Lounging in the Greenhouse


Here’s a fun band

As I approached the small, stuccoed shack where I was to meet Jacksonville jam band Greenhouse Lounge, a wave of ethereal sounds floated over me like a tropical breeze.

When I stepped inside the cramped practice space, an area not much bigger than a dormitory room, I found myself reflexively bobbing my head and tapping my toes to the steady rhythm of cool.

One would be hard-pressed to pinpoint Greenhouse’s sound in terms of a specific genre.

“We get compared to a lot of other bands to the extent that people come up to us and say ‘Oh, that song sounds like such and such,’ but as far as I’m concerned, labels are for cans,” said bassist and founding member Dave McSweeney.

The band is an instrumental five piece that incorporates elements of reggae, house, trance, psychedelic and dub-step into a highly concentrated hybrid equal parts chaos and chill.

McSweeney, drummer Jason Hunnicutt and “atmospherics” maestro Ryan De Castro formed the band in 2006. Guitarist Zach Weinert and keyboardist Brandon Wilkerson came on board last summer.

Greenhouse Lounge is more than just the musicians, though — it’s a family affair.

Manager and light tech Trey Hebron, a UNF rehabilitation counseling services senior, and sound tech “Tru-Tyte” (pronounced “true tight”), a UNF anthropology junior, augment the quintet.

“Pickles” rounds out the eight-man troupe serving the role of “confidant and founding father.”

Counter to the cookie-cutter character of commercialized music, what Wilkinson calls “the equation,” Greenhouse Lounge avoids adherence to the formulaic and embraces an ethos of spontaneity.

“Every single version of every single song is a little different,” McSweeney said.

The five musicians highlight a veritable menagerie of disparate, and in some cases, diametrically opposed, influences.

While most members cited jam band vanguards Phish and genre-bending acts like Sound Tribe Sector 9 and the Disco Biscuits as influences, others range from metal gods Pantera and punk rabble-rousers Rancid to those in the vein of classical pianists.

Putting together this vast array of backgrounds into a musical melee and putting aside everyone’s “musical ego” has proven difficult at times, Greenhouse concedes. But it has learned to embrace its musical diversity and “play in the pocket,” Hunnicutt said.

“We’re such a multifaceted band that we’ve had to learn to throw in ideas and allow five different influences to collide,” he said. “We’ve learned to play as one piece instead of five.”

This mesh-mash of influences is clearly evident in Greenhouse’s jam-electronica fusion, or “jamtronica” sound.

The band’s newest song, “Silhouette,” what McSweeney calls a “pantie-dropper” and an example of Greenhouse’s “sweeter, softer side,” melds the sounds of 1970s classic rock with a slight peppering of reggae.

“Feast” provides a pulsating, guitar-less grind with cavernously deep bass rifts and a sampling of a Joe Pesci line, “Goodfellas.” Such things, however, could not be reprinted in a family newspaper.

Wait, this is a college newspaper: “Fuck ’em, fuck ’em in the ear,” Pesci says intermittently throughout the tune.

“Defeating Harrison” is an ode to Grover Cleveland — the only president to ever lose an election and come back four years later to best his bester — and goes down about as smooth as a whiskey-ginger neat.

Greenhouse hasn’t recorded an album yet, but plans on going into a studio in a few months. Presently, the band is focusing on touring and collaborating with other acts.

“It’s really about collaboration more than competition right now, like playing with other bands and forming kind of like a scene almost,” Hunnicutt said.

Hunnicutt and Wilkinson are UNF alumni, class of 2009. Weinert is senior at Ponte Vedra High School and plans to enter UNF in the fall.