A quartet of concerts curated by CB2 and designed to invite customers to hang out after the store closed up shop.
Tucked into the corner of a balcony overlooking the stage at Rough Trade, an emerald green sofa sat positioned just so. The long, slender contour of its tufted back and inviting velvet cushions were illuminated by strings of Edison bulbs threaded from the ceiling and the amber glow of votives ricocheting from inside angled glass tea light candle holders. The sleek frame of the rake brass leather chair positioned next to the couch gleamed. Fitting for the occasion, the chair was designed for CB2 by Kravitz Design, who surely would point out that velvet upholstery, a little leather and anything with smooth, sexy lines provide an ideal backdrop for rock’n’roll.
Patrons of the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, music venue don’t always get such plush treatment, however, on this late November night, Rough Trade had been taken over by CB2 for the year’s conclusion of its After Hours series, a quartet of concerts curated by CB2 and designed to invite customers to hang out after the store closed up shop.
The first three concerts in the series were held at CB2 stores around the country, with the furnishings on display rearranged to create an in-store lounge vibe. The series kicked off in October at the Lincoln Park store, in Chicago. Guests with cocktails in hand — served on the house and mixed at a pop-up bar in a corner of the room — edged up to a stage illuminated by CB2’s signal floor lamps and swayed as the music of AlunaGeorge, a British electronic dance duo, filled the store.
When Jamie Liddell performed on a makeshift stage set up at the front of the store in Minneapolis’ Uptown district, guests mingled before finding a comfortable seat for the intimate show. Others eschewed seats and danced throughout the English electro-soul singer’s 50-minute set. Later in November, the renowned DJ Mark Ronson spun at CB2’s West Hollywood outpost. Guests danced as Ronson mixed tracks from behind his turntables and laptop, a neon CB2 sign blazing behind him.
The evening at Rough Trade, though, had a more theatric vibe. Instead of being held inside a CB2 store, the New York event ventured out, taking over one of the city’s vibrant concert halls and transforming it with CB2’s modern, stylish furnishings. Instead of simply admiring CB2’s furniture or housewares, guests of the After Hours series got to experience them.
On the venue’s main floor, those waiting for Michael Kiwanuka’s set to begin drifted up to hi-gloss white trays highlighting chic minibar configurations that reminded all attending that after hours is the time to unwind.
For those lucky enough to snag one of those prized spots on the couch upstairs, it wasn’t hard to imagine the night as a concert in your living room. Lounging on the couch, they chatted, sipped beer and wine and indulged in one of New York’s great guilty pleasures: Crif Dogs’ smoked and deep-fried hot dogs.
When Kiwanuka stepped onto the Rough Trade stage — the chromed drum kit and glittering guitar of his five-man band illuminated by CB2’s cantilevered marble floor lamp and zig-zagged iron and brass sphera floor lamp — heads turned his way. The opening notes of “One More Night” bubbled through the sound system. Shoulders swiveled and elbows floated in and out as Kiwanuka carried the tune forward. Some nodded their heads with the cadence of the percussion, keeping pace with — or approving of — the quick tempo.
Kiwanuka’s voice covers plenty of ground. It has a soulful sound when lamenting life as a “black man in a white world.” But there is also grace within his range, and those gravely, wailing tracks like “Love & Hate” are balanced by songs when his voice soars. In those moments, it is as though the clouds of a few minutes ago have lifted.
Kiwanuka provided the centerpiece for an evening designed to be casual and comfortable. The After Hours series, after all, was created as a hangout styled by CB2. The series will continue in 2017, with more music and more CB2 products to experience in cities around the country. Stay tuned.