. While pale emo boys worked on their sun tans, some celeb-crazy individuals were able to coax uber-friendly CJ into posing for a photo as other fanboys and fangirls edged closer to the stage hoping to catch glimpses of Islands’ band members. The funniest part was the hordes of people zig-zagging the outdoor space, hopping from one line to the next. There were lines for food, the bathrooms, to win prizes/free stuff at the Saucony [Ed. Note: best shoes ever!] booth, and of course, the massive line for free beer. All these lines and the inevitable squabble with the occasional line-cutter, yet, sadly, no line dancing!

Did I mention the free beer? The Sugar Hill Harlem Brewing Company purveyed the alcohol and remained a hit with the crowd, until they ran out of beer for about 30 minutes. They eventually secured more and the crowd cheered like a bunch of frat boys. Running out of stuff seemed to be the theme for the event because even CJ’s culinary creations ran short and some people weren’t able to partake in the delectable goodies of the event’s menu:

* Moroccan BBQ pork tortillas with coriander citrus cabbage
* Vegetarian tortillas with grilled Moroccan eggplant, apples and dates
* Watermelon, chili and radish salad
* Grilled corn on the cobb sprinkled with cotija cheese
* Ginger peach cobbler
* Assortment of ice cream treats

The masses were forgiving because as soon as CJ hopped on stage to announce the Islands’ set, people forgot about the food/beer shortage and rocked the F out. Islands really got the crowd revved up with their brand of inventive indie pop. Super fun and super nice, they played many tracks off their latest release Arm’s Way and took requests from the crowd. They truly served as another reminder that Canadian indie rock never fails to please.

(For “Top Chef” fanatics, man, oh, man! is CJ tall: all 6 foot 8 inches of him! I chatted him up about “Top Chef: Chicago” and learned we share a mutual love of Richard Blaise, yet both agreed Stephanie Izzard deserved to win. We also laughed over Marcel Vigneron’s (Season 2) antics and he didn’t even mind when I gushed over the hotness that is Sam Talbot (Season 2). I jokingly asked him if he had his phone number, to which he smiled and said, “Unfortunately, no.”)

Islands: website | myspace

Written by: Mona Sheikh

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